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 April 3rd, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I’m gonna keep it short and sweet tonight. I would like to mention quickly that the Georgia Mountains Farmers Network gang had a meeting at Brooks Franklin’s Leah Lake Farms last Tuesday. I think we all were very impressed with the unique growing system that Brooks has assembled in just three years.

I’ll give you a quick example. Most of the delicious greens that you order week in and week out from Leah Lake Farms are grown in small hoop houses constructed out of inexpensive PVC pipes bent over and attached to rebar stuck into the ground. Lettuces really like the extra protection from the elements and thrive under cover. Because Leah Lakes Farm is on a hillside the tunnels have a low end and a high end. This allows the super hot air that can accumulate in a tunnel during the day to simply rise and vent right out the high end of the tunnels pulling in cool air from the bottom.

This is an example of capitalizing on the strengths of your surroundings and there aren’t many farms that have done it as well as Brooks!

Show him your appreciation this week by ordering something extra and give it to a friend if you have to. We had one heckuva a pot luck after our tour. That’s our favorite part about getting together.

We’ll be inviting all of you out to these wonderful farms too. June 15 and 16th will be your chance to visit most of the farms we have featured here on Locally Grown. So make your plans now!

EAT WELL,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for March 27th, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I’ve got a couple of things to plug this week. First off, is Sylvan Falls Mills is offering their chocolate easter eggs again this year, and I have to say if you like seasonal sweets, you’ve got to try ‘em. They are scrumptious! It’s nice to have a few guilty pleasures that you can only enjoy a few weeks of the year.

Last week I really enjoyed the fresh beets and greens from Ronnie Mathis and Mountain Earth Farms. I roasted the roots, quartered, drizzled with salt, oil and water and then covered with foil on 400 for about 35-40 minutes. The greens I sauteed with garlic and olive oil. I had leftover beets so the next day I cut them into chunks and put them on a microgreen salad with balsamic vinegar and a splash of pomegrantate juice. I didn’t have any goat cheese so a little fresh grated parmesan was a nice substitute.

We’re still looking for an occasional VOLUNTEER for Locally Grown! If you’re looking to get more involved in local foods this year let us know as we could really use the help once or twice a month for just two hours. In addition to the small food stipend, you’ll be rewarded by getting more engaged with local food and farms in 2013, making new friends and learning a ton!

And speaking of local food and farms in 2013, our Georgia Mountains Farmers Network is once again organizing a TOUR of FARMS for June 15th and June 16th. It’s early yet so just reserve these dates on your calendar.

And if you know of businesses or organizations who would like to sponsor the event feel free to forward them the PDF link below. We hope to make this event a part of what Northeast Georgia is known for. And super thanks to Simply Homegrown and Duane Hartness with State Farm Insurance for being our very first two sponsors. We’ll be taking sponsors through April 15th so help spread the word quick!

FLIER AND SPONSORSHIP BROCHURE:“http://www.soque.org/pdfs/Sponsorship_SUMMER_events_PRINT.pdf”

That’s it for tonight. Don’t forget to

EAT WELL and EAT LOCAL,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for March 20th, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

Just want to mention that this is a SPLIT CREEK goat dairy and cheese week so order now while you can. We’re only picking up their cheeses once every 3 months now so you’d better order big as it’ll be July before they come around again.

In just a few days a bunch of farmers are heading up to Blairsville to see a brand spanking new Cannery built right next to the Union County Farmers Market building. What is unique about this cannery (aside from it being new) is that it was designed with the idea that once farmers are done with their sales on Saturday, if they have left over items they can take them into the cannery, process them, and then bring them back out and sell them as value added products the very next week.

In order to really redesign how we buy food and build up a new economy of local food, we’re all going to have to start to think outside the box. Like why should a cannery be just for home canning? Luckily there are some communities both nearby and around the nation that are taking some innovative steps that we might follow. Our new farmers network has been working hard to pursue as many of these ideas as we have time for. And now with the new Farm 2 School program, and Habersham County in the process of building their new cannery our little group is trying to cross the threshold to influence our future food options.

In order to be successful though we need as much help and support from the rest of the community as we can muster. If you find yourself running into local officials go ahead and tell them you’re all about eating local. You think there’s a future local food economy out there that you’re prepared to invest in. And this is maybe the best example of being able to put your money where your mouth is, because local food is finally available in our region. And it’s available 365 days of the year, thanks to farmer/volunteers like Brooks Franklin, Sid Blalock and Joni Kennedy stepping up to help run the Clarkesville side of the Locally Grown market all winter long.

