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Availability for October 9
I see over 550 products available this week, including a number of new items. The nights are getting colder, and I expect the first frost at my place sometime in the next two weeks. In Athens it generally arrives by the end of the month, but my farm has a microclimate that makes it arrive a bit earlier. Once it does come, all of the tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant, and so on will be no more. It’s possible a few growers will try to extend the season under plastic or in a greenhouse, but for the rest of us the summer season is nearly over.
Athens Locally Grown does go year round, though, so when that happens, we’ll just move full on into the fall and winter crops. Fresh salads, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, turnips, and so on are on the way (and in some cases have already arrived).
It’s starting to get dark halfway through the Thursday pickups. We’re adapting as we can, but with no power to the structure we’re using, our options were limited to what we could bring with us. Rather than running a generator, I decided on some rechargeable LED worklights with magnetic bases that we can stick to the girders. Right now, we’ve got 20 of them (at $20 a pop), and that seems to be enough for the moment. When it gets cold, we’ll just have to wear our parkas — there’s no heat, either.
Speaking of finances, there’s been a trend that is getting hard to ignore. We went the first three years with only one bounced check, but we’ve grown to the point (and the economy’s gotten worse to the point) where I’m getting about one a week. Most everyone has been good at settling up, so it hasn’t become a crisis yet, but I’m keeping my eye on it. We could move to a pre-pay system, or take deposits from new members, or some other solution down the road if needed, but I’m hoping we can keep things just the way they are. Remember that Athens Locally Grown isn’t like many businesses. The growers set their own prices and are selling directly to you. They get 90 cents on the dollar and the rest goes back to the market to cover expenses. Most of that goes to paying the veggie credit the market helpers get for volunteering each week (6 to 8 of them now), and the rest goes toward other expenses such as those lights and all those cots, and so forth. It’s enough to let us break even, which is my goal, but having to cover bounced checks and orders not picked up and never paid for generally come out of my pocket.
Still, as I said, it’s not a crisis and won’t affect how the market is run for the time being, but it’s something I’ll have to keep an eye on and adapt to as needed.
Thank you for all of the support you have given your local growers and Athens Locally Grown. I can’t stress enough how much that has meant to all of us! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old farmers market on Broad Street.