PLANET GARDEN: Eco-Friendly Resource Guide

Planet Garden Encourages Georgia Grown Farmers Markets

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 12, 2010


Bring Georgia Home is the name of the State of Georgia Department of Agriculture initiative to encourage Georgia residents to buy local. According to our commissioner, Tommy Irvin,  “Pride and integrity run deep in Georgia. Our fruit, vegetable and nut growers strive to bring you the very best – the best in quality, variety, dependability and value. Agriculture is strong in our state, and thanks to you our future looks bright. We appreciate your business and look forward to producing more for you in the seasons ahead.”
 
Last summer Bluebird Market applied with the State of Georgia and we just received notice this week that we have been approved as a Georgia Grown Farmers Market. This is well deserved because we strive to encourage local Georgia growers to bring their Georgia Grown produce to market. There are loyal patrons who show they value having farmers in Upson County by shopping at our Georgia Grown farmers market.  We also encourage farm fresh fans locally to enjoy this goodness of locally grown produce by becoming a CSA member.
Some of the Middle Georgia Farmers who have offered their products at Bluebird Market and CSA include James Family Farm, Holland Apple Farm, Newman Farms, Russell Farms, Elliott Farms, Dickey Farms, D & A Farms, Little Red Hen Farm, Busy Bee Honey Farm and many more.
Look for the rising sunshine logo and Georgia Grown products at Bluebird Market. We are so appreciative of the efforts of our Georgia growers. It is a benefit to us in Thomaston to have farmers that are right around the corner from our hometown.
Arty’s Garden from the Georgia Department of Ag, encourages us to enjoy the beauty of winter flower gardens and I am especially enjoying the beautiful Camellias blooming right now in our hometown. We are looking forward to a beautiful spring as an official Georgia Grown farmers market for Thomaston and surrounding neighbors.  Open year round on Saturdays at the Historic Downtown Train Depot from 8 am until noon, we invite you to support your local Georgia Grown farmers.  Participate in the Bluebird CSA program with weekly share boxes of all the best farm fresh veggies from Middle Georgia farms.
Your neighborhood farmers market and CSA program will continue to serve the interest of our Georgia farmers and are honored to be notified by the State of Georgia that we are now registered. Look for the Georgia Grown logo when you shop.
Enrich your life on Saturdays from 8 am until noon at Bluebird Market at the historic downtown train depot located at 218 N. Center Street, Thomaston. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at www.bluebirdmarket.com
and http://www.planetgarden.wordpress.com. Email rural CSA questions to:
bluebirdcsa@gmail.com.

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Planet Garden Shares a Cup of Tea with Local Artisans

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 12, 2010

Truly sharing a cup of tea led to a small group of lovely local artisans making plans to go out and tell their friends at other Middle Georgia arts events how delightful it is to live, work, play and create arts in Thomaston Georgia. Ladies love unwrapping presents – and Bluebird Arties were delighted to find at their plate Valentine Gifts – including a red drawstring mini-purse filled with Mary Kay lipsticks, lip liners, a Giftcard for a Free Pampering Session, a Complimentary Facial, Satin Hands and Lips Treatment, Color Makeover and a $10.00 Gift Certificate!
While sharing a cup of hot tea at the home of Diane Dunn, Bluebird Artisan Guild members discussed how spring will bring fun opportunities in Thomaston for Middle Georgia artists.  Plans were made to invite local artists into the Guild and embrace our local arts culture as a united group of self taught artisans working together.   Online networking ideas and reading news stories about upcoming trade shows made the tea party an informative as well as a fun social arts gathering. 
One local artisan shared the idea for Bluebird Arties to each have a Bluebird display logo for their booth when traveling to neighboring events in Middle Georgia.  The aim of these ambassadors for the arts is to encourage tourism and network with friends of the arts about fun upcoming festivals in Thomaston. 
Tasty Salmon Pate’ was served at the Guild Valentine Tea and luncheon.  Heart shaped teacups and saucers in bright lime, pink and purple were filled from pink teapots of Lemon, Royal Raspberry and Green herbal teas.  Local bakers prepared Cottage Industry baked goods that were served on a lovely 3 tier serving piece along with valentine candies and mints.

