Anyone setting foot outside could tell you this without looking at a calendar, but we’re now officially in summer. This heat is really brutal on the tender spring crops, and most of the farms in the immediate Athens area have moved on to concentrate on the summer goodies really coming in heavily now. A few farms are experimenting with shade cloth and misting systems to grow items like broccoli for a little while longer, and our member farms up in the mountains aren’t quite as hot as it is here and are likely able to keep the spring things growing for a little longer.
We’re lucky to have the mountains so close by. The farms up there tend to be smaller than those closer in, but their growing season differs just enough that their presence at our market really increases the diversity offered all year ’round. This coming weekend is the perfect time to take a little day trip up there and see firsthand the network of farms that is reviving in the area. The 2015 Georgia Mountains Farm Tour, the fourth year for this annual tour, is Saturday June 27th and Sunday June 28th from 1-6pm each day. The tour features 16 locations from Commerce north through Habersham, Rabun, White, Stephens, and Franklin counties and beyond; including community gardens, a honey bee farm, a working grist mill, fruit orchards and optional meal stops with local foods prepared by acclaimed local chefs.
Participants on the tour purchase one weekend pass that allows a carload of attendees to visit as many tour locations as they choose each day of the tour from the eight farms plus food stops open each day. Among the products featured from the 16 farms on the tour are numerous fruits and vegetables; pasture-raised eggs; grass-fed beef; honey; and water wheel milled organic grains. Other highlights include a farm demonstrating the lost art of horse-powered equipment and several farms using hoop houses for season extension.
In addition to being able to purchase farm products during the tour, many of the farms will have prepared foods to sample, or guests can enjoy a farm-to-table meal at one of the five featured meal stops. Meal stops open two hours before the other tour locations open so that guests can maximize their afternoon tour time. Tour guests should pack extra water, coolers, and be prepared for the weather (sun hats and sunscreen are strongly encouraged!).
Cost of the tour is $35 per carload for weekend passes or $20 for a single day, purchased from any farm on the tour or online. The tour brochure with farm descriptions can be found on the GMFN website: http://eatwellbuylocal.org. Passes can be purchased online at https://secure.donationpay.org/soqueriver/farmtour2015.php.
See the tour’s website for the full schedule of farms, maps, and other information: http://eatwellbuylocal.org. Or, email Andrew at GMFNfarmtour@gmail.com.
Thanks so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown, all of our growers, local food, and our rights to eat it. You all are part of what makes Athens such a great area in which to live. We’ll see you on Thursday at Ben’s Bikes at the corner of Pope and Broad Streets from 4:30 to 8pm!
UGA Organic Farm Twilight Tour
Organic and sustainable agriculture experts from the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will host the fourth annual Organic Twilight Tour on Tuesday, June 23, from 6-8 p.m at the Durham Horticulture Farm at 1221 Hog Mountain Road in Watkinsville, Georgia. The open house is a chance for farmers and gardeners to learn about some of the newest research being conducted on the 90-acre farm, where the college’s organic research plots are located. Researchers and students will give talks and describe demonstration plots where the latest organic cultivation practices are tested. This open house is free and no registration is required. More information is available at SustainAgGa.org. A rain date is set for 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24. For more information, check the UGA Sustainable Agriculture website at http://SustainAgGA.org or email Jessica Cudnik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inventing a More Sustainable Agriculture: Field Day at UGA J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center’s West Unit
Research faculty and University of Georgia Extension specialists with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are hosting a sustainable agriculture field day at the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center in Watkinsville, Georgia, on Thursday, June 25, from 6-8 p.m. Researchers will discuss the latest findings on production practices for corn and in forages that can help increase profitability and decrease environmental impacts. Farmers and those interested in conservation land management should plan to attend. Registration will be free and is on-site. Parking will be available at the Oconee CountyCivic Center at 2661 Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville. Shuttles will transport participants to and from the J. Phil Campbell Sr. West Unit field site every 10 minutes. For more information, check the UGA Sustainable Agriculture website at http://SustainAgGA.org or email Jessica Cudnik at email@example.com.
UGA Extension’s School Garden Workshop for Teachers
University of Georgia Extension is hosting an online and hands-on training program for Georgia teachers who want to start new school gardens or maximize the use of existing school gardens. The workshop will cover garden care and maintenance as well as strategies to build lesson plans, around the school garden, that cover state standards in all subject areas. Teachers will leave with a complete lesson plan that can be used when they head back to class in the fall. The hands-on workshop portion of the class will be held at in Athens, Georgia, at UGArden on Thursday, June 25. Pre-registration is required and the course will cost $25. Teachers will receive a certificate of completion for their records. To register or for more information, visit http://ugaurbanag.com/schoolgarden.
Other Area Farmers Markets
The Athens Farmers Market is open on Saturdays at Bishop Park and Wednesday afternoons downtown at Creature Comforts. You can catch the news on their website. The West Broad Farmers Market from the Athens Land Trust is open Saturday mornings and their farm stand is open Tuesday afternoons. They have a website too. A new Athens Sunday market has opened up at the Classic Center, every Sunday from 11 to 4 now through October. They have a website here: http://www.sundaycentermarket.com. The Comer Farmers Market is open in downtown Comer on Saturday mornings. The Oconee County farmers market is open Saturday mornings in front of the Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville. The Shields Ethridge Cultivator Market is held monthly in Jefferson. If you know of any markets operating, please let me know.
All of these other markets are separate from ALG (including the Athens Farmers Market) but many growers sell at multiple markets. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!