Friday, June 20, 2014

Getting to Know Good Food Growers Market

Happy Friday y'all! We're tickled pink to introduce a new blog series! As you may or may not know, we are a fairly new business. We've been selling our granola since January (whoo hoo!), and during this short amount of time, we've been blessed to meet and make friends with some other amazing local business owners. Each and every one of these beautiful souls has a wealth of knowledge that we have found too priceless not to share. So we're asking them some questions we know you would all be dying to ask yourselves! 

We will be featuring a different business every Friday. To kick off this exciting series, meet Angie Johnson, the owner of Good Food Growers Market (GFGM)!! She is passionate about good, sustainable, local food, and her local food market in Kernersville, NC is the spot for fresh, local produce.

Tell us a little about you and how Good Food Growers Market (GFGM) came to be.

It all started three years ago when I found myself losing my corporate job of 16 years. I embraced the opportunity by going back to school for something I cared about - good food via organic farming. I knew this would mean going into business for myself later.

GFGM happened accidentally. While still a full-time student, I drove by the location, a well-known old produce market, and spotted the "for rent" sign. Out of curiosity, I called and met with the owners. After they told me they would include the 3.5 acres beside the store and they wanted to keep it in agriculture, I was in.

I always dreamed of a local food market with emphasis on sustainably raised produce and meats. I knew I wanted to teach sustainable gardening in my community. I knew I wanted to grow my own produce, eventually into a CSA program. I also knew that I wanted to support other local businesses, farmers, and artists. The result is GFGM, an evolving marketplace for a local economy.

You just graduated. Congrats! What is your degree in?

Thank you! I received a degree in Sustainable Agriculture, from Central Carolina Community College. The school has one of a handful of programs in the country that focuses on sustainability, including classes taught by local farmers and an on-site farm for hands-on learning.

You run a local, sustainable produce market selling local produce and goods. Why is it so important to eat and shop local?

Great question! Local means putting money back in the pockets of your neighbors. Eating food from local sources ensures that farmers keep growing, which preserves local farmlands from commercial development and adds jobs. The food doesn't travel thousands of miles, which reduces global fuel consumption and preserves the nutritional value of produce that is harvested when ripe.

The French use the term "terroir" to describe the quality a certain place has on the taste of food. Food grown in North Carolina soil just tastes better!

What kind of NC produce can we find in season right now? What are your favorite ways to eat and cook them?

Early June is a transitional period for small farmers. The spring greens are giving way to squash, cucumbers, green beans, garlic scapes, berries, peaches and tomatoes. We are eagerly anticipating the July arrival of melons, sweet corn, eggplant, garlic and peppers.

Most whole foods are best enjoyed when simply prepared, sliced raw, roasted or grilled. We sell tons of tomatoes because nothings says summer in NC like a tomato sandwich.

We hear a lot about eating organic. How important is it that we eat organic produce?

There is constant debate on this topic, so I opt to say "eat what feels right for you." Organic food is grown with natural fertilizers and biological pest control (manure, compost, fish emulsion, pyrethrum, beneficial insects), so it limits your intake of inorganic chemicals. The "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15" are great guides for which produce holds/doesn't hold pesticide residues. It encourages you to spend your money on the organic produce that counts.

While I am an advocate of organic, it doesn't mean that organic toaster pastries or potato chips are healthy. The labeling has been abused by corporate processed food companies and big agricultural companies. More transparent consumer education is needed.

Summer gardens are in full bloom. What should we be doing right now to prepare for our fall/winter gardens? 

When I think of fall, I start craving nutrient-dense leafy greens like kale, collards, mustards, turnips, beets and lettuce. Our NC climate allows us to plant many things in August that will overwinter for spring harvest, like garlic, strawberries, collards, and carrots. Our traditional winter diet is based on food preserved in the summer and storage vegetables like potatoes, winter squash, apples, onions and cabbage.

To prepare for winter planting, make sure to add compost to the soil when removing summer crops. To extend the growing season, you can add an inexpensive, lightweight row cover to protect leaves from frost damage.

Just for fun, what’s the craziest produce you’ve ever eaten?

I spent three months in India in 2002, so my opportunities were many. The worst for me was paan, a common digestion aid sold in booths outside of restaurants. It was a mixture of fresh herbs, spices and fruits wrapped in a betel leaf. My favorites include watermelon radishes, sweet potato greens, garlic scapes and tatsoi. But I am always willing to try new things!

To learn more about Angie and Good Food Growers Market visit their Facebook Page.

Credit for the images | Good Food Grower's Market

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