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!
Availability for March 13
This was the first weekend I really had a chance to get out and work in the garden, so I tried to make the most of it. We’re rotating our beds over to a section we haven’t grown on in four years. Three years ago, it was the chickens’ pasture. We lost all of our hens that year to a large and well-fed red fox, and I hadn’t touched that area since then. It had gotten completely overgrown with a mix of fescue grass, ragweed, brambles, and other weeds. They’d grown into the poultry netting that was supposed to keep the fox out. They overgrew the drip tape I’d left in the beds. It took a lot of muscle to rip all that out, but now the beds are ready to use again for growing.
Freshly inspired by the Georgia Organics conference of last week, I’ve decided to get back to my roots somewhat. I’ve been growing vegetables all my adult life, and never were my gardens so productive and easy to manage as when I strictly followed the square foot method. When I made the leap from large garden to growing for market, I tried to apply the techniques to the larger scale I thought was needed for growing for market. It was overall a success the years I kept with it, but it wasn’t as productive and frankly not as fun as when I had my 4 foot by 4 foot boxes. Now that I see that other farms much larger than mine do all of their growing in those 4×4 boxes, I’m going back to them.
So, yesterday I got the lumber needed for the first 35 and started putting them together today. It’ll take a couple weeks to get them all in, but that’ll be just the beginning. I calculated that there’s room for 500 of those boxes in the areas I’ve been growing in the past five years. It’ll take time (and resources) to put all those in, but Im looking forward to it.
But enough about my gardens! The veggie list looks pretty much exactly the same as last week. There’s still one or two growers that haven’t checked in, but their stuff should be listed shortly. We’re running out to Milky Way and Split Creek dairies this week, so you’ll find both of their full ranges of products listed.
Don’t forget that Easter is early this year, just two weeks from today. This is one year where everyone’s math gave different results, so Passover and Orthodox Easter isn’t until next month. But, if you celebrate western Easter, you may want to stock up on eggs now to make them a bit easier to peel next week—older eggs don’t cling to the shells as hard as fresh ones do.
Thanks for all of your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine.
Availability for March 6
We’re back from the Georgia Organics conference, where we and six hundred other people from Georgia and beyond shared knowledge and enthusiasm to further our collective goal for getting more sustainable grown foods on all of our plates. We started off on Thursday with a tour of Sequatchie Cove Farm in Sequatchie, Tennessee. Besides being as picturesque a place as can be, it was exciting to see their heritage breed pork and dairy program, their vegetable gardens, their orchards, and the rest of their operation. On Friday, Vivian and I visited Etcetera Farms, a small market farm about the same size of my own nestled in a wooded mountain saddle run by former Athenians Chad & Lisa McKinney. Their place is a testament to how many families can be fed in a small space, even when the existing soils are full of rock and clay. We also visited Riverview Farms, a 750 care family farm raising pork, grass-fed beef, and a tremendous amount of organic vegetables. They are an example of a conventional operation making the transition to an organic one, making the farm more financially successful and keeping it in the family in the process.
Among the many educational sessions during the conference was a full half day on Square Foot Gardening, which I was happy to see. I began gardening with that method during my college years, and over time it evolved to the half acre I’ve got cultivated today. It’s easy to sustainably grow an amazing amount of food in a small space this way, and when combined with the ease of bringing your produce to market through Locally Grown, I see home gardeners helping us wean ourselves off our current food system fueled in so many ways by petroleum. If you’ve got a garden, and your grow in an organic, sustainable way (talk to me if you’re not sure what that means), and you’re interested in sharing your harvest with your neighbors through Athens Locally Grown, contact me. We’re nearly up to 1000 accounts now on the website, and even with the current group of over 50 growers it’ll be hard to feed everyone.
Thanks again for all the support you continue to show Athens Locally Grown and our growers. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!
Availability for February 28
My family will be on the road again this week, this time to attend the annual Georgia Organics conference held this year up in Dalton. Our first conference was in 2000, held in a few rooms at the lodge in the state park up in Helen. This year, there are over 600 registered attendees. Growers, distributors, and eaters (all three in my case) come together to share knowledge in the hopes of getting more locally organically grown food on more plates in Georgia and elsewhere. It’s always one of the highlights of my year.