As farmers are getting busier we want to free up their time to spend on the farm, and ask if ANY OF YOU would like to HELP FOR A FEW HOURS EVERY OTHER WEEK by volunteering to distribute food from 5pm-7pm at the Clarkesville Pick-Up. And as a small way to say thanks, you’ll receive a stipend for $5 towards a local food purchase each week you volunteer. Anyone interested should send an e-mail to Justin at soque@windstream.net and he’ll let you know when there may be some open dates in the near future.

Don’t forget the goat cheese!

EAT WELL,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for March 13th, 2012


Hey Local Food Lovers,

Beets, Onions, Spinach and Chard are all newly listed this week. We’re also barreling towards more and more offerings each week as the days get longer and warmer. Hoorah!

I have to be quick tonight so I just want to encourage everyone to support our local farms as their goodies will start multiplying rapidly now.

Hope you’re out enjoying this incredible weather!

Eat well,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - VIDEO BONUS


Hey Local Food Lovers,

One more time! I figured out the trick to send video and just had to send it out again with the actual video. If you still can’t see it, SORRY, just paste the link at the bottom of the page.

Here’s the Video:

And the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OX8qJN1Azs&feature=youtu.be

Enjoy….MORE KALE,

Justin Ellis
Market Co-Manager
Northeast Georgia Locally Grown
www.northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net
soque@windstream.net

Locally Grown - Availability for March 3rd, 2013


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I want to start out by welcoming Leah Lake Farms back after a short hiatus (that felt long). Even though there’s just a few offerings in each category, make Brook’s feel your love by buying up everything that he has. I just spoke with him an hour ago and he mentioned that he loves selling out. We all do!

I’ve been talking to a lot of farmers on the phone today and getting some amazing insight into their farms. For instance, Sid Blalock at Burton Mountain Farms reminded me today that he has 3,000 tilapia fish that are probably just 2-3 months from being harvestable size. What’s amazing about it is that they’ve been primarily fed organically grown vegetable matter from his greenhouses. Everytime a plant like chicory grows a little to large to be sold for human consumption he can feed it to the fish! Heck, those tilapia are eating healthier than most people I know. Not only that, but the water from the fish tanks is then filtered over rock beds where he grows his watercress. This helps clean the water for the fish, while helping the watercress get all the nutrients they need. It’s an amazing system, and the first of its kind in our whole region. Sid’s a real pioneer. I keep telling him to send me a great recipe for his watercress for those who haven’t tried it yet. Anyone who has or finds a good watercress recipe send it in.

Speaking of recipes, we have some other new ones on our recipes section of the website this week. One is for yummy Cream Scones using Sylvan Falls own organically grown and water wheel ground whole rye flour, and whole wheat flour. One of the cool things about the recipe section is it links to products available through Locally Grown and you can click to order the products as your read the recipe. Another interesting one is a Microgreen soup which incorporates microgreens from Mighty Micros, Kale available from 3 or 4 of our farms this week, Jerusalem artichokes from Chuck and Amy and cilantro available from Leah Lake Farms. That’s four products in one recipe all available this week. Big thanks to our customer Cristy Damron for submitting that great recipe. And finally, lots of people at the Clarkesville pickup got to taste test Jerusalem Artichoke Hummus thanks to Amy Mashburn sending some down. That recipe is also available for all those that fell in love with it thanks to its submission by Patricia Howell.

If you’ve got an awesome recipe, please post it to our RECIPES page. Sarah Gillespie had an outstanding idea to one day in the near future to publish a cookbook of the great Locally Grown recipes that feature the favorite foods of local farmers with their local produce. I think that would be awesome. Anybody with some free time on their hands should step right up for that project!

Ok, before I go I want to try some technological shenanigans. I haven’t tried to paste a You Tube video in a message yet, so if this doesn’t work my apologies. I’ll put the link below just in case. But you’ve got to check out this amazing video of Ronnie Mathis the farmer behind Mountain Earth Farms feeding kale chips and green smoothies to middle schoolers at Wilbanks Middle School. This is part of the brand new FARM 2 SCHOOL program where Habersham County school kids will hopefully get to eat a lot of fresh local food this year. They are off to a great start. We’re proud of Ronnie for being the inspiration behind this program getting started and for changing forever these kids understanding of where food comes from.

