Asparagus alert! The first of the asparagus is here. It’s just the beginnings, so quantities are pretty limited, but we’ll be seeing a lot more in the weeks ahead.
The average last frost date for Athens falls this week, but you never know when a weird cold front will blow through, wreaking havoc on the little plants. It may be that we’ve already seen the last cold nights for the year, but ten days from now we might have to crank up the heaters again. If you’ve put out summer plants like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplants, keep an eye out on the forecast for the next week or two, just in case you need protect them. The average last frost date for some of our growers won’t come for another month, further up in the mountains, but that just means more variety for our market.
It’s really never too late to put something in the ground, and it’s prime planting season now. I was one of the founding farmers of Athens Locally Grown, back in 2002, but these days I’m living back in the city of Athens and lucky enough to have a house with a few raised beds right outside my back door. Springtime weather makes me want to throw seeds in every bit of dirt I can find, wherever I find it, so maybe this week I’ll also make another batch of native wildflower seed bombs for use in bare patches I run across while walking through the neighborhood.
If you’ve been preparing your garden, or just thinking about starting one, be sure to check out all of the live plants offered by our growers through Athens Locally Grown and the other area farmers markets. Sure, you could run off to Home Depot and buy some mass-produced seedlings soaked in synthetic fertilizers and sprayed with fumigants, but you can also get hardy seedlings grown by the same people cultivating plants for their own vegetable beds, free of synthetic chemicals, for the same prices.
Ordinarily we’d have dozens or even hundreds of seedlings available here through ALG, but that was one of the casualties of having to go into pandemic mode. I still haven’t come up with a good way to have them come from the grower in a way where we can organize them by customer and have them ready to load into your trunks. We’ve gotten really good at everything else, but that’s still a mystery. I’ll be keeping an ear out for plant sales and other ways you can get locally grown seedlings, and I’ll pass them along to you as I find them.
Why am I encouraging you to grow your own food when I’m in the business of helping growers sell you food they grow? For one, studies have shown (and my own experience confirms) that people who grow their own gardens tend to actually increase their yearly purchases at their local farmers markets. Once they take an interest their food so strong that they begin growing what they can, they find that they can rely even more on their local growers for things that they used to get at the grocery store. And besides, my goal for writing the software behind our market was for every community to become less reliant on food grown elsewhere and shipped in from long distances. And you having your own little patch of garden in your yard is a big step in helping Athens do just that.
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 market’s home on Tallassee Road!
We are still getting new customers every week (and we love seeing new masked faces!) so for all of you you can find a detailed run-down of how Thursdays go on our website here: https://athens.locallygrown.net/faq#7
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 Comerian 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. They’re still operating under pandemic rules, so you’ll want to read up on all the changes on their website, http://athensfarmersmarket.net. The West Broad Farmers Market is back, 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. The Culinary Kitchen of Athens has started a socially distanced winter market, Saturdays from 11am to 2pm at Hendershots on Prince. 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!