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Online farmers market kicks off selling season Friday

POSTED: May 7, 2013 4:15 p.m.

The Northeast Georgia Locally Grown online farmers market will kick off the beginning of its fourth season selling local and sustainably grown foods from all across North Georgia at 9 p.m. Friday, May 10.

Online sales will begin two days earlier than past years, allowing customers to shop from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 p.m. Monday. Then customers pick up their orders between 5 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, just one hour after farmers have dropped off items harvested.

“It really fits with people’s schedules,” said Justin Ellis, who co-manages the market for the Clarkesville pick-up site. “Rather than drop by the grocery store, folks can see what goodies are available online all weekend long, order them, then pick them up on Wednesday on their way home from work.”

The Locally Grown market was started as a collaborative between farmers in Habersham, Rabun and White counties in April 2010 and was patterned after a similar market in Athens.

Farmers across north Georgia post photographs, descriptions and prices of their available products on the website where customers can choose the products. Farmers receive orders Tuesday and pick the vegetables fresh for delivery Wednesday night. Then customers pick up orders at one of two regional pick-up locations: one at 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,” Ellis said. “Farmers love it because it removes the risk typically involved in going to market, because they know exactly what they’ve sold in advance. Even though organic produce is at the grocery store, it won’t be as fresh as from local farms, or as tasty.”

The Locally Grown market has sold more than $110,000 worth of food since 2010 with all sales directly benefiting local farmers. The market features about 250 different products from more than 20 different farms. The market is also year-round thanks to farms throughout the area growing in greenhouses.

“The Locally Grown market has been a great way for farmers throughout the area to get to know each other, and was the starting point for the Georgia Mountains Farmers Network formed last year,” Ellis said.

The new farmers network hosted a tour of farms in 2012, and the 2013 tour is scheduled for June 15 and 16.

“Since you may not get to meet your farmers at Locally Grown, we figured what better way than through a tour of the actual farms,” Ellis said.

Tickets for the event are available through the Locally Grown website.

Some of the products online include pasture-raised eggs, lettuce, asparagus, beets, spinach, peas, grass-fed beef, pork, chicken and breads. New and interesting products offered at the kickoff include fresh oyster mushrooms from Orchard Valley Farms, gluten free products from Birdhouse Bakery, and heirloom tomato plants from Moonshadow Farms.

The Locally Grown market is sponsored by the Soque River Watershed Association as part of their efforts to promote sustainable land-based businesses.

For more information or to place an order, visit northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net or find the link from www.soque.org.


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