The Weblog

We send out cool articles and farmer highlights using a different email program. You can see the archives of those emails here and through our facebook page! We use this “weblog” every Friday evening to let you know the market page is accepting orders (look for the little add to cart buttons next to products). Northeast Georgia Locally Grown was officially OPENED on Monday, April 26th, 2010 and we are so thankful that you are helping support fresh local foods each week.



 
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Locally Grown Availability for March 5th, 2014 - correct photo version


Hey Local Food Lovers,

There’s so much I want to say about what’s going on in the Local Food world, and so little time. Apologies for being late or absent in the messages the last few weeks, but 2014 is shaping up to be an impressively busy year for local food and farms.

Where do I begin?

Well let me start with the most exciting news. Locally Grown will be expanding to Gainesville with a 3rd pickup site this year, probably by May! This is something we’ve been talking about for about a year and hall, and everything seems to be coming together to make it happen this year.

We are very excited to announce our new partnership with the Northeast Georgia History Center! They agreed on Friday to serve as the drop off / pick up site for the expansion market. About a month ago we had some Gainesville Friends drive us around town looking at different places we might locate a market. Hands down our favorite place was the History Center. Why? Because it’s just a block or two from the core of downtown, yet is in a very pedestrian friendly and lovely area, very close to Brenau College. Most important, the covered Portico at their front entrance just looked perfect for setting up the market. Highly visible, attractive, there’s even a skylight for nice daytime ambient light and electric lights for after the sun goes down. The Parking Lot is cute and just looks like the kind of place people might hang out chatting with one another. It’s perfect.

Perhaps most of all, we love the people behind the History Center. They instantly identified with our efforts, and had already been thinking of similar ideas as ways to enhance the communities use of the facility, which is a real community gem. There is a reconstructed log cabin in the back that I anticipate we’ll co-host some special events with the Center one day soon. The center also sports a Victory Garden built and managed by a very active Master Gardeners of Hall County Group. We’re looking forward to what we anticipate will be a long and fruitful relationship here.

Just in case you’re a tad nervous about what this means to our existing markets. Have faith! The reason Locally Grown exists today is because two communities of growers in Rabun County and Habersham County teamed up to collaborate. The result has been that more food is available to more customers. By adding a 3rd, much larger area to this collaborative we are 100% confident that new farms and new farm products will be drawn to participate. In the next year or so we expect that you’ll have more options than ever before. There may be a little more competition for exceedingly rare items, but we’re also going to try and start getting very detailed information on what products you want to see more of, and working with all the participating farms to encourage production of items in high demand.

That brings me to the next interesting topic. We’ve applied for a USDA grant that would help us make this expansion more professional. It was a complicated grant process (about 90 pages long), but it forced us to really think about how to grow and improve the market….like a real business plan. We won’t know if we get the grant for another couple of months, but just thinking through what we’d like to see the market do was incredibly helpful.

One of the things we did in preparation for these big changes was go visit the Athens Locally Grown market a week from last Thursday. The ALG gave birth to our market in that they invented the software and kind of laid out the process.

The day I went for a visit and to volunteer to see how their system works was a big day, about $8,000 in sales. That’s 8x bigger than our average day this time of year. The first thing that strikes you about the whole thing is how efficient the Locally Grown model is.

Just like us, farmers come and drop off their orders first. IN this case they layout all their items on temporary shelving that is constructed and broken down each week in the basement of Ben’s Bikes. Farmers neatly arrange their items on a shelf or several shelves with their farm name written on the shelf in erasable ink (which is really cool stuff). They also arrange their items by type. All carrots might go on one shelf, bok choy the shelf beneath. Items in coolers are the same way, farm names written on the tops of the coolers.

After the drop off, a small fleet of volunteers (about 7 altogether) prepare for the onslaught of customers (I think it was about 500 this day). The way they do this is meet customers as they arrive and ask their name. They then have an internet connected device (I-pod Touch, or other small tablet) that they pull up the customers order. After their order is found the volunteer says “I’ll be right back with your order”, grabs a plastic tub and heads to the shelves and starts grabbing orders. Since all the shelves are in alphabetical order by farm (and the order sheet is organized the same way), it’s very easy to start at the beginning and weave down the aisle of shelves grabbing everything with the customers 3 digits of their first name.