Since we’ll be gone, Michael McMullan (of McMullan Family Farm) is again making the run out to the dairies to get your milk and cheese orders, and the pickups on Thursday should go on as normal. The regular crew of volunteers are so on the ball that I tend to just get in the way anymore.
You’ll find a few new items added on this week. More lettuce mixes and other salad greens, some kale, arugula, and other signs of spring are on the list. It didn’t make it this week, but I’ve been told the asparagus ought to arrive pretty much at any moment. Everything else is right behind. There will still be plenty of freezes this winter (including a night or two in the twenties this week), but with the recent rains things are pretty much just right for a bountiful spring harvest.
We all thank you for your continued support, and our market volunteers will see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!
Abailability for February 21
The veggie list is continuing to grow this week as several other farms awaken from their winter slumber. As is usually the case, my own farm is a bit late to the game—we’re only just now putting together our seed order.
The recent rains have been more than welcome. It seems like we’ve had a nice moist winter when compared to the dry summer, but its important to remember that we’re already at a deficit for the year and that the resevoirs are in far worse shape than they were at this time last year. Ignore what the politicians are saying by relaxing water restrictions and providing recreational exemptions – we’re still needing much more rain than we’re used to getting.
By growing sustainably, the Athens Locally Grown growers are well ahead of the game when it comes to reducing water usage. But it means a lot of work, laying drip hoses, applying fresh mulch, digging beds to optimize water flow, containing rain water, and so forth. We’re beginning to plan our series of farm tours for the year, and if you attend any of them, be sure to get a glimpse of how our sustainable growers make use of the water we have. We don’t just not spray chemicals and call it a day – we’re protecting our water, our soil, and all of our resources.
Thanks again for all of your support. We’re plannig hard to make this year Athens Locally Grown’s best year yet! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30pm to 8pm at Gosford Wine.
Availability for February 14
There’s a nip of Spring in the air, and we have a few early arrivals this week. New greens, new carrots, salad mix, tomatoes, and a few other veggies are on the list this week.
There are also dairy products from Split Creek and Milky Way dairies. There are meats from Tink’s Beef, Shady Brook Farm, and Split Creek. There are bath and beauty products, candles, notecards, knitted items, granola, and other farmstead items from a variety of sources.
The list should pretty much grow from here on out as the days get longer and the nights a little warmer.
Thanks for all of your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30pm to 8pm at Gosford Wine.
Availability for February 7
This week’s list looks very similar to last week’s. A few things have been added, including some hand-knitted items from Backyard Harvest.
Tink’s Beef is having a sale on her ground beef. She has a large supply in her freezers, which she needs to move out to make room for new cuts coming in. If you have room in your freezer, now is a good time to stock up.
Many people wonder what the farmers do during the Winter months. It’s traditionally the down time for growers (though the year-round nature of markets like ours are starting to change that), so that’s when conferences are held. Georgia Organics is holding theirs at the end of this month in Dalton, Georgia. Even if you’re not growing yourself, the conference is well worth attending, and you can find details at www.georgiaorganics.org. Myslelf, I’ve been keeping busy by directing a play with Athens’ own Town and Gown Players. The play, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, opens this Friday and runs for two weeks. Details about ticketing, times, etc., can be found at www.townandgownplayers.org. It’s a very, very good production, if I say so myself.
Thanks for all of your support! We’ll see you this Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Godford Wine.
Availability for January 31
There are nearly 200 active items on the website this week, and several of them are new. Roots Farm returns with several salad mixes, braising greens, and herbs. Jan’s Garden has some green bunching onions. McMullan Farm has a few greenhouse tomatoes, turnips, and other items. Backyard Harvest must have dug up all of their carrots last week, but they have eggs this week. 10 Signs, 1000 Faces, Split Creek, Mac’s Eggs, Milky Way, Mills Farm, Double B, Cedar Grove, Canoe Lake, Generositee Gypsy, Green Knee, Mertie’s Oven, Shady Brook, Songbird Designs, TaylOrganics, Scott’s Eggs, Tink’s Beef, and Two Swallows all also have items listed this week.
