The Weblog

This page contains news, event information, and other items added by the market managers, including the weekly availability email. Be sure to check back regularly!



 
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Availability for March 25


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Savory-Sweet Rutabaga Pudding

Somewhere between a fluffy ricotta dessert and mashed potatoes, this delectable rutabaga pudding has all the qualities needed to become a standard in your culinary repertoire. This dish will surprise you in many ways: in taste, in texture, in ease of preparing, and in the compliments it will bring to your table. It pairs exceptionally well with lamb. From Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables.

Serves 6 to 8

1 large rutabaga (about 2 pounds), peeled, cut into 2-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
butter for greasing the baking dish
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon maple syrup
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup raisins, plumped in hot water for 15 minutes and drained (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rutabaga and 1 teaspoon salt, partially cover, and cook until the rutabaga is very soft, 30 to 45 minutes. (You will need to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.)
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with butter.
3. Beat the eggs and egg yolk in a medium bowl. Stir in the cream, bread crumbs, maple syrup, and nutmeg.
4. Drain the rutabaga, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Mash the rutabaga thoroughly with a potato masher or run it through a food mill. If the mixture seems dry, add a little of the reserved rutabaga water as you mash. Add the egg mixture, raisins, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of pepper; stir to combine.
5. Transfer the rutabaga pudding to the prepared baking dish. Smooth the top and dot with butter.
6. Bake until lightly golden on top, about 45 minutes. Serve hot.

Market News

As I type this, there are 669 products listed at Athens Locally Grown. I’m sure that’s a record for us for this time of year. If you take a spin through the new products carousel, you’ll find a whole bunch of products listed by a brand new producer, AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery. They produce a surprising variety of Greek yogurts and fresh mozzarella cheese using daily deliveries of milk from another one of our growers, Johnston Family Farm. The yogurt was a smash hit in the breakfast line during the Georgia Organics conference, and I think it’s going to be a hit here at Athens Locally Grown. It’s really, really good stuff.

AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery and CalyRoad Creamery (more on them later) are two examples of what I see as a clear sign that our local food system has reached another level of maturity. Not only do we have growers supporting themselves by selling what they have grown, but now we have a number of people who are supporting themselves selling products made with ingredients from the growers. You always here about the “multiplication effect” when discussing the value of local economies, and I can’t think of a better example than this. We have mills grinding locally grown grain, creameries transforming local milk, and bakers using local ingredients. Having these other outlets for their items lets our growers produce more with confidence, and encourages new growers to begin production. It’s a win-win for everyone, and brings us that much closer to being a community that can support itself.

And getting back to CalyRoad Creamery, this past week saw the annual “Flavor of Georgia” contest held in Georgia. Food producers from across the state submitted samples for judging, and in the dairy category CalyRoad’s Camembert cheese took the top prize. They have about a dozen listed on the site this week, if Camembert is your thing. I know that’s not a lot, but keep in mind they’re a brand new creamery. We’ll be seeing a lot more as time goes on.

Enjoy the first week of Spring, and please enjoy the fruits of all of our growers’ and producers’ labors! I’m very happy to see so much locally grown & produced food listed week after week. Thanks 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!

Coming Events

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for March 18


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Dandelion Columbo

This recipe was given to us by naturalist, author, and Chefs Collaborative supporter “Wildman” Steve Brill from his latest book, “The Wild Vegetarian Cookbook”. Brill leads public wild food and ecology tours throughout the greater New York area every weekend, and works with school classes and children’s groups during the week. He’s the author of several books but is best known for having been arrested and handcuffed by undercover park rangers for eating a dandelion in Central Park. He told us, “Like the curries of India, Columbo is a traditional blend of herbs. Originating in Sri Lanka and Senegal, it migrated to the French Antilles Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. A Haitian friend described it to me, I applied it to wild dandelions in America, and I’m offering it to you. Simple!” From Recipes from America’s Small Farms by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein.

Serves 6

6 cups dandelion leaves
1 medium cauliflower, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small hot peppers, seeds removed, or 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup silken tofu
1 1/2 tablespoons light miso
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon dried mustard

Sauté the dandelions, cauliflower, garlic, and hot peppers in the peanut oil for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the coconut milk, tofu, 1/4 cup water, miso, rum, coriander, turmeric, and mustard in a blender.

Mix the puree into the sauteed ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook another 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

Market News

It’s the last week of winter, finally. Not that I mind winter (I am a Yankee by birth, after all), but I really miss warm dry days. Seems like it’s been much longer than usual since we’ve had a nice string of those, and I have so much I want to get done in the garden.

