PLANET GARDEN: Eco-Friendly Resource Guide

Planet Garden ‘Ark of Taste’ Christmas Wish List

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on December 17, 2009

Ark of Taste Christmas Wish List
Last Christmas, the Versemann family was making a Christmas Wish List of Seeds…and Jolly St. Nick filled stockings with Parat Giant Radish seeds and more.  This gardening family planted the seeds, shared the bountiful harvest at Bluebird Market, and shared plants and seeds for the community garden which we are still harvesting now!  What an investment they made and produced and it all began with a Christmas Wish List of seeds.  We just enjoyed the Versemann Parat Giant Radishes last week roasted on a veggie pizza prepared by Dr. Rick Clayton and they were delicious.
For fabulous taste experiences that are in danger of disappearing from our planet, Slow Foods USA has catalogued over 200 delicious but dormant foods. At Bluebird Market, those who bought the Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomatoes from James Family Farm, were promoting and enjoying an Ark product in addition to helping to ensure it remains in production and available to us. The Cherokee Purple tomato was rediscovered after years of complete dormancy by a tomato grower who reported that this tomato originated with the Cherokee people over 100 years ago. The flavor is extremely sweet with a rich and smoky earthy taste and is thin skinned. This is also a nice variety to plant because it grows well in our region.
In the next several days, I invite you to browse the seed catalogs online and ask Jolly St. Nick for heirloom seeds and Ark of Taste product seeds for your spring garden. We are working now with ‘one man and his tractor’ to assist local churches in planting gardens for their congregations. Don’t wait if your church would like a garden this spring and summer, get a head start and email Our aim and hope is for local people to reap a bountiful harvest and now is the time to order seeds and arrange to layout the garden plot that can be established and ready to plant on Good Friday, April 2, 2010. 
If you love the local flavors, take a look at the Ark of Taste seeds for forgotten flavors that are now on a list of agricultural conservation products. Since 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been recognized on the International Ark of Taste list. We want to celebrate our unique culture in Georgia and keep our products that are delicious but perhaps not being used by super growers or super markets and abandoned to go dormant and disappear.
This Christmas order from seed catalogs or online and choose, when available, Ark of Taste products from our region that are in danger of disappearing so they will be planted and thriving again. Last summer Mr. Taylor, Taylor Organics CSA, gave us a Brandywine Heirloom tomato plant for the community garden and it was a delicious and nutritious heirloom variety that grew well.
If you know of a veggie, fruit, berry, nut, cereal, cheese, fish, game, livestock, poultry, beverage, honey, spice, syrup, vinegar or other product from our region that might need support from Ark of Taste you may download the form at and send the nomination in to add this product to the list.
Local Harvest has a directory of growers, seed sources and nurseries who carry Ark of Taste products like the seasonal Ark products at Bluebird Market.
To see the complete list of Ark of Taste products online visit:

 Or to download the list of US Ark Foods by Region which shows what foods in Georgia are in danger of disappearing visit:
Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at and Email EE questions to:


Planet Garden Ag Lifestyle

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on November 10, 2009
Bob James shows us how to make pumpkin, acorn, butternut and yellow squash dishes fresh for our families at Bluebird Market

Farmer Bob James shows us how to make pumpkin, acorn, butternut and yellow squash dishes fresh for our families at Bluebird Market

Farmers are my some of my favorite people. We are so fortunate to offer a neighborhood local and organic Farmers’ Market as a venue for our farmers to bring us their harvest. If you have ever spent time on a working farm you know the lifestyle is grounded and real. There is always something to do and it can bring us a healthy lifestyle.
Although farming is now reportedly overwhelmingly in vogue, many of our local farmers are struggling to operate in the black and seek day employment and creative means to continue to grow. When we buy at our farmers’ market we insure that the farming lifestyle in Middle Georgia is strong and growing and has a bright future. I am totally supportive of the ag programs in Upson like 4-H and FFA and more. Bluebird Market is also a strong advocate for Farm-to-School. We want fresh and local apples and veggies served daily to our local children. We are working now to continue to boost local farmers each and every day.
There are several ways you can get involved in the farm lifestyle. Adopt-a-Row in the community garden. There is no charge and it is planted now with leeks, brussel sprouts, sweet edible peapods, purple top turnips, collards and much more for fall. Another way you can get into farming is online. There is a game that over 60 million people are  playing called FarmVille.   It’s  the fastest growing social game of all time and the most popular game on Facebook. When you play, you can get an idea of what farmers are doing every day when they buy seeds, cultivate and harvest crops, tend farm animals and win ribbons for helping out neighboring farmers.
My advice is get into the ag lifestyle in whatever way is best for you.  My choice is to open the Bluebird farmers market each and every week and say to our local farmers..Welcome! We are here to serve and assist your efforts.  We encourage our local people to come out and taste your harvest. Our Thanksgiving Day will be abundant with Georgia grown organic and local fruits and veggies!
Find a way to benefit from a lifestyle of sunshine and live green foods. Get to know your local farmers. You are invited to join the audience on Saturday mornings at Bluebird Market Kitchen Show. Farmer Bob James is a delightful cook who shares his farm fresh ingredients and how to prepare them. The show is $3. for Adults and after the show there is a free Farmers Market lunch. Saturdays 11 am at Bluebird Market, 215 Barnesville Street, Thomaston.  If everyone playing FarmVille planted a garden or shopped at their local farmers market what an amazing boost (over 60 million people) it would be to the Ag Lifestyle and our bright futures.
Enrich your life on Saturdays at the Bluebird Market. Explore with us each week to discover simple ways we can affordably contribute to sustainable and renewable eco-friendly living. Find resources online at Email EE questions to:

