Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a true heirloom farm

Katherine and Rebecca may not be the people who you expect to meet when you drive out Fulton Industrial Boulevard, past where the factories end and the country road begins, down the road that my mom would zoom along in her college days, zipping between East Point and Carrollton, but they are the embodiment of the young farmers who are inheriting the soil of Georgia. The faces of these women are lit up with passion and a yearning to learn about farming and teach others about why it is so important.

Skip and Cookie Glover have been farming this land for many many years, and still do farm part of it, but they have been gracious in their semi-retirement to host and mentor several young farmers who are just starting out on their land. The Glovers have created a haven on their 100 year old farm, they have been pioneers of the organic farming movement in Georgia, and have formed wonderful relationships with markets and chefs throughout the metro-Atlanta area. I first learned of the Glovers when I was working at Muss and Turner's in Smyrna. Todd Mussman had a relationship with Skip and Cookie that was almost like family, and even took the staff of the restaurant out to the farm several times so that they would all understand where the ingredients that they were working with came from.

Katherine and Rebecca have taken on a portion of their land, under the name Ivabel Acres at Glover Family Farm, and continue to foster these relationships. Ivabel is the name of Katherine's great aunt, who taught Katherine the glories and hardships of living off the land. She is the girls' inspiration, and they hope to honor her spirit in the work that they do on this farm.

The day that my mom and I visited the farm, Rebecca was here in Athens, but Katherine was kind enough to give us the grand tour. Clover, oats and rye grass covered several of the fields, but some baby lettuces peeped through some of the newly tilled and tended rows, as did crops of onions and garlic, and several brassicas. The start room promised beets, fennel, tomatoes, and lots of other tasty treats. The greenhouse housed an abundance of rainbow swiss chard, as well as some other cool season crops, slowing in production slightly. Soon, Katherine will be turning her attention to the warmer weather crops, with some rows of early tomatoes and summer squash about to move into the greenhouse. We also got to see the hens laze around their house, not seeming to want to venture out into the strangely cool and drizzly March air. A plethora of leftover romesco awaited them for snacking, but they preferred to stay inside. The bees were just beginning to buzz about in Skip's bee houses, but they didn't venture out much either on such a dreary day.

As we left, Katherine gave us several copious bunches of the rainbow chard, and bid us farewell. I can't wait to go back and visit on a brighter day and spend some time getting my hands dirty. My mom told me as we drove away that this was just the kind of farm she would want to have if she had her own, and I would have to agree. What a wonderful place to live and work.

Luckily, Rebecca is back and forth between the farm and Athens several times a week, so despite the fact that they are much further than our average farm will be from Heirloom, we will still be able to showcase some of their beautiful veggies on our menu. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera when I was out at Ivabel Acres, but you can see lots of great photographs on their blog.

progress on a gloomy day in Athens

Due to a mishap with some photos taken on my phone before it bit the dust, there is a major gap between the demolition photos and these that show how the phoenix has risen from the flames to take shape into Heirloom. This photo shows the front of the restaurant as seen from Chase St.

My husband Jordan hones his bocce skills on our imaginary court. The real one is eagerly awaited.

This is our market addition. The curved wall will have an ivory brick finish and the walls to either side boast prime window seating.

The side view of our incoming patio. Inside this knee wall will be planters full of herbs and a pergola draped with climbing plants and fairy lights.

Hard to capture in photographs, you see the inside of the addition here. Imagine that the plywood is storefront windows and is lined with a banquet and several tables and chairs, full of smiling diners, young and old.

They have put in all the metal framing, and we now have a real feel for the space as it will be. It still feels spacious due to the ability to see through the walls, but soon it will be the cozy little cafe that will become our home. This is the view into the dining room from the market space.

Through the walls you can see me pretend to contemplate myself in the imaginary mirror of one of our bathrooms.

The plumber is hard at work in our kitchen, finishing off the pipes that will lead to our prep sinks. The two small windows will allow a little natural light into the kitchen, a true luxury.

So this is the progress, and I plan to post photos of it more often in the future. I hope you have enjoyed the virtual tour of Heirloom.

all the things I learned in Savannah

First of all, I want to say to my loyal blog followers that I am sorry that I have been away for so long. Getting all this started has made me busy, busy, busy, and sometimes I forget to come here and tell you all about what has been going on.

In early March, the lovely city of Savannah hosted the Georgia Organics conference, and I was lucky enough to attend. I learned so much and was greatly inspired by all the faithful farmers, restaurateurs, academics and general food lovers that were brought together.

Friday morning started with and in depth look at food policy on a federal, state and local level. It was inspiring to learn how individuals can make a difference and very informative about what issues are most at stake right now.

On Friday afternoon, we all filed onto buses for our journeys out to the local farms around Savannah. I went on the Cha Bella and Earth to Table tour, where I got to see first hand the success story of a restaurant that sources everything locally, much of it from their own farm. They spread us out on the patio of the restaurant, some people sitting on wooden swings hanging from the rafters, curtains blowing in the breeze and passed out glasses of wine. We were then greeted by executive chef, Matthew Roher, who gave us the overview of their program and explained the Earth to Table farm box, which is a box of abundant farm fresh produce delivered right to people's doors. Then we went out to the farm, which has been revamped from an old dairy that burned to the ground. Spanish moss hanging from live oaks blew in the wind as we walked down the sandy road from the residential street next to the ruins of the dairy. We turned the bend and a glorious, sun-filled garden awaited us. Being early March, many of the rows were still grown over with cover crops from the winter, but a few arugula and rosemary plants had stuck it out, and a sandy spot showed its face where the last of the years sweet potatoes had just been harvested. They walked us through the rows and showed us what they planned for each space, then took us down a path to a beautiful old live oak where they host picnics and weddings in the late spring and summer. The land also houses an apiary that was just beginning to be abuzz with bees.

Saturday was full of information. I learned about the cuts and costs of meat from a farmer's perspective, about the ins and outs of being a responsible shopper in the world of sustainable meat, and had a crash course in beekeeping. I met lots of wonderful people and reconnected with some old friends that I hadn't seen in a while. I got to explore the silent auction and the expo, which was full of very informative vendors and organizations. I also got to see the new film, GROW, which is an expose of young farmers in Georgia. It was so inspiring and I recommend that anyone interested in sustainable food watch it. It will make you want to take to the fields and get dirty. The evening ended with a fantastic family style feast, made with loving care by the best chefs in the farm to table movement of Georgia. I felt so lucky to be a part of the conference as a whole and to share such a great meal with great people.

Georgia Organics is such a wonderful organization, supporting farmers new and old and making the local, sustainable and organic food movements possible in this state.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


So the walls are down and the pole supports are up. The bobcats have been digging away and the floors are partially mud. The concrete in the parking lot is beginning to be cut, and you can see outlines of our patio, bocce court and two big holes where our parking lot trees will find their homes.

In the meantime we are shopping for used equipment, making a website, searching for vendors, and getting very very excited.