One thing I get asked often (and typically in the middle of winter, of all times) is “where is all the fruit?” For everything, there is a season, and the season for fruit is… right about now. The last of the strawberries are on their way out, but the same heat that is doing in the strawberries has also been ripening the blueberries, blackberries, plums, and peaches. And we have all of them listed this week. This is the first time ever peaches have been offered through Athens Locally Grown, I believe. Peaches are very, very hard to grow organically here, thanks to many decades of monoculture growing creating the perfect conditions for pests and diseases. All conventionally grown peaches are sprayed, and the problem is bad enough that many Georgia peach orchards have been cut down (leaving relatively few peaches still being grown in the Peach State). Michael McMullan at McMullan Family Farm in Hartwell has stepped up to the challenge, and has 100 pounds listed this week.
I saw several news stories this past week proclaiming that Georgia’s blueberry crop has been all but wiped out this year, due to storm and other damage. That might be true for the big commercial orchards down south, but here in Athens it’s been a fantastic growing season for blueberries. Many of our growers have some, but perhaps none more than Jim McBride of Jim’s Farm on the east side of Athens. Only trouble is Jim’s health troubles are preventing him from making the most of the harvest, and he’d love some help. If you want to help with the blueberry harvest, especially if you like getting paid in berries, contact Jim at email@example.com
Finally, local food gets a prime spot in the middle of the action at AthFest this year. Sunday at 5pm in a special outdoor kitchen on Washington Street, Criag Page (director of P.L.A.C.E.) and I will be competing head-to-head Iron Chef style cooking locally grown food purchased directly from growers at Athens Locally Grown and the Athens Farmers Market. We each have a budget to stock our pantries with veggies, herbs, and anything else we might need, and we’ll be shopping at the two markets. Then, at 5pm, a special secret ingredient will be unveiled, and we’ll each have to produce a number of dishes spotlighting that ingredient and using the pantry items we had previously purchased. We’ll be there a few hours ahead of time getting set up and doing some basic prep work if you want to come down early, or you can arrive by 5 to cheer us both on. Our dishes will be judged by farmer Jay Payne (of Cedar Grove Farm), District 1 Commissioner Doug Lowry (a staunch supporter of building a local food system), and a musical guest (I’ve forgotten who). I’m very nervous, but it ought to be a great time. It’s free to watch. There’s no need for a wristband or anything like that. We’d love to see you there!
As always, thank you all for your continued support of our local growers and local food. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old market on Broad Street!
Our guest this week for Meet the Grower is Geoff & Lisa Lewis from Dancing Sprout Farm in Athens. The Lewis family is hosting our next Farmer For a Day event in July. If you can’t join us then, you’ll get a chance to meet them on Thursday.
The Athens Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning at Bishop Park from 8am to noon. It’s a totally separate entity from Athens Locally Grown, but you’ll find many of the same growers at both. And of course, you can learn more about that market on their website.
Our third Farmer for a Day event is on Saturday, July 11th at Dancing Sprout Farm in Athens. You can make reservations for this event by adding them to your order. Look in the “Event Reservations” category.