The Weblog

This weblog contains news and the weblog entries from all the markets currently using the system.

To visit the authoring market’s website, click on the market name located in the entry’s title.

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Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for June 5

Right on cue as we hit June, the listings this week see the tapering off of the Spring items and a growing number of summer veggies, including the season’s first beans and peppers, a wider variety of squash, and quite a few tomatoes. Right now there re 430 items total, and the “new products” carousel is full of items to browse through.

A number of us had quite a rewarding and inspiring time at our first “farmer for a day” event way out at Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton. The energy and enthusiasm of the Youngs is infectious, and the quality of life of the farm animals was evident. Our next event will be June 21 at Dancing Sprout Farm in Athens, and you’re able to begin making reservations for that event now.

We’re still planning on moving to the old Farmers Market building on Broad Street, but we’re waiting on word as to when exactly we can make the move. The earliest would be June 19, and it may even be later than that. I’ll be sure to tell you all when we set a date, but for the time being we’re keeping things at Gosford. Hopefully with school out, parking is a tiny bit better there.

Thanks so much for all the support you give both Athens Locally Grown and all the member growers. I say it a lot, but it’s true that without you, none of this would be possible. We’ll see you Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for May 29

I’m not sure which to trumpet the loudest: the often asked for but never to be found fava beans (50 lbs listed this week) or the year’s first slicing tomatoes (25lbs from Michael McMullan’s greenhouse). If neither of those grab you, maybe you’ll find some personal favorites listed among the 400 other products appearing this week. Now that the temps are hitting the 90s, some of these items will be on their way out, so it may be the last chance for a few things (like strawberries).

I did get an overwhelming response regarding the possible move to the old farmers market building on Broad Street. Several hundred of you wrote with your enthusiastic thumbs up, including stories of shopping there as children, horror stories about parking in Alps, and so forth. Not a soul said they’d rather stay where we are, so I’ll be meeting with the powers that be this week about making the move as soon as possible. It wouldn’t be until mid to late June at the earliest, so we’ll have a few more weeks at Gosford yet. I’ll be sure to give you all the details as I learn them.

Our first “Farmer For a Day” event is this coming Saturday. Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton will be hosting us, as we spend a couple hours doing light farm chores (it’s astounding how much help fifty unskilled hands can be for a grower, even for only two hours), have lunch on the farm, and then get a full tour. If you’d like to join us, just add the appropriate number of reservations to your order (you’ll find them in the “Event Reservations” category). The event is free. If you put a deposit on a Thanksgiving turkey from Nature’s Harmony, you’ll get to spot it running around the pasture.

That’s about it for this week. We all thank you very much for your continued and growing support of your local growers! We’ll see you Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  A Potential New Location?

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we have sadly outgrown out location at Gosford Wine. I say sadly, because I absolutely love being there, and everyone at Gosford has been so nice to us. However, as nice as everything is inside the store, out back all of your produce is exposed to the elements. One good storm coming through at the right time would be a disaster, and even a light rain makes things difficult.

I put out feelers for a new location, and I appreciate all the effort you all have put into it as well. There’s a place that looks like it’ll work, and I wanted to run it by you.

The Department of Agriculture and the city of Athens have been looking for a use for the old state farmers market building on Broad for some time, and have decided that keeping $40,000 or so of food dollars a month in Athens qualifies. If you’re not familiar with the place, it’s the large pavilion structure on Broad Street right next to KFC, across from the entrance to St. Mary’s Hospital.

There’s plenty of parking, more than enough space to spread out and set up under the roof, and it’s still central to everyone. If we move, it wouldn’t be for several weeks, and you can be sure I’ll be announcing it from the rooftops so that everyone knows. I do want to know this from you, though:

Would moving from Gosford to the old farmers market building on Broad make it less likely that you’d order from Athens Locally Grown? Would you absolutely stop ordering? Does it seem like a better location to you?

Please let me know, or let any of the volunteers on Thursday know what your thoughts are!

Thanks, and we’ll see you on Thursday.

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for May 22

The availability list is really filling out nicely this week. There are several new items, as well as the return of old favorites such as new potatoes, bunched leeks, and early summer onions. It’s also the week we head over to Split Creek and Milky Way dairies, so all told there’re close to 500 items available.

The growers would like to thank everyone who came out to see them at the Saturday market at Bishop Park. The official count is 2600 shoppers, and many of them arrived only to find that everything had been sold out hours earlier (by 10am most everything was gone). They never saw a day like that at their old location, so it came as a bit of a surprise. They’ll be making adjustments as they move forward, but that’s only to be expected. We’re still adjusting to our growth here at Athens Locally Grown, and we’re into our seventh year.