Here’s the key. After you grab a bag of arugula that has SPE (for Spencer) on the label, you then touch that item on the I-pod. If the item turns green then that item is now packed. If it turns yellow, then you know they actually ordered more than one bag of arugula. This is one of the most common mistakes when packing orders. Every item packed gets checked off on an electronic checklist. That way if something is missing, the bill is automatically adjusted before you go to the cashier to pay.

Average wait time for customers is less than 5 minutes and in Athens while they wait they can grab a cup of free locally roasted free trade coffee, yummy and hang out with other local food lovers.

ALG also accepts credit cards and EBT (or food stamps). All this is done through I-Pads at the checkout. The beauty is that all the accounting for market is done for you right there, no adjustments later.

So why is all this so interesting. Think of it this way. It probably takes you at least 20-30 minutes or longer to go to grocery store to get primarily nutritionally inferior foods. With this system it only takes you 10 minutes tops, it’s more social and interactive, you get better quality food, you support local farms, and it’s fun.

From the farmers perspective it’s a dream. We saw probably 50 or more farmers drop items off that day in a 30 minute window. The market itself ran from 4:30 to 8pm, but farmers were only there for 30 minutes. So what at a conventional farmers market would normally require the labor of 50 farmers over 3.5 hours was able to be replaced by 7 volunteers.

Ok, think I may be running on a little too long here now….trying to compensate for my tardiness. But it really is an exciting time and exciting new season here.

We are gonna need a lot of help and support from a lot of people this year to kick things into a higher gear. If you’d like to be involved somehow let us know. We will recruit some market volunteers and back-up volunteers at each of our market locations so if helping out with the customer pick-up aspect of Locally Grown appeals to you let us know.

Last but not least. If you haven’t had the Swiss Chard from Mountain Earth Farms, you’ve got to get some. I’ve eaten it the last two weeks in a row and I promise it’s the best swiss chard I’ve ever had. Don’t know what kind of fairy dust is making it so magic, maybe it ‘s just because it’s been so young and tender but It’s fantastic. Buy some!

EAT WELL,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown Availability for March 5th, 2014


Hey Local Food Lovers,

There’s so much I want to say about what’s going on in the Local Food world, and so little time. Apologies for being late or absent in the messages the last few weeks, but 2014 is shaping up to be an impressively busy year for local food and farms.

Where do I begin?

Well let me start with the most exciting news. Locally Grown will be expanding to Gainesville with a 3rd pickup site this year, probably by May! This is something we’ve been talking about for about a year and hall, and everything seems to be coming together to make it happen this year.

We are very excited to announce our new partnership with the Northeast Georgia History Center! They agreed on Friday to serve as the drop off / pick up site for the expansion market. About a month ago we had some Gainesville Friends drive us around town looking at different places we might locate a market. Hands down our favorite place was the History Center. Why? Because it’s just a block or two from the core of downtown, yet is in a very pedestrian friendly and lovely area, very close to Brenau College. Most important, the covered Portico at their front entrance just looked perfect for setting up the market. Highly visible, attractive, there’s even a skylight for nice daytime ambient light and electric lights for after the sun goes down. The Parking Lot is cute and just looks like the kind of place people might hang out chatting with one another. It’s perfect.

Perhaps most of all, we love the people behind the History Center. They instantly identified with our efforts, and had already been thinking of similar ideas as ways to enhance the communities use of the facility, which is a real community gem. There is a reconstructed log cabin in the back that I anticipate we’ll co-host some special events with the Center one day soon. The center also sports a Victory Garden built and managed by a very active Master Gardeners of Hall County Group. We’re looking forward to what we anticipate will be a long and fruitful relationship here.

Just in case you’re a tad nervous about what this means to our existing markets. Have faith! The reason Locally Grown exists today is because two communities of growers in Rabun County and Habersham County teamed up to collaborate. The result has been that more food is available to more customers. By adding a 3rd, much larger area to this collaborative we are 100% confident that new farms and new farm products will be drawn to participate. In the next year or so we expect that you’ll have more options than ever before. There may be a little more competition for exceedingly rare items, but we’re also going to try and start getting very detailed information on what products you want to see more of, and working with all the participating farms to encourage production of items in high demand.