It is time to get out and start playing in the dirt. If you have any space at all, even a few square feet, consider putting in a veggie garden this year. Buying your ingredients from local farmers is great and everything, but nothing really connects you with your food like walking out your door, picking things you like to eat, and then walking back into your kitchen to prepare them. And don’t worry about betraying your local farmers, because studies have shown that people who garden buy more at their local farmers markets, not less. It’s that connection with your food I just mentioned. The stronger that becomes, the more you seek out. It’s a virtuous cycle, one that benefits you, your community, and your world.

You’ll see that some of our growers are offering seedlings ready to go into your garden. Now is the time to plant leafy green, cabbage & other brassicas like broccoli, and root veggies (these usually from seed). All of these can be started from seed, but putting out transplants can make a healthier, stronger plant and get you a harvest a few weeks sooner. Unless you have a small greenhouse or other protected space, resist the urge to put out warm weather plants, especially tomatoes, no matter how nice the weather may get in the next few weeks. The average last frost date for Athens is mid-April, and even then it’s usually best to wait at least a week or two before setting out the summer plants. One grower is giving you a chance to buy your tomato plants now, and they’ll keep them safe for you until it’s time to plant. If you get any now, from one of our other growers or elsewhere, keep them nice and warm for another month or more before planting. Me, I have to wait even longer. I’ve got a weird micro-climate here at my farm that gives me a reliable frost right about May 10th each year.

The spring flowers are starting to come in, and I see a number of beautiful daffodil bouquets listed on the website. They look so beautiful, and I thought there must be a good culinary use for them too. Many fragrant flowers can also be eaten, but as I searched for daffodil recipes I kept drawing a blank. Turns out, they’re poisonous. Not terribly so, though some people can have bad reactions to them. I guess some things can only delight some of our senses.

That’s about all for this week. Be sure to look through the full listing in this email or on the website when placing your order. New products do show up in the New Products carousel, but the products returning from last year and previous springs do not count and will not show up there, even if they’ve not been listed for 50 weeks. There are some great returning products from your favorite growers throughout the listings, almost 600 in total!

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for March 11


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Microwave Maple-Glazed Carrots

Sure, it can be fun to slow down and take lots of time to prepare a fine meal with the vegetables you get at market, but often times you just need to get something on the table quickly. The growers at Carnegie Hill/Yorkville CSA in Manhattan offer this recipe for just such occasions. From Recipes from America’s Small Farms by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein.

Serves 8

1/2 cup orange juice
8 medium carrots, cut into rounds
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark raisins
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

Microwave the orange juice in a 6-cup microwave-safe dish for 1 minute on high power.

Add the carrots to the orange juice. Stir to coat the carrots with the juice. Cover and microwave for 8 or 9 minutes on high power.

Stir in the maple syrup, butter, raisins, and nutmeg (if using). Microwave, uncovered, for 2 minutes on high power. Stir, check for doneness, cook for another 1 minute on high power, if needed.

Market News

I finally got to spend some quality time out in my garden today, preparing space for spring planting. Our efforts have grown and shrank in recent years from growing enough to keep a weekly stall at the Saturday farmers market to just having a large household garden with the occasional Athens Locally Grown sales. The last several years in particular have been pretty scaled back, but I did manage to put in twenty-six permanent raised beds in the “square foot gardening” style. (You can see some photos here.) An amazing amount of food can be grown in just one of those four foot by four foot boxes, and having as many as I do seems like a luxury. My wife and I are still figuring out how much more to grow this year, but it’s probably about time we get back to growing in quantity again.

I never did put the garden properly to bed in the Fall, so today I was pulling out old vegetation, the trellises for last summer’s beans and tomatoes, and generally making them ready for new seeds. In the process, I found about ten pounds of carrots I never got around to harvesting. I knew there was some in there, but it was a pleasant surprise to find so many! I improvised a side dish for dinner with some of them, and when flipping through my cookbooks looking for a recipe to share with you tonight, I found the one you see over to the left. It’s almost exactly what I made, and it was very good.

Now that the ground has dried out a bit, I’ve called in a dump truck of gravel for the back area of Ben’s Bikes. That should help a lot when it rains, and with the time change coming up, the extra sunlight will make Thursday pickups even nicer. I’ll be spending time this week with the owners there drawing up concrete plans for an awning and other outdoor improvements to really make it a pleasant experience for all of us, and give us some usable all-weather outdoor space. We’ll certainly need that as we grow into the summer harvest. As with everything we do, we’ll be on a shoestring budget, and we’re planning on having at least one volunteer workday. I’ll keep you informed there.

