Planning our third seasonal "Taking the Burger out of Farm Burger” supper, I challenged Chef Terry Koval. Our previous two suppers were expressions of the animals raised on our farms, and focused on the utilization of the whole animals. Our guests left happy, well fed, but in somewhat of a meat coma. So I asked Chef to retain the whole animal theme, but to exult spring, to show the glory of our vegetables, and to intertwine them with our oxtails, beef cheeks, hearts and marrow.

As we searched for spring, we started to realize that March 24th was perhaps too early for this season's supper. First report from Chef was that the season's abundance was just barely starting to show on our farms, and there wouldn’t be much to work with. I am known to be a bit hard-headed, so of course I did not accept this answer. After all, this why Farm Burger is here: to dig in the dirt, attack the unusual, hunt for the extraordinary, find the farmer that might have something hiding in their hoop house, might have taken a risk and planted a bit early, and get it in our back door and onto your plate. So, proudly, Chef dug. He found forgotten garlic chives at Backyard Moon, the newest property to come into our family's fold, just peaking out from winter's overgrowth. He found baby lettuces and arugula at our own Full Moon Farm, carefully tended to be ready just in time for our dinner. He found pea shoots from Funny Farm, sweet carrots and beets and their greens from Woodland Gardens, and rainbow chard, the first spring onions, and winter-kissed cabbage from Best-Maid Farm.

Our oxtail sang with the chard, the beets lightened our beef cheeks, the cabbage melted with the supple fat of our pig, and the pea shoots and arugula were perfect accompaniments to Georgia’s coveted sweet coastal shrimp.

The day before the dinner, I read the week's newsletter from Local Harvest entitled "Start Where You Are." A day after the dinner, I watched a video on Civil Eats from TEDx Austin on Robyn Obrien, the author of The Unhealthy Truth. Both pieces focused changing what we eat. “Change happens incrementally, it doesn’t happen magically, without effort” says Local Harvest. “Do one thing…a simple step is all that it takes” advises Robyn.

These messages remind me why we opened Farm Burger. We certainly hoped people would come to eat, but we opened not just to make burgers but to make change. To prove the point that a humble neighborhood burger joint can source from local farms, serve 100% grassfed burgers from humanely-raised cows, free of hormones and antibiotics. To declare that farm-to-table doesn’t need to be served on china and reserved for a date night, but can come in a wire basket, a red plastic basket, a little metal pail, and is economical enough to be enjoyed all the time. To know that the cheeseburger we allow our children after a hard day at school supports a local agricultural community, only costs $5, and comes with a cool tattoo.

Spring is a time to reflect on the past to move forward. We look at our notes and writings from inside the newly warm afternoons, under the first spring thunderstorms. We use our memories to plant, to plan, to start new projects, to re-arrange the boxes on the shelves of our lives.

Farm Burger is our simple springtime step, our small contribution to the incremental change we see happening all over Atlanta, Georgia and the entire country. Our farmers and our Chef and our cooks and our staff make their efforts, and through these suppers we can actually feel and even taste that baby step toward change. And sometimes, it is simply magical.

{ George: Owner & Operator }