Quite a list, really. Twenty-three growers have items for sale in late January, when most every other farmers market in the state is closed for the winter. And we’re not having to truck in food from Florida, California, or South America to do it.
Another statistic that makes me happy is last week locallygrown.net saw its 10,000th order since going live exactly one year ago. This includes all markets using the system, but the majority of those orders were placed through Athens Locally Grown. And, I’m happy to say the 10,000th order was also placed at our market. We surprised that customer by giving her her entire order for free. She said she’d never won anything before, but I feel like we’ve all won – and continue to win – by having such a diverse selection of locally produced foods week after week.
All of our growers have told me they are expanding operations this year to handle further growth of the market. Be sure to tell your friends about us, so that the customers will be here when the first wave of spring products come along in the upcoming weeks!
Thanks for all of your support. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!
Availability for January 24
I just moments ago walked in the door after a ten hour trip home from a wonderful SSAWG Conference. I was in charge of the computers, projectors, and other electronic equipment used by the presenters, so I didn’t get to attend many sessions myself, though my wife did. One notable exception was one session where the presenter was unexpectedly absent. The absence wasn’t discovered until a couple hours before the start time, and the subject was “Internet Farmers Cooperatives”. Well, even though we’re not legally organized as a cooperative, it was easy enough for me to get up and talk for ninety minutes about the wonderful things we all have accomplished here in Athens. The room was half empty when I started, but by the time I finished the room was full with a few folks standing in the back. It’s easy for me to get excited about our little market here, and I think when it was all over, I’d managed to infect many others with some of that excitement.
Speaking of excitement, while scrolling through the list of products available this week, I noticed a surprise buried down in the vegetables listings. There’s not many, so if you like tomatoes you’ll need to hurry to get some out of Michael McMullan’s greenhouse.
It’s nearly one in the morning, so I’ll stop right here. We all thank you for your support, and I look forward to seeing you all again on Thursday from 4:30pm to 8pm at Gosford Wine!
Bad Weather -- Might Postpone Pickup
The weather looks pretty bad for tomorrow. Right now, they’re saying it’ll just hit freezing overnight and will be spitting ice pellets, snow, and rain all night and into tomorrow.
It could go either way—too icy to be out, or just cold, wet, and miserable. We won’t know until tomorrow which it is.
If it’s “just” miserable, the market will go on as scheduled. If the roads are too bad, we’ll postpone until Friday.
For now, assume we’re on. If we do postpone, I’ll send out another email tomorrow.
Availability for January 17
My family and I are traveling to Louisville, KY on Tuesday for the annual Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) conference. I’ll be making sure all of their computers function during the run of the conference and my wife will be attending the sessions. Together we’ll be evangelizing Locally Grown, of course. Word has already spread—there are a couple dozen markets throughout the country now following our model.
I almost canceled market this week, but Michael McMullan (of McMullan Family Farm) offered to make our run out to the dairies and keep the market open. Our regular crew of volunteers, Marc, Christina, Cynthia, and Molly, will be on hand to fill orders. It’ll be the first time market has gone on without us being there in four years (well, except for the day our daughter was born, when Dan Miller jumped in to help) and it’s actually nice. It’s good knowing that the market isn’t dependent on us, and that it’s grown to the point where it can go on should we, for whatever reason, not be here.
Another nice thing about our growth is the market now has a diversity of products. The recent freezes took their tolls on the vegetables (there are only ten listed this week), but the eggs, dairy, meats, and other products allow us to stay open when in years past we would have had to close down for lack of products.
There are a few new items this week. Michael has some heirloom turnips, Backyard Harvest has started listing eggs, and I see some new live plants. We also have lots of dairy from Split Creek and Milky Way, eggs from a variety of sources, soaps, processed foods, Tink’s Beef, and a lot of other great products.
Thanks for all your support, and our volunteers will see you on Thursday at Gosford Wine from 4:30 to 8pm!