This last week was a great one for local food in Athens. Everything that we have build together over the last 20 years was on full display for people around the country in town for the annual Georgia Organics conference. Friday saw tour busses fan out from the Classic Center to visit farms, community gardens, markets, food businesses, research plots, and more. Intensive workshops were held at sites about town teaching others how our treasures were created and how they could go back home and build on our experience. Alice Waters, pioneer of the organic and farm-to-table movements, gave a Saturday lunch presentation where she recreated her school lunch program for all the attendees. Saturday also saw dozens of instructional sessions taught by nationally known experts (many of them Athenians). And the topper was the renowned Farmers Feast, always one of the best meals I have all year.
All through the weekend we heard from people who were new to Athens marveling at all our community has done to build a local food system, and also from those who have been here many times marveling at how much more we’ve done since the last time they visited. It’s easy to get lost in the routine of daily life, such as ordering carrots from a favorite local farmer and picking them up a few days later, and forgetting that what we have available here, while far from perfect, is still the envy of so many other communities. We should be proud of what we have available here, even while working to make it better (pushing for food justice, starting and supporting local food businesses, and introducing your neighbors to the joy of really fresh lettuce).
The annual Georgia Organics awards were given out during the farmers feast. The Barbara Petit Pollinator Award, given to someone, not necessarily a farmer, who has made a difference in promoting sustainable agriculture and local foods, was given to Jacqui Coburn and Alex Rilko of Front Field Farm. They’re ALG farmers, mainstays at the other area farmers markets, and founders of Collective Harvest, a model of farmer cooperation and collaboration. I just love seeing locals who have been so instrumental in building the food system we’re lucky to have here. Following that, Rashid Nuri gave a wonderful keynote address about his path to becoming the driving force behind urban agriculture in Atlanta and the challenges (and benefits of overcoming those challenges) still ahead.
Thank you so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown, 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 on Thursday at Ben’s Bikes at the corner of Pope and Broad Streets from 4:30 to 8pm!
Other Area Farmers Markets
The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the season. They’ll return in the Spring, and you can catch the news on their website. The Comer Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday mornings from 9am to noon. Check www.facebook.com/comerfm for more information. Washington, GA also has a lovely little Saturday market, running on winter hours from 1-4. You can learn all about them here: www.washingtonfarmersmkt.com. If you know of any other area markets operating, please let me know.
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!