The Weblog

Welcome to Northeast Georgia Locally Grown’s weblog. Mainly this is a collection of e-mails that we send out each week to kick off the market, but also tells the tale of our little market. The market was officially OPENED and our first orders taken on Monday, April 26th, 2010 with our pick-up on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010. Though small at the beginning our market has grown pretty well, Selling $25,000 by December 31, 2010, and nearly $40,000 by our anniversary on April 28th, 2011. The site will be opened for shopping Friday evening at 9:00pm and remain open for shopping until 9:00pm Monday evening.



 
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Locally Grown - Availability for Novemer 28th, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving! We were able to take a special trip to Charleston, SC for the holiday and attend their Saturday farmers market. What a fantastic event! There were hundreds of people there, probably a dozen or more farms, another 10 food, coffee and juice vendors, and then 20 or more other arts or processed foods booths. There was a stage with music, and people had dogs (and even cats) on leashes roaming the park. It was a glorious day and I couldn’t help but wish we had a similarly grand market here. Then I remembered…. our farmers markets in the mountains are awesome and getting more awesome all the time!

Just a few weeks ago Simply Homegrown had a Doggie Dress Up day in celebration of Halloween. Here at Locally Grown we are similarly working to make market days more fun and exciting. Just last week every market customer got to taste the latest fruit to bloom on the land, the wondrous Asian Persimmon. I was amazed how quickly folks took to them, and we sold every last one, even though we’d only intended to have folks take one home.

This week is an even bigger treat. At the Clarkesville Pick-Up location, on an every other week schedule we’ll have a FEATURED FARMER actually working the market. They’ll be gathering your items for you like we always do, and I’m sure have time to tell you a bit about what’s going on at the farm as well. We’re really looking forward to having their help over the winter. I think this week will start with Brooks Franklin from Leah Lake Farms. If you’ve eaten lettuce or other greens from Locally Grown this year you’ve very likely eaten Brook’s products. This week alone he has 48 products listed. WOW! Seriously 48 products. That’s almost 30% of all the products listed this week. So we encourage you to come to market this week and MEET YOUR FARMER. I know he’s excited about meeting his customers as well and may ask you some questions too.

I also wanted to mention this week that we’re excited to have a returning farm. Productive Organics is an aquaponic farm in Hall County. They define aquaponic farming as “the merger of fish and vegetables, we feed the fish the fish feed the plants through nitrates that nourish plants, the plants cleans the water for the fish and the cycle start all over.” They are listing buttercrunch lettuces this week from their aquaponic greenhouses. We’re excited to see this new style of farming coming together and hope you may enjoy some as well.

We’d like to hear your ideas as well. Our farms will be getting together in just over a week to brainstorm for next year. We’ll be wanting your feedback sometime after that on everything from crops you’d like to see more of, to other market related improvements we could make. We’ll be asking you fill out a short survey at some point soon, but don’t hesitate to share your ideas while they are fresh. Because Fresh is Best!

We hope you enjoy your fresh veggies this week and …

EAT WELL,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for Novemer 21st, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

As you may have noticed there’s been no announcement about going to an every other week schedule as we have in past years. That’s because we have quite a few farmers with greenhouses now, and if all goes well we should have greens and other veggies 12 months a year from now on. That’s a big and noteworthy change to our local food system here in Northeast Georgia, and an exciting one as well. Thanks to two or three of participating farmers offering to help on Wednesdays with the pickups, we plan to try out staying on a weekly schedule a bit farther into the winter. Maybe even all winter if enough folks continue eating.

It’s also interesting to note that beginning around August a lot of our customer base kind of disappears until next spring. I don’t want to conjecture too much, but I think it has a lot to do with what we’re accustomed to eating. Everyone knows what to do with a tomato, okra, cucumbers, watermelon, and maybe even eggplants (though the numbers start dwindling with eggplant). But the cold season crops are just not commonly thought of as food for a whole lot of people. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. I’d dare say the majority of people in north Georgia, and probably the nation rarely if at all eat kale, turnips, beets, collards, arugula, asian greens, radishes, etc. etc. And that’s totally o.k. The last thing I would ever want to do is make someone feel bad because they don’t know what a jerusalem artichoke is or how to eat it. That’s still fairly new knowledge to me frankly. But I do wonder how we can share these foods with more people and let folks know what seasonal eating is all about.