Ben’s Bikes is a central location, and the people there are firmly behind what we’re doing. THey’re hosting the second meeting of Athens’ new permaculture group tomorrow night at 6pm, which will include a viewing of Bill Mollison’s film “The Global Gardener”. The group is still getting organized, and if you’re interested in permanently sustainable gardening, whether just for your home landscaping or an a farm scale, this is a group for you.

That about covers it for this week. There are a lot of great new products listed on the website this week, and a good deal more returning from last spring. Have at it!

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for March 4


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Cauliflower Marranca

A simple spring recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.

Serves 5-6

1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 lg onion, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 lg head cauliflower, in pieces
3 cloves crushed garlic
basil, salt, and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked brown rice, millet, or other whole grain
2 1/2 cups grated cheese of your choice

Saute the mushroom and onion together with the lemon juice in a little butter. Separately saute the cauliflower with the garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Combine both sautes and remaining ingredients in a baking dish and bake, covered, a half hour at 350 degrees.

Market News

Those of you who have read my last few mailings know that I’ve had a busy few weeks lately. I compensated this week by not doing much of anything other than catching up with my wife and daughters, and consequently falling behind on my “things that need doing” list. That’s ok, though. It was worth it. Still, there are a few things to report.

First, last weekend the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against both the United States Food & Drug Administration and the United States Department of Health and Human Services that aims to re-establish the consumer’s right to cross state lines to purchase raw milk when it is a legal product where it is purchased. I was named a plaintiff in the suit (as was one other Athens Locally Grown member), and hope that it will eventually allow you to once again purchase raw milk from the USDA Grade A dairies in South Carolina that sold through our market before the FDA shut that down last October. If you’d like to read the full complain, you can find it as a PDF file here. Even if everything happens quickly, it’ll still be several months before there’s a resolution, so I’ll keep you informed. The defense fund is fronting all of the costs for this, thanks to its many members. If you have the money to spare and would like to become a member yourself, they do have details on their website. I also saved all of the milk cartons from the FDA mandated milk dumping at my farm last fall, and am putting together an online fundraiser for the fund where we’ll be auctioning them off, signed, as commemorations of the seizure & dumping. I planned on having that ready to announce tonight, but that was one of the things on my list…

There are also two proposals to legalize raw milk within Georgia in the state house right now. They’re focusing exclusively on the budget crisis right now, so not much has been done on either one of them.

Second, we are putting things in gear for the warm weather. We will be having out popular monthly “Farmer for a Day” work events and farm tours again this year, and have begun planning for those. We’ll be announcing the schedule as soon as it gets hashed out. I was amused to read an article in the New York Times this week that made the rounds about a group of people that shows up at a farm and performs several hours of simple work, getting done in one day what would have taken the farmer weeks to get done. The article called them “crop mobs”, a play on the “flash mob” concept one sees in cities from time to time. To me, it sounded just like our Farmer for the Day events, except those farm mobs didn’t get few lunch and get a nice tour afterwards. I guess I’ll need to invite a writer for the Times along this year.

There are many new products on the “New Products” carousel this week, and as things warm up, we’ll be seeing more and more. The Camembert cheese caught my eye, and is among the first of several new local cheese we’ll be seeing in coming weeks. Increasing the variety of cheeses available through ALG was one of my goals for this year, and I’m very happy to report that at least three new cheesemakers have been certified by the state, and I expect to see products from all three in the near future. I didn’t have anything to do with their efforts, but I’ll be happy to cross that item off my to-do list just the same.

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter, but will be opening back up in a couple months. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for February 25


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Swiss Chard Stem Gratin

Most green leafy vegetable stems are just as delicious as the leaves and can be included in any dish you are making. Depending on the recipe, you may have to give the stems a few minutes head start in boiling water. Or, you can just save them up for variations on this unusual recipe. From Recipes from America’s Small Farms by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein.

Serves 4

Swiss chard stems from two large bunches, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
3 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a small casserole. In a large skillet, saute the Swiss chard stems, shallots, and garlic in the oil over medium-high heat for about two minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and the nutmeg; cook until the vegetables are tender, about another 4 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to the buttered casserole. Drizzle with the cream. Combine the bread crumbs and cheese and sprinkle over the top. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the crumb mixture begins to brown. Serve immediately.