That brings me to the next interesting topic. We’ve applied for a USDA grant that would help us make this expansion more professional. It was a complicated grant process (about 90 pages long), but it forced us to really think about how to grow and improve the market….like a real business plan. We won’t know if we get the grant for another couple of months, but just thinking through what we’d like to see the market do was incredibly helpful.

One of the things we did in preparation for these big changes was go visit the Athens Locally Grown market a week from last Thursday. The ALG gave birth to our market in that they invented the software and kind of laid out the process.

The day I went for a visit and to volunteer to see how their system works was a big day, about $8,000 in sales. That’s 8x bigger than our average day this time of year. The first thing that strikes you about the whole thing is how efficient the Locally Grown model is.

Just like us, farmers come and drop off their orders first. IN this case they layout all their items on temporary shelving that is constructed and broken down each week in the basement of Ben’s Bikes. Farmers neatly arrange their items on a shelf or several shelves with their farm name written on the shelf in erasable ink (which is really cool stuff). They also arrange their items by type. All carrots might go on one shelf, bok choy the shelf beneath. Items in coolers are the same way, farm names written on the tops of the coolers.

After the drop off, a small fleet of volunteers (about 7 altogether) prepare for the onslaught of customers (I think it was about 500 this day). The way they do this is meet customers as they arrive and ask their name. They then have an internet connected device (I-pod Touch, or other small tablet) that they pull up the customers order. After their order is found the volunteer says “I’ll be right back with your order”, grabs a plastic tub and heads to the shelves and starts grabbing orders. Since all the shelves are in alphabetical order by farm (and the order sheet is organized the same way), it’s very easy to start at the beginning and weave down the aisle of shelves grabbing everything with the customers 3 digits of their first name.

Here’s the key. After you grab a bag of arugula that has SPE (for Spencer) on the label, you then touch that item on the I-pod. If the item turns green then that item is now packed. If it turns yellow, then you know they actually ordered more than one bag of arugula. This is one of the most common mistakes when packing orders. Every item packed gets checked off on an electronic checklist. That way if something is missing, the bill is automatically adjusted before you go to the cashier to pay.

Average wait time for customers is less than 5 minutes and in Athens while they wait they can grab a cup of free locally roasted free trade coffee, yummy and hang out with other local food lovers.

ALG also accepts credit cards and EBT (or food stamps). All this is done through I-Pads at the checkout. The beauty is that all the accounting for market is done for you right there, no adjustments later.

So why is all this so interesting. Think of it this way. It probably takes you at least 20-30 minutes or longer to go to grocery store to get primarily nutritionally inferior foods. With this system it only takes you 10 minutes tops, it’s more social and interactive, you get better quality food, you support local farms, and it’s fun.

From the farmers perspective it’s a dream. We saw probably 50 or more farmers drop items off that day in a 30 minute window. The market itself ran from 4:30 to 8pm, but farmers were only there for 30 minutes. So what at a conventional farmers market would normally require the labor of 50 farmers over 3.5 hours was able to be replaced by 7 volunteers.

Ok, think I may be running on a little too long here now….trying to compensate for my tardiness. But it really is an exciting time and exciting new season here.

We are gonna need a lot of help and support from a lot of people this year to kick things into a higher gear. If you’d like to be involved somehow let us know. We will recruit some market volunteers and back-up volunteers at each of our market locations so if helping out with the customer pick-up aspect of Locally Grown appeals to you let us know.

Last but not least. If you haven’t had the Swiss Chard from Mountain Earth Farms, you’ve got to get some. I’ve eaten it the last two weeks in a row and I promise it’s the best swiss chard I’ve ever had. Don’t know what kind of fairy dust is making it so magic, maybe it ‘s just because it’s been so young and tender but It’s fantastic. Buy some!

EAT WELL,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Northeast Georgia Locallygrown availability list for


Good evening Locavores,
The market is now open for orders. Have a great weekend and eat local.

Northeast Georgia Locallygrown Availability list for Feb.26


Hi Locavores,
The market is now open for orders. The BG Farms meat listings will be delivered this week.
Smart Chick Farm has only a few items available this week. They will be off the market for a couple of weeks to get another batch of chickens ready for the market.
Have a nice weekend and remember to eat local.

Locally Grown Availability for February 19th, 2014


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I’ve been a little slow in getting my weekly messages out lately. One excuse is Locally Grown is busy, busy, busy with some new projects this year that should really make the market bigger and more interesting this next year and in the year’s ahead.

