The Weblog

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

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Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for September 6

Welcome to September! The past couple days have been a much welcomed relief from the recent heat wave, and I hope the transition into Fall is underway.

There are 60 vegetables listed this week, and a full two thirds of them are either tomatoes or peppers. The heat wave knocked back most every thing else. Still, there are 239 items listed at the moment, including several new items. And, if the weather keeps up, there ought to be another flush of most of the summer crops right into October.

New this week are several peppers, a tomato mix, gourds, and several cuts of lamb from Shady Brook Farm in Madison County. Tink’s Beef has also added a few additional cuts to their listings. The cooler weather has also revived the shiitake mushrooms from Double B Farm.

We conclude our summer Farmer For a Day series this weekend at Fancy Feather Farm out near Bowman, GA. The event is officially filled to capacity, but this farm may be able to handle a few extra folks. We’ve left the reservations open, so if you want to come out Saturday, add reservations to your order, and if there’s room we’ll let you know.

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

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for August 30

As we hit the final week of August, the heat and drought have not abated, and all of the gardens are hurting. This is the time to be starting transplants and direct seeding the fall crops, but it’s just too hot and dry to do that right now. It’d take a lot of water to keep everything cool enough to sprout and take hold, and there’s just not enough water to go around. Many of the growers I’ve talked to have said they’ll just have to wait and get things in later. A few have shaded hoophouses that are just cool enough to get the job done, but it’s tough all around.

Still, it’s an exciting week for Locally Grown, as we welcome two new meat producers to the market. I know some of you are vegetarians, but for the rest of us it’s just as important to find local sources for naturally raised meat as it is for vegetables. First, we welcome Tink’s Beef from Washington, GA, who has specific cuts from her pastured beef. You’ll find steaks, roasts, ground, and bones listed. We also welcome Yesterday’s Catch who will be supplying us with sustainably caught wild shrimp from the shores of Tybee Island, fresh right off the boat. Some of you have already sampled this fine shrimp, and now you’ll find it on the site in both five and three pound bags. We also welcome The Scott’s Eggs from Oconee County, who have another 30 dozen or so eggs to help ease the shortages we’ve been having.

We’ve also got a couple cases of Farmer John’s Cookbook. We’ve had a sample of this at the cash box for the past several week, and many of you were interested. The book comes with a free DVD, and there are 18 or so available in the “Books” section of the site.

You’ll also find the remnants of the summer crops—plenty of okra, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, melons, etc. Some items are short right now, but they’ll bounce back for a while (assuming September’s temps drop back down to normal).

Also, if you weren’t able to get what you needed on Thursday, or you run out by the week end, you can find several of our growers still selling at the Athens Green Market on Saturday mornings at Big City Bread.

Thanks for all your support, and we’ll see you Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for August 23

The recent heat has taken its toll on our availability, but there’s still a respectable amount of products this week. There’s even a few new items, including heirloom watermelons, more squash, and a test run of three types of bread by a new Athens bakery.

We’ve added several new growers this past week, though some of them haven’t gotten their listings in as I write this. One that has is Red Barn Farm, located near the Athens airport. You can find more information and photos on the “Our Growers” page. In the near furture you should see more local meats available, including pastured beef, emu, ostrich, and lamb, as well as sustainably caught wild Georgia shrimp. Many of you have been asking for more local meats, and despite the extra hurdles put up by the state of Georgia, several local producers have done what they need to to be able to offer it to you. Eggs are another area we’ve been working on, but it’s been hard to find an established local source with eggs not already spoken for. As you’ve seen here (and is true everywhere in the country), real eggs are a hot commodity. All of the growers here have added more hens to their flocks, but it takes six to nine months for hens to start producing the natural way. We’ll see the first eggs from those young hens this fall.

We all thank you for your continued support of Locally Grown. We’ve seen amazing growth this year, and we’ll do everything we can to sustain that production throughout the year. We’ll see you at Gosford Wine on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for August 16

We missed our chance at rain today, and the next chance in the forecast isn’t until next weekend. Five straight days over 100 degrees tied a record for consecutive 100+ days set back in 1952. The growers have reported to me that their crops are drying on the vine, despite all the irrigation their wells can handle.

Still, there are over 250 items listed on the website this week. More than ever, the quantities on any given item are limited, but there is still a lot of produce to go around. I see 43 listings of tomatoes, 23 of peppers, and a whole slew of new types of melons.