Market News

The past few days here in Athens have been among the most affirming for me since I started managing Athens Locally Grown. On Thursday, about a dozen managers from markets similar to ALG came into town and spent the day with me. We could have spent several days more, swapping stories, strategies, pitfalls to avoid, and so on. It’s one thing to see dots on a map on a website, representing communities that are following in our footsteps, but it’s another thing altogether to have people in those communities together in a room talking face to face. Hopefully I can make this little get-together a regular thing.

And then on Friday and Saturday, Georgia Organics brought their annual conference to town. More than just a farming conference, this event brings together growers, chefs, people passionate about the food they eat, and other interested parties along the chain from field to plate. And of course, one of their goals is to make that chain as short as possible, and everyone along the way as healthy as possible. I go for the conversations in the halls and during meals as much as the sessions. Of all the conversations I had, one may have helped resolve a problem I’ve had for several years now: a bureaucratic roadblock preventing Athens Locally Grown from accepting EBT cards. The roadblock’s not gone yet, but at the vary least I gained some valuable allies and hope to make some headway this week.

On Saturday afternoon, I (and Todd Lister, from Veribest Farms) presented a 90 minutes session to a full room on how Athens Locally Grown works. We both were mobbed by excited people at the end and spent at least another half hour answering questions. It’s wonderful to be a part of something as great as what we all have here, and to be able to help other people and communities create the same. It’s such a simple thing, that a community should have a safe and secure food supply, but we’ve all lost that in the last 75 years. People are hungry to return to that security and in our industrialized society it seems so often like a lost cause, but it’s not. We’re all working together to help Athens regain that security, and the same thing can be done elsewhere.

The conference culminated Saturday night with a fantastic Farmers Feast. I don’t know where else you could find this: 40 of the finest chefs Georgia has to offer, led by Athens’ own Hugh Acheson, prepared a meal for 900 guests created exclusively from local ingredients. It ranks up there with one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The keynote speaker after dinner was Carlo Petrini, the founder and leader of Slow Food movement. He gave a rousing and intimate talk in his native Italian (aided by a lovely translator) that was equal parts inspirational and a call to action. I’m still digesting what he said, and will seed future newsletters with what I took away from it all. Last year’s speaker was Michael Pollan and was great, but Petrini had him beat.

And finally today had the annual Taste of Athens, a benefit for Community Connection. Four or five dozen local restaurants and food businesses were there, demonstrating in another way the strength of our local food system. Sure, much (most) of the food served was grown somewhere else, but there was a notable emphasis on fresh ingredients, sourced locally when possible. What was a fringe position only a few years ago has hit the mainstream, and it’s just that kind of awareness and broad support that is necessary to make systemic change. I won’t say that we’re at a tipping point, or that a change to a better food system is ensured, but everywhere I look, I see more signs that give me hope.

If you’d like to be a more direct agent of change for Athens, an Athens Permaculture group is forming and will be having their first meeting this Tuesday evening at 6pm at Ben’s Bikes (our pickup location). They’ll be watching a movie titled “The Power of Community” and discussing how to implement things locally.

It’s getting late, so I better stop typing. There are a number of new items listed this week, including greenhouse tomatoes from Commerce, heritage breed chicken from Walton County, family heirloom Collards from Hartwell, and many other items besides.

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

We’re starting to put a plan together on how best to use the space at Ben’s Bikes when the weather warms up and we really fill the back room. The first thing we want to tackle is the parking/walking space outside. The rain really did a number on the soil, and to make things worse the last storm took out one of those huge pecan trees behind the building. The heavy equipment needed to cut the thing up turned a large area of the lot to mud. We want to spread some gravel back there. Do any of you know of a source of free or cheap gravel that we can get delivered to the lot there? We can spread it around, but if the deliverer is able to do that too, so much the better. ALG depends on volunteer labor, so we don’t have much funds for this sort of thing. If you know of anyone who can help with this, please let me know.

We’re also making plans for an awning to give us more working space outdoors. We’ll put out a call for workers when it’s time to build that.

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for February 18


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Veloute a la Dubarry (Cauliflower Veloute)

From Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette.

