Winter is generally the time that farmers get together and talk about the previous year, sharing secrets about what worked and warnings about what did not. Industrial farming might be more like top secret laboratories, where only those with special clearance can get inside and the products are controlled more by lawyers than food makers, but sustainable farmers are by and large a whole different breed. We share and share alike, and get together during the off season to spread the knowledge around.
Two of the largest such gatherings in our area is the Georgia Organics conference and the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) conference. Both attract over 1000 growers and others interested in sustainable food production, and both are in the processes of getting planned.
The Georgia Organics conference will be held right here in Athens, from February 19th to the 21st. The site planning committee met last week over lunch at Farm 255, and I’m certain you’ll want to be a part of conference. Indeed, you are one of the reasons why GO was attracted to Athens. We’ve earned a reputation for being a city with a thriving local food culture, and many towns across the country look to us as a model. Above all else, it’s your continuing commitment to eating local sustainably grown foods that has led to more growers, more variety, and more people interested in the same. Thank you!
The SSAWG conference will be held in Chattanooga from January 20th through 24th. I’m on the staff there, and it’s already shaping up to be another can’t miss event. I’ll have more details on both as they get closer, and let you know when registrations are open.
Another nice area conference is the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual get-together. This year it’s being held in Black Mountain, NC, from December 4th through 6th. You can find more information about that at their website: http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/SAC09.shtml.
And speaking of Georgia Organics, one of their most looked-forward to events is their “Field of Greens” party, held every year at Whippoorwill Hollow Farm right down the road from Athens in Walnut Grove. This year’s event is shaping up to be the best ever. Participating restaurants, who will be providing free tastings to participants include Rosebud, Leon’s, 5 Seasons, Retaurant Eugene,Woodfire Grill, Parish, Rathbun’s, Valencia, Food 101, 4th & Swift, farm 255, Living Foods Institute — with more pending. A new event this year, the heritage pork cookoff pits Ron Eyester of Rosebud, Dave Larkworthy of 5 Seasons Brewing, and Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill, working with heritage pork raised by three different farms. They’ll also have an organic market onsite where attendees can learn about sustainable living options, and purchase farm products, from 50 vendors. The event is being held on October 4 from 11am – 6pm. Yes, that’s the day after Athens Locally Grown’s “Hunter’s Moon Feast” at my farm, but what better way to spend a weekend? You can find more info about Field of Greens at their special website, http://www.fieldofgreensfestival.com/
Thanks so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown, all of our growers, and local food in general. You all are part of what makes Athens such a great area in which to live. We’ll see you on Thursday at the old state market on Broad Street from 4:30 to 8pm!
We still have one more event on the schedule, up at my place: our annual Hunter’s Moon Feast on October 3rd. Spaces are limited, so be sure to make your free reservations along with your order! Take a look in the “Event Reservations” category for full details on this event.
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.
Also, Watkinsville has a thriving farmers market every Saturday morning, behind the Eagle Tavern. And further east, Comer has a nice little market Saturday mornings as well. Several of our growers also sell at the Hocshton
farmers market, also on Saturday mornings. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!