0

Artisan Eats: Farmers offer organic foods at Arts Clayton

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Arts Clayton and Destiny Organics are teaming up to, not only promote and raise money for the arts, but also to highlight the produce of local, organic farmers.

Artisan Eats, a new, cooperative program between the two organizations, allows subscribers to pick up pre-packaged boxes of organic fruits and vegetables from the Arts Clayton gallery in Jonesboro. The program raises money for Arts Clayton, as well as Georgia organic farmers, who grow the majority of the food.

Arts Clayton Gallery Manager Karen Powers said the idea grew out of the gallery's June exhibit, "Organic Matters," which featured artwork inspired by nature, conservation, and all things natural.

Destiny Organics, which sponsored a dinner featuring organic foods at Arts Clayton during the exhibit, partnered with the gallery to begin offering the foods in pre-packed boxes to weekly subscribers.

"This is a great program that doesn't exist on the Southside," Powers said. "The produce is coming from small, artisan farmers. Growing food is an art form for them. It is getting the word out about the products out there, [and] we want to do everything we can to bring people in here to see the work of the gallery. This is a perfect fit for us."

For about $35, $45, or $55 a week - depending on the size of the box - a couple, an average family, or a large family, can receive a week's worth of pre-selected organic fruits and vegetables. Items in the boxes change each week and include seasonal foods, such as cabbage, kale, collards, blackberries, butternut squash, carrots, mangoes, onions, grapefruit, cherry tomatoes, okra, potatoes, cantaloupe, and bibb lettuce.

Each week, subscribers to the service also receive an e-mail with recipes they can make using the organic foods they purchased.

Dee Dee Digby, president of Destiny Organics, has been in business at the State Farmers Market in Forest Park for eight years. She said that while organic food is typically healthier than mass-produced food, it is more expensive to grow, thus programs such as Artisan Eats bring much-needed attention to the farmers.

"It's not easy to grow organically," said Digby. "There's a lot of risk involved, because organic crops are much more susceptible to weather-related issues, drought, and blight. Growing organically is very, very labor intensive, because you are not using the fungicides and the pesticides. The organic chemicals that you can use are much more expensive and not nearly as effective.

"I think any time Destiny [Organics] can partner with a group that is doing so many wonderful things in the community ... it only makes us better," Digby continued. "The boxes are an excellent way not only to get great food to people who don't have access to organic or sustainibly-grown food, ... it's a great way to make money and provide funding for non-profit organizations."

For more information about Artisan Eats, call (770) 473-5410, or e-mail artisaneats@artsclayton.org.