I'm one of those fanatics who counts down the days to spring's first farmers markets, eagerly awaiting the ramps and the radishes and the weekly chance to check in on farmers and cheesemakers and foragers alike. This year, I had April 11 circled on my virtual calendar - the first day for the Peachtree Road Farmers Market. When I heard about the new book from Miller Union chef, Steven Satterfield, I knew I had to grab a copy before opening day. I had a feeling the book, Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons, would make a perfect companion for that trip. What I didn't know was how much of a kindred spirit Satterfield would prove to be. In the very first paragraph he writes:
One hour. 23 minutes. 12 seconds. I glanced at the countdown clock on the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market website. It was ticking down to the late-afternoon season opening and I made a point to arrive right on time, knowing it would be swarmed. It was the first warm day of spring and the market was teeming with energy.
More than 40 chefs and restaurants statewide will feature Georgia-grown pastured poultry on their menus next week in honor of Pastured Poultry Week. The event was founded and organized by leading farm animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming USA (CIWF) and Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP), an alliance of concerned citizens, nonprofits, businesses, academics, and farmers that advocates on behalf of the pastured poultry industry in Georgia.
On one of the first sweaty-hot Saturdays this year, Brent Hall and Monica Ponce of Freewheel Farm could be found pinching zingy arugula from long, colorful rows, getting ready for the Grant Park Farmers Market. Held each Sunday along the southwest edge of the park - just .3 miles from their farm situated near the border of Grant Park and Summerhill - it is their home market.
Freewheel sits on a piece of land any typical, smaller house in Grant Park sits on. Translation: it's tiny. Even so, Ponce and Hall manage to grow an impressive array of veggies there - swiss chard, tomatoes, leeks, kale, beans, and tomatillos, to name a few. They've just expanded, clearing out a whole new "upper" plot for summer planting. A pile of logs rests in the shade nearby getting ready to sprout shiitakes.
The guy manning Watsonia's booth told me that the peach season has ended and he would almost certainly not be returning next week.
We got to talking about the endless peach war between South Carolina and Georgia. Flavor aside, South Carolina far outpaces Georgia in actual production. Georgia farmers claim, though, that their peaches have better flavor.
After working in kitchens for most of his life, the 34-year-old Greensboro, N.C., native began sourcing and delivering local produce to top Atlanta restaurants nearly five years ago.
"Back then, you'd see the same farmers at the same places all the time," Schenck says, "I'd go the markets at 3 p.m. on a Saturday, and the farmers had been there since 6 a.m., sweating and tired. I thought, 'What if we could consolidate some of that energy?'"
At a time when Atlanta chefs were beginning to request more local product than ever before - far more than what was being offered by large distributors - Schenck also noticed that the way in which farmers got their products to restaurants was often a logistical nightmare...
Continue reading "The Turnip Truck brings the farm to the table" by Osayi Endolyn
With spring come spring vegetables.
You and I might say "tomatoes." As in, the last syllable sounds like the toes on your feet. Farmer Bobby Britt says "tuh-mayt-as," as in, born and raised in the not-too-distant country nook of southeast Decatur. Since 2006, Britt has cultivated quite the professional garden on Besmaid Garden's 1.645 acres, supplying some of the city's best restaurants with a range of organic, fresh-picked produce throughout the year.
Even if you've never seen Britt's Moses-like towering frame at the farmers markets, or caught a glimpse while he makes his own restaurant deliveries, his green thumbprint can be found all over. His crops have graced the plates at Cakes & Ale, 246, 4th & Swift, Woodfire Grill, Haven, Valenza, Empire State South, Serpas, One Eared Stag, Holeman & Finch, Fig Jam, and our dearly departed Pura Vida. The man certainly has a way about him. But Britt isn't all that concerned with flash. He's got his knees in the dirt and his eyes on the future, hoping that the farm he inherited from his dad will sustain itself for the next generation.
Where did you get your green thumb?
Continue reading "Q&A with local farmer Bobby Britt" by Osayi Endolyn
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