Tis the Season... to Brew

The brewing space is getting busy in Roswell.  We could potentially have three brewers in Roswell in 2016.  Gate City would be tough to miss given their prime spot at the corner of Canton Street and Magnolia in the Old Roswell Automotive spot behind Pastis.  

 Something is definitely brewing next to Pasti's in Historic Roswell.

Something is definitely brewing next to Pasti's in Historic Roswell.

You can find their beer, currently brewed in Woodstock at Reformation Brewery, at several establishments in and around Roswell and they should begin brewing in their home base before the year is up.  I've had several of their beers (I'm partial to Copperhead Amber) and they make a quality product.

Next up is the most interesting named of the three, Abbey of the Holy Goats.  Kathy Davis is behind this effort and they are planning to open in space near Mansell and Crossville.  This is a true passion project and Abbey has a cult like following around Canton Street.  They recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign raising over $32,000 from over 200 backers to help fund a specific piece of the buildout.  I've had several of the Abbey beers and they are quite tasty but the tripel was my favorite.  Here's their Kickstarter video...

Finally, there is Green Street Brewery (that may or may not be the actual name) which is being proposed for the empty gravel parking lot behind the fire station in Historic Roswell.  I don't know much about this one other than the building that was approved by HPC on 10/14/2015.  I'm definitely excited to see a quality building being proposed and the fact that it's a brewery helps too.  On a side note, I think Green Street may be in for some attention and this property may be a catalyst for that.

 Front facade of Green Street Brewery

Front facade of Green Street Brewery

 North Facade of the Restaurant/Brewery

North Facade of the Restaurant/Brewery

So, high quality local brewing looks to be coming to Roswell very soon and I'm pretty excited for it. Time to grab a beer!

Town Hall | Roswell: Dining Out.. a RoswellNEXT Event

I wanted to make my readers aware of one of my other efforts that is going on here in Roswell next week.  RoswellNEXT holds periodic events around town that focus on issues and topics that matter to Roswell.  This month, on 8/22, we are hosting Town Hall | Roswell: Dining Out.  It will be a panel of five restauranteurs from Roswell and they will discuss the dining scene in Roswell and North Fulton.  It should be an excellent event.

Here's the info...

We have an exciting evening planned for our August installment of Town Hall | Roswell and if you are interested in the food scene in Roswell, and who isn't, you won't want to miss it.  RSVP Now

Town Hall | Roswell is a unique event that brings our city together to learn about and discuss issues and ideas that are important to the future of our city. This month, we are fortunate to have a top notch panel of local restauranteurs to discuss what's it's like to run a restaurant in what has become one of the best cities to dine out in the metro area.  

Our panel will include Ryan Pernice of Table & Main and the soon to be open Osteria Mattone, Marc Wegman of Adele's Authentic Cajun Cuisine, Jack Gerbilick of the Food Movement and Rich Clark of Hugo's Oyster Bar & C&S Seafood. Our moderator will be Steve Stroud of the Roswell Business Alliance.

You can expect to learn about what it's like starting a restaurant in Roswell, how Canton Street has redefined OTP dining, how food trucks are impacting business and what the best dishes in Roswell are.  Additionally, we will have some special treats on hand from some local restaurants to satisfy your appetite while you listen to all the talk about great food.

We will also be helping out a local charity with food donations.  Bring 10 canned goods and receive free admission.  Donations will go to the North Fulton Community Charities.

We are also cross promoting a fundraiser for another local non-profit, The Kula Project, that night where several local restaurants are donating 20% of their sales that day to the Kula Project's #ForTheFarmer campaign. Learn More

Event Details

  • Date & Time: August 22nd | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Location: Roswell Historic Cottage, 972 Alpharetta St,Roswell, GA 30075
  • Parking: Free Valet @ the Roswell Historic Cottage
  • Admission: Members $5, Non-Members $15 - RSVP on our Facebook page - Pay at the door (credit accepted) 
  • Drinks: $5 suggested donation

We look forward to seeing you there! 

The RoswellNEXT Team

Mike Hadden | Aaron Gravett | Adam & Anna Braund | Chris Foster | Brendan Walsh | Beckie Hawkins | Thomas Shelton | BeAnne Creeger | Dan Shaughnessy


 

 

2013 Outlook - What Will the New Year Bring for Roswell?

Here's a look into our crystal ball at what will happen in Roswell and around the metro area in 2013.  Up front, is a recap some of the bigger changes we've seen in and around the Historic District in 2012.  It's shaping up to be an interesting year in many ways.  Check out our recap, thoughts and predictions in each of the areas below:

2012 Recap - Keep up the Good Work Roswell!

Last year was another great year in and around Roswell.  Here are some of the more notable stories.