Those of you more used to northern growing seasons may be surprised to see the slowdown (and the next couple weeks are likely to be worse). In most of the country, this is prime veggie season. Here, though, it’s just too hot and too muggy to keep the production up—especially when growing organically. The heat puts stress on the plants, and the bugs that aren’t killed off by our mild winters just start right in. The result: a few weeks of not much production.

It’ll pass soon, though, and the tomatoes, eggplants, and other summer items will pick right back up and keep going until first frost. In the meantime, the Fall crops will start coming in and you’ll see why Autumn is really a prime (and overlooked) season for in the garden.

We thank you for all your continued support. Even taking the orders we couldn’t fill into account (and everyone who placed an order had at least something to pick up), last week set a new sales record. More communities are looking into moving to the Locally Grown model, and more growers in the Athens area and wanting to sell here, thanks to you!

We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for August 9

Looking at the forecast for this week, it’s shaping up to be the hottest week of the year so far. The temps will be right around 100 each day, and the humidity will be right up there too. A few days like that here and there are OK, but a bunch of them strung together aren’t appreciated by any of the garden vaggies, except for the okra. The biggest problem is flowers don’t set fruit, so the blossoms on the vines this week will lead to a reduction in items in a couple weeks.

Still, we have plenty of items this week, including several new offerings. I saw a few new field peas, some melons, lima beans, more heirloom tomatoes, and other items on the “New Products” carousel. It’s true that some of the individual items are in exceedingly short supply, but if you’re not particular, there are many pounds of produce to be had. If you are particular, jump on the website as soon as you possible can to reserve your favorites!

Many of you saw the giant heirloom zucchini I had sitting out last Thursday, and everyone who did was rather skeptical. You wouldn’t dare let a typical zucchini get that large (two feet long and about five pounds heavy), but I’ve found the Italian heirlooms are even better when they get large. I took it back home and ended up cooking it tonight, and it was fantastic. Nice and solid all the way through, a rich nutty flavor, and altogether too much to eat at once. It’ll end up being my lunch for most of the week, in fact.

Here’s what I did, and you can do the exact same thing with eggplant (I cooked two eggplant this way alongside the zucchini). Dice a large onion and sautee in hot oil until golden brown. “Indian-ify” them up with cumin, chili powder, tumeric, ginger, garlic, salt, and garam marsala (or any other blend of Indian spices). Chop up a large tomato and throw it in there. Sautee the whole mix for a few minutes more. Add a pound of ground meat (I used both McMullan’s beef and Split Creek’s chevon) and sautee until cooked through. You can add more veggies in place of the meat if you wish. Chop up two bell peppers and add to the mix. Slice the zucchini or eggplant in half and scoop out the seedy center to make a couple boats. You can discard what you scoop out or chop and stir into the meat mixture. Fill the boats to overflowing with the meat mix, and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes. This is a great dish that uses up a lot of what’s in season right now. Make several—they’re even better as leftovers!

Thanks for all your support, and we’ll see you Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for August 2

As we go charging full speed into August, we have a dizzying array of local products for you this week. And I don’t say that to hype things up—a quick spin of the “New Products” carousel will show you more melons, more peppers, more heirloom tomatoes, more southern peas, more eggs, and generally more of every summer item than we’ve ever offered before. There are 257 products in all, which makes me so very happy to see!

We welcome two new growers, both located in Clarke County, to Locally Grown this week. The first, Feed and Seed Organic, actually slipped in right at the deadline last week. Wyatt Nicholson grows a nice variety of heirloom vegetables (using the same source I do, Seed Savers Exchange) in his kitchen garden, and has extras to share with you. The second, Canoe Lake Farm has a few dozen eggs from their free-range hens to add to our selection. Like many of our growers, these two show that you don’t have to operate a large typical American industrial farm to help feed your community. Locally Grown is far from being Athens’ food source, but little bits from every organic garden in the area can go a long way.

The fourth in our series of “Farmer For A Day” tours is this Saturday, hosted by Cedar Grove Farm in Stephens. I believe there may be a few lots left, so if you would like to attend and haven’t yet made reservations, add them to your order this week. You’ll find them in the “Event Reservations” category. We still have one more tour on the schedule, when McMullan Family Farm hosts us in September.

