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 November 6


I tell you what… I’m tired. I think I could really use a weekend. My family spent the last three days at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s conference, held this year just across the state line in Anderson, SC. I’ve always wanted to go to this one, and couldn’t miss it since it was so close. Athens Locally Grown was well represented there, as many of our growers were also in attendance. LD Peeler, owner of Milky Way Dairy, was even elected to the CFSA board of directors. I also finally got to meet Donna Putney, who started Upstate, SC Locally Grown over a year ago.

The weekend before I was at the Financial Permaculture Summit in Hohenwald, TN. This was entirely unlike anything else I’ve participated in, and in a great way. Four teams with members from around the world worked non-stop for four days building a business from scratch that could be successful in Hohenwald. Each team had one focus: food and farm, ethanol and biofuels, green small business incubation, and renewable construction and salvage. I was the food and farm “resident expert” for the two days I was there, doing what I could to help my team along. After I left, the teams pitched their businesses to a panel of locals with the means to invest in these businesses. And, ideally, the attendees were able to take what they learned back to their own communities and help create similar businesses there. There were giants from the world of finance there, and it was a really interesting dynamic when that world and the often fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants world of permaculture worked together to get things done.

Back here in Athens, our growers have been very busy, as usual. The fall greens are really coming in heavy now, and the first of the broccoli heads have also arrived. It’s sweet potato digging time, and so now is the time to stock up. They keep very well, so you can buy now and store them through the holidays with no trouble at all.

The time change means we’ll be working in the dark for most of the Thursday pickup. Those of you that have been coming during the daylight have missed our light show. The building we’re in has no power (and no chance of getting power), so we bring our own lighting, a combination of rechargable LED worklights magnetically mounted to the steel beams, old fashioned propane lanterns, and head lamps (miner style). We’ve had several weeks to work the kinks out, and I think we’re prepared. To those not familiar with how Athens Locally Grown works, the whole notion of a market of our scale just materializing out of thin air is pretty crazy, and seeing us work in the dark just makes it more so.

We do thank you for all of your support. We will be going right through the winter (except for the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas), and our growers couldn’t continue through this season without the demand you have created for them. We’ll see you on Thursday, from 4:30 to 8pm at the old farms market on Broad Street. You can’t miss us – we’ll be the crazy folks running around with lights on our foreheads.

Availability For October 30


Happy Halloween!

Aaaah, my favorite season!! Eric has been in Tennessee this past weekend, presenting Locally Grown at the Financial Permaculture 5 Day Course. I am sure he will have a great report when he gets back!

Next weekend, we are looking forward to the 23rd Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Anderson, SC, offered by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Milky Way Farm and Split Creek Farm will both be participating in the farm tours. It is definitely conference season!

Check it out: www.carolinafarmstewards.org/sac08/index.html

I hope you are thoroughly enjoying this lovely autumn, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone at market this Thursday!

Chris

Availability for October 23


The cold nights are a sure sign that winter is on its way. We’re expecting our first frost tonight, and had to turn on the house furnace for the first time since March. The growers closer to town probably won’t get a frost tonight, so odds are there will still be a few more tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and basil to go around.

We also have the first of the fall lettuce mixes listed this week. In fact, with the summer items still listed and a whole big batch of new items arriving this week, we’ve got a record 636 items available for you. I know that’s only a couple aisles of a Kroger, but considering everything listed is from 75 miles away or less, I think that’s pretty outstanding!

Yesterday was our “Hunters Moon Feast”, held out at our farm. Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed the day with us! It was a nice laid back affair, with lots of great food, conversation, and peace. The first guests arrived yesterday at about 2pm, and the last one left today at noon. Any celebration that goes on for a full day is OK in my book!

This coming weekend, I’ll be away in Tennessee for an intensive conference on Financial Permaculture where I’ll be educating the attendees on the details of running a Locally Grown market and helping them implement markets in their own communities. I’ll actually be leaving Hohenwald, Tennessee at about 10pm on Sunday, so I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be able to open the market. It may be early, or it may be sometime in the middle of the night. You’ll get the regular email whenever I do it, though.

Thank you so much for all your support of locally grown food! We’ll see you at the old farmers market on Broad Street on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm.

Availability for October 16


Last weekend I was doing some bed preparation for a late planting of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and other brassicas. The ground was as dusty as I’ve ever seen it, and with every turn of the bed fork, a puff of dust got picked up by the breeze. Today, though, after a couple days of good steady rain, things look so much better. We’re still way under for the year, but it’s so nice to have rain, even for a little while.

We’ve been getting our place ready to host Locally Grown’s Hunter’s Moon Feast next Saturday. Last year was our first one, and we had a steady stream of visitors all day long, several campers who joined us for the night on the river bank, and a rolling banquet of locally grown foods that would rival the offerings from any chef. It’s free to all Locally Grown members and your guests, and we only ask that you make reservations when you place your order (look in the “Event Reservations” category) and bring a dish to share. We’ll send out directions to everyone with reservations later this week, and we’d love to see you here.