Yesterday my wife (Ching Yu) and I drove up to Stack Farms in Tiger to pick about 20 or so Asian Persimmons. I had never in my life had or heard of an Asian Persimmon until about 2 years ago. Now late October and early November is permanently associated with Asian Persimmon harvesting time. I think I like them better than apples. There’s several reasons for this. First persimmons are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow without the need of any pesticides whatsoever. I don’t know why this is, but since organic fruit trees are so rare, it makes Asian Persimmon a highly desirable fruit for organic growers. Second, persimmons have two stages, an early stage where they are hard and crisp like an apple, and then a juicy, almost gooey stage once they are fully ripe. This makes it almost seem like two different fruits in one. Third, if picked before ripe and refrigerated, they will keep for many weeks, so that means fruit well into the winter. Fourth, there is no core, you can eat the whole thing, skin and all. There’s just a small leafy stem at the top. Nothing to throw away! Fifth, they are from Asia. This may be of special interest to me since my wife is Taiwanese, but I love the multicultural world of food. Food has become one of the best ways to connect with people across extremely diverse cultures and geographies. The exchange of foods is what makes our modern times a spectacular age to live in.

So I probably should have picked a whole lot more of these now that I’ve said all this. I think for fun we’ll have a persimmon taste testing this week and if you like them we can always go back and get more. The Stacks trees were totally loaded up with them. We won’t pressure you, but if you have a taste and like them, take one home. It may take a few exposures before you’re hooked for life, but that’s o.k.

And that’s our goal for all these other sorta unusual foods on Locally Grown. Nothing makes us happier than someone trying kale for the first time.

Speaking of first time items. Sid Blalock is finally selling his WATERCRESS on Locally Grown. Not even I have tried this tasty treat before, so I can’t even describe it yet. But it’s already in my basket. If you’re curious too, give it a try, if you like it please write about your experience and send it to us, or post it to our FACEBOOK page. As you well know a well described food experience can get people’s mouths watering.

Until then….

EAT WELL,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for Novemer 14th, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

Looks like it’ll be another short message tonight. There’s still a lot going on in the farming world I could tell you about, but this time of year tends to involve a lot of planning that may or may not be interesting to you. For instance, our group of growers has been coordinating orders of supplies for the last several years to cut down on costs, and make it easier for everyone. We’ll be gearing up for that soon, and each year our order gets bigger and bigger. I guess that’s a sign that the farming scene is continuing to grow.

I also know of a lot of folks working on projects right now. For instance, two area farms are engaged in aquaponics and I hope to fill you in on their progress soon. If you’re wondering what aquaponics is, it’s the combination of raising fish and then recycling the nutrient rich water to feed greenhouse vegetables. Another farm is trying to get in a well so they can construct a new greenhouse. Then there’s a bunch of folks with fairly new greenhouses that they are using now.

On the marketing front, we’re considering allowing the market to continue year round rather than go to an every other week schedule as we have the last two years. We’ll probably wait and see how things go through early December, but for now we’re planning to continue a little longer. We’ll need folks to continue to be hungry for fresh local food all winter long for it to work, so please, don’t forget to continue to inform your friends and neighbors about Locally Grown. We just reordered our business cards so if you’d like to pass a bunch out just ask and we’ll spread them around.

Here’s what our business card looks like:

Oh, I just thought of one more thing to plug. If you haven’t taken a look in a while please visit our RECIPE page. One of our customers, Patricia Howell added a really cool recipe for using MIl Gap Farm’s Jerusalem Artichokes to make Hummus. If you make this dish or any dish from our RECIPES page and take a photo to send us we’ll post it in one of our SUNDAY messages. In fact, any dish you are especially proud of that features food you bought at Locally Grown, please send it to us. We’ll show it off, and help give people great ideas of ways to cook all this terrific food. We’d really enjoy you’re involvement as we know you guys are some swell cooks. It’s the next best thing to getting invited over for dinner!

That’s it for this week. Enjoy all the cool offerings and don’t forget to ….

EAT WELL,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for Novemer 7th, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I’ll keep it real short tonight. We’ve been enjoying the tastes of the season lately, especially lots of cilantro which does great this time of year as long as the frost doesn’t get it. Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs and there’s really no shortage of foods that it makes delicious. Fresh herbs always kick ordinary meatballs into overdrive and I discovered earlier this year that if you’re a cilantro fan, you’ll love it that way. We have three growers featuring it this week so spread the joy.

I also really encourage folks to share their productive feedback with growers. We just recently added the e-mails of every grower to their grower descriptions. Since it’s rare that growers and customers get to see each other at this market, if you ever have something that you particularly enjoy, or that you have a simple suggestion for improving, don’t be shy. We (us market managers that is) enjoy sharing and exchanging information but sometimes direct communication can convey so much more than we can. Growers would love to hear from you. They are constantly asking us for feedback and we try and pass along as much as we can.

Just a reminder that the market will definitely be shortening it’s pickup time to 6:30pm for the remainder of the winter. As you probably noticed today, the time change definitely took our extra daylight so this will help us stay out of the cold and dark a bit. Thanks for understanding.

There’s more winter greens this week with collards, kale and turnip greens prolific. I know lots of you love your winter greens. And if you haven’t fallen in love, here’s a fun tip. Try Turnip Green Pesto. Make it just like basil pesto but blanche the turnip greens before throwing them in the mixer. We fell in love with these last year, and what better way to eat your greens.

