Springing forward

by Brittany Grace

Fresh earth smell, Japanese magnolias, bright yellow forsythia, bare legs, the return of freckles and longer days…who else is elated spring came early?

 

Fallen snow...flowers

Not only did spring come early this year, but Grace’s Goodness is building momentum…regular customers, new ingredients, new events.

The Georgia Organics conference this past weekend encouraged and motivated the business…I felt reinvigorated before I even got to Savannah, where the conference took place.

I-16 may be a bore, but who knew exit 98 held a pristinely clean, locally owned gas station that doubles as a petting zoo?

I spent 4 years at Georgia Southern, and not one time had I ever stopped there. Look what I was missing.

I paid a whole dollar to feed this specimen of a bird. And I did not even capture the llama with buck teeth, the skittish bison, or the baby goat getting head butted into the air. Never mind the barbed wire.

This was an interesting interlude from the monotonous, tractor-trailer dense strip of I-16 that stretches from Macon to Savannah. The gas station-“zoo” reminded me that supporting local businesses is an ongoing intention.

There are opportunities for you to support what my Decatur farmers market manager, Duane, likes to call the “loconomy,” at almost every turn. Such opportunities may not present themselves as blatantly as your closest shopping center, but they usually hold a lot more value and experience.

I thought about this frequently during my time at the conference, and it kept me feeling inspired.

I felt even more inspired after spending time with people like Lou Linzie of the East Lake Farmers market, Katie Hayes of East Atlanta Village farmers market, Greg Smith, Maggie Rentz, and Scott Smallwood of Atlanta Street Food Coalition, Mike Lorey of Folksy Brews, Michael Shoptaw of Tagyerit Farm and Darby Weaver and Elliot Smith of Sun Dog Farm.

These are passionate people who make the world we live in more closely resemble the world we dream about living in. They do this by working hard to lovingly produce food and to orchestrate farmers market experiences that make being a localvore in Atlanta a pleasure. I feel excited to work in tandem with these kinds of folks, and can’t wait to see what this year has in store for all of us.

Also, I moved. Out of Reynoldstown and into Poncey-Highlands.

Goodbye, shotgun shack. Goodbye, kitchen with no air conditioning, no dishwasher and occasional rats. Goodbye, creaky 100 year old floors that blow gusts of wind into the house via large holes. Goodbye, noisy Stein Steel yard. Goodbye, Shroud of Tourin-like sheets hanging over boards nailed into side of house, where old bearded landlord never finished the “bay window” I was promised.

Instead, I am ringing in the new spring and the move into a new home with seasonal delights from places like the Farm Mobile.

Last week, the farmers market-on-wheels boasted Riverview Farms radishes in a kaleidoscope of colors, and hakeuri  turnips, and tons of kale and other leafy greens, in addition to their grass fed beef and heritage pork.

Have you ever eaten a hakeuri turnip? Even eaten raw, with no seasoning, these little white roots are juicer and sweeter than anything else of the same color that comes from the ground.

Elliot and Darby of Sun Dog Farm talked with me about this during the conference’s Farmer’s Feast , and I believe Elliot said something about hakeuris tasting like little pieces of gold. This was after a few glasses of Cabernet, so maybe gold wasn’t the exact metaphor he used, but I think it fits. Darby mentioned they don’t have the bite that turnips usually do.

Roasted with a touch of olive oil, lemon, balsamic and sea salt, these pieces of white “gold” turn silken and surprisingly tender.

Daniel and I ate them last week roasted with brussels sprouts and radish, as an accompaniment to slow simmered lentils and crusty baguette. “If my stomach had a mouth, it would be smiling right now,” Daniel told me in between bites. I agreed. *

As we spring forward into this new season of warmth and growth, and we all become busy with our gardens, farms, jobs, and passions, I look forward to savoring the local flavors of the spring and summer. When blueberry or tomato juice dribbles down my chin, I will remind myself that these flavors are the result of labors of love, and that I am happily supporting my loconomy.

Oven roasted brussels sprouts, radish, and white gold

You need:

A few cups of brussels sprouts, cut into quarters

1 bunch of radishes

1 bunch of hakeuri turnips

A few squeezes of lemon juice

Your favorite olive oil

Dashes of sea salt and cracked pepper

A few dribbles of balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash all veggies. Cut radishes and turnips into halves and cut off greenery from tops. In a small bowl, combine all other ingredients, tasting as you mix them together. Add salt or lemon juice as needed to meet your taste’s needs. Baste veggies with the oil mixture until all are covered lightly, but not saturated, then put in a roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the brussels sprouts are browned on the outside. Serve with crusty bread as a light meal, or as a delectable side.

Enjoy.

* I loved this meal so much that photographing it in the moment slipped my mind, so my apologies for the lack of food photos. This is quite a beautiful, colorful dish.

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