  • Groveway Hybrid Form-Based Code - The city passed the hybrid form-based code which was a huge move in the right direction for human-scaled development.
  • DPZ Master Plan - A MP for Historic Roswell was completed by the innovative and influential firm DPZ.  This MP wasn’t adopted officially by the city.  However, the ideas generated from the plan, in classic Andres Duany form, have generated momentum to change where there was none before.
  • TSPLOST Fails - The hopes for easy money and quick upgrades to infrastructure faded as the TSPLOST referendum went down in flames in July. Roswell lost out on a complete renovation of Holcomb Bridge/400 ($46M) and full funding of the Historic Gateway Project ($21M).
  • GM Jobs - General Motors is opening a software development campus in the old UPS Innoplex building off Mansell and will bring about 1,000 jobs. (not real 2012 news but it’s already announced)
  • Roswell NEXT - A new organization aimed at energizing young professionals, entrepreneurs and visionaries in Roswell was founded.  (Shameless Plug, I am a on the board of Roswell NEXT)
  • Historic Square Upgrades - Some nice additions were made this year by completing the sidewalk network in and around the square and also putting up traffic light masts that match others around HR at 120/9 intersection.
  • Code Studio Selected for UDC - This was a fantastic selection for our Unified Development Code.  New Urbanist firm, all about walkability and contextual development.  (translation.. they care about how things look and function)
  • Info Kiosks - We finally got some content added to them and they look great.
  • Little Alley Steak - The guys behind Salt Factory and INC opened their third concept and it’s fantastic. One request though guys, dress up the bathrooms.
  • Pure Taqueria - The Alpharetta based chain has opened a spectacular new location just north of the Historic District.  
  • Alive After 5 Canton St Closure - The world did not end! This was a needed change for the popular event.
  • Food Trucks - We approved a food truck ordinance and now they are regulars at Alive After 5.  Awesome addition.
  • Alive at the Square - The Alive After 5 party migrated south this year and was very successful at the Historic Square.  This spot allows for a little more space and is really good for families.
  • Pedicabs Approved - In a move that I’m not sure was necessary, a hypothetical business would be able to run pedicabs in the Historic District.  Eventually, this will be cool.
  • Bond Referendum Passed - This was a mixed bag but overall was good for walkability.
  • Fire Engine Red on Canton Street - In a controversial move, the new tenant of the former Pastis location, Mac McGee, painted the entire facade fire engine red.  I love it. Now can we get rid of those ugly black awnings with the block lettering?  Just a horrible look for Canton St.

A couple items from around the region:

  • Beltline Eastside Trail - Opened in Oct and is AMAZING! We need to model the Roswell Loop after it.
  • New Falcons Stadium - Completely unnecessary.  Go Falcons though!
  • Ponce City Market - Going to revolutionize in-town living.
  • Avalon Site Plan Approved - Alpharetta eating our Lunch.
  • Alpharetta City Center Plan Approved and Funded- Alpharetta eating our Lunch part 2.
  • Sandy Springs City Center Plan Approved - This is a very nice master plan done by new urbanist firm Goody-Clancy.

Roswell 2013 

Food

Food Access - One of the biggest obstacles to making the Historic District a vibrant living spot is the lack of a walkable or bikable grocery store.  Last year, we thought there might be an announcement sometime in 2012 about a small(er) grocery store going in somewhere near the HD.  We did get something but it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.  It came in the form of a request to demolish the property at 1056 Alpharetta Street.  The owners are looking to build a small gourmet grocery store called Baba’s Gourmet.  We don’t have any additional info aside from what is in the notes from the HPC request.  The new building will be a welcome addition and will improve the streetscape along that stretch.

insert photo Babas Gourmet Roswell Rendering

Restaurants - We have several exciting restaurants opening up around HR in the near future.  MacMcgee Irish Pub will be opening in the freshly painted former Pasti’s location on Canton St.  Soccer fans rejoice!  Borocco is building out space in the Chaplin’s shopping center.  I’m hoping this one is successful to add a little life to my immediate neighborhood.  On the other side of the square, the owners of McCray’s Tavern (Smyrna & Lawrenceville) are opening a restaurant in the old Relish/Pico spot.  I’m a little unsure of the name since the HPC modifications request is under McCray’s Tavern but the liquor license was applied for as The Mill.  Either way, that spot will be solid with the right concept.  Osteria Mattone is the new venture on Canton Street from the guys behind Table & Main which in my opinion is the best restaurant north of Buckhead.  I have a bold prediction that Oteria Mattone will jump into at least one of the top of Atlanta lists in 2013.  Just seeing the pics on twitter (@oteriamattone) from their food scouting trip in Italy is making me hungry.  