First on this list, the Locally Grown Clarkesville location is now formerly part of the SNAP food stamp program and accepts EBT! Based on the recommendation of a community member we applied back in September and were eligible to receive a free EBT machine as part of a federal grant awarded to Georgia. If our experiment with the program goes well we hope to expand EBT to both Tiger and eventually a new Gainesville location in the near future.

Access to fresh, local and nutritious food should be something that everyone in our community is aware of and has access to. Our challenge in the coming months is to successfully reach out to SNAP program recipients and explain how Locally Grown works and encourage their participation. This is where we could really use the help of our local community. If you have connections with some of our area agencies, or have ideas of some promotional campaign efforts that would help EBT folks (that’s the name of the cards that are swiped) find us please let us know! There’s also a great program in Georgia called Wholesome Wave which raises charitable gifts that allow a dollar for dollar match for all SNAP purchases at select farmers markets. In 2013 they raised $170,000 increasing EBT farmers market purchases to $340,000. Teri Parker and some other volunteers for Locally Grown are going to help look into how to make this new aspect of our market a success. If you’d like to get involved just let us know.

We are set to receive SNAP NOW so if you know someone who would like to participate, please show them how to order online and we’re all set to swipe their card when they come to market (for any food item of course). We hope to see our very first EBT customer soon!

In a similar vein, a week from today Locally Grown will be submitting our first grant that if received will really help us strengthen our expansion into the Gainesville area. The project would allow us to hire a new market manager, launch a marketing campaign, and engage new farmers in participating in the market. It would also allow us to invest in some items such as wireless tablets so that we never have to print out paper again for order fulfillment. When you arrived we’d simply look at your order on a tablet, click if it was correct, or make the corrections to your account right then and there if you are owed a credit, etc. The grant is called a Value Added Producer Grant through the USDA. It’s been a big undertaking, but it’s also helped us sharpen our collaboration and start to look ahead at how to make it bigger and stronger. After all, we want all of North Georgia to grow, sell and eat more LOCAL FOOD in the coming years, not less and we think the Locally Grown model is a great way to do this.

Ok, so that’s why I was a little late with the message this week. I do hope you heeded Chuck’s advice to try Ohana Farms new pork products this week. I know I personally am gonna do that and can’t wait to sink my teeth in.

Warmer days not far away now. Here’s hoping that farmers have lots of big plans to plant lots of yummy food this year!

EAT WELL and THANKS!
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Northeast Georgia Locallygrown Availability list for Feb. 19


Good Evening Locavores
What a week we have had with the winter storm. The market deliveries were just finished today and it’s time to order for next week.
At least we will enjoy some real spring like sun and warmth next week.
OHana Farm has been busy this fall and winter raising pastured, organic and gmo free, Tamworth hogs. Finally they have cuts of pork ready for your table. Read their entire description on the market listings and get it while it lasts.
Have a great weekend and enjoy healthy, local food.

Locally Grown Availability for February 12th, 2014


Hey Local Food Lovers,

There’s a bit more wintry weather headed our way tomorrow and Wednesday but hopefully it won’t interfere with the market.

Thanks to everyone who purchased some of the bareroot trees last week. I hope they are in the ground and getting comfortable before the spring creeps up on us. If they haven’t quite been planted you may want to take a quick look at this quick planting guide we whipped up last year.

http://www.soque.org/pdfs/TREE_PLANTING_brochure_2013.pdf

It may be interesting to others who are interested in planting trees. We planted 50 bareroot blueberries at the Green Way Garden in Clarkesville way back in january 2010 and they are all over 5 feet tall and putting out prodigious amounts of berries now. A fantastic reward for the efforts.

Speaking of current efforts for future awards take a look at this quick map that depicts how Locally Grown works as a distribution collaborative, with our hopes to expand just slightly the area into Gainesville.

You can see clearly from this map how Locally Grown helps to create a network across the region helping us move food around so that more farmers can reach more customers with more food. It’s pretty neat and each and every one of you is an important part of the process.

We’re still scouting out locations in Gainseville for us to consider placing a new market pickup site. After a tour of the area one spot that really appealed to us was the Northeast Georgia History Center located just one block off of Green Street very close to the downtown area but in a very pedestrian friendly neighborhood.

