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 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!

Athens Locally Grown:  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.

Athens Locally Grown:  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!

Athens Locally Grown:  Milk is Available!

I forgot to make the milk from Diamond Hill Dairy available last night. I’ve fixed that. If you’ve already ordered, feel free to order again for milk.


Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for January 10

Well, the deep freezes last week really put the hurt down for most of the fresh veggies. One grower reported a low of nine below zero, and it’s hard for any leafy green, no matter how protected, to make it through a night like that.

Still, there are a few items listed in the “Vegetables” category, and a lot more other items besides. There’s plenty of milk, meats, and more eggs than ever before. Mac McGee, of Mac’s Eggs, has listed 50 dozen this week, and that plus all the other dozens listed by the other growers, might just be enough to go around for everyone who wants some, for the first week ever.

One question I get asked a lot, especially by people new to Athens Locally Grown, is why most of our food is not USDA Certified Organic. I tell them that everyone who sells here grows “organically”, but they have found that gaining the trust of their customers (you) by being open, honest, and available has been much more important than getting some government stamp. Also, I say the official government “Organic” program has pretty much lost its meaning, what with the loopholes for large growers, the hurdles for the small, and so forth. That last bit often opens up a long conversation about the pros and cons of the organic program, but now I have a single example I can readily point to: Batter Blaster. If a spray can full of pressurized pancake batter can get the USDA Organic label, what’s the point really?

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

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for January 3

Happy New Year! 2007 was a challenging year to be a grower, but enough growers and enough of you came together to make it a very successful year for Athens Locally Grown. I don’t have official numbers to look at, but from my informal “asking around”, I think we are now the largest retail farmers market in Georgia. We have high hopes for 2008, our eighth year in operation, as well.

There are just over 200 product listed on the website. New this week are some lettuces, chervil, spinach, and a few other products. Everyone’s hens are starting to come out of their annual molt, so we should start seeing our egg supply steadily increase from here on out.

We’re coming into the two coldest months of the year. Our growers are growing veggies under cloth, in hoop houses, and in heated greenhouses to protect them from the coming freezes. It’s a challenge, more so maybe than growers further north, because we can have days in the 70s (or higher) followed a day or two later with nights down in the teens. It takes constant adjustment and effort, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the results are worth the effort.

We thank you for your support, especially those of you that have been with us for all seven years. Without you, we wouldn’t be here, and there’d be a lot fewer organic growers around Athens. We’ll see you on Thursday at Gosford Wine from 4:30 to 8pm!

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for December 27

Hello! I’m writing this from my in-laws house in Florida, and I hope that wherever you happen to be, whatever holiday you may happen to celebrate (or have celebrated), that only the best is in store for you and yours.

We are open this week. Many of our growers are away, and many of you are away, but… the cows don’t care what day it is. They’ll have milk for you. The veggies don’t take the week off, either, so there is a bit of a selection to be had.

Most of my volunteers are away for the week, so if you arrive right at 4:30, the line will be a bit slower than normal. Just a heads up about that.

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

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for December 20

This is our last pickup before Christmas, and besides lots of items available for your holiday feast, there are a good number of gift possibilities available too.

TaylOrganics gave us a fresh supply of their processed jams, juices, and other foods. Split Creek Dairy has cheeses, fudge, and dairy gift baskets. Five or six different people are offering soaps, candles, and other pleasantries, And of course we offer gift certificates if you want to give the gift of Locally Grown.

There are some new items this week. One is something several of you have been asking about: low-fat raw cow’s milk. Milky Way Dairy now has gallons of 1-2% milk available—the regular milk is about 4-5% fat.

I’ve been making steady improvements to the website over the last year, but many of them have been on the back end. Two new things that affect you this week are 1) you can now stay logged in by checking the “remember me” box on the log in page. This will keep you logged in on that computer for three years, unless you specifically log back out. 2) the growers now have an option to share their contact info with you. If a grower decides to do this, you’ll find an email address and phone number on the “View Details” page for that grower. Use this info wisely.

Several of you have reported not getting emails from the website the last few weeks. Over Thanksgiving, I moved the site to a set of much faster, better computers. After the move, some of your email providers marked the mail sent to you as “junk” and rejected it, before you even got a chance to see it. The Sunday email has some “spammy” qualities to begin with, but I’ve been doing everything I can to make my computers appear more trustworthy to yours.

Once last thing: we will be open next week, so you dairy customers do not have to buy two weeks of milk this week.

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

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for December 13

Well, Spring is here! Afternoons in the upper 70s, clear skies, shorts and T-shirts… seems like spring to me, anyway. I was out working in the gardens today, and had to resist the urge to start planting.

I don’t know what the weather will do to all the cold-weather greens growing right now. So long as we don’t get a quick freeze, they should be OK. The spring bugs are stating to hatch, though, and at least one grower had to de-list all their greens because the bugs got to them first. It’d be nice if we do get another freeze fairly soon, because maybe we’ll have fewer bugs when the real spring rolls around.

Anyway, we’ve got a good number of items listed this week. There are some new items, including turnips and a few dozen eggs from a farm near Farmington that’s listing with us for the first time.

Several of you have asked about Christmas week. We’re planning on being open both the week before and the week of Christmas, so you won’t need to stock up on eggs and dairy.

Finally, I want to remind everyone about our pickup policy. We are only open for pickups between 4:30 to 8pm on Thursday. We cannot deliver, and cannot hold your items beyond 8pm unless we’ve made prior arrangements with you. I pay all of the growers on your behalf for the items you ordered at 4pm on Thursdays, so you will be charged for your order even if you do not show up to get it. I had over $150 in unclaimed items left over last week, including several items other people went home without, and I hate to see that on many levels. My cell number is 706 248 1860. Program it into your phone if you need to, and make sure the phone number you have listed on your account is one where you can be reached at 7:30 on Thursdays if at all possible, so I can give you a reminder call if you haven’t yet arrived.

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

Athens Locally Grown:  Availability for December 6

It’s another big week for our market, with nearly 300 products available from our growers. At first glance I didn’t see any new veggies listed, but most everything we’ve had the past few weeks is available again now.

There are several holiday-themed items listed, including farm-made wreaths, mistletoe, note cards, soap sets, etc. And of course Locally Grown gift certificates make nice gifts, too :)

I mentioned Athens Locally Crafted last week. They’re using the same software system we’ve developed for Athens Locally Grown and are using it for a wide variety of local artisans to market their products. Several of you asked if that meant we were going to make the people who sold non-food items through this market leave, and no, we’re not. But while the crafts sold through here have some tie back to the farm (by using locally grown botanicals or made by the same people who grow your food), this new market has a much broader base of artisans. They’ll start taking their first orders today (Monday), and there are already 136 items listed.

There are a few items not listed this week, most notably shelled pecans, that ought to be returning soon. The Georgia Department of Agriculture is currently taking a close look at everyone selling through our market (as GA law directs them to do). The current set of rules are often open to interpretation, and it’s not unheard of for one inspector to approve something only to be told later that someone else said no. It’s not just Georgia—you hear the same stories everywhere you go. Anyway, Athens Locally Grown has grown to become one of the largest farmers markets in the state, so its not surprising we’re receiving some extra scrutiny.

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