We reportedly have two of our home grown restaurants, Salt and Nine, making the jump up to Alpharetta with second locations.  Salt will be in the old KFC location on Main St and Nine will be in the former Bistro 52 location behind Mitties Cafe on 9.  Honestly, I don’t like either of the locations.  I think Salt will be successful due to the name recognition and the food quality.  The success in Roswell has partly been due to fact that they have an Incredible location in the most walkable part of our city.  We believe, Nine will miss the mark.  The food quality is suspect and that location doesn’t have the foot traffic that is required to sustain a restaurant serving marginal food.  

Locally Grown Food - Will 2013 be the year that we get a real community garden in the Historic District... maybe at Barrington Hall?

Farmer’s Market - The Saturday farmer’s market at City Hall formerly known as the Riverside Farmer’s Market did well in 2012 and we think the same will hold true in 2013.  Although, the fact that it is in a parking lot is a huge turnoff.  If they could somehow find a way to move it to one of the parking lots right along Canton Street, the visibility would be huge and potentially bring even more vendors.  The only other suggestion I have would be to move it to the circle in front of the steps at city hall.  Most people who shop at farmers markets are inherently interested in sustainability and it is counter-intuitive for those people to feel great about shopping in a parking lot.  Just saying..

Mobility

Sidewalks - We are slowly but surely connecting missing teeth in our sidewalk network.  We will connect Diesel to Canton St with a sidewalk along the north side of Norcross Street early this year.  Not that anyone really walks there but the gap in front of the self serve car wash on the west side of Hwy 9 just south of Holcomb Bridge will get a sidewalk either this year or next.

Historic Gateway ProjectOption 3a will be approved and the people at Creekview Village condos will go berzerk because they will lose their tennis court...  The anti-roundabout camp will come out in full force and there will be a prolonged battle to get this redevelopment project going.  The truth is, this design has the potential to be truly transformational for the HD.  However, one thing that is a MUST is on street parking.  We'll probably know this year whether GDOT will allow that.  If they don't, everyone should oppose this option as it won't work.

Building a Network - Work will continue on the plans for the Oxbo Rd realignment and Elm Street Connection to Oxbo.  However, no actual work will start for another couple of years.  We are very excited about this initiative.  Additional talk will occur about the Oak St extension through Waller Park to connect with Grimes Bridge.

Bridge over 400 - We will see some designs at some point in 2013.

Planning & Development

Historic Gateway Master Plan - The DPZ plan that was completed in 2012 will serve as a guide for other projects, see below, that will come out in 2013.  The DPZ plan will not be followed completely rather, it is serving as inspiration that was not there before.  

Unified Development Code - We have a top notch firm in Code Studio helping us put together our new UDC.  We think the public will get its first glimpse of a ‘finished’ product toward the end of the year.  This will revolutionize development in Roswell.  There will be several meetings that the public can attend throughout the year.

Downtown Development Authority - The DDA will finally bring a big project to the table.  Maybe something around Canton Street and Highway 9.  

Boutique Hotel - It is becoming more and more obvious as Historic Roswell becomes a more popular destination that we are severely lacking in quality lodging options.  Is 2013 finally the year that a big hotel group takes note and steps in to build the boutique hotel concept?  We think that’s still a few years off.  However, a more likely scenario is a B&B opening in the Canton St area.  

Civic & Community

Alive After 5 - The expansion to the Square was a big hit in 2012.  Especially for those with smaller children.  This year, the proximity to McCray’s tavern will make the Alive at the Square piece even more fun.  The Food Truck addition made a big deal and enabled people to go to the event and eat there rather than having to leave early due to restaurant overcrowding.  This event is a cornerstone for years to come. 

RoswellNEXT - This newly formed civic group will host 12 events for members and the public in 2013.  We think it will be a huge success and the Town Hall | Roswell events will prove to be innovative and informative.  By the way, they are having a fundraiser on Jan 31st.  For more information go to their website (www.roswellnext.org) or their Facebook page.

Charlie Brown Part Deux or Trois?- Nothing will happen that is large scale on the old Charlie Brown parcel on the southeast corner of 400 and HBR.  We will continue to hear of plans to bring MARTA to exit 7 and beyond but nothing beyond dreams will materialize.

