Last week at farm camp I had the kiddos share family traditions surrounding food. Many reflected the norms of American culture: Friday night pizza, a cake purchased from a local grocery on Sunday and a stop for chicken wings every Wednesday after football practice. There were a few that spoke about the coming together of extended family and friends, foods that have rich roots in their family history. One girl spoke about her family routinely eating vegetables like callaloo and sorrel from her parents’ homelands in the Caribbean. A boy spoke of picking vegetables at his family’s garden with his siblings.
This summer I’ve simplified my relationship with food: I just eat what feels right. My office is located on a farm so food surrounds me. One of my greatest joys a nabbing a perfectly sweet tomato from the vine and plopping it directly into my mouth. It is the best. Project Generation Gap has also been growing wheatgrass in our aquaponics system so cutting a plug pure nutrition and chewing on it is a daily treat for me.
Working at the markets this summer has provided routine access to this summers harvest. Squash, zucchini, blueberries, peaches… just a few steps away from my booth. My weekly meals include tabouli from my new friend Fikret, A bountiful salad with vegetables from Grow Where You Are, and micro green wraps from Farmer George. Every now and then I will indulge myself with a sea salt and chocolate popsicle from Wholly Pops or an iced coffee from Java Genesis but my typically dessert is a peach out of the scratch and dent box or a few slices of watermelon given to the Stone Mountain market manager by a local resident. Actually, the ceremonial slicing of the watermelon and sharing it with shoppers and vendors has become a highlight of my week.
The focus of the famers market are the farmers and the shoppers; as it should be. However, I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of the “pit crew”; The behinds the scenes folk who help the market flow like a well oiled machine. Market managers, volunteers, and other callaborators work tirelessly to pull off a seamless 4 hour experience for their community. Seeing it from this angle has given me such a wonderful perspective of what is possible when communities come together.
Outside of the market, there have been tremendous highs and some pretty significant lows this summer. On the low end, we lost a large portion of our livestock at the High Garden Center due to an attack by a neighbor’s dogs. George and Krista are seeing this as an opportunity to take a step back a re-group; illustrating the spirit of farming.
On the high end, I’ve been working feverishly with Brennan Washington of Phoenix Gardens to launch the Georgia Farmers Market Association. Brennan is an icon in the Georgia agriculture scene and has been working for six years to establish a state-wide resource for farmers, market managers and shoppers. It has been a pleasure to join him on this mission! We’ve pooled together many of the rock stars of our food system; from every nook and cranny of Georgia. More details to come. 🙂
Personally, summers have always been bittersweet and this summer is no exception. I am preparing to send my youngest son off to college and processing all of the emotions that go along with it. I am excited about this new chapter for all of us but watching your boys grow into men is gut wrenching on many levels. The second time has been no easier than the first.
Next week I prepare to leave for my farmer intensive at SoulFire farm. Actually I’ve been preparing all summer. My trip to get to know Arcadia Mobile Market early in the summer came with a heaping serving of what I call “the good”. My soul sisters Dawn and Juju; have set the bar high when it comes to faith, family, sisterhood and community. I sopped up all they offered.
She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.
It is so very, very good.