Here’s a reminder that we’ll be taking next week, the week of Thanksgiving off, as we do every year. We will be open as usual this week, so if there are things you’d like for your Thanksgiving meals, you’ll need to plan ahead and order them early. If you need local produce next week, Collective Harvest CSA is doing a special pre-order market (much like ALG) with pickups at their Baxter Street office. You can find info here: https://www.collectiveharvestathens.com/thanksgivingmarket. I think Heirloom Cafe is also holding their traditional mini farmers market in their parking lot on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, from 11am until 2pm. I’ve not seen any confirmation of that as I type this, but I can’t imagine they’ll skip it this year. Meanwhile, stock up from us this week!
And now, some bittersweet news…
When we started Athens Locally Grown twenty years ago, local food availability was very different than it is today. Besides a small Saturday market on the patio of Big City Bread and stalls around city hall Saturday morning, both only open about half the year, there was no where else for farmers to directly sell their products and no where else you could go to find their fresh, clean food. (Ok, Daily Grocery, sometimes.) We accidentally invented the world’s first online farmers market in the spring of 2002 to give people a mid-week option for local food.
And when both of those Saturday markets closed down, we were the only place in town. For a while, we had customers drive to Athens from Atlanta and other far-off places every Thursday and we briefly became, amazingly, the largest farmers market in the southeast United States!
Now, thanks to the hard work of so many people, there are many markets and many places to buy your awesome food. I know of at least six weekly markets in Clarke County alone besides ALG, and there are thriving markets in most every county surrounding us. I’ve never seen those as competition — ALG isn’t a business for me, and I’ve never made any money from it. I’ve always seen my work here as a public service, something I was happy to put my time and money into because access to the kind of food at our market is something I strongly believe in.
I feel like I (and all of us together) have achieved my goals, and ALG is simply no longer a sustainable way to use my resources. I was contemplating this at the beginning of 2020, but then the pandemic showed that there was still more work to do, and I was glad we were still here to bear the load for the community while those other markets scrambled to adapt. I can’t even begin to describe how stressful and exhausting it was to keep ALG going these last two years. All of our market volunteers worked long and hard, and we made it through.
But now it’s time to wind down for good. Our last market will be December 23. I quietly stopped charging memberships a few months ago, so no one has recently paid the yearly fee. If you paid before I stopped charging and think it isn’t fair, email me and we’ll work it out. I don’t think there are any outstanding gift certificates out there, but if you have one you haven’t redeemed, please do so.
I know many of you already shop at multiple markets, but if you’re looking for a new market to call home, may I suggest the West Broad Farmers Market? They host a weekly drive-through market powered by the same software we use here, so it’ll be nice and easy for you to transition over. Sadly, they just held their last pre-order market until after the holidays, but you can still go to their website and set up an account so you’re ready when they return. And in the meantime they’re still hosting their Saturday in-person farmers market. Here’s their website: https://wbfm.locallygrown.net.
It’s possible ALG will re-appear in some form in the future. A special event pop-up market, maybe? I’ll be keeping the website around, even if it’s dormant, so if we return you’ll be the first to know. Thank you so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown these last twenty years (some of you have been with us this whole time!), 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 at our market’s home on Tallassee Road for five more markets!
We are still getting new customers every week (and we love seeing new faces!) so for all of you you can find a detailed run-down of how Thursdays go on our website here: https://athens.locallygrown.net/faq#7
Other Area Farmers Markets
If ALG doesn’t have everything you need, please support our growers at the other markets that are now back up and running, or at their own locations. The Comerian takes online orders for Saturday pickup at the bakery here: https://www.thecomerian.com/online-ordering. The Athens Farmers Market is holding their Saturday market once again in Bishop Park and Wednesdays at Creature Comforts.They’re still operating under pandemic rules, so you’ll want to read up on all the changes on their website, http://athensfarmersmarket.net. The West Broad Farmers Market is back, holding a drive through market just like us (and using my software too, so it’ll be nice and familiar). You can join them at https://wbfm.locallygrown.net. The Saturday market in Comer has also returned. They’re small, but sometimes an early Saturday drive to Comer is just what the soul needs. And of course Collective Harvest is going strong over at https://www.collectiveharvestathens.com.
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!