Parks

Riverside Park Area - We thought this would move faster but we believe in 2013, plans will be finalized for two projects.. the extension of the riverside trail will be approved despite NIMBY andEnvironmental Concerns.  The design plans for the bike/pedestrian bridge over the Chattahoochee River will be finalized and approved. 

Roswell Area Park Rebranding - An effort will be initiated to rename Roswell Area Park.  What in the world is an “Area” park anyway?  

Ace Sand Company - Something will happen with the property currently occupied by Ace Sand Company.  This has huge development potential and could be a great addition to our park system.

Retail

A Little Movement - We don’t need ANY more thrift shops.  I think we’ve reached saturation in that market.  There will be some strip center renovations finishing up in 2013 and we might see some announcements for more in the midtown area.  I’m thinking we will hear something about the Southern Skillet shopping center.  That’s purely a hunch but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.     

Employment

Large Employer Void - We didn’t expect any major announcements in 2012 but we got a huge one to begin 2013 with the news that GM was opening an IT center and hiring 1000+ high paying jobs at the former UPS Innoplex building off Mansell.  This isn’t the most New Urban location.  We would love to see an employer come into the Groveway area and infuse some jobs into the Historic District.  However, I think we are 18-24 months out from anything of that nature.  The RBA will continue to do great things

Small Business Incubator - We feel that the best opportunity for Roswell exists in cultivating smaller startups.  Alpharetta a lock on large corporate IT.  Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Buckhead have a stranglehold on large and mid-size companies.  The opportunity here in Roswell is to leverage the strengths of our neighbors and work to create smaller businesses that are not as prevalent in the neighboring areas.  We have an atmosphere that is much more desirable to that demographic.  But, we need to nurture it.  A full fledged startup incubator in Roswell would work but it would need the support of the city and partner organizations.  I don’t see it happening in 2013 but it could.

Housing

Housing in the Historic District - There will be at least three projects announced in 2013 that will bring new housing stock to the historic district.  These will be in the form of single family homes, townhouse and even apartments.  

Development Revitalization - Several developments will get new life.  We are guessing that there may be some action on foreclosed Vickery Falls development just south of Chaplain's on South Atlanta Street due to the prime location and the added focus on cleaning up the area around the square.  This could push out into 2014.  

Goulding Estate for Sale - The $8.75M, 16 acre Goulding Estate didn’t move last year as expected.   However, when it does in 2013, the land will be subdivided into ridiculously expensive smaller lots.  We think the the original building will remain intact and potentially become another event facility or potentially a B&B.  The bigger question is whether they will figure out a way to connect the road to the road to the west and build out our network, more.    

Around the Metro Area

The Beltline - We predicted correctly that the eastside trail would be a huge hit and when it opened in Oct of last year, it was an instant success.  News about additional funding for the Beltline transit component will come out toward the end of the year with a public-private partnership being the finance tool of choice.

The Stadium - The stadium will be approved and ground breaking will occur in early 2014.

Ponce City Market - Additional shops will open up in Ponce City Market.  The unfortunate decision not to offer for sale units will not hurt the overall speed of the development and may actually increase it.  However, this will prove to be the ultimate saturation of the apartment boom in that area.

Avalon Alpharetta - Ground breaking will occur in January.  The parking deck will come down quickly and we will see actual structural development in 2013.  It won’t be ready for showtime until late 2014 though.

Alpharetta City Center - The new configuration of Haynes Bridge Rd from Old Milton to Academy St opened recently making way for the new library.  We will see work start on the Library and City Hall in 2013 and the new road grid and parking deck will begin to take shape.  We love this project.

Sandy Springs City Center - The plans have been approved and we will see a small bit of development start in 2013 but the bigger changes will start to become evident in the next 2-3 years.  

The Atlanta Streetcar - Love it or Hate it, construction will be almost complete by the end of the year and we will see streetcars rolling through downtown again in early 2014.  

The Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (aka The Gulch) - We will see the final renderings will be approved this year and work will start in late 2014.

Old Malls Will Close - We think at least two malls in the metro area will close completely this year.  Crazy we know but retail is getting crushed by Amazon and aside from the half-dozen high quality malls around the region, the mall is dying. 

Well, that's it!  If you made it this far, you're a true NUR fan.  Thanks and have a great (rest of) 2013!

It's Time to Celebrate Roswell

Roswell is about to reach a milestone.  Our dining scene is now healthier than ever.  How do we know this?  We are about to have our fifth McDonald's location!  If you haven't had a chance to see one of the other four, this is what the new one will look like.  It will be at 600 Crossville Rd in just the right spot to snag some hungry cars for its drive through.  Happy Meals for Happy Motoring Roswell!