We also took notes in a daytimer book and pen gift set and enjoyed a fun assortment of Valentine Party favors including a lovely heart fan, a Guide to the Art of Victorian Fan Language, fun temporary Princess tattoos, red and pink tiaras and lip whistles.  The Bluebird Artisan Guild Valentine Tea Party illustrated that sharing tea can lead to serving together to support our local arts community.
Middle Georgia Artisans interested in becoming involved with Forward Bluebird Arts are invited to email:  bluebirdarts@gmail.com and visit http://www.bluebirdmarket.com

Planet Garden Perpetual Growing Season Courtesy of USDA

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 2, 2010

Courtesy of the USDA Every Georgia Farmer Will Receive 1 High Tunnel for a Perpetual Growing Season.   Here is the news release from USDA announced this month.
THE USDA-NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS) HAS LAUNCHED A HIGH TUNNEL PILOT STUDY TO INCREASE AVAILABILITY OF LOCALLY GROWN FOODS IN GEORGIA.
In Athens, Georgia, James E. Tillman, Sr., State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia announced on January 7, 2010 that Georgia is one of 38 states selected to participate in a project to evaluate effectiveness of high tunnels in natural resource conservation.”
Bluebird CSA share holders experienced first hand that high tunnels work. This week share boxes included artisan lettuces that are certified organic and survived the hard freeze in January 2010 safe in the high tunnel at D & A Farm.
“Part of the “Know Your Farmer; Know Your Food” initiative, the high tunnel project will establish high tunnels to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way.
The 3-year study will verify if high tunnels – also known as hoop houses – are effective in
reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season,
increasing yields, and providing other benefits to growers. “I am excited that Georgia was
selected to participate in this study,” James Tillman said.
Dave Bentoski of D & A Farm in Zebulon” and one of the participating Multiple Farms in the Bluebird CSA program “is a firm believer in high tunnels. “There’s no doubt
it’s a good production technique. For professional growers, they’re incredible,” he said. He has one high tunnel that is 3 years old and has recently constructed two new ones. “We use them for season extension. “We grew tomatoes in there that we planted at the end of July; in 2,000 ft of growing space, we harvested 1,500 lbs. of tomatoes. We had tomatoes in the market well after our peers,” he said.
Made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, high tunnels are
easy to build, maintain and move. High tunnels are used year-round in warmer parts of the country, providing steady incomes to farmers – a significant advantage to owners of small farms, limited-resource farmers and organic producers.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide financial assistance for the project through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the EQIP Organic Initiative, and the Agricultural Management Assistance program.
NRCS will fund one high tunnel per farm. High tunnels in the study can cover as much as 5 percent of 1 acre.
Participating states and territories are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut,
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Pacific Islands, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.”
To sign up or learn more about the project, contact your local NRCS office. Or email: mary.mcquinn@ga.usda.gov or bluebirdmarket@gmail.com for more information. Find out more about the project or sign up for a Bluebird CSA share box at http://bluebirdmarket.com. Every family needs a farmer. Do you know yours?

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Planet Garden Assures All the Best

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 2, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are growing all over the country with some programs serving over 400 members with 100 on a waiting list.
When you can pick up an affordable box each week here in Thomaston for your family that is filled with an assortment of farm fresh local foods, it is a practical and prudent manner of directing your food dollar.  CSA shares are a local solution to rising costs of transportation that increase food miles while decreasing nutrients of fresh foods.  You connect directly to the source of those growing and providing your family with farm fresh veggies. 
Last week the winter $15.00 sampler box of CSA harvest shares picked up at Bluebird Market included bountiful amounts of turnips, collards, apples, pecans (shelled and unshelled), rosemary, spices, garlic, onions and more.  Recipes are included for fun fresh food ideas to insure you enjoy cooking delicious and nutritious meals for your family.
Variety is going to continue to build each week as we move into early spring and then the harvest of summer. Farm fresh veggies will be shared for everyone who signs up with this affordable program at Bluebird Market.
This week the shares will also include an assortment of lettuces like butter crunch, Romaine, Red Leaf and Green Leaf. It’s amazing to know that our local Middle Georgia growers are producing such a wonderful array of farm fresh organic produce.
James Family Farm is certified organic and will offer us shelled pecans again this week along with other veggies. They are also now offering a Farmhouse baked goods bonus box for only $12.50/week. In this box you will receive 2 family size loaves of healthy wheat bread made with local honey or honey oatmeal bread or honey nut oatmeal raisin bread along with the jelly of the week such as local honey, pepper jelly, Blue-Ribbon Winning Apple Butter and many more.
This program is a community service and the prices are so affordable for your family. The single share boxes can be added to if your family has a need for more fresh veggies. My advice is sign up this Saturday at the market so you will be assured of all the best.  Spring is on the way and we will build into a spring and summer of bountiful peaches, plums, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, squash, watermelons, tomatoes (numerous varieties) peppers, peas, beans, onions, okra, zucchini, eggplant, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, spinach, Swiss Chard and so much more. You may also sign up for Georgia roasted bulk coffee that comes in a refillable tin. Little Red Hen offers bulk local farm fresh eggs as a part of the Bluebird CSA and farm fresh chicken.
You will be assured of all the best when you subscribe to the Middle Georgia multiple farm Bluebird CSA program that aims to serve our local community above all.
Enrich your life on Saturdays from 8 am until noon at Bluebird Market at the historic downtown train depot located at 218 N. Center Street, Thomaston. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at www.bluebirdmarket.com
and http://www.planetgarden.wordpress.com. Email rural CSA questions to:
bluebirdcsa@gmail.com.