Serves 4

1 lb cauliflower
2 leeks (white part only)
1 potato, peeled
7 cups water
4 T butter
3 T flour
salt & white pepper to taste
2 egg yolks
1 c dry vermouth
2 T sour cream
pinch of nutmeg

1. Chop the cauliflower and leeks and dice the potato. Place them in a large pot. Add the water and cook slowly, covered, over low-medium heat for 30 minutes.
2. Melt the butter in a separate pot. Gradually add the flour, salt, and pepper and make a roux (thickener), while stirring vigorously. Add some of the broth from the soup and mix well.
3. Place some cooked cauliflower florets aside, then blend the rest of the vegetable mix in a blender. Return the soup to a clean soup pot. Add the roux, stir, and continue cooking, uncovered, over very low heat, not allowing the soup to reach the boiling point.
4. In a deep bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the vermouth and sour cream and mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture into the soup. Add the nutmeg and stir well. Check the seasonings. Reheat the soup for a few minutes if it is cold, but again, do not allow it to boil. Serve hot, with the reserved cauliflower on top as a garnish.

Market News

It’s been a whirlwind of a week at my place this week. Our new daughter, Juniper, was born on Tuesday and after some minor complications both she and my wife came home on Friday. Everyone is doing well, and Vivian is settling into her role as big sister nicely. The Friday snow made the day almost overwhelming with excitement for her.

In the meantime, we (along with many, many other people) are preparing for the Georgia Organics conference coming to town this week. For several days, Athens and the local food system we’ve all helped put into place will get the full attention of a number of people from Georgia, the Southeast, and beyond. The conference and keynote address is sold out, but there is a public opening night reception Friday from 5 to 7:30 at the Classic Center. Entry is $10 at the door, and includes music from Hope For AGoldenSummer, pizzas baked by Mellow Mushroom with toppings from Athens Locally Grown, the tradeshow floor open, and other activities. In addition, venues throughout downtown including Farm 255 and Cine will be hosting open events related to the conference but not requiring a conference badge.

Many of our growers re hosting farm tours on Friday. I’ll be speaking at a session on Saturday about Athens Locally Grown and the locallygrown.net website in general. And the conference culminates Saturday with a “farmer’s feast” prepared by the finest chefs in the state (led by Athens’ own Hugh Acheson). The meal last year ranks right up there with one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and even if there were nothing else of interest during the conference I’d be looking forward to this.

If you’re not able to participate but want to follow along, Georgia Organics has created a social media hub that will tie together the online discussion in real time. Yes, some of us are old farmers with a mule, but we’re certainly not what you might picture when you think of old farmers with mules.

Also going on this Thursday is my own little min-conference bringing together several market managers of other markets, CSAs, and farms using locallygrown.net in their communities. We’ll be finishing out the day at Ben’s Bikes so they can see the Athens pickup first hand, so you may see a few new faces behind the tables when you get there.

And speaking of the tables at BEn’s Bikes, today I uploaded a video to YouTube that shows exactly what goes on in there before you arrive after 4:30. The growers, market volunteers, and I all arrive at 3:30 to put everything together, unload all the trucks, organize all the items, and try to get everything in place so it’ll go smoother for you when you arrive. I’ve condensed that hour down to eight minutes, added some nice music, and added captions to explain what’s going on. You can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrP14KjI5v0. Feel free to pass it along to your friends!

That’s about it for this week. It’s a little early to be opening market, but somehow I doubt you’ll mind. Have a good week!

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

We’re starting to put a plan together on how best to use the space at Ben’s Bikes when the weather warms up and we really fill the back room. The first thing we want to tackle is the parking/walking space outside. The rain really did a number on the soil, and to make things worse the last storm took out one of those huge pecan trees behind the building. The heavy equipment needed to cut the thing up turned a large area of the lot to mud. We want to spread some gravel back there. Do any of you know of a source of free or cheap gravel that we can get delivered to the lot there? We can spread it around, but if the deliverer is able to do that too, so much the better. ALG depends on volunteer labor, so we don’t have much funds for this sort of thing. If you know of anyone who can help with this, please let me know.

We’re also making plans for an awning to give us more working space outdoors. We’ll put out a call for workers when it’s time to build that.

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for February 11


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Cabbage Soup)

Though this recipe calls for cabbage, you can also use most any green available this time of year, including kale, chard, or broccoli leaves. From Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette.

Serves 6

1/2 cup olive oil
3 onions, chopped
6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small cabbage,chopped
8 cups chicken stock, veggie stock, or water
1 cup white wine
salt & pepper to taste

1. Pour the oil into a soup pot and saute the onions lightly for up to about 5 minutes. Stir often.
2. Add the potatoes, cabbage, chicken stock, wine, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer the soup for about 1 hour. Then turn off the heat and let the soup rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Market News

There’s not a lot to report this week. We got another four or five inches of rain, making getting out and starting the prep on the spring beds a bit difficult. The rivers out here are way up, and have been for some time, which tells me the ground water is recharged for the moment. It wasn’t that long ago that people’s wells were running dry and ponds were just a dirty spot of clay in the pastures, but now things are as full as they’ve ever been. Funny how quickly things can swing between extremes.

