Published: October 02. 2012 6:52PM
Written by Ann Hicks
Photographed by Cindy Hosea
When you shop Greenville’s Slow Food Earth Market, you become interconnected to a global movement that honors local food traditions, local producers, the sustainability of the environment and the community that welcomes such enterprise.
The market’s founder, Greenville artist Janette Wesley, and the talented people who assisted her can be proud of their accomplishment. With their exclusively organic earth market up and running since May 2011, the project has become yet one more marker of the ways Greenville is trending cosmopolitan.
Wesley says the market’s customers can rest assured that all of its farmer-vendors have been vetted through a highly stringent application process. By their participation, the producers have proven that they use no chemical sprays or pesticides on their crops and apply only natural fertilizers. Similarly, poultry and meat comes to the market through farming practices such as “impact-raised” animals, in which daily pasture rotation is utilized, for example, to allow cattle to feed on fresh grass. Such practices keep the animals healthy without the need for antibiotics.
Ask how Wesley got involved with the slow food movement in the first place, and she’ll tell you about her trip to Turin, Italy, where she attended her first Terra Madre (Earth Mother) global conference in 2010. Every other year, Terra Madre brings together people similarly interested in sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, harmonious food production and respect for the knowledge handed down from generations.
The 2010 conference was attended by more than 5,000 representatives and offered many workshops and useful information on how-to projects. Included among those was how to start up a slow food market in one’s community. Such markets, Wesley says, are members of a large system in which everybody has to abide by the same rules.
Such projects require a lot of legwork. First, the Slow Food Earth Market group learned about the regulations that govern the states’ farmers markets in order to earn the permit to operate. Once that was accomplished, the group searched for farms that used sustainable, earth-friendly, organic methods and asked if they would participate. Wesley says her organization set a goal of having 10 such producers to start the market.
Once that was accomplished, the game was on. Although produce and meat growers dominate, the market recently added an egg producer.
The market’s beef selection is diverse. Customers can choose from three different local breeds of cattle: Devon, Angus and Pinewood. Wesley says these animals are rare and endangered, and she says the reason the slow food movement wants to encourage “putting them on the plate,” is to support a viable and economical way for these animals to exist.
“We want people to become aware of where their food is produced,” Wesley says. “Since all of our foods are local, you can talk to the farmer about what you’re buying.”
She also wants to encourage parents to bring their children.
“We always have specific programs to involve them in fun-filled learning projects about food,” she says. “We want to encourage them to eat a healthy diet.”
During the winter months, a pair of Saturday holiday markets are held before Thanksgiving and then again around Christmas. This year, the holiday markets will be 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Nov. 17 and Dec. 15.
The Slow Food Earth Market is open from 3 – 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month, May – September. The market is held on the grounds of the Michael McDunn Studio Gallery at 741 Rutherford Road.
|Vegetables line the tables at the Slow Food Market.CINDY HOSEA/Staff|