Planet Garden Grows When Markets Are Up

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 2, 2010

Farmers markets are good for everyone. The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported a remarkable $1.2 billion in food sold directly from farmers to consumers. This is a 17% increase over the previous five years. The conclusion? More farmers are making more products directly available to more Americans in more ways. One of those ways is farmers markets.
Each year, more Americans in more communities get more of their food from farmers markets. In August, 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 4,685 farmers markets operating in the United States. This was a 170% increase over the last ten years.
Like Thomaston’s Bluebird Market, fifteen percent of these markets operate in winter months, extending their seasons to generate more reliable income for small-scale family farmers and build sustainable local economies.
More farmers markets mean more opportunities to:
• support healthy lifestyles
• make fresh, nutritious food available to more people
• support small family farms and preserve America’s rural landscapes
• strengthen communities and stimulate local economies
What is a farmers market?
Farmers markets vary from hundreds of food producers across a regional food system to just a few farmers collecting on a town square. Each market is a unique representation of its community, with a wide variety of products available for sale. Most farmers markets showcase local food, local producers, and local esteem.
Farmers markets…
Support healthy lifestyles
• Offer unique varieties of fresh, nutritious food at the peak of flavor, directly from the grower
Encourage walking & bicycling
Develop vibrant community networks and gathering places
Provide opportunities for fresh air, social interaction, and learning about healthy cooking and regional products
Farmers markets…
Make fresh nutritious food available to more people
They also support small family farms and preserve America’s rural landscapes. Farmers Markets help keep farmers farming. Thirty five percent of farms near Ithaca, NY believe they would simply not exist if it was not for farmers market and direct sales in and around the city.
Farmers markets…
Strengthen communities and stimulate local economies as they
Grow jobs and strengthen local economies. Reduce the distance food travelsRevitalize downtowns. Make local food affordable. Attract new small businesses. Support your farmers market and support our community.
Farmers markets are good for everyone.
Join us to make them even better.
Enrich your life on Saturdays from 8 am until noon at Bluebird Market at the historic downtown train depot located at 218 N. Center Street, Thomaston. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at www.bluebirdmarket.com
and http://www.planetgarden.wordpress.com. Email rural CSA questions to:
bluebirdcsa@gmail.com.

 
Farmers markets have attracted new small businesses to downtown Oswego and Rochester, New York.
Produce at Seattle farmers markets was up to 20 cents per pound less than at nearby food retailers.
In 2003, 24% of shoppers at Portland, Oregon’s midweek market came downtown specifically to attend the market, then continued to shop downtown.
. In 2008, more than 85% of farmers at Portland Farmers Market traveled 50 miles or fewer to get there, a fraction of the distance traveled by most food in the U.S.
In 2004, Iowa farmers markets generated 20.8 million in economic activity, directly creating 324 jobs. Oklahoma farmers markets generated 7.8 million in statewide economic activity.

