Today I headed out to the Athens Farmer’s Market to help Constantine and others at the Athens’ Own booth. By the time I showed up, the Farmer’s Market had just begun, and both Alyse and Constantine did their best to catch me up on their processes on market day. Sweet beef bologna, hot spiced cashews, pickled peppers, and Constantine’s pancake and waffle mix were all for sale, and I had the opportunity to try samples. I appreciated the spicy kick of most of his products; though it was different, it still reminded me of the Cajun seasonings used in the south. Constantine was also selling hot hamburgers and freshly made cheesy grits, with the latter being a hit, as I suspect they are every week. A little boy approached us, and his mother told us that the cheesy grits were the first thing he asked for in the morning. Others flocked to his booth for hot Dawn Chorus Coffee that he served in reused mugs. Once they were done, they brought the mug back and Constantine would wash it and serve coffee to the next person who came along. Alyse explained that one of the great features of Athens’ Own is their certification as a mobile food vendor; because of this, they are able to legally clean dishes and reuse them during market hours. This small gesture made me smile, as it showed the importance of reusing and was a small representation of the sense of community held by Athens residents.
Later in the morning, Alyse explained the differences between the coffees that Constantine was selling. The importance of their coffee is that it is fair trade, shade grown, organic, and cafe femenino certified. Fair trade, she explained, means that their coffee is purchased from farmers at a higher price, which both supports better wages and working conditions. Coffee itself is best grown under a vast expanse of trees and plants, and shade grown means that this coffee supports ecosystems by not clear-cutting, as many companies will do to grow their coffee. Organic means that the coffee is grown without pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that disrupt the natural growth of the plant. And finally, Alyse explained, cafe femenino supports women in coffee producing countries by supplying them with better jobs and education, among other things. I was both impressed and shocked that a tiny bag of Dawn Chorus Coffee positively influences such a broad array of social and environmental inequalities.
By the time the Farmer’s Market ended, I couldn’t feel my feet, but it was worth it to brave the cold and I was already looking forward to the next time I could attend the Farmer’s Market to help. I leave for New Orleans in a week, but will assistance as much as I can from afar. I can’t wait to come back and experience Athens’ Own and the Athens community in the summertime.
-Emma Buchanan, Athens’ Own Intern