Roswell's First Food Truck Rodeo (technically)

Roswell passed its first Food Truck ordinance earlier this week opening the city up for business to Food Trucks. So, this seems like as good of a way to introduce Food Trucks to Roswell as any to introduce them to Roswell but it's at Harry's Farmer's Market Alpharetta with a Roswell address.  So, technically it's in Roswell but by address only?  Anyway, we can ponder that another time.

This weekend's Food Truck Rodeo (much tastier than a goat rodeo) will be held in their parking lot this Saturday, March 17th to celebrate Thompson Farms receiving the first ever 5+ rating on the Global Animal Partnership Animal Welfare Rating System.  Each truck will be featuring a menu item cooked with food from Thompson Farms.   This should be tasty.

ht: Lee @ RootsInAlpharetta

Food Trucks in Roswell... Soon (hopefully)

You may know that the city recently approved a food truck ordinance.  We decided to take a look at the ordinance to see where we might see some food trucks. 

At first glance, it seems pretty restrictive.  It's fine to protect existing businesses and I don't want any of our eating establishments to go out of business but I think that the new ordinance may put too much power in the hands of the restaurant owners without taking into account consumer demand.  Here are some of the requrements from the ordinance (link to full ordinance): 

  • The mobile food vendor shall not conduct business or operate under this article on the public right-of-way.
  • The mobile food vendor shall not operate on any private property without the prior consent of the owners.
  • Mobile food vendors shall be located a minimum of 200 feet from the main entrance to any eating establishment or similar food service business unless just eating establishment grants written permission for the mobile food vender to be located closer than 200 feet.
  • Mobile food vendors shall not be located within 15 feet of any street intersection or pedestrian crosswalk or 10 feet of any driveway.

Now...Our thoughts on Food Trucks...  For the most part, they are a fad.  But, when done properly, they can be excellent incubators of successful food concepts.  I think there will be some in the Atlanta area that stick around for years to come.  Check out the Atlanta Street Food Coalition's list of area vendors here.  Most of them will probably die out.  That being said, There are some killer concepts out there and it would be nice to see some in the historic district especially when we have festivals going on.  Taking into account the 200 foot barrier, here's where we think you may see some set up shop in the coming months (we didn't factor in the 15 foot radius from intersections/crosswalks).  The red spots are the most prime areas where trucks might be able to set up shop.

 

#2... Our Restaurant Scene

image: Yelp Melanie N.Why We Love It..

Who doesn't love great food close to home?  The dining options in our neighborhood range from affordable to fine dining and almost everything in between.  There are over 20 eating establishments in Historic Roswell alone with a number of others just on the periphery of our neighborhood.  

One huge bonus is that we don't have any fast food establishments in the heart of the historic district which is fantastic.  Virtually all of our restaurants are locally owned establishments so our dollars stay in the community instead of feeding into a corporate profit center.

What We Would Change..

We would love to see a good Italian restaurant on Canton Street.  We have Sugo and Amalfi at the southern end but they are not very walkable in their current locations.

Here are some of our favorites:

 

  • Salt Factory
  • Swallow at the Hollow
  • Inc.
  • Zest
  • Ceviche
  • Greenwoods
  • Pie Hole
  • Table & Main
  • Pastis
  • J.Christopher's
  • Spiced Right
  • Sugo
  • Amalfi

 

#25... The Farmer's Market

Why We Love It..

We are huge proponents of healthy eating and shopping at the Farmer's Market is definitely something we love to do.  Unfortunately, we don't make it out nearly enough.  Competing demands on Saturday mornings.  

The music is a nice touch and there are always friendly vendors with good, tasty food.

What We Would Change..

The Location.  Sure it's cheap for the city to have it at City Hall and yes there is plenty of Parking.  However, it just doesn't get the visibility.  If you want to attract the casual shopper, it has to be visible.  The move from Riverside Park was a step in the right direction but it's still not quite where it needs to be.  If it were me, I'd figure out a way to have it right at the intersection of Canton St and Hwy 9.  That's where the life is and there's not a better place to catch the eye of a driver passing by.  If that's not doable, the square would probably do nicely as well.

Compare our Farmer's Market to the Alpharetta Farmer's Market and you quickly see that we have been one-upped by our neighbor to the north.  Although they do have it in a parking lot, it is in a highly visible location and they now have a fantastic sign there to advertise to all passers by that the Farmer's Market is there.  It gives it a feel of permanence that ours doesn't have.  