I talked last week about the Georgia Organics conference coming to Athens next week. It’s since sold out, but there will be tickets at the door for the Friday evening reception and affiliated events throughout downtown all weekend. There’s one other event going on next Thursday that’s special to me: the first ever conference for market managers of locallygrown.net markets. It’s been a while since I mentioned it, so some of you might not be aware that there are many other communities across the country and into Canada that are also using the locallygrown.net website to run markets for their growers and residents. We happened to be the first, and enough groups wanted to follow in our example that in 2007 I opened the system up for them to use. There are now over 100 markets up and running, and more get started every single week. Just last week, total sales of locally grown food to local customers passed $2,000,000 since I opened the doors.

Two million dollars is still just a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount spent on our food, but many of the markets are in communities that had no farmers market at all before and now have one that is thriving, with new growers getting started and more and more people buying from them. I’m very happy to have helped in some way to get that ball rolling, and I’m excited for the future of local foods. So, next Thursday a number of market managers are coming to town to talk about what’s worked for them, things that could go a little bit better, and to get ideas to take home. We’ll end the day at the Athens Locally Grown pickup. We’re still by far the largest market using the system, and they’re eager to see how we work first hand. By several metrics (number of vendors, variety of products, total market sales), Athens Locally Grown is actually one of the largest farmers markets of any sort in the Southeast! It’s hard to tell that when we’ve got everything crammed into one small back room of a bicycle repair shop, but it’s true.

So, when you brag to your out of town friends about Athens Locally Grown, tell them to take a look at http://www.locallygrown.net/markets because there may well be a similar market near them, just waiting on more customers, which attracts more vendors, which attracts more customers, and so on, until before you know it, another community has gone a long way toward being able to feed itself.

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

We’re starting to put a plan together on how best to use the space at Ben’s Bikes when the weather warms up and we really fill the back room. The first thing we want to tackle is the parking/walking space outside. The rain really did a number on the soil, and to make things worse the last storm took out one of those huge pecan trees behind the building. The heavy equipment needed to cut the thing up turned a large area of the lot to mud. We want to spread some gravel back there. Do any of you know of a source of free or cheap gravel that we can get delivered to the lot there? We can spread it around, but if the deliverer is able to do that too, so much the better. ALG depends on volunteer labor, so we don’t have much funds for this sort of thing. If you know of anyone who can help with this, please let me know.

We’re also making plans for an awning to give us more working space outdoors. We’ll put out a call for workers when it’s time to build that.

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for February 4


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Colcannon

You’ll find this classic dish on the menu at any real Irish restaurant. It’s a recipe that takes two staples of the island, potatoes and kale (or sometimes cabbage), and transforms them into a dish truly worthy of the word classic. From Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables.

Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds medium boiling potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
2 teaspoons salt, divided, plus more to taste
1 1/2–2 pounds kale (15–20 large leaves)
1 cup chopped leeks or scallions
1 cup half-and-half or milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Put the whole potatoes in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and boil until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash. Put in a heatproof dish and keep warm in a 200F oven.
2. Meanwhile, put the kale in a pot, cover with water, and bring to boil. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. (There you go Mrs. Nesbit, it’s in the directions. Don’t worry, everyone will do it this way now that it’s spelled out exactly.) Drain and finely chop the kale.
3. Place the leeks or scallions in a small pot, cover with the half- and-half, and cook over low heat until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Add the kale to the warm potatoes and mix well. Add the half- and-half with leeks or scallions. Add pepper; season with salt.
5. Spoon a little of the melted butter over each serving and serve hot.

Market News

So last week I’d briefly mentioned that I had returned that day from several days in Chattanooga, TN, for the annual Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference. About 1200 people, mostly farmers, attend the conference each year to share experiences, learn from one another and from researchers from around the world, and to socialize with others who know first hand what it takes to grow food in a responsible manner. It’s mostly an educational working conference, with sessions lasting from 90 minutes to a day and a half, full of in depth information on every aspect of growing and marketing vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, and so forth. It has the scale of a national conference with a focus on the south, and is my favorite place to go to learn about the trade. It’ll be held one more time in Chattanooga next year before moving off somewhere further away, so mark your calendars now for January 19-22 2011 if this at all appeals to you.