If you enjoy this video please spread it around to everyone you know and encourage them to buy and eat local food in 2013!

or

http://youtu.be/2OX8qJN1Azs

AND DON’T FORGET TO EAT WELL,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for February 27th, 2013


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I’m gonna keep it short and sweet tonight. First off, I want to let folks know that Wild Georgia Seafood is back with shrimp this week after being gone for a month, so if you’re looking for a some shrimp kabob this week, these puppies are good.

There’s also 3 varieties of microgreens: sunflowers, broccoli and wheatgrass. I haven’t tried each of these yet, but I love microgreens. I had a microgreen salad for lunch and it’s hard for me to go back to lettuce now.

There’s actually almost as many varieties of processed foods as there are vegetables this week. In fact I should mention two fairly new farms to the market, The Happy Berry (who’s actually been with us for a couple of months) and Chattooga Belle Farm. Both of these farms are just across the border in South Carolina and both specialize in lots and lots of fruit trees, which explains why they have so many different types of jam. The Happy Berry also lists some pastured eggs that have been very popular the last several weeks. Those of you who shop at the Mill Gap location should ask Chuck about these farms as he’s visited both. I haven’t had the opportunity yet, but hope to during this years fruiting season…..

Which reminds me, the highlight of my week last week was planting a bunch of asian persimmons and blueberries at a local school. We’ll be planting more at the Clarkesville Greenway sometime this week as well as paw paws, and in a few more weeks, figs. Planting fruit trees is one of the best things you can do around your home, and its not quite too late. If you’re in the Habersham area, you can buy bareroot blueberry bushes from Sidney Roland for $2 each. He usually sells them in groups of ten. We planted about 40 of them at the community garden and they are doing great. If you’re interested give him a call at (706) 754-6700. You can mention that Justin referred you, and if you get to meet him, get him to tell you his story about the first time he ever kissed a girl. It’s a great story.

One last thing. If you know any farmers at all interested in growing to sell this coming season please encourage them to attend the FARM 2 SCHOOL farmers forum this Thursday at Wilbanks Middle School at 7pm. School nutritionist Paige Holland will discuss what they are looking for, and other details. For more info call Justin at 706-754-9382. Spread the word. We need as many farmers as possible to make sure this is a grandly successful effort to feed local school kids local food!

Ok, i promised a short one. Don’t forget to…..

EAT WELL,
Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for February 20th, 2013


Hey Local Food Lovers,

You wouldn’t know this but our local farming community is scurrying around like crazy preparing for this years big growing season. I thought I’d spend some time in this message talking about some of the things to expect in 2013 to get you excited and maybe even get you involved.

But first I want to brag on my Valentine’s Day dinner. My wife had to work until late that night so I knew she’d be getting home just before 8pm, too late to go out for dinner. The day before Amy Mashburn had gifted me some excellent jerusalem artichokes (and I had a few more in my fridge too). If I had to guess, most of you out there have scrolled over jerusalem artichokes on the list and had no idea what they are or how to eat them. Well I’m gonna give you a tip. This is the very first dish I ever made with these alien looking root vegetables. But before I get to that let’s talk about this amazing food for a minute.

Despite it’s name the Jerusalem artichoke (also known as a sunchoke) has no relationship to Jerusalem and isn’t related to the artichoke. The plant is In fact a type of sunflower (helianthus) and it’s native to North America, found in the gardens of native americans in modern day Massachusetts way back in 1605 by a french explore named Champlain. The roots became popular with Europeans and the italian word for sunflower is girasole which I guess with the right accent sounds a bit like jerusalem. Champlain thought the tubers tasted like artichokes and said so in his writings and even though I disagree with him, hoila, 400 years later were stuck with this rather unlikely and difficult to market name.


I’m gonna attempt to insert a photo of a blooming J. art here.

What makes these boogers special is they contain 10% protein, are low in starch, contain no oil, but are high in a carbohydrate called inulin that breaks down into fructose. For this reason J.arts as I’ll call them are a healthy choice for diabetics.

But do they taste good. Well try this recipe and judge for yourself. And if you’d like to quick reference this or any other recipe I post, I’ve started posting them to FACEBOOK for quick reference. Here it is my Valentine’s Day Dinner surprise.

Lemon Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes

Ingredients:
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 2 fresh lemons
• 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided use
• 4 chicken thighs
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron
• 1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), peeled
• 10 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
• Hot, cooked rice

Preparation:
Finely grate 1 teaspoon of zest from the lemon and set aside.

Juice both of the lemons (discarding pulp) and set aside.