Also, I could be a little behind on this but I think ours is still called the Riverside Farmer's Market.  We should probably change that.  Maybe the Roswell Farmer's Market.

How to Get a Gourmet Grocer...

I thought this quote from David Alpert in a blog post from GreaterGreaterWashington article linked to through Planetizen was very insightful:

Neighborhoods can either stay the same size, and see local retail gradually decline as online shopping grows and DC adds big box stores. Or, they can add enough new residents to support new retail options. Most of us prefer the latter. Some people, though, want to stop new residents but also have the retail. That's completely unrealistic.

I'm a huge proponent of getting a gourmet grocer or a Trader Joe's into downtown Roswell but until there is a critical density of people living in the downtown, historic center, we won't have that type of shopping option.  The perfect spot for one would be when the parcel where Value Village and Souther Skillet are locate gets redeveloped.  

HungryPeaches - Eating Green in Atlanta

image by Zero 666

One of the most important choices you can make to green your lifestyle is the choice of what you put into your body. Food choices impact both your personal health and that of the environment. The more research I do, the more I find that the modern industrial food machine is something to be wary of. Yes, modern agriculture does feed billions of people worldwide but, it is also responsible for environmental degradation coupled with financial suffering, and disease in millions. This is due in part to the overuse and under-regulation of pesticides, the seemingly endless consolidation of power into just a handful of multinational companies and the abuse of government subsidies that reward just the types of behavior the public thinks the subsidies are in place to prevent.

It is a well known fact that the average American meal travels over 1500 miles from farm to mouth. This results in the use of a great deal of energy to get your food into your stomach. Oh yes, I cannot forget to mention that genetically modified crops have been cross pollinating with wild versions of the same crops for years and are creating versions of these crops that evolution never intended. We don't fully know the implications of the introduction of these mutant genes. We are performing a giant uncontrolled experiment with the only thing we can use to survive, food.

The research on these subjects is vast and it does contain a fair amount of controversy. This being said, I personally choose to err on the side of caution and make choices that I belive to be the most socially and environmentally beneficial.

So, what are the alternatives? Pundits would say that environmentalists would like to see a return to a hunter, gatherer, forager lifestyle where the land is left to itself and people toil all day to meek out a meager existence. Obviously, this is a ridiculous claim but there are people out there who think the choice is either our current system or the hunter/gatherer/forager system. Many people just don't recognize that there is no shortage of alternative ways to grow food and eat that do not require significant lifestyle changes. Okay, I will admit that switching immediately to a diet of all local and/or organic food is next to impossible and just trying would cost you a small fortune. With that being said, there are ways to affordably change your eating habits and help improve your agricultural environmental footprint. The top three ways that you can green your diet are eating less meat, eating more local food and eating more organically grown food. The great thing about this is that it is a win-win for your health and the environment (if not for your pocketbook).

One of the great things about Atlanta is that we have hundreds of local farms, CSAs, restaurants and grocery stores that make it easy for you to find a better alternative. In our Sites You Should Know post last week, we highlighted the website LocalHarvest.org as a great site to search for local eating options. There are also local organizations such as Georgia Organics and Slow Food Atlanta that are leading the way to a greener diet here in Atlanta. Below, we'll highlight some of the options that are available to you.

Local Farms - These days, local and urban farms seem to be springing up everywhere and people are talking a lot about their backyard gardens as well. Atlanta is no exception. There are some that have been around town for a while and others are brand new. Farming your own food is a great way to get the community involved and the taste of a locally grown veggie or fruit is fantastic. You don't get the loss of taste between field and plate.

One of the most well known local farms here in Atlanta is the Oakhurst Community Garden in Decatur. Oakhurst works to educate kids, families and individuals on topics such as sustainable urban living, organic gardening, health and nutrition. The Oakhurst Community Garden partners with the Atlanta Community Food Bank as part of its Community Gardens Project. According to the ACFB, there are over 150 community gardens in the Atlanta area. Each one of them is managed by the neighborhood with help and advice provided by the ACFB when needed.

Beyond the gardens and farms in the city, there are many farms in Georgia that are focusing on organic and sustainable agriculture. The Georgia Organics website is a fantastic resource for information relating to anything and everything in organic agriculture in Georgia. Their website lists 167 organically focused farms in Georgia.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - There is a wealth of CSA's here in Atlanta. With the fertile soil and a great climate, our region can support a wide range of crops making CSAs a very good way of getting a diversity of locally grown produce for a reasonalbe price. According to Local Harvest, there are 55 CSAs in Georgia and 20 right in the metro Atlanta area. Some of the more popular CSAs are Cane Creek Farms and Local Food Stop for Northern Atlanta, Serenbe Farms for Southwestern Atlanta, Farmers Fresh CSA for Western Atlanta and Two Mule Farms for Eastern Atlanta. If you're in the city, you may want to check out Gaia Gardens in East Lake Village. Most CSAs will have designated pickup locations and times where you can go to get your produce. For more information on how CSAs operate and to find other CSAs than those mentioned here, check out Local Harvest.