Thanks for letting me know of your interest in the possibility of offering freshly caught Georgia shrimp. Dan Miller still has some regulatory hoops to jump through, but things do look promising. He went out on the boat this past Friday, and generously brought back some he personally pulled out of the nets to sample. They truly were fantastic, and I’ll do what I can to facilitate his offering them through Locally Grown when he’s able.

This email is already plenty long, but I did say I’d share my tomato canning recipe with you this week, as now is the time to start putting them away for the winter. I use this recipe to very, very simply make a ready-made pint of tomato sauce. In a pint canning jar, drop in two to four cloves of peeled garlic. Add a few basil leaves. Take roma tomatoes, dunk them in boiling water for 15 seconds and then dunk them in ice water. Their skins will crack and then slip right off. Pack three or four whole romas in the pint jar. Add a few more basil leaves, and then a squirt of lemon juice. You should have liquid in the jar up to about a half inch from the top. Put on the lids, and process in a hot water bath (no pressure canner required!). When it comes time to use, just heat up the contents (in the jar in the microwave is fine) and mash with a fork. Instant sauce, perfect for a single meal. I make 25 or so of these in the summer, and that’s enough to last me to the next summer. It takes a single afternoon to make that many. If I remember, I’ll bring some Thursday for you to see. It really is very, very easy, and it’s a great way to have the taste of the peak of the season tomatoes all winter long.

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

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for July 26

Let me share with you a recipe from my kitchen this weekend: a soup using a number of items being listed this week.

Chop an onion(1), three leeks(2), three baby carrots(2), and three or four cloves of garlic(3). In a soup pan, heat a tablespoon of oil or butter, and add the chopped veggies. Saute five minutes or so. Add a cup of chicken stock and simmer until the stock has been absorbed. In a skillet, heat another TB of butter, and add 4-8 oz. of fresh mushrooms(4). Saute until softened and just starting to brown. Add to the soup pan, along with another cup of stock and a cup and a half of milk(5). Heat through, then add a splash of cream(5) and a handful of chopped fennel fronds(2). That right there is a great soup, but to gild the lily, you can add three chopped scallops and six chopped shrimp to the mushrooms when you’re sauteing them. Either way, it serves three, and can be scaled up very well. The chopped veggies can (and should) vary each time, based on what’s available.

(1) Sundance Farm, but they’re on vacation this week. (2) Backyard Harvest (3) Backyard Harvest, Sundance Farm, or Jim’s Farm. I used a full head of Transylvanian garlic. (4) I used local wild mushrooms this time, but in weeks past I’ve used Double B shiitake. (5) Milky Way Farm

I’ve been making this soup pretty regularly, and except for the seafood, everything was purchased through Locally Grown. Soon, even that might change. Thanks to the efforts of Dan Miller (the man who founded Locally Grown nearly six years ago), we’ve made contacts with a couple captains in Savannah who, in the face of ever larger and more destructive factory trawlers, still go out each day in small boats and fish for shrimp in a sustainable manner. There are still a few logistical items to sort out, but it looks feasible to regularly bring in shrimp right off these small boats. Like everything else we offer, you’d place your order first and then the shrimp would be essentially caught to order. What do you think? Would you be interested in such an offering? Also, processing adds to the cost, so would you be willing to have a mix of sizes, head on (the way they come off the boat)? Or are you only interested in sorted, head off shrimp? Let us know, and that’ll guide our efforts.

There are a few new items this week, including the first few melons. There are also a couple varieties of field peas, which I don’t think we’ve ever offered before. The okra are coming in stronger, the eggplant are larger, the peppers are coming in, more beans are ready, and there are a lot of tomatoes. If you do any canning at all, it’s getting to be that time. And if you’ve never done any canning, it’s a great time to start. I’m just finishing the last of my canned romas from last summer right as we hit the peak of this summer. It took me all of an afternoon to put away many jars that lasted my the year. I’ll explain how I did that next Sunday, if I remember.

Thanks for all of your support! We don’t do any advertising, so much of the growth we’ve experienced has been from you telling your friends. If you have friends who don’t know about us yet, tell them about these great tomatoes you’ve been waiting all year for, and give them our website address. Thanks, and we’ll see you this Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for July 19

Summer keeps rolling right along. We’ve got a few new items on the website this week, but in general all the summer stuff is coming in. We’ll see some variety in the upcoming weeks as specific varieties and successive plantings come in (especially peppers and eggplant), but this is for the most part our summer list.