Even closer to home, the annual Georgia Organics Conference is being held here in Athens on February 19th & 20th. The GO conference is much more of a “fun” conference, but just as educational. GO has not just sessions for growers, but also for “eaters” (for lack of a better term), educators, chefs, and everyone else from field to plate. And, unlike a convention of, say, vacuum cleaner salesmen who might descend upon a town and then leave, the GO conference is all about the community that is hosting it. Our growers are hosting tours at their farms and speaking at the sessions, our chefs are cooking the meals using ingredients from our farms, our community organizers are bringing attention to our local food projects, and so on. And the keynote dinner every year ranks up there with the best meals I’ve ever had. Not just at a conference, but anywhere. And I’m happy to have heard this week that Athens is so rich in things to show, our food culture is so strong, that GO plans on regularly returning every three years or so. There’s just too much going on for the attendees to see it all in two days.

This year, they’re making a portion of the program open to the public without requiring a full conference registration. On Friday, February 19th from 5pm to 7:30, an opening night reception will be held at the Classic Center, with music from Hope For AGoldenSummer, food, the tradeshow floor open, and other activities. They’re still finalizing the details, and I’ll pass them to you as I hear them. If you’d like to attend the entire conference, you can register or just find more details at their website, linked above.

So, that’s it on the conference front. This is the closest to “down time” that the growers get, but they’re getting right back into the fields to start direct seeding for spring crops, in the greenhouses to start seedlings for transplanting later, prepping new beds, and generally laying the groundwork for a year that’s better and more productive than the last. And of course our growers that have been going year round (which is many of them now, thanks to you being here to give them a market) have never stopped. They’ve been working through the rain and ice to keep their gardens producing for us. There are even a few new products listed this week!

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

We’re starting to put a plan together on how best to use the space at Ben’s Bikes when the weather warms up and we really fill the back room. The first thing we want to tackle is the parking/walking space outside. The rain really did a number on the soil, and to make things worse the last storm took out one of those huge pecan trees behind the building. The heavy equipment needed to cut the thing up turned a large area of the lot to mud. We want to spread some gravel back there. Do any of you know of a source of free or cheap gravel that we can get delivered to the lot there? We can spread it around, but if the deliverer is able to do that too, so much the better. ALG depends on volunteer labor, so we don’t have much funds for this sort of thing. If you know of anyone who can help with this, please let me know.

We’re also making plans for an awning to give us more working space outdoors. We’ll put out a call for workers when it’s time to build that.

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!

Availability for January 28


Hello! We’re in between thunderstorms and it looks like the growers have all finished listing their items, so I’m going to go ahead and open market while we still have power to the house. I’ve spent the last five days at the SSAWG conference in Chattanooga, TN. About 1200 sustainable growers from around the country joined me there, and as always, it was very inspirational. I’ll be sure to tell you more later.

Thanks for all your support of Athens Locally Grown! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Ben’s Bikes.

Availability for January 21


To Contact Us

Athens Locally Grown
athens.locallygrown.net
On Twitter: @athlocallygrown

Recipes

Curried Winter Squash Soup

Late in the season, when the sun seems never to shine, and the winds come, and it’s cold, the farm kitchen smells of this soup. It’s filling, and it warms the soul on days when the last thing you want to do is to be outside prepping the fields for next year. From Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables.

Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped scallions (about 6 scallions)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 pounds butternut squash (about 1/2 large squash), peeled, seeded, cubed
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, or 2 cups peeled, chopped fresh tomatoes
12 whole fresh curry leaves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions; sauté until soft and wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, jalapeno, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
2. Add the squash and toss to coat it with the scallion mixture. Add the stock, tomatoes, curry leaves, allspice, mace, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash is very tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.
3. Transfer the soup in batches to a blender or food processor; puree.
4. Transfer the soup back to the pot. Stir in the curry powder and add salt and pepper to taste. Return the soup to a simmer to heat through. Garnish with parsley just before serving.

Market News

In the past two weeks I’ve talked about the legal organization and considerations behind our market and then the financial operation that keeps everything running. I’ll wrap up my yearly primer on Athens Locally Grown this week with a few words about our growers and other market vendors.

