Happy Independence Day weekend to everyone out there! Yesterday we celebrated our independence from the tyranny of a king, but it’s also a great occasion to think about our independence from all sorts of things. Your support of Athens Locally Grown greatly helps the cause of food independence for our community, for starters. Did you know that, on average, American farmers receive only nine cents out of every dollar that gets spent on food? By the time you take out the cut of the processors, the distributors, the wholesalers, and so forth, only 9% is left for the farm. And of course, they’ve got to try to meet all of the expenses of running a farm with that money, and pretty much the only way to do that is by consolidating the farmland into huge “corporate” farms that can get by with the economies of scale. The farms might be independent family-owned enterprises on paper, but they’re beholden to all of those other interests that control the other 91% of the food dollar. Here at Athens Locally Grown, the growers keep 90% of every dollar, turning small, truly family owned and operated farms into viable businesses. That fosters variety for you, provides a sustainable use of our community’s green space, and helps in no small way Athens be a more self-reliant community.
We’ve all learned the hard way these last few months that our supply chain is a fragile one, and not just for food. Mountains of potatoes in Idaho are being dumped into pits in the ground because there’s no way to get them to customers. Meat processing plants are getting shut down and industrial pork producers are despising of their animals because their finely tuned system can’t afford to keep them on the farms longer than necessary. It’s a terrible system when you look just under the surface, even in the best of times, and your support of out local growers lets us all become independent of that terrible system.
For you, too, these growers and their products let you become independent from the corporate grocer, who is told by the corporate office in Cincinnati or Bentonville or Asheville what they can and can’t stock and who they can source their produce from. You’re given the freedom to choose who grows and produces your food and how they grow and produce it. If you don’t like one grower’s products or methods, you have a hundred others, all located right here, to choose from.
And of course by sourcing your food so close to home, you don’t have to be reliant on an overtaxed and under-vigilant inspection system to make sure your food is safe. The government at all levels actively tries to reduce your ability to choose where your food comes from in the name of safety, so not everything is rosy. Sometimes the regulations are warranted, but often the rules put in place are easy for corporate farms but extremely difficult for small farmers to meet. Our fight for independence is an ongoing one, and your voice in support of the small local producer does get heard.
Finally, one last note before you all get to ordering. The Comedian took advantage of our downtime to renovate their bakery, and they are now back in full operation. If you’ve missed them (and lord knows I have), you’ll be pleased to see their products back on the website this week!
We’re getting new customers every week (and we love seeing new faces!) so here’s a quick run-down on how Thursdays go:
- Don’t arrive at the beginning of your pickup window if you’ve got that flexibility. We fill the bags alphabetically (because it’s easier on us that way), but your arrival time or last name has no bearing on what items you get. The growers fill orders based solely on the time you placed your order, so that’s all been long decided by Thursday. Take your time getting there and that’ll naturally spread things out a bit. Flatten the curve, if you will.
- I’m bad with faces as it is, and masks make it even harder to recognize you and even hear you when you give your name. Many of you had papers with your name written in big letters we could read through the window, and that is wonderful. If you think to do that same, it’ll make things even smoother.
- The pickup loop does have a fair bit of room, but we don’t want you backing up into Tallassee. If you arrive faster than we can deliver orders, we may ask you to pull ahead into the loop and circle around. That may mean that some people who arrived after you may get their food before you, but as I said above, that doesn’t affect at all what items you get when things run short.
- We’ve still got three pickup windows, and it’s totally ok if you come later than the slot you chose. If you come early, odds are high that we haven’t filled your bags yet and we may ask you to come back. Tallassee is a pretty drive, and I recommend taking it to the county line and back, just for the scenery.
- We’re not accepting in-person payments unless absolutely necessary. We’ll have a drop box for checks or labelled envelopes of cash, but we greatly prefer Venmo payments to @athenslocallygrown or online payments through a card tied to your account. Venmo is free, and card payments have a 3% processing fee.
- We can not accept any recycling just yet, though that may change once we get settled.
- We cannot take your own bags or bins out of your car and fill them up
- If you’d like to go through your items before you leave to make sure you’ve got everything, or that we didn’t mix up people’s items, feel free to pull into the lot and have a look.
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 at our brand new home on Tallassee Road!
Other Area Farmers Markets
If ALG doesn’t have everything you need, please support our growers at the other markets that are now back up and running, or at their own locations. The Comedian takes online orders for Saturday pickup at the bakery here: https://www.thecomerian.com/online-ordering. The Athens Farmers Market is holding their Saturday market once again in Bishop Park. It’s not anything like it was before, so you’ll want to read up on all the changes on their website, http://athensfarmersmarket.net. The West Broad Farmers Market is back too, holding a drive through market just like us (and using my software too, so it’ll be nice and familiar). You can join them at https://wbfm.locallygrown.net. And of course Collective Harvest is going strong over at https://www.collectiveharvestathens.com.
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!