One last thing – don’t forget our first “Farmer for a Day” event coming up on Saturday May 31st. The event is free, but we request that you make reservations due to limited space. You’ll be able to make reservations with your order – take a look in the “Event Reservations” category.

Thanks again for all of your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine.

Athens Locally Grown:  New Market in Athens & Yesterday's Confusion

This special email is about two unrelated topics, but I didn’t want to wait until Sunday to get them out there.

First, as many of you know, the Saturday farmers market is relocating and changing names, and is having its grand opening tomorrow. The Athens Farmers Market: Local & Sustainable is a great thing for Athens, but I didn’t realize until yesterday that there’s a lot of confusion out there. That market is not Athens Locally Grown. We are not moving from Thursday to Saturday, nor are we moving from Gosford Wine to Bishop Park. (We will likely be moving sometime in the near future, but that’s totally unrelated.) There are a number of things in common between the new farmers market and Athens Locally Grown. A number of farmers will be selling at both markets, and the standards to sell are the same. However, they are two totally separate markets.

Second, there was some confusion on our part yesterday. The rain made things more difficult than usual for our volunteer workers, and we had several things left over at the end of the day that some of you should have received. I’ve gone through and given refunds to everything that was charged for but not delivered. There were a few unlabeled things that we have no idea who they should have gone to (I’m trying to get all of the growers to conform to the packing and labeling standards we have, but it’s been a hard battle), so if you realize that something was missing from your order that you paid for, and you haven’t yet received an email from me with a refund, please let me know.


Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for May 15

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. I hope your day was a pleasant one. I also hope you manage to find more days than just this one to call your own.

There’s a bunch of new items again this week. Many of you have been asking about more seedlings for your garden, so you’ll be happy to see many eggplant, pepper, tomato, and tomatillo seedlings listed. There are also lots of new veggies already grown out and ready to eat listed, including the season’s first cucumbers!

We’ve also begun taking reservations for our first “Farmer For A Day” event, coming up in a few weeks, May 31, at Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton. These popular events typically consist of a couple hours of fun projects around the farm (no experience needed!), lunch (free for all helpers), and then a full tour after lunch. These events are free, but since space is limited, we ask that you make reservations. You can do so by adding them to your order—you’ll find them in the “Event Reservations” category. You can find more information and a schedule of all events by clicking on “View Details” for the “Farm Tour” listing on the “Our Growers” page.

The Athens FArmers Market opens this coming Saturday, at its new location in Bishop Park. All of the vendors selling there meet the same strict sustainable standards as here at Athens Locally GRown, and indeed, most if not all of the growers there also sell here. They’d love to see you there, and it’s also your chance to tell them in person how much you appreciate their efforts both there and here at Athens Locally Grown.

Thanks for all your support. We’ve been seeing a steady stream of new faces, and almost all of them tell me they were referred by our existing customers. Thank you for that! We’ll see you all on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for May 8

There’s over 450 items listed on the site this week, and a good number of them are new items this week. Give the “New Products” carousel (at the top of the “The Market” page) and you’ll see what I mean. And except for a few specialty items (such as the strawberries and asparagus), there is plenty to go around and in many cases multiple farms and varieties to choose from for each item.

As I was watching the new items get added to the site today, I knew I’d need to make room in the fridge for everything that caught my eye, so I took everything I had, from ancient carrots (back this week), turnips, onions, garlic, greens, fennel, potatoes, you-name-it, chopped it up and threw it in a big pot with a little butter and sauteed a little. I added a half box of broth from the back and let it all simmer for a bit. I found a partially freezer-burnt chunk of salmon in the back of the freezer and tossed that in there, too. After a while, I stirred in the last of the cream I ordered four weeks ago (yeah, it was just starting to sour, but that’s OK). In the end, I had the best pot of “clean out the fridge” chowder, and I’m all ready to get more this week.

There’s several upcoming events you may interested in. If you’re up for a bit of a road trip (less than an hour from Athens), member farm Fancy Feathers Emu Farm is having their spring festival on Saturday. You can find more details and directions on this website. Only, instead of taking I-85, take US 29 straight from Athens to Royston, and then turn south on 17.

Closer to home, the following week is the grand opening of the newly located Athens Farms Market. Now at Bishop Park, this market will feature many of the same growers that sell through Athens Locally Grown, giving you two opportunities a week to buy local sustainably grown food.

Finally, a good number of you took advantage of pre-paying for your Locally Grown orders, either via credit card or by just paying extra with check at the pick-up. Some of you asked which we’d prefer: pre-payment or pay when you pick up. And really, it makes no difference to us, so do whichever is best for you. I know I never write checks anymore, and my credit card gives me refunds back on my mortgage principal, so I use it for most everything. Got to pinch those pennies wherever they show up, you know.