Farmer's Markets

It seems that every city and town has its own farmer's market these days. The trend is definitely a good thing for the local food movement. According to Georgia Organics, the number of farmer's markets in the state increased 588 percent from 2003 to 2008. For those of you who aren't ready to dive head first into the monetary commitment of a CSA, a visit to the farmer's market is a good way to get your feet wet in the local food market. Now, buyer beware, the food that you get at your local farmer's market is not always organic and in some cases it is not always local. Most of the food is local but some vendors may bring in some of their produce from neighboring states. I haven't found much outside of Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia though. But, if local is what you are looking for, you should definitely ask. The same thing goes for organic. Just ask and you will almost always get a straightforward answer.

Some of the more popular markets are the Morningside Farmer's Market, East Atlanta Village Farmer's Market, the Green Market at Piedmont Park and the Atlanta State Farmer's Market. This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are markets all over the place during the spring and summer months. Most markets go from mid May through early October. Check out Local Harvest for an up to date list with times and dates.

Restaurants

Wow, the number of restaurants that are focusing on local, seasonal cuisine has exploded in the past several years. As a restauranteur with a green conscience, you will need to be able to differentiate between those that are just going with the trend (greenwashing) and those that have legitimately baked sustainability into their menus. Some of the legitimate restaurants that we like are Canoe, 5 Seasons, World Peace Cafe, Cafe Sunflower and R. Thomas' Deluxe Grill. Others that we haven't had the opportunity to check out yet but hope to in the near future are The Hil at Serenbe Farms, Watershed and Rathbun's. All of these restaraunts either focus on organic, local, and/or vegetarian cuisine. Some of these spots may be pricey but from my experience, they are worth the extra cash. But, they all have some fare that even the budget minded can afford.

When in a pinch or if you need a quick lunch, you may want to check out Jason's Deli. They have made some great moves to eliminate a significant amount of HFCS from their menu as well as stock as many organic veggies in their salad bar as possible. When you are eating in, you eat on non-disposable plates, drink from non-disposable glasses all with non-disposable utensils. This is rare in the restaurant business these days and significantly cuts down on waste. Jason's has ten metro Atlanta locations so it is likely that you will be able to find one when you are out and about.

Other restaurants have made some strides to green their menu but I'm not convinced that they are committed to the movement. If you are not certain, you should check out their website before visiting and if you are already there, you should inquire with the wait staff. I typically ask the server if they know where the food I am ordering came from. This is a good litmus test that will tell you how in tune with the food the staff is. The more they know, the more likely the establishment is concerned with the environment and your health.

Another item that comes up in restaurants frequently that I would be remiss not to mention is seafood. If you are reading this, then you probaly know already that many of the world's fisheries are in collapse or near collapse and that we have significantly overfished the apex predators in the ocean food chain. This being said, there are still a number of fish that are perfectly fine to eat. The problem is knowing which ones are. In order to make your choice easier, I suggest that you download the Seafood Guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium or if you have an iPhone, you can download the app. Even if you are armed with this tool, you will likely still need to ask your server some details about the origin of the fish on their menu. The less they know, the less likely I am to order.

This only scratches the surface of the green restaurant scene here in Atlanta. Additional resources are Georgia Organics and Local Harvest. Also, the number of things to consider in order to eat green can truly be overwhelming so remember that you don't have to be perfect. As long as you are making a concious decision to eat greener and healthier, you are making a difference.

Grocery Stores

The dominant grocery stores in metro Atlanta are Kroger's, Publix, Wal-Mart and Target. In fact, Wal-Mart is the world's largest purveyor of organic foods. You wouldn't think so if you walked through a store but we're talking economies of scale here. In recent years, the sale of organic produce has been growing at a double digit pace annualy thanks to the big boys. This has helped bring more eco-friendly choices to the mainstream stores but all too often those choices are relegated to their own section of the store and the selection may not be consistent week over week. Attkitionally, these big stores don't take into account the seasonality of their produce. You're just as likely to find strawberries in January as you are in June. If you are green minded, these stores just aren't where you're going to find the best selection or the most concern for the environment.