Planet Garden Proposes Keep a Green Tree in Your Heart and Perhaps the Singing Bird Will Come

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 2, 2010

One fun way I know to establish a backyard wildlife habitat for our precious feathered friends is to put up a bluebird house. This morning I was in the country off Jeff Davis Road and saw a beautiful bluebird flying in the sunshine. On Christmas morning we woke up and watched a flock of Cardinal Redbirds eating the red berries on a dogwood tree. I like the way birds bring beauty, song and peace into our lives every day if we pause a moment to enjoy this good earth we all share. Bird watching is a gentle reminder that during winter it’s a caring act to give them a boost so in spring our bird population will grow. This spring we are mapping a Bluebird Trail through Middle Georgia. If you would like to add a Bluebird House in your yard in time for spring nesting, you may find them this Saturday at Bluebird Market. These houses are affordably handcrafted by local woodworkers and easy to place in your yard to encourage spring nesting of bluebirds.  Bluebirds are our friends and especially a friend to farmers because they feed on the insects that would otherwise damage our gardens.
I invite you to also officially dedicate your backyard, schoolyard or farmland as a certified National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat. It’s a simple dedication to protect wildlife and I was fortunate to have facilitated a schoolyard habitat and received the NWF certificate. It’s so easy and begins by following the simple steps found online at http://wp.me/pvF76-14.
When we care about wildlife–like bluebirds and redbirds– and take action to attract them into our lives, often they will come and enrich us with their beauty and songs.

3 Simple Ways to Enrich our Lives with Songbirds
1- Place a bluebird house in your yard for spring nesting
2- Feed the birds by hanging edible ornaments like a peanut butter pinecone or apple rolled in birdseed
3- Provide a bird bath for a water source
Celebrate the beauty of nature on this good earth we all share. It might be nice to have a spring fling Bluebird Festival with fresh market foods, artisans and all the best of middle Georgia flowers, herbs and organic products to celebrate the natural beauty and abundance all around us right here in Middle Georgia. Share with us your ideas for keeping a green tree in our hearts, and perhaps the singing bird will come.
Enrich your life on Saturdays from 8 am until noon at Bluebird Market at the historic downtown train depot located at 218 N. Center Street, Thomaston. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at www.bluebirdmarket.com
and http://www.planetgarden.wordpress.com. Email rural CSA veggie box questions to:
bluebirdcsa@gmail.com.

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Planet Garden Agrees Every Family Needs a Farmer

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 2, 2010

According to the USDA, every family needs a farmer. Do you know yours?  Every family deserves a family farmer who is working hard to provide fresh grown foods for them. It’s so nice to have a personal grower who is outside in the sunshine every day on the farm working hard and growing the best of Middle Georgia veggies, fruits, melons, herbs and berries for our family. Every family deserves a family farmer who wants them to be satisfied. It’s valuable to know our personal farmer because he cares enough about our family to use healthy organic practices. He is growing for the community and for people he sees around town not just a random customer. There is a healthy accountability factor growing for neighbors and friends. Neighbors are the people who smile at their local farmer when they get a box of fresh veggies knowing he is doing his very best to provide fresh foods for his friends and neighbors. Every family deserves a family farmer bringing them foods straight off the farm…so the family’s foods are fresher, taste better and have more nutrients. Rather than choosing foods grown by strangers in far off places, shipped in big trucks across regions and stored in warehouses, my advice is buy fresh and local.
When you get involved with your local farming community you have fresh and local veggies for your family each week. This is such a benefit to our community. If everyone would connect locally with our terrific local growers, it would provide us with an abundance of fresh and locally grown veggies. If the demand is higher for fresh and local, then more people will try to make a living as a farm producer and that will be very beneficial for our town.
Every family deserves to have the best locally grown fresh foods that our local farmers can provide. Buying from local growers is not difficult or costly. Share boxes of fresh multiple farm Middle Georgia veggies begin at only $15.00 for a single person. This is adequate for one person for a full week providing seasonal nutrients that keep our bodies strong and healthy.
Every family needs a farmer and when you connect and get to know who is growing your foods you are assured of all the best that local grower can bring to his friends and neighbors.
Enrich your life on Saturdays at Bluebird Market in the historic downtown train depot located at 218 N. Center Street, Thomaston. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at www.bluebirdmarket.com
 and http://www.planetgarden.wordpress.com. Email rural CSA questions to: bluebirdcsa@gmail.com.
 
 

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