Norcross Community Market
Know Your Farmer
sponsored by AgSouth Farm Credit
This week we’re proud to feature and help you “get to know” Phoenix Gardens.
Of course, many of you already know Gwendolyn and Brennan Washington, because they’ve been fixtures at the Norcross Community Market since day one. In fact, their loyalty to our fresh vegetable-loving community dates back to the old days of the Whistlestop Market.
A few details about what makes these farmers so special:
For starters, Gwendolyn has officially “semi-retired” from her corporate job to make farming her full time endeavor. We celebrate her having more time to devote to bringing us those gorgeous and delicious vegetables, herbs and farm-fresh eggs. She’s always visiting with her customers and the other farmers at the market, and is able to answer most any question you could ask her.
Brennan is physically at Norcross Community Market less than Gwen, but his presence is nonetheless apparent. He is co-founder of the Georgia Farmers Market Association, of which our market is a proud member. He is also the 1890 Land Grant Liaison and Southeastern Outreach Coordinator for Southern SARE where he promotes sustainable agriculture in 13 states, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
What is unique and new at Phoenix Gardens?
New this year in farming methods is tower gardening where vegetables are grown in aeroponic towers. This fascinating method of farming uses only water and nutrients. See photos and keep up with all the latest happenings at Phoenix on their Facebook page.
Also, Gwendolyn has begun offering recipes with many of their products. As a shopper, you may sometimes feel unsure about trying a new or unfamiliar vegetable, or just be in need of some inspiration. Just ask her, and Gwen can give you ideas - often with a printed recipe. This happened to us with garlic scapes. We didn’t know how to use them and she gave us several suggestions. Of course, we thought they were so beautiful that we had to take photos first.
The biggest news of all? Just days from now Phoenix Gardens will be offering on-line sales. Through their new site customers will be able to pre-order before the market for those fabulous vegetables and herbs. Click the “Email Signup” button on the left side of their Facebook page and they’ll keep you informed of special sales and more. Just think…. you’ll be able to arrive at the Norcross Community Market on Saturday mornings knowing that your Phoenix Gardens order is ready for you to pick up.
What Keeps Phoenix Gardens Coming Back to Norcross?
This was an easy question for Gwendolyn to answer. “It’s my home!” she said. She grew up in this area and considers Norcross Community Market their “home market.” She told us they wouldn’t consider being anywhere else on Saturday mornings in the summer. We like that answer!
Future Goals and Plans?
Besides the web-based ordering mentioned above, Phoenix plans to become SDA Certified Organic. They also plan a deeper involvement in the agritourism industry and their goal is to offer tours and events.
An Interesting Story…
When we first talked with Brennan and Gwendolyn last year we were curious about the name "Phoenix Gardens.” There are actually two stories.
In the early days of the farm it looked as though Gwinnett County would need the Washington's land for the Sugarloaf Parkway extension. At the last minute, a rerouting of the parkway was decided on and their farm was spared, thus the rising Phoenix.
And then, in 2015 Phoenix Gardens suffered a devastating fire, and were out of production for 18 months. They've worked hard and have come back better than ever, and now their farm is truly a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
A final look at some of their beautiful peppers, potatoes, and again those artful garlic scapes.
See you at the Norcross Community Market!
Be sure to look for Gwendolyn at the Phoenix Gardens booth. Ask her for some ideas on how to cook her beautiful produce and she’ll be more than happy to help you out.
The next in the Know Your Farmer series will be coming soon. In the meantime, we would love to have you sign up to receive weekly Southern recipes from Biscuits and Burlap by clicking this link.
Norcross Community Market has been selected to receive a grant from AgSouth Farm Credit as a part of AgSouth’s Think Outside the Store® farmers grant program.
The funds are designated to be used for promoting the market, and Norcross Community Market was chosen based on our plan to increase public awareness of the market with this “Know Your Farmer” series.
To read more about this series, please visit the first edition here.
Meet the Writers
Pam and Sara are local residents (Pam lives in Norcross and Sara in nearby Clarkston) and are a mother-daughter team of food bloggers at Biscuits and Burlap. They are huge believers in buying local to support your community and cooking with the freshest food possible. Visit their blog and try some of their Southern recipes!