Place a large, deep, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down in the hot pan and quickly brown them, turning only once. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, remaining olive oil, chicken broth, and saffron to the skillet. Bring to a boil, stirring to loosen any browned bits. Add Jerusalem artichokes and garlic cloves. Return chicken to the skillet, along with any accumulated juices. Reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes, until chicken and sunchokes are tender.

Stir in cream and thyme leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning, if need be. Return to a simmer and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve over cooked rice and sprinkle with pinenuts to garnish.

I varied this a bit of course substituting saffron rice since I didn’t have the spice, using chicken legs rather than thighs, skipping the pine nuts, and substituting beef broth. Turned out amazing! Please, please someone cook this up and submit a photo to us. I forgot to take a picture, but we’d love to start promoting great recipes with photos to get everyones mouth watering.

Well that took so long I think I may skip all the other grand things I thought I’d talk about. J.Arts stole the show tonight. Buy some and see for yourself.

I will briefly mention that in 2013 more than past years we could benefit from the volunteer support of the community. Here’s a few examples that I’ll elaborate in future editions.

We’ll be hosting another Georgia Mountains Farm Tour to 18 farms across all north georgia in June and we’ll need help both promoting this and helping farmers on the day of the event.

Occasionally helping on market days. At the Clarkesville location we are interested in having a small number of people who can help during pickup hours from 5-6:30 (or 7 in the summer). If you think you might be interested let me know and we’ll put your name on a list.

One last thing. Joni Kennedy of Melon Head Farms will be helping at the Clarkesville Pickup this week. We hope you’ll enjoy getting to meet and talk with one of your farmers. She’s also graciously offered to host a customer/farmer potluck at her farm sometime in Spring. Ask her about that, and maybe we’ll nail down that date soon. That was tip from a customer in our survey last month.

Oh yeah. Split Creek Goat dairy products will come back in March. We’re on a quarterly schedule (4x per year) so you’ll have to really order big when it comes. We’ll let you know. (*volunteers to do more frequent runs would also be considered).

Whew! Ok, that’s it this time. Really. I told you we were scurrying. I only touched on about 10%!

Eat Well,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

Locally Grown - Availability for February 13th, 2013


Hey Local Food Lovers,

Wow! This past week was my very first experience with Hakurei Turnips from Mill Gap Farm and I’m in love. I like turnips anyway, but these are so unique. The last two years I’ve grown purple top turnips and discovered that I loved the tops as much as the roots, especially as a pesto (go figure). Since I totally failed to plant turnips this year and we’re deep into turnip season, I finally got around to trying this unusual, some might say gourmet turnip.

I prepared these pearl sized ones in a simple and traditional way. In a large skillet I added the turnips (2 orders worth) and enough water to come up halfway, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 stick of butter, and some salt, and then brought the water up to a soft boil. Rather than cut the greens off I just left them on, and partially covered to steam the greens. You are supposed to reduce the liquid until syrupy and remove the turnips if needed so you don’t overcook them. Then add the greens back to the syrupy buttery liquid to rewarm. Hoila!

My wife liked these so much that two nights later she took the leftover ones and …..put them on our pizza! I have to admit they were delicious but I kidded her pretty hard saying that we’re probably the first two people who have ever eaten a turnip pizza!

That’s the thing I love about this whole local food movement. It’s unpredictable and allows each and every one of us to be creative in the kitchen and in the dirt. I’m gonna be a bit busy this year for my usual gardening habit so I’ve started cultivating herbs and other things in my windowsill to keep my gardening fever at bay. I recently transplanted a butterfly bush cutting and it’s bigger everyday and I love it.

Having been involved in environmental conservation my entire adult life it occurs to me more and more that the best single thing we could do as a society is re-establish a deeper relationship with our food. What I mean by that is learn what’s in season, and learn to enjoy things that are in season. Learn to can during the days of plenty, to enjoy during these colder days of want. Supporting local farms doesn’t just support sustainable land based businesses (meaning people who derive some income from treating the land with a nurturing hand), it supports your brain’s interaction with the natural world.

I think that most people who simply began to eat local food every week of the year, would also begin to do other things. I think they would start to dabble in growing food. I think they would start composting their kitchen scraps. I think they would begin to get interested in plants, and the animals and insects that visit or depend on those plants. I think they would start to share food with their friends and family members. I think they would begin to have farmers as friends, and would likely go to visit their farms, and likely lend a hand with their farms if they can. I think that the earth would feel like a good friend, as the simple result of eating local food every week.

