This is a big week for local food in Athens. Last week was a big week too, since it kicked off the annual “Taste Your Place” event organized by PLACE. If you don’t know about PLACE, you really ought to. It stands for Promoting Local Agriculture and Cultural Experience, and they are responsible for much of the recent exposure of our locally grown foods here in Athens. Led by Craig Paige, they have done many things, not the least of which was reorganizing the Saturday market and moving it from its old cramped spot at Big City Bread to Bishop Park. Last year they started “Taste Your Place”, a coordinated series of events throughout town spread out over two weeks. It wraps up this week with a Restaurant Tapas Tasting and Silent Auction on Thursday, July 23rd from 6pm to 9pm at Cine. All the Taste Your Place participating restaurants will each have an appetizer/tapas made with local ingredients for you to try. Tickets are $10 person. They will also have a wonderful selection of silent auction items for you to bid on.
On Saturday, at the farmers market at Bishop Park, the Athens Local Food Awards will be awarded at 10:00am. Voting is going on now, and you can place your vote on their website. Four awards are being given, for Excellence on the Farm, Excellence in Education, Excellence in Business, and Excellence in Advocacy. Last year, Athens Locally Grown and I won two of the awards, so you won’t find us on the ballot this year, but please go place your votes for the deserving individuals, organizations, and businesses that have been nominated. Voting is open until Wednesday at 9pm.
And during the entire week, fourteen participating restaurants are featuring menus and menu items made with locally grown ingredients: Casa Mia, DePalma’s (Downtown), Doc Chey’s, East/West Bistro, Farm 255, Five and Ten, Five Star Day (Downtown and Eastside), Ike and Jane, Last Resort, Lindsey’s Culinary Market, Lumpkin Cafe, Mama’s Boy, The National, and White Tiger Gourmet.
It’s another fully-stocked week for Athens Locally Grown it looks like. Nearly 700 products, including a number of new ones. Six new growers have joined in recent weeks, all of them long-time sustainable growers who are only just now joining us. Except for certain specific items, there is plenty of bounty to go around, so please don’t be afraid to tell your friends about Athens Locally Grown. More customers lead to more growers who in turn lead to more customers, and so on. It’s a self-feeding cycle, literally. The more food that gets grown here, the less our community has to rely on food shipped in from across the continent and around the world. We’re a long, long way from being able to fully feed ourselves, but together we’re taking many steps in the right direction.
One last thing: last week, Google and several other email providers classified my email as “junk” and routed it to the junk mail trash heap. I must have sounded extra spammy or something. Remember that my email is just a reminder that the website is open, and you can order on Monday or Tuesday whether or not you actually got my email. It’s always sent from firstname.lastname@example.org, so you can add that address to your “not junk” filter, if you have such a thing. And, you can always read what I sent out right on the website itself, on the weblog page. You can even subscribe to an RSS feed, if you like to get your news that way.
As always, thank you all for your continued support of our local growers and local food. Without your business, the growers wouldn’t be here to supply this diversity, and we’d all be a lot worse off. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old market on Broad Street!
P.L.A.C.E. is sponsoring the second annual “Taste Your Place” series of events this week throughout Athens. Several restaurants are serving special menus, educational events & cooking demonstrations are being held, and this year’s slate of Local Food Awards will be given to deserving people. You can learn more about this impressive event on their website.
Our fourth Farmer for a Day event is on Sunday, August 9th at Mills Farm in Athens. Most of the slots have already been filled, but you can make reservations for some of the last openings for this event by adding them to your order. Look in the “Event Reservations” category. If you miss this one, our make-up day for our first tour, rained out at Roots Farm, is coming up later in the month.
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.