Northeast Georgia Locally Grown
launches Regular Season on Easter Sunday
The Northeast Georgia Locally Grown online farmers market will kick off the beginning of its third weekly schedule season beginning this Easter evening at 9pm. Each Sunday night from now until Christmas anywhere from 20-30 local farmers and food producers located throughout the Northeast Georgia region will post their availability of fresh vegetables, herbs, baked goods, eggs, meats, flowers, seeds, plants, honey, dairy products and much, much more to the over 400 customers that currently subscribe to the market announcements.
Started in April of 2010, the Northeast Georgia Locally Grown market was patterned after a similar market in Athens in which farmers post photographs, descriptions, and prices of their available products on a website where customers can choose the products they’d like from farms throughout the region. All the orders are completed on the website between Sunday evening at 9pm until Monday at 9pm. Farmers receive their orders on Tuesday and pick vegetables or bake goods fresh for delivery on Wednesday evenings between 5-7pm. Then customers pick the items up at one of two regional pick-up locations, one at the Grace Calvary church office in Clarkesville, and another at Mill Gap Farm in Tiger just outside Clayton.
“This system really works well in a rural community because it consolidates a lot of food from a lot of different farms in one location,” says Justin Ellis who co-manages the market for the Clarkesville pick-up site. “For farmers it removes all of the risk typically involved in going to market, because they know exactly what they’ve sold in advance. For customers, they can find a broad diversity of foods from numerous farms, and they know the items are super fresh and from farms that are practicing sustainable agriculture.”
The Locally Grown market has grown steadily over the last two years selling over $70,000 worth of food, with all sales directly benefiting local farmers. Each year the number of farms and diversity of products has increased. The market is also year round, but keeps an every other week schedule in the winter. Fresh vegetables represent the bulk of sales, and are available the whole year round now that numerous farms in the region are using greenhouses. Two of the newest farms to join Locally Grown are a grassfed beef operation called Gibson Farms and located about 30 miles from Clarkesville and Clayton in Westminster, SC, and a cow’s milk dairy called Mountain Fresh Creamery located just 18 miles from Clarkesville in Clermont, GA. This opening week will mark the first time that cow’s milk, cream and butter have been available through the market. Once each month the pickup locations will also have a featured farmer to chat with customers about their products.
“We’re extremely excited about this new season,” says Ellis. “The market has slowly been growing via word of mouth, and we hope that this year the interest in local foods will be even greater.” In a survey to customers last year customers were asked to describe the qualities they liked best about locally grown and responses were: delicious; greater shelf life; helping local farmers; meet others who like being “green”; healthier eating habits; convenient; ease of ordering; variety of products; quality of products; efficient and organized; knowing where food comes from; weekly messages; and enthusiasm of volunteers. To further promote local foods and farms, there are plans to host a Georgia Mountains Farm Tour in late June early July to encourage people to learn exactly how these local farms are producing local foods. The Locally Grown market is sponsored by the Soque River Watershed Association with a goal to increase the production and consumption of sustainably produced goods, and to increase the public’s awareness of environmental and economic benefits associated with local, land-based businesses. For more information or to place an order visit the market website at http://northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net or also find the link from www.soque.org.