Anyway, thanks so much for all of your support. If you have friends that don’t know about us, fill them in! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30pm to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Pay in Advance & Draw Down Your Balance

I didn’t get this set up in time for last night’s email, but it’s all in place now.

Many of you have wanted to pay by credit card, instead of having to tote around cash or checks. It’s not feasible for us to take credit cards during the order pickup, but I’ve enabled the next best thing.

On the website, on the “Your Account” page, you’ll see some new information on pre-payments. Here’s the details:

  • You can put money in your account using credit card or checks via PayPal (even if you don’t have a PayPal account)
  • When the payment goes through, I’ll put the money in your Locally Grown account
  • Orders you place after that will draw down on your balance, just as if you were using a gift certificate
  • You’ll get to skip the payment line at pickups

Also, there’s two important stipulations:

  • To make it work efficiently, please pay at minimum $100. You get to set the exact amount
  • To cover the processing fees, I will deduct 3% or the exact fee, whichever is less. The current fee PayPal charges me to process a payment is 2.9% + 30 cents.

We’ve been using the account balance system to manage gift certificates and volunteer work credits for some time, and other markets operate on a 100% pre-pay system. It works very well. For example, if items you order (and are charged for) are not able to be filled, the money gets automatically added back to your account.

We’re not moving to a mandatory pre-pay system, so you’ll still be able to pay with cash or check when you pick up. This is just an added convenience for those who wish to use it.

If you have any questions, just let me know!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for May 1

As we head into May, I see a lot of new items listed this week. The first strawberries, the first snap peas, many varieties of lettuce, lots of kales, herbs, flowers, radishes, turnips, and more.

It’s great to see so much variety coming out of small farms around Athens. Food security has been on my mind lately. I don’t mean security as in the “Homeland Security” sense, but in the “if it comes to it, can we feed ourselves?” sense. There’s been a number of troublesome news stories this past week alone: the Wall Street Journal advocated hoarding food, large grocery chains are limiting rice purchases here in the States, and in Japan butter has disappeared from store shelves. Food shipped in from around the globe is becoming more expensive by the day, and unfortunately, much of the world’s people get food that’s been shipped in from around the globe.

The 50 or so growers who sell through Athens Locally Grown cannot feed all of the Athens area, not even close. But they are growing a variety of foods intended for local kitchens instead of monocropping something meant for the processing plants, and they’re encouraging others to follow in their footsteps. Their work and your support combine to make our community a lot better off than most cities our size, and things look to be even better in the future.

One of our newest member farms will be hosting our first “Farmer For a Day” event on May 31. Nature’s Harmony Farm outside Elberton is modeling their operation off of Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia, and will be offering pastured chickens, pork, and beef, as well as a variety of vegetables. They’ve also been taking deposits for Thanksgiving turkeys, and they will almost certainly sell out for the year this week. We’d love to have you come out for the event, and we’ll have more information and begin taking reservations next week. We’ll have one such event each month through October, and the rest will be even closer to Athens.

If you want to get on a farm before then, two of our member growers are hosting their own events. First up next Saturday is Split Creek Farm’s “Spring Means Babies” festival on their farm, off I-85 just inside South Carolina. More information and directions can be found on their website. The following Saturday, Fancy Feathers Emu Farm will be holding their spring festival. Their farm is located between Royston and Elberton on Hwy 17 (right near the drive-in movie theater). I’ll have more details on that next week.

Thanks again for all your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine.

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for April 24

What a beautiful weekend! I was able to get out and get all sorts of work done in the gardens. Some planting, some weeding, some mowing. Just enough to make me not think I’m a month behind.

The average last frost date for Athens passed this last weekend. And sure enough – there was a frost. For my house (and a couple other growers), the average last frost is about the 10th of May. It’s funny what difference 25 miles can make! Anyway, the time is right for many of you to put out your tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, squash, and other summer plants and seeds. Keep an eye on the forecasts, though – even if we don’t get another frost, tomatoes don’t care for nights below about 45 degrees. IT won’t kill them, but it’s likely to push back your first fruit by a week or two if you don’t protect them.

Plans are progressing for the opening of the new Saturday Athens FArmers Market, starting May 17th at Bishop Park. Their website is now up, and while they have plans to expand and improve upon it, you can find details about the grand opening and other info there:

There are over 350 items listed this week, including a good number of new items. There’s too many to list here, but you’ll find them highlighted on the new product carousel at the top of the market page on the website.

And finally, here’s another reminder about the Old Timey Seed Swap next Saturday. Details can be found at that website.

Thanks so much for all your support! We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!