For those of you in your first Georgia summer, prepare yourselves for a dearth of products next month. Unless the weather cooperates just right, production always falls off to next to nothing for a few weeks in late August, as it just gets too hot for blossoms to set fruit on most everything but okra. The slowdown lasts for a few weeks, and then it cools down just enough to get everything going again until frost. Fair warning!

There was enough interest in the cookbook “Farmer John’s Real Dirt on Vegetables” that I went ahead and ordered a couple cases of them. It looks like they’ll run $22 (as opposed to the $30 store price) and they’ll even come with a free DVD of a PBS series episode they were featured in.

And speaking of TV shows, on more or less of a lark I decided to audition for a Food Network TV show. It was a fun little project my wife and I filmed in our garden over the weekend. The final video (unless I edit it a bit more) can be seen here. It’s three minutes of me making a “North Georgia Beef Stroganoff” using ingredients I bought through Locally Grown. I had to cut a lot of things to get it down to the allowed three minutes, but I think I got across the notion of local food. I think that’d make a great premise for a cooking show.

We all thank you for your support, and we’ll see you Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for July 12

We’ve got a lot of new items this week. The first flush of beans and corn are done, but the second plantings are just now coming on. There are three varieties of corn to choose from this week, and a wide variety of tomatoes—including quite a few wonderful heirlooms.

I’ve been telling you about how we completely take over Gosford Wine on Thursday afternoons (and we’re very, very greatful for their letting us do so). We use every square foot of their store room and spill out into the back parking lot. I finally got around to taking photos of the whole operation, and now you can see what goes on in the back as we prepare for your arrival and fill your orders. The whole album is up on our website, but it’s already out of date. We had been using a few old shopping carts that Kroger has stacked up behind their store to help us organize, but last week the store manager came out and asked us not to use their carts any more. So, we’ve come up with another way—army cots. Turns out they fold very compactly (so I can get them all in my trunk) and have more surface than any folding table. So now we’ll have stuff spread out and organized under two tents on top of army cots. Quite a sight to see, I’m sure.

I’ve added a few more entries to the Q’s and A’s page, including an explanation of the various certifications our growers have (or don’t have—though none of them use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides). Also, don’t forget to check out the recipe pages listed there as well. I’ll try to have my copy of “Farmer John’s Cookbook” at the checkout table on Thursday so you can look through it and decide if it’s worth it for me to get a case of them.

Thanks again for all your support. I know you’ve been spreading the word to like-minded folks, and all of us appreciate that. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30pm to 8pm at Gosford Wine!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for July 5

Welcome to July! We’re in the thick of the summer season now, with more new products than I can possibly name in this email. You can check the “New Products” carousel on the website to see them all, but here’s an overview:

Many more varieties of tomatoes, the first of the peppers, some okra, more corn, more eggplant, tomatilloes, more beans, more squash, and so on.

With all this produce, many of you have been looking for ways to use it all. I’m in the process of building a really nice recipe system that ties into the website, but in the meantime I’ve gotten a number of recipes from the largest CSA in the country, Angelic Organics. They’ve recently put out a cookbook that is equal parts reference library, user manual, and recipes that is very, very good. They’ve allowed me to share a number of recipes with you, and you’ll find them in the “Q’s and A’s” section of the website, along with a link to their own site where you can certainly order yourself the whole book. They’re also offering a bulk discount on their book, so if enough of you are interested I can order a case and pass the savings along to you.

We’ve got the next in our series of monthly “Farmer for a Day” events coming up on Saturday. This one is at Jim’s Farm, in Winterville, and will be the closest farm to Athens proper we’ll be featuring this summer. I believe there are a few slots still open, so be sure to add a reservation to your order (you’ll find them under the “Event Reservations” category).

My own small farm is coming along nicely. I’m growing far less than I have in previous years, and am taking the opportunity to try a few heirloom varieties that are new to me. I don’t have anywhere near the quantities of our other growers, but it’s been good to have things in the ground again, after taking last year off entirely. I always feel a bit off when there’s no garden to work in…

Thanks again for all your support of your local food producers. With your help, we’ve built a market here that rivals any in the southeast for variety of local foods. It really is a great thing we’ve all done together, and I regularly get phone calls and emails from people around the country who are moving to Athens and are so excited to see our market here. We’ll see you on Thursday from 4:30 to 8pm at Gosford Wine!