Our market got a little exposure last week when Gourmet Magazine featured a little story about us on their website. We thank Gourmet writer Lisa Abend, who happened to be visiting friends in Athens while on a trip all the way from Spain, for writing the nice piece on us.

There are plenty of new items listed this week, along with many of your favorites from the past weeks. I see an abundance of green beans, but they won’t be here long. They’re very easy to freeze (trim, dip in boiling water for 20 – 30 seconds, dip in ice water to cool, put in zip-top freezer bag), so stock up now to have the taste of fresh beans for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old farmers market on Broad Street. Thank you for all of your continued support!

Availability for October 9


I see over 550 products available this week, including a number of new items. The nights are getting colder, and I expect the first frost at my place sometime in the next two weeks. In Athens it generally arrives by the end of the month, but my farm has a microclimate that makes it arrive a bit earlier. Once it does come, all of the tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant, and so on will be no more. It’s possible a few growers will try to extend the season under plastic or in a greenhouse, but for the rest of us the summer season is nearly over.

Athens Locally Grown does go year round, though, so when that happens, we’ll just move full on into the fall and winter crops. Fresh salads, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, turnips, and so on are on the way (and in some cases have already arrived).

It’s starting to get dark halfway through the Thursday pickups. We’re adapting as we can, but with no power to the structure we’re using, our options were limited to what we could bring with us. Rather than running a generator, I decided on some rechargeable LED worklights with magnetic bases that we can stick to the girders. Right now, we’ve got 20 of them (at $20 a pop), and that seems to be enough for the moment. When it gets cold, we’ll just have to wear our parkas — there’s no heat, either.

Speaking of finances, there’s been a trend that is getting hard to ignore. We went the first three years with only one bounced check, but we’ve grown to the point (and the economy’s gotten worse to the point) where I’m getting about one a week. Most everyone has been good at settling up, so it hasn’t become a crisis yet, but I’m keeping my eye on it. We could move to a pre-pay system, or take deposits from new members, or some other solution down the road if needed, but I’m hoping we can keep things just the way they are. Remember that Athens Locally Grown isn’t like many businesses. The growers set their own prices and are selling directly to you. They get 90 cents on the dollar and the rest goes back to the market to cover expenses. Most of that goes to paying the veggie credit the market helpers get for volunteering each week (6 to 8 of them now), and the rest goes toward other expenses such as those lights and all those cots, and so forth. It’s enough to let us break even, which is my goal, but having to cover bounced checks and orders not picked up and never paid for generally come out of my pocket.

Still, as I said, it’s not a crisis and won’t affect how the market is run for the time being, but it’s something I’ll have to keep an eye on and adapt to as needed.

Thank you for all of the support you have given your local growers and Athens Locally Grown. I can’t stress enough how much that has meant to all of us! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old farmers market on Broad Street.

Availability for October 2


As we arrive into October, there are still over 500 items listed at our market this week. I see quite a few new items, as well as the first flush of sweet potatoes, more crops of summer squash, beans, broccoli greens, and just a great overall mix of the fading summer harvest and the returning fall harvest.

I’ve started preparing my place for hosting our annual “Hunters Moon Feast”, coming up on the 18th (and into the 19th, if you’d like to camp out that night). It’s free for locally grown members, but we do need you to make reservations by adding the appropriate number to your order. You’ll find it listed in the “Event Reservations” category. I’ll be barbecuing and grilling a variety of meats from Locally Grown, and you can bring a dish to share. (And you vegetarians & vegans out there, please don’t let my grill keep you from coming. I’d love to taste your dishes, too.)

Besides cleaning and generally making the place look nice, I also started brewing five gallons of apple cider yesterday, using a mix of heirloom apples from “up the road” from me at Hillside Orchards in Clayton. I’d have used apples from Locally Grown, but I’m afraid it would have used them all! Anyway, I pressed two bushels for this batch, and the process went well enough and I have enough bushels left over that I know we can have fresh-pressed apple juice (in addition to the hard stuff, for those wanting) at the harvest feast. Here’re a few pictures of the process.

In other news, Georgia Organics, our state’s leading organization for sustainable agriculture and those who enjoy its fruits, has just released its annual local food guide, an invaluable resource for those looking for locally grown food throughout the state. Also, their latest newsletter contains a lengthly and brilliantly written article on why organic matters, written by Locally Grown member grower Jamie Swedberg of 10 Signs Garden & Gourmet. We’ll have many copies of both, free for the taking, at market this week. Additionally, Georgia Organics is currently having a membership drive, and all new or renewing memberships by the end of the year also get a free yearly subscription to the venerable Organic Gardening magazine, so now is an even better time than usual to join!