Here’s a photo of the entrance:

If anyone has any connections with this organization let us know as we’ll have to introduce ourselves (a very good introduction would be great) and get to know each other in order for them to consider letting us pop up at their front entrance every week for eternity. We do want to keep all of you in the loop as we’re certain that just like Locally Grown has created a community of local food enthusiasts, this network has connections and relationships that will be incredibly valuable to us as we try and grow and expand.

The other thing that may be obvious from looking at that map is that Gainesville Farmers will soon start to network in to a new Gainesville drop site, providing all kinds of new options. We’re starting to compile a list of growers in Hall County and other close by counties so if you have friends in the local food business, send us their names and contact information as well. Or better yet send it to our friend Maggie who is helping to compile a list. Her e-mail is m.vancantfort@gmail.com

Well that ought to be enough dreaming about the future for one day. That’s what the last days of winter are for right…..anxiously anticipating the near future and brighter and warmer days ahead.

Before I go, I’d like to encourage everyone to buy a few pounds of jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes for short) from Chuck and Amy Mashburn this week. If you haven’t discovered this incredibly nutritious tuber you really don’t know what you are missing. They are much healthier than potatoes, and are incredibly versatile tasting great in salads raw, fantastic in a lemon chicken dish that I’ve described here before, and even taste great as hummus. Check out all these in the recipes section. Guaranteed to enjoy!

EAT WELL…..EAT SUNCHOKES!

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Northeast Georgia Locallygrown availability list for Feb.12


Good Evening Locavores,
The market is now open for orders.
I would like to say to all who picked up orders at Grace Calvary last week what a pleasure it was meet you. This was my first introduction with some of you and a chance to get reaquainted with others.
Note that the BG Farm products, though limited in supply this week will be delivered this week.
Have a great weekend and enjoy local food.

Locally Grown Availability for February 5th, 2014


Hey Local Food Lovers,

It’s way late so I’m gonna try and be concise tonight. We were celebrating Chinese New Year is why it’s been a late night. Actually it was on Friday but we celebrated tonight. Fantastic Food but very difficult to describe, things like pork belly stewed in soy sauce, napa cabbage, rice noodle with mushroom and carrots; shrimp and pineapple in an asian mayo sauce, taiwanese cold chicken; and the list goes on.

As our world continues to globalize you can count on being exposed to more and more interesting and delicious foods. In fact, one goal I have in my own garden this year is to grow some of the harder to find vegetables that are less common in our routine diets, but really create some amazing opportunities to experiment. Things like Daikon Radish, edamame (a type of soy bean), all kinds of interesting types of napa cabbage, asian cucumbers, kohlrabi, white gourd, longbean, galangal, and many more.

Of course to eat these things requires some study but that’s the fun part. When I first started eating local food it took lots of study to learn how to eat beets, and fava beans, fennel.

Then you start to get obsessed with little things. For instance, two years ago I grew some beautiful daikon radishes and lots of my favorite variety of carrots and was looking for more and more things to do with them. Finally it dawned on me that Vietnamese pickled daikon and carrot is what makes a vietnamese sandwich (or banh mi) so speical…that along with the liver pate. Well I never got around to making liver pate (though i have goat liver in the fridge now) but that pickled carrot daikon was phenomenal. The fresh crunch on a sandwich was scrumptious. Won’t be long now and I hope to be making some jars of that stuff for the late spring and summer months.

Ok, enough about my late winter food longings. This is a reminder though that spring planting plans are afoot. Many things will need to be planted in starter trays soon to get out in time for the first spring harvest. Napa cabbage is one of these.But I shall not digress any further.

TREES. We weren’t able to connect last week on tree orders, but if you’re still interested we may have just a few left. Everyone who requested trees last week will get a reminder e-mail to make sure you still want them this week. We’ve kept the roots wet so hopefully they’ll still do just fine, especially if you get ‘em planted during this warm wet weather we’re gonna have this week.

Here’s the ones we may still have a few left.

Green Ash
White oak
Tulip poplar

They come in bundles of 5 for $5. Just send an e-mail to soque@windstream.net with the number you’d like of each kind.

That’s it for this week. Happy Chinese New Year!

Eat Well,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Northeast Georgia Locallygrown availability list for Feb. 5


Good Evening Locavores
This is going to be a great week for the market. Now is the time to reorder those items we missed last week.
Note that the BG Farm meats will be delivered the following week.