So, what are the alternatives? We have seven Whole Foods Markets, six Trader Joe's, six Fresh Markets, the Dekalb Farmer's Market and dozens of health and nutrition stores around town. Whole Foods is a shopping experience in itself. It's almost worth the trip in the afternoon on a weekend just for the samples. You can expect to pay a pretty sizeable premium for your food but you will notice the difference in quality. If you would like your bill to stay a little closer to earth, you may want to try shopping for some of your produce and meats at Whole Foods and some at your standard grocery store. *I'm not trying to be an advertisement for Whole Foods here.* Buying any local/organic food from anywhere is a better choice than the chemical/conventional alternative. So, if you can get what you are looking for in one place, by all means do so. You will save time and you won't be burning fuel to transport yourself around making multiple trips.

Aside from Whole Foods, we also have Trader Joe's which is a smaller almost corner store that packs a fantastic selection of produce, meats, prepackaged foods and beverages into a small package. You will also find that the prices are a little more bearable. They have some really great store brand items that you won't be able to find anywhere else. Be careful, because you may become addicted. The Fresh Market is an upscale grocer that carries a good amount of organic items. They liken themselves to a smaller European grocer. Another alternative if you are in the Decatur area is the Dekalb Farmer's Market. This is a mecca for thousands of ethnic shoppers and those who are looking for great local produce. You almost have to check it out just for the experience. Last but not least, you should also be aware of the smaller health and nutrition stores in your neighborhood where you can often find niche green food products.

The next time you go shopping, don't forget that there are definitley green alternatives here in Atlanta and don't forget to bring your own reusable bags.


Drink

If you have made it this far then you might as well pair your meal with a local and/or organic beverage as well. Obviously, you will want to avoid bottled water which is one of the most inefficient means of hydrating the human body that has ever been devised. The tap water in Atlanta is not perfect but if you have a good filter or eat at a nice restaurant (generally have filters), you'll be just fine. One of the most popular local drinks is Coca-Cola but we're going to leave that suggestion off the list (HFCS, et.al.). In it's place, we'll subsititute the beer from Sweetwater Brewery. Yes, a completely different beverage but locally focused beverage with sustainability on the brain. They are part of a Carbon Neutral Partnership and they are a supporter of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Which makes sense since 80 percent of Atlantans get their water from the Chattahoochee and Sweetwater comes from the Hooch as well.

You can find Sweetwater at many local restaurants and bars on tap or in the bottle. But, if you are not thirsty for Sweetwater and are in the mood for a restaurant where you can drink a good locally brewed beer, look no further than one of the three 5 Season's Brewery locations. You can pair your beer with a nice organic and/or locally sourced meal. They also do tours of their breweries daily. Check out their website for more info.

For those of you who aren't beer drinkers, Georgia does have a good selection of wines that are grown right here at home in the mountains of North Georgia. To learn more about the growers, check out the Georgia Winegrowers' Association website. The next time you are out looking for a nice glass of wine, consider a Georgia wine. You'll be doing the environment a favor, contributing to the local economy and you might even enjoy it.


Other Great Ideas

Here are some other great ideas for HungryPeaches.

The Decatur Farm to School Initiative is a grassroots initiative organized by parents, teachers, community organizers and organizations (Georgia Organics and Oakhurst Community Garden). The focus is to create a program that will help Decatur school cafeterias source locally and organically grown food for school lunches and create a curriculum and environment that will help students understand their relationship with food. This is a very new initiative started in 2009. According to their website, "there are 39 states with programs in over 2,000 schools. These programs have been shown to increase students’ awareness and consumption of local foods, as well as support the local economy." We think this is a great idea and we will continue to keep an eye on it.

Another great idea is Salud! Cooking School at Whole Foods Markets. Salud! is a great way to learn how to get involved in your kitchen via instructor led hands-on classes and demonstration classes. It's also a great way to get a delicious meal. Cooking at home is becoming a lost art just like gardening has become. If we are to reverse this trend, we will need more cooks and gardeners and the classroom is a great, fun way to learn these lost arts. To see their seasonal schedule visit the Whole Foods Market website. Salud! is only in the Duluth and Alpharetta (Harry's Farmer's Market) locations.



I would have liked to have gone deeper into the details of the issues related to our current food chain. However, this post almost turned into a book as it is. For further education on this topic, check out the items below:


Books

The Omnivore's Dilemma & In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Movies & Video

Michael Pollan @ Google on YouTube!
King Corn (trailer)
The Future of Food (trailer)