EAT WELL,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for October 31, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

It’s a SPOOKTACULAR week here at Locally Grown. I have several very important announcements so please be sure and read the whole message to get them….but first. Since market day falls right on Halloween this Wednesday I wanted to encourage those of you who like to indulge a sweet tooth now and then to forget about those cheap bags of candy and try some of Carolyn Brewer’s fudge. She has four different varieties including: Double Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Pecans, and Peanut Butter. It’s fantastico. Do it for Halloween! If Fudge is a bit too sweet, try Sylvan Falls Mills Biscotti, or Chocolate Layer Cake. There’s also April Alexander’s Cheescakes in Apple Cinnamon, Champagne Pear or Plain varieties.

We have one little CHANGE at Locally Grown this week. We’re enacting our SHORTER PICK UP TIMES starting this week. With the night time coming earlier and the cold definitely coming as well we like to shorten the pickup to 5:00 until 6:30pm. In fact, that’s our regular pickup hours and we extend them until 7pm during the summer and early fall. We’ll be a little lenient this week but please try and come by 6:30 to keep us out of the cold and dark.

We have a small handful of great new items I want to mention this week. Mill Gap Farms has two of them: FRESH GINGER and JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES. We just went to the Mill Gap Farm FEATURED FARMER last Thursday night at Lake Rabun Hotel Restaurant and were able to eat some of both of these items and they were terrific. I want to make your mouth water just a bit by describing a couple of dishes on the menu that night. Actually these are the descriptions right from the menu.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup – creamy soup made with Mill Gap Farm sunchokes and garnished with Mill Gap Farm sorrel.

*Shaved Turnip, Sunchoke, Arugula, & Kale Salad * – marinated Mill Gap Farm Hakurei turnips and sunchokes with Mill Gap Farm arugula and kale, with a balsamic-roasted garlic dressing, and York Hill Farm goat feta, and thin sliced Osage Farm tomatoes.

*Vegetarian Sushi Roll *- nori and sushi rice filled with Mill Gap Farm Daikon radish, Mill Gap Farm Shishito pepper, and Mill Gap Farm carrots, served with a Mill Gap Farm arugula-snow pea salad, and a Mill Gap Farm ginger-roasted carrot puree.

Pork Stir Fry – thinly sliced all natural pork, stir fried with Mill Gap Farm Buthi squash vine tips, Buthi squash, pardon peppers, lemon grass, and ginger, served over organic brown rice.

I bet you wish you’d gone. If you haven’t yet treated yourself to a FEATURED FARMER DINNER at Lake Rabun Hotel you better get your butt in gear because I think this week may be the last one of the season. This week features Turning Creek Artisans and Trillium Farms. It’ll be next Spring before it comes back.

I just have to say that there really is nothing better than having dinner with your farming friends on the night their food is featured at one of the best restaurants in the State of Georgia. That’s not an exaggeration, Open Table named Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant one of the Top Ten Restaurants in Georgia. As good as fresh food tastes all of the time, very few can combine such eclectic seasonal items in as phenomenal a way as chef Jamie Allred.

Last but not least, Melon Head Farms has a smattering of sweet potatoes offered. Nothing brings in the colder days of fall like some hot sweet taters. Show ’em your excited by buying them out.

Thanks for supporting our local farms. It’s greatly appreciated.

AND EAT WELL,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for October 24, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

What a glorious weekend! Yesterday about 12-15 people went out to Brook Franklin’s Leah Lake Farms and aided in the construction of 4 new mini hoop houses constructed of pvc pipes and a wonderful invention called wiggle wire to hold the plastic down.

These community work days on farms are really wonderful. We had the most incredible meal and I met at least 5 or 6 people I’d not known before that came from as far as 45 minutes away to share in their passion for farms and local foods. I personally think that these type of “barn raising” events are as important to communities as the eating local healthy food part. The reason is that the notion of helping your neighbors, and sharing a meal is a rich experience. It not only accomplishes tasks that might take weeks if attempted alone, it builds friendships and a spirit of reciprocity that has ebbed in communities all over the country in recent decades.

Reciprocity isn’t a word I use everyday, but it’s one at the core of the local food movement. Every week both farmers and market customers exchange recipes, growing tips, and often small gifts of a salve to heal a pain, or extra herbs, or whatever is in abundance and from the earth that week. This gifting always inspires a desire to return the gift and a nice chain of exchanges. If I wasn’t about to go and eat dinner I’d fondly try and recount the last dozen exchanges I’ve had but I’m too hungry to concentrate any further.

To sum up, I want to congratulate Leah Lake Farms for not only becoming one of the backbone growers for Locally Grown this past year, but for bringing an incredible community together. We all were inspired and amazed at what has been accomplished on Brooks farm this year. He’s also basically tripled his work and potential output for the following year, so we hope you all are hungry too!

To celebrate too you should EAT WELL!

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun