Meet your Farmers!

In previous posts, I have noted the importance of knowing exactly where one’s food comes from. For me, part of being a conscientious consumer means having a full understanding of what you're buying and the process that products went through to get there. This week at the Farmers Market, however, I realized that I was missing a key link in the chain that produces my delicious produce each season: knowing the farmers!

I’d like to dedicate this post to getting to know the ever mysterious celebrities, without whom there would be no hope for a local, sustainable food source in our beloved Classic City. 

3 Porch Farm

Best known for their famous HoneyPops, 3 Porch Farm is solar powered, bio-fueled, and Certified Naturally Grown. The dynamic husband and wife duo, Steve and Mandy O’Shea, are at both weekly farmers markets with a fresh batch of delicious homemade Pops, as well as high quality fruits, flowers, preserves, honey and veggies.

Interviewee: Mandy O’Shea

Q: On a scale from 1-10, how weird are you?

A: “Oh god, I guess I’d have to go with a 9. Wait, No! I’ll go with 7... 9 is too high.”

Q: What makes a person rich?

A: “Happiness.” 

Q:  What is your favorite gardening tool? Why?

A: “I’d have to go with my Felco #6 (pruner).  It’s sharp, strong and fits a woman’s hand.”

 

Blackbriar Farm 

Blackbriar Farm, located in Crawford, Georgia, is run by John and Leslie Lawson and their daughter, Georgia. They work together to raise pastured heritage breeds of beef, lamb, eggs, and chicken. The family works exclusively with Heritage breeds in order to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. Blackbriar Farms is vigilant about their livestock and ensure that any animal product purchased from them is treated humanely and respectfully from birth to market.  

Interviewee: Georgia Lawson

Q: How to you like your eggs cooked?

A: “Sunny side up.”

Q: What was your first job?

A: “I worked at the register at Chicken Express in Oglethorpe County.”

Q: What makes a person rich?

A: “I’m trying to think of something meaningful. Definitely not money. I’d say being grateful for what you have and seeing beauty in everything”

 

Mama Bird's Granola

If you have ever strolled through an Athens Farmers Market, you have most likely sampled some delicious, homemade treats offered at Mama Bird's stand. Each week, Jennie De La Vega and her adorably rambunctious 6-year-old, Melina, come prepared with an exciting new spread of cookies, fresh granola and a featured beverage (this week it was Papaya Water). 

Interviewee: Jennie De La Vega

Q: What type of granola would you be? Why?

A: Jennie: “Cherry Vanilla, because it’s sweet and tart. Plus there is a splash of Brandi so you can get a little buzz!”

Melina: “You’re not granola! Why would you be granola?!”

Q: Where would you travel if you could go anywhere?

A: Jennie: “I would go to Greece because I want to see the Mediterranean”

Melina: “Mediterranean?? Who’s that?”

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: Jennie “Birthing and raising my children.”

Melina: “She just likes to joke on us!” 

 

Cedar Grove Farm

Jay, Marlene and Dylan Payne are the driving force behind Cedar Grove Farm, located in Oglethorpe county. This family of farmers is building a sustainable, Certified Naturally Grown farm to provide healthy, fresh and local produce, including free range chicken eggs, flowers, fruits & vegetables.

Interviewee: Jay Payne

Q: What was your first job?

A: “I received a PHD in Microbiology and worked in Biomedical Research and Development.”

Q: Justin Bieber or Hannah Montana?

A: “Who?? Led Zeppelin.” 

Q: What makes a person rich?

A: “Good health and family. Like yourself so you can love others.”

 

Luna Bread 

Luna Baking Corp. is a local wholesale artisan bakery. It provides breads for area restaurants, grocers, cafes, co-ops and is sold at both weekly farmers markets. They offer fresh ciabatta, baguettes, sourdough breads and other European-style breads throughout Athens.

Interviewee: Pete Alvanos

Q: What song do you sing when you’re alone?

A: “Telephone Line by Electric Light Orchestra. GREAT song”

Q: If you could chose any person in the world to be your personal mentor, who would you pick?

A: “Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. He has that ‘it’ quality.”

 Q: What do you want written on your tomb stone?

A: “Nothing flashy: ‘Be Nice’.”

 

Sundance Farm

In addition to chickens, heritage turkeys and goats, Sundance Farm produces a diverse variety of vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruits and berries. The Certified Naturally Grown family farm has sold produce in the Athens area since 1998.

Interviewee: Ed Janosik

Q: What is one quality that a farmer NEEDS to have?

A: “You have to be an optimist and you have to be persistent. If it fails, then you just have to move right on.”

Q: What is one thing that you’re not?

A: “A pessimist.”

Q: If you could have any other job, what would you do?

A: “I had a landscape company and I sold it because I wanted to farm. If I had more money I’d be a mango farmer in Costa Rica but I’m a vegetable farmer in Georgia and that’s what I want to do.”  

 

Mills Farm

Tim and Alice Mills are owners of Red Mule Mill Products, which are ground daily by their faithful mule, Luke. They have also recently welcomed a new member to their team, Chit, an 11-year-old mule. Tim and Alice welcome visitors and enjoy sharing the story of how they were led to farming in this modern day, compared to how they farmed in years past. 

Interviewee: Alice Mills

Q: Where is the furthest you have ever traveled from home?

A: “Moving here from North Carolina in ’85. We lived the B-52s’ ‘Love Shack’ for a year.”

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: “Getting this mill off the ground. We never dreamt that it would be a business and now we’re going on our 10th year. It’s overwhelming.”

Q: What is the most essential part of your farm?

A: “A Mule, not machinery.”

Each farmer and food producer at the Athens Farmers Market is dedicated to bringing fresh, wholesome and sustainable food to the Athens community. They are passionate about their product and eager to meet their customers. Stop by the Athens Farmers Market on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays mornings to learn more about the food you eat and the farmers that grow it!

AFM