Planet Garden Hot Pepper Jelly

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on November 2, 2009

103109 bluebird 292This is a story of one local farming family with an entrepreneurial spirit that I adore and believe you will too. Bob James with James Family Farm has been dependable as rain this summer coming out every Saturday in Thomaston for our local people. He brings his beautiful farm fresh produce each week to us priced affordably. Now that it is the fall season, he has grown acres of greens that he is already bringing to market and they are absolutely delicious and nutritious cooked in rice, soups or traditionally. Of all the things I like about James Family Farm, what I like most is their entrepreneurial spirit. This week we were fortunate that Donna James, Bob’s Mother, visited us at Bluebird Market. She has been busy all summer at the Griffin Farmer’s Market, but now that the Griffin market is coming to a close she had a moment to share with us.
Donna James made the simple gesture to bring some Philly cream cheese and crackers and sampled their new product line of Hot Pepper Jellies from their certified kitchen. I have tried their delicious Blue Ribbon winning Apple Butter but their new Hot Pepper Jellies are, I believe, even better! We had so much fun when Donna brought in 4 jars of Hot Pepper Jellies that were bright colors of clear golden, red and green with pretty flecks of red and green peppers in the jellies. She opened them up and placed them on the counter at Bluebird Market on Saturday. Shoppers immediately stated they could smell the delicious aromas. The flavors of these Hot Pepper Jellies are Red Bell Pepper, Jalapeno, Habanero and Cayenne. All are balanced and not too hot and Bob James stated the secret is a little bouquet garni of pepper seeds. He places pepper seeds in a little teabag and dips them to extract only the amount of hotness that is pleasant for a delicious flavor.
The reason these Hot Pepper Jellies are so impressive to me is that James Family Farm has an over abundance of flourishing pepper plants that are still producing. They had so many peppers Bob stated they were throwing them away after making jars of pepper sauce. Then Bob James had the idea to investigate Hot Pepper Jelly. In their certified kitchen, Bob stated he tested cooking the Habanero peppers and nobody could come in the room because even breathing the steam was too hot from the peppers cooking. It was a great adventure to get just the right recipe for a delicious and balanced flavor Hot Pepper Jelly. From a local Georgia product that was being thrown away because of over-abundance this entrepreneurial-spirited family now has developed a fantastic upcycled Hot Pepper Jelly Product Line.
This I like! This is the spirit of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) that Bluebird Market is striving for. Soup kitchens are not good enough for our local people. We all deserve better! Bluebird Market is the venue to encourage our people to find a way to make things better. This family is one example of how it can be done. I urge you to buy a set of Hot Pepper Jelly for all of your friends and pass along the story as an inspirational and priceless gift from you. Tell your friends the story of how we can all get better if we just re-focus on the potential value of what we have right before us at the moment.
Don’t throw away peppers…recycle like James Family Farm and find new purpose and value for unwanted items!
More than a flavorful culinary herb, peppers have valuable health benefits. Peppers get their heat (Scoville Heat Unit-SHU) from phytochemicals that produce Capsaicin (cap-SAY-sin). They are an excellent source of vitamin C. Red peppers have 357% more Vitamin C than oranges–so more than 3 times the vitamin C as citrus fruit! Peppers also have folate, B6 and vitamin A. Hot chili peppers may have some beneficial properties as an anticoagulant which may prevent heart attack or stroke. Cayenne Pepper is thought to be excellent for circulation. Peppers also have properties believed to clear congestion. They are naturally very high in potassium, magnesium and iron. These are just some of the numerous beneficial healing properties believed present in the pepper family.
We had a popular Wine and Cheese Shop in Atlanta and we studied many products over Georgia and at nationwide trade shows for top-of-the-line gourmet holiday baskets. My new favorite product line for this season is James Family Farm Hot Pepper Jelly. One idea is to serve these fine local jellies to your holiday guests on Carr’s Tablewaters with Goat Cheese. Each jelly has a terrific flavor — however, my particular favorite of the 4 is the Jalapeno. Local Hot Pepper Jelly is available at Bluebird Market in a Gift Box Set of 4 jars for $16.95. You may place your order now by emailing: