Whether you made it to the polls this week or you’ve never voted in your life, it is impossible to ignore the energy of a Presidential election: front yards littered with cardboard slogans, old men bickering at bus stops and quiet family dinners that quickly escalate to ‘abortion’ themed scream-offs before dessert.
Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Humanitarian or Vegetarian, whether you’re Mormon, Catholic, Muslim or Jewish, idealistic or realistic, pessimistic or optimistic- everyone has the same word on their mind: Change.
Yes, change; the golden carrot that politicians have forever dangled in front of the nation like hypothetical bait. They know we want it because it’s all we talk about. We pray for it, wait for it, hope for it and vote for it, dream about it and sing about it. Fortunately for politicians, most of us are far too busy ((insert gerund)) for change, we never muster up enough energy to...wait for it, WORK for it.
This is not the case for Craig Page, founder and executive director of Promoting Local Agriculture and Cultural Experiences, Inc (P.L.A.C.E), a community program aimed at promoting a strong, accessible local food culture in Athens. Page began work on the non-profit in 2006 after he and a group of peers explored the staggering reality of the industrial food system.
He knew that the prevailing system was both inhumane and unsustainable and decided to become an active part of the solution to a massive problem.
But how does one go about changing a system that pulls resources from around the globe? How can one take on multinational agribusiness corporations that rake in tens of billions of dollars in profit? How does one challenge an industry that is heavily supported and subsidized by the United States government?
The answer that Page came up with was both simple and powerful: Buy Local.
If the members of a community make small changes in their everyday purchasing habits, they can begin to tackle the challenges associated with industrialized agribusiness. After identifying the problem and establishing a realistic solution, Page decided to create an organization that would work to promote local agriculture.
P.L.A.C.E was born
P.L.A.C.E was founded under the ideal that all residents of the community should have access to fresh, healthy food that can be provided locally while developing a local food culture that promotes community integrity and sustainability.
In 2008, after months of hard work by Page, his small board of directors, local farmers, and community activists, P.L.A.C.E helped to open the first Athens Farmers Market, which has since become an Athens institution, hosting 30-40 local food producers and artisans, and averaging 1800-2000 patrons per market.
Today the AFM continues to provide a forum for local farmers and the Athens community to come together.
The non-profit also founded several other highly successful events, such as Tour De Farm, a 3-day, 100-mile tour of 8 farms around Athens and the Taste Your Plate fundraiser (both continue to run annually).
Since 2006, P.L.A.C.E has continued to play an integral role in the local Athens farm community. It participates in most of the AFMs, running entertaining food demos and information tables.
This Saturday, at the Athens Farmers Market at Bishop Park, P.L.A.C.E will host their Annual Fall Pie Contest. Anyone can enter the contest by bringing a pie (or pies) to the market at by 9:30am on 11/10 with $5 and the recipe(s). Contestants also get to taste all the pies. Prizes will be awarded for best sweet pie and best savory pie.
All proceeds go to P.L.A.C.E. It’s sure to be a great warm up for those looking to perfect their pies before Thanksgiving. Don't feel like baking? Everyone is welcome to taste all the pies for $5/person. After tasting all the selections, each person can vote for their favorite sweet pie and savory pie. Click here to learn more!
It is individuals like Craig Page who remind us that change is within our grasp; however, it will not appear on the ballot with a check yes or no box. It is up to us. Regardless of our party affiliation, we have the power to make a difference if we are willing to start small, plan large and be patient.
As Gandhi said, “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world” and for me, that change will start this Saturday with a dozen fresh cage-free Athens Farmers Market eggs.
Be Safe. Be Kind. Buy Local.
*Also This Saturday:
In addition to the PIE CONTEST this Saturday, the market will also be hosts to a group of UGA’s finest student athletes from the Swim team for a “meet and greet” signature opportunity. The athletes will be on hand from 10am to noon and include:
Kelsey Gaid, Sr., All American, number two UGA backstroker of all time, Academic All-American
Megan Romano, Sr., NCAA Champion 200 yd freestyle, broke the American Record in the 200yd freestyle last year.
Jordan Mattern, So, Member of last year’s NCAA Champion and American record setting 800 yd freestyle Relay
Amber McDermott, So, Member of last year’s NCAA Champion and American record setting 800 yd freestyle Relay
Shannon Vreeland, Jr, Academic All-American, gold medalist for the USA 800m freestyle Relay and the NCAA Champion and American Record setting 800 freestyle relay.
Nicolas Fink, So, Academic All- American, SEC Champion 100 and 200 yd Breaststrokes, named SEC Freshman of the Year
Martin Grodzki, Sr, NCAA and SEC Champion in the 1650 and 500 yd freestyles, Set the US Open Record for the 1650 yd freesyle
Doug Reynolds, Jr, SEC champion in the 100 yd butterfly
Andrew Gemmell, Jr, Winner of the 1500m freestyle at the Olympic Trials and a member of the 2012 US Olympic Team, Academic All American
Jared Markham, So, Academic American, placed 3rd at the SEC Championships in the 200 yd Backstroke and is ranked 6th on the Georgia all time list in that event