Eating local food is the single best thing! It’s my single best thing anyway. You have to eat right so I figure you might as well…..

EAT WELL,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun

PS – I also highly recommend Sylvan Falls Sticky Buns. I opened the bag the second I laid hands on it, and boy are they yummy!

Locally Grown - Availability for February 6th, 2013


Hey Local Food Lovers,

I thought I’d pick right back up where I left off last week with giving a little history about the Locally Grown market and how things work. This week I want to go into a little more detail on the financial side.

Even though Locally Grown is managed as a non-profit project of the Soque River Watershed Association (with Chuck and Amy Mashburn managing the Tiger pick-up and Justin Ellis managing the Clarkesville pickup) each time you use the website, your orders are placed directly with the farms whose products you select. What that means is that Locally Grown does not purchase food and then sell it to you. Each customer is making a series of individual purchases directly from farms, then on Wednesdays those farms leave their products for you at the designated pick up. Even though you may never see each other, they know your names from week to week as they see them on an order form and on the labels.

Because Locally Grown does shuttle food between Tiger and Clarkesville, man the market from about 2:30 until 6:30 (or 7pm in the summer), print out all the paperwork, take deposits to the bank, and a handful of other weekly administrative tasks we do collect a small percentage of each sale made. Currently that amount is 12% of sales. There is a 3% of all sales fee paid to use the Locally Grown software designed by Eric Wagoner who started the Athens Locally Grown. The remaining 9% is split between the Clarkesville and the Tiger pickup locations. So if you buy a $4.00 bag of kale the farmer will receive $3.52. We’ll collect .48 cents of which .12 cents goes for the software licensing fee and the remaining .36 cents is split between Clarkesville and Tiger after expenses.

In 2013 Locally Grown sold $37,250 worth of products, and collected $3,352 from our 9%. We had $1,930 in expenses that included things like business cards, coolers, banners, shuttle costs ($20 per trip), small volunteer stipend, bank fees, bounced checks (we always have a few of these from customers that don’t come back), and a few miscellaneous expenses like non-delivered food, etc. That left $1,422 net which was split between Clarkesville and Tiger markets making it $711 each. We spend on average at least 5 hours a week on Locally Grown activities (4 hours at market and at least another hour doing other things). That’s 260 hours in a year minimum which breaks down to about $2.73 an hour. That’s just counting Chuck and I’s time, and doesn’t include Amy, Ching-Yu, all the time that Teri Parker and Jean Holmes donates, and most recently the farmers that have been helping out.

But what about the membership fees? Good question. This year we collected $1,590 in annual membership fees compared to $1,050 in fees from last year and $1,170 the year before. So far we have been pooling all of this money in a reserve fund with the expectation that we may need to purchase a refrigerated truck, or hire someone to help with deliveries if we ever expand the market. $3,810 (give or take) is a decent start as we start to look at possible expansion plans this year and hopefully might be used to match a grant or other funding source.

All of these funds are managed in an account under the Soque River Watershed Association name (that’s why we have you write SRWA on your checks) so no taxes are due, though farmers do have to pay taxes on their income from the market individually. We may be required in the near future to submit tax forms to growers with records of their annual sales but haven’t started that yet.

As you can see, its run kind of like a very small business partnership between Chuck and I, though one that is more fun than profit driven. I’ll say this in case you are worried. I think that Chuck and I, and I think I can safely speak for Amy, Teri, Jean, Ching-Yu and many other volunteers find Locally Grown to be one of the brightest spots in our week, but more importantly in our community. Let’s face it , if it weren’t for this humble market I wouldn’t know most of the growers that I know, and I certainly wouldn’t be eating fresh local greens in the winter, with fresh local bread, fresh eggs, and all the other items I now can enjoy every single week of the year.

It’s also quite exhilarating to be able to tell people that in less than three years we’ve sold over $100,000 worth of food. That’s significant.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Before I wrap things up, if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Friday’s Northeast Georgian you should because Ronnie Mathis of Mountain Earth Farms is on the cover in color with his greens above the fold! The story is about the brand new FARM 2 SCHOOL program that Habersham County is launching this year and it’s pretty exciting. If you want to know more about it I’m gonna make you visit our FACEBOOK page to read the story (we’re trying to boost our LIKES) click here

There’s a PDF of the whole article there. Or better yet go buy a paper. Support Local NEWS, but only after you support LOCAL FOOD!

EAT WELL,

Justin in Habersham
and
Chuck in Rabun