First and foremost, let me preface everything by saying the decision to let a new grower into the market is always made by me alone. I know the Saturday Athens Farmers Market got some press this year regarding one vendor in particular feeling left out of the market and complains that the committee running that market was a little too closed. Well, my efforts to run ALG in a cooperative manner aside, the responsibility here comes back to me. There’s no committee, and no formal application process. That doesn’t mean we don’t have standards, of course, and actually I think I’ve set the bar pretty high. A good number of our growers also go above and beyond to only bring “the best of the best”, and that pushes the standards even higher. I’ve never put them down on paper, but here’s a summary:

  • All growers must use sustainable practices and never use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. I’ll come back to this later.
  • All growers can only sell what they themselves have grown
  • All growers must be from the greater Athens area. Right now, this means within about 75 miles
  • All animals raised for meat or eggs must be pastured
  • Handicrafts must be made primarily from items produced or gathered on the farm
  • Prepared foods must use organic ingredients if at all possible, and locally grown ingredients if at all possible
  • All proper licenses, when required by law, must be obtained

That about covers everything, I think. When I’ve turned down requests to sell through ALG (and I have turned down many), the items clearly broke one or more of those standards. There are a few edge cases that I take on a case by case basis. Coffee is one. 1000 Faces was our first coffee vendor, and they offered direct trade coffees (they purchased directly from the coffee growers with no distributor or middle man) and did all the roasting and packaging themselves and to order. That set the standard, and other coffee vendors (such as GranCoffee Roasting Co.) have to match it. Mills Farm was a founding ALG member, but they buy in organic grains for their mill. We now have Sylvan Falls Mill in Rabun Gap as a vendor, and they buy all their grains from local (to them) organic growers. From now on, all future millers wanting to sell through ALG will have to meet that standard. And so on.

Let me get back to that first requirement: “sustainable practices”. There’s no set definition of that, and there’s really a sliding scale. For example, I sometimes use a gasoline-powered rototiller, and both the no-till growers and the no-hydrocarbon growers would frown upon that. There is a generally accepted definition of what is “conventional” agriculture, and that includes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and confined and grain-fed animals. Those are easy to exclude. At the other end, there is the USDA Organic Certification and Certified Naturally Grown certification. Few small diversified growers can meet the expense of USDA certification, but a good number of our growers are CNG certified. This program uses the USDA rules as a starting point, made a few things more strict, and uses a system of growers certifying other growers to keep things honest. My farm has been CNG certified for eight years, and many others area farms have followed since then. If a new grower does not have a certification, then I talk to them, get information about them, and visit their farm in person when necessary. A good number of our growers were ALG customers long before growing for market themselves, so I’ve gotten to know the people and the decision to let them in was easy.

In short: the growers have satisfied my standards, and I personally have approved them for inclusion in ALG. However, I want you to not just take my word for it. We have monthly farm tours during the warm seasons so you can go on-site yourself and see the farms in action. We have a semi-regular “meet the grower” table at the Thursday pickups so you can talk with the growers yourself face-to-face. We encourage them to take photos for their online photo album, to describe their practices, and to take care with their product listings. We want to facilitate communication between you and them, so when you place an order, they see your name and email address in case they need to clarify a request or offer a substitution, and likewise for most of our growers you can see their contact info when you view their grower profile (while logged into the site) so you can get clarification from them when needed.

Hopefully that explains how our growers get into ALG, what standards they have to meet, and so on. It’s a very important topic, perhaps the most important one for our market, but much of it goes on behind the scenes. I know you’ve put your trust in me, and I take that very seriously, I’ll be in Chattanooga this week for the annual Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference, but if you’d like to talk with me in person in future weeks about this or any other aspects of ALG, I’d love to do so. Just pull me aside when you come by to pick up your order.

Now, onto the food! The week of freezing temps has done a number on our availability. We’re down to a mere 501 products listed this week. Still, the leafy greens will bounce back quickly, and I see lots of sun in the coming weather forecast. So, hopefully this current lull will be a short-term thing.

Thanks 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!

Coming Events

We’re starting to put a plan together on how best to use the space at Ben’s Bikes when the weather warms up and we really fill the back room. The first thing we want to tackle is the parking/walking space outside. The rain really did a number on the soil, and to make things worse the last storm took out one of those huge pecan trees behind the building. The heavy equipment needed to cut the thing up turned a large area of the lot to mud. We want to spread some gravel back there. Do any of you know of a source of free or cheap gravel that we can get delivered to the lot there? We can spread it around, but if the deliverer is able to do that too, so much the better. ALG depends on volunteer labor, so we don’t have much funds for this sort of thing. If you know of anyone who can help with this, please let me know.

We’re also making plans for an awning to give us more working space outdoors. We’ll put out a call for workers when it’s time to build that.

The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.

Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!

We thank you for your interest and support of our efforts to bring you the healthiest, the freshest and the most delicious locally-produced foods possible!