We all thank you for your continuing support of your local food producers. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market on Broad Street!

Availability for September 25


We had a great day today at Backyard Harvest, where Boo & Becky Rothberg gave us a full tour of their beautiful farm, let us help them plant and mulch, and even cooked us some lunch using ingredients we brought in from the gardens ourselves. It was the last of our “Farmer For a Day” events for the year, but I’m sure we’ll have a new lineup of hosting farms for you next spring.

There is one more event coming up, held at my place in Royston on October 18th. Where the Farmer for a Day events were open to the general public as a way to help spread the word about Locally Grown, my “Hunter’s Moon Feast” is just for you, our market members, to celebrate another fantastic year of Athens Locally Grown (our seventh!). The feast is free, but we do ask that you make reservations (look in the “Event Reservations” category) and bring a dish to share.

With the nights dropping down into the fifties, the summer produce is really starting to slow down. There’s still a great variety of tomatoes, for example, but the overall quantity is dropping fast. You’ll have a couple more weeks to gorge yourself on heirloom tomato sandwiches (eaten over the sink since the juice drips down your elbows, naturally) before they vanish until next summer. Such is the nature of eating seasonally, but on the upside the absence of a top notch tomato might prod you into discovering a fall item just coming into season that’s just as great (in a different way) that might have otherwise gotten overlooked. Take a look at our growers’ winter squash and pumpkin selections for some inspiration. There are some true gems listed among those.

As always, thank you all for your continuing support. Thanks to that, we have been able to go year round for the past three winters, and this year looks to be no exception. There are at least two weeks we’ll be taking off (both Thanksgiving and Christmas are on Thursdays this year), but other than that, we don’t anticipate any long periods of downtime.

We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old farmers market on Broad Street. And remember: if you’re not there by 8pm, your items will be given away and your account will be charged for their total. See our Q’s & A’s page for more information on why. There have been several customers each week lately this has applied to, and I hate to see that for a number of reasons.

Availability for September 18


I’ll be brief this week. My family and I are on a “long weekend” camping trip, and I’m typing this on my cell phone in a McDonalds parking lot (the only place I can find with connectivity).

I haven’t looked yet myself, but I assume there is plenty of good stuff listed this week. I do know Mertie’s Oven us back this week with a lot of granola. Many of you have told me you’ve been going through Mertie’s withdrawal, so this should be great news.

We’ll be back to see you all Thusday evening from 4:30 to 8pm at the old farmers market on Broad Street. Thank you for all your support!

Availability for September 11


We’re just shy of 600 products available this week, including the most wonderful array of heirloom winter squashes I’ve ever seen. There are apples and pears, lots of melons, and other fruit as well. Eggplant and peppers have picked up production, and the tomatoes are hanging in there too. I think there’s something for everyone this week.

At our farm, we’ve been busy preparing beds for seeding carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes, and lettuces, and in our hoophouses we’ve been starting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, and kales. It’s a busy time of year, and we’re a bit behind most of the other farms. Still, unless we get a colder than averge winter, it’s possible to keep those types of veggies going on through to Spring with only occasional freeze protection. If you’re a gardener and usually start thinking of putting it to sleep in the fall, try putting in a fall garden. It’s really a pleasant time to garden in our area.

This Sunday Mills Farm is hosting their third annual “Brunch in the Field”, an event by the Athens Chef’s Association. I don’t have all the details, but there should be an article in Wednesday’s paper. It’s a very popular event, so keep an eye out for details about that.

As always, we all thank you for your continued support. I know there are a number of new faces, what with some of the area CSAs winding down and the new school year bringing in newcomers. We welcome you all! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market building on Broad Street.

Availability for September 4


Normally later winter is the time of year for growers to get together at various conferences around the country. Two I go to every year is the Southern Sustainable Working Group (SSAWG) conference, being held this year in Chatanooga in January, and the Georgia Organics conference, held typically in February. They’re not just for growers, though, and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in local and sustainably grown food.

There’s a third conference I’ve always meant to go to, held atypically in the fall each year. The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association has a long history in North and South Carolina. They held their conference last year right up I85 in Greenville, but I didn’t find out about it until the day it was going on, and I thought I missed the opportunity to go while it was so close. Well, this year it’s even closer, in Anderson, SC, just up US 29 from Athens. It’s being held on October 31 through November 2 and includes a multitude of farm tours (including two dairies who sell through Athens Locally Grown), educational workshops, and some very good food. Follow the link for more information and to pre-register.

Availability this week took a little dip, but there are a few new items listed this week. Roots Farm has finished their CSA season and is now steering al that produce out way, so even with fewer varieties listed, there is more to go around. We’re just starting to see the beginnings of the fall items, but they’ll be pouring in before too long. First frost in Athens is typically in late October, so the tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the like will also stick around until then.

Thanks again for all of your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at the old state farmers market building on Broad Street.