Farmer Fredo: Valued Member of Our Collective

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January 16, 2019

You can find him in the taproom most Saturdays and Sundays, maybe savoring small swigs of Skywater Golden Ale, or, recently, Rye Charles IPA. Mounds of fresh collard, mustard, and turnip greens nearly dwarf his son as he helps set out all the loads of produce–a task that usually takes a couple hours. Baskets of apples and tangelos and vidalia onions line up along another table that sits just in front of his large ice chest full of peas and farm eggs. Adults are giddy as they smell fresh tomatoes, pick the best bunch of greens, swap recipes and stories.

 

There’s something about the tasting room when Farmer Fredo and his wife and son are here. It transforms into a small, bustling market where parents and children alike can come and play, enjoy locally made drinks, and leave with a beautiful bag of locally grown, fresh produce.

The experience of a Flint River Fresh pop-up market at Pretoria Fields is unique and special in its own right, but when you consider the effects of your purchase throughout the community, putting your money where your mouth is takes on a wholesome, new meaning.

 

In our 9th episode of No Dams Given, Farmer Fredo mentions the Southwest Georgia Project, which has been an institution of support, community, and activism in Albany and the surrounding area since the early 1960s beginning with Charles and Shirley Sherrod’s tireless work on desegregation and the Albany Civil Rights movement.

 

Now, the Southwest Georgia Project’s mission is to provide a more secure environment for farmers and community to interact with and support each other. Dougherty County is still suffering from the recession of 2007-8, and now with the recent hurricane and tornado disasters, we need to help each other more than ever. Southwest Georgia Project and Farmer Fredo (Flint River Fresh) work toward a common goal of supporting small farmers and providing accessible ways for all areas of the community to obtain fresh produce as well as education.

 

This fact glared at me from the Southwest Georgia Project’s webpage:

“Southwest Georgia suffers greatly from two paradoxical challenges: food access and family farmland viability. The region has not recovered from the 2007 economic downturn, 9 grocery stores closed in Albany (Dougherty County) and as a result Dougherty County is in the top 1% of counties in the United States for the highest rates of food insecurity.  Oddly, there are thousands of acres of farmland owned by family farmers who struggle to access reliable markets and make a living on the farm (http://www.swgaproject.com/support-us.html).

 

Farmer Fredo mentions many resources and organizations that help forge the community connection: the collective. And in the podcast, Dr. Morgan, Billy, and Fredando discuss the importance of the word “collective” in Pretoria Fields Collective. Farmer Fredo explains how using more sustainable practices of organic and chemical-free farming of foods used in both food and beer creates an even stronger bond between the farmer and the community because the farmer needs help and interaction and support from his community and vice versa. The philosophy of the “collective” is to create and foster strong bonds throughout the community through support, collaboration, and understanding. And we are so grateful that Farmer Fredo has been such a large part of that philosophy.

Agriculture is the big business here in Georgia. In areas like southwest Georgia, it is impossible to drive for very long without seeing vast fields of peanuts or cotton or soybeans or pecans. Look a little closer and you might see these small family operations who grow vegetables right in our backyard. Look even a little closer and you might see a young child helping weed the garden, or feed the chickens, or shell peas–look closely, and you’ll see exactly where your money and support can go.

Plus, it’s delicious!

-Lauren Dorminey

No Dams Given Ep. 9: Fredando Jackson

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January 15, 2019

Merry Christmas from Pretoria Fields

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December 25, 2018

We have been humbled and honored to see many of you bringing your guests into the tasting room this week, and snagging T-shirts or gift certificates for your craft-beer lovin’ friends and family. We want you to know that it means a lot to us to be thought of as a place to gather with the ones you love this time of year.

On December 8th, we looked back, with full hearts (and a full pint glass) on our first year serving Albany. We celebrated with a fun-filled weekend of live music and merriment each night. We made our first annual donation to the Flint Riverkeeper organization: a percentage of our Shoalie IPA sales. We gathered for our final Pop Up Market of 2018 that Sunday, surrounded by our fellow artists and creators. At the end of our anniversary weekend, we were truly humbled as we reflected on what our community has contributed to creating in Downtown Albany. As this wonderful month continued on, we were again in awe of how many new faces we were able to welcome and serve as you brought your visiting friends and family in to enjoy a sip of South Georgia craft beer.

On this Christmas day, although our tasting room doors are closed so that we may be with our families, we want to send a special message of gratitude to each of you and wishes for a wonderful New Year. We will be open tomorrow, Dec. 26th, through Dec. 30th. We will be closed for New Years Eve, but will resume our normal business hours again on Jan. 1st.

It is a great to joy to serve you, and we look forward to sharing our beer with more Georgians as we expand our distribution territories throughout our great state. If you have friends and family in North and East Georgia, please invite them to look for Pretoria Fields on their local taps and in package stores.

Happy Holidays and cheers to each of you! We raise our glasses to you!

In gratitude,

The Pretoria Fields Collective

No Dams Given Ep. 8: Rashelle Beasley and Todd White

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December 24, 2018

Make our Own Shrub at Home!

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November 23, 2018

What is a shrub? The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America. By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit—traditionally berries—which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterwards, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup. The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails. Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration. (wikipedia) 

But, for many reasons, shrubs have made a big comeback in the past 10 years. Primarily, they are a great way to use up fresh and seasonal produce when it’s coming in faster than you can process it. If you have a backyard peach tree, you will be amazed at how easily you can capture the flavor of a fresh peach and enjoy it throughout the winter. It’s easier to make than jams or jellies, and can be used with your favorite liquor in an impressive mixed drink or, you can use shrub syrup with a simple carbonated water for an insanely fancy-tasting and hydrating beverage.

At Pretoria Fields, we had over 3,000 lbs of organic blackberries and blueberries that were ripe in the summer. We use these berries in our Farmhouse Berry Gose, but we had many more of them at one time than we could put into the summer batches of Gose. And so, out of necessity, our House Shrub was born. (We eventually decided to purchase extra deep freezers and a vacuum sealer in order to preserve about 2,000 lbs of the berries for future Gose and shrub batches)

Here’s our simple process and recipe for making shrub syrup, which can kept in a closed container in your fridge for up to 6 months. (Many experience shrub makers will tell you that there is really no expiration date as long as it is kept in refrigeration, and the flavors will simply soften and change slightly over time.)

8 cups of berries – which will be 1/2 blackberries and 1/2 blueberries

1.5 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/8 of a cup of lemon juice

Procedure:

For 8 cups of berries, use 1.5 Cups organic sugar

Macerate/muddle this – make as much of a puree as possible

Leave it to sit in a fridge for 3-4 days

(also really yummy to add mint and basil!)

Then, Use a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer OR a food mill/ jam sieve set over a clean bowl to get as much liquid away from the berry pulp and seeds as possible. I work in small amounts – about 2-3 cups at a time.

The final recipe for the “shrub” is:

For every 6 cups of berry syrup, add:

1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/8 Cup Lemon Juice

You can always increase or decrease vinegar and lemon juice to get your perfect sweet and tart combo!