We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Rilko and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
Collective Harvest helps Athens and the surrounding areas/world in many ways. First and foremost, we are here to provide the community with fresh, organic, locally grown and produced food. Our mission is to not only help consumers eat healthy, local food but to offer the growers and producers an outlet to sell their product in order to help them provide for their families. We work with 22 vegetable farms, 12 meat/dairy farms, 20 artisan food producers and 7 bakers. When the community purchases product from Collective Harvest they are putting money back into the local economy instead of it to going off to another city, state, or even country. We help put a face to your food by connecting the food you’re eating to the person who produced it. When the community chooses to purchase product from Collective Harvest and eat locally, they are making an environmentally conscious decision. On average, the food you see in grocery stores has traveled around 1500 miles before it is unloaded from the truck. Long distance travel like this demands the use of large quantities of fossil fuels, leading to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The product that we supply through Collective Harvest travels an average of only 50 miles, meaning we are greatly reducing our carbon footprint. Additionally, all our farms are committed to using sustainable agricultural practices so as to be good stewards of their land, and all of the produce that we offer is Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown. At Collective Harvest, we strive to foster that sense of community and promote friendly, reciprocal relationships between the producer and the consumer.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
At Collective Harvest we help people in need with our Fresh Food Fund. The Fresh Food Fund helps offset the financial obstacles of eating local, healthy and organic food. Each Fresh Food Fund recipient pays a portion of the cost of a share depending on their household income and the remaining cost is funded by money raised by our community partners. To Donate, Visit our website. www.collectiveharvestathens.com/fresh-food-fund $30 helps provide a week of produce to local families! We donate leftover food to The Campus Kitchen. Campus Kitchen at UGA is a student-powered hunger relief program. They run a weekly food recovery and redistribution program led by UGA student volunteers. Student leaders and volunteers work together to transform unused food from grocery stores and farms into meals and groceries that are delivered to older adults and human service agencies in Athens.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Wow! This is a hard one. There are so many great places to go to. I guess we would start day off by taking them to one of our favorite breakfast spots, Farm Cart. There, they can enjoy one of the best biscuits in town or Little City Diner in Winterville because it’s a cool spot and they have an awesome breakfast. During the day and depending on the weather, we would probably stroll through the State Botanical Garden, take in some art at the Lyndon House Art Center or Georgia Museum of Art, bike or walk through Sandy Creek Nature Center, see a movie at Cine and just walk around downtown popping in and out of some of the local shops. For lunch we would sit out on the patio at Heirloom Café and enjoy leisurely lunch along with a refreshing cocktail or visit The Grit for some delicious vegetarian food. After we take a nap and refresh ourselves, we would head back into town for dinner at some of the many amazing restaurants like, The National, 5&10 or Donna Chang’s. After dinner we would make our way to one of the many local pubs or one of the local breweries like Creature Comforts or Terrapin before we catch a show at the Georgia Theater, 40 watt or the Foundry. Athens has a great music scene, there are live shows everywhere playing music for everyone to enjoy.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to give a Shoutout to all of the Collective Harvest Growers and Producers. If it wasn’t for their hard work and dedication, Collective Harvest would not be able to provide fresh, healthy, local food to Athens and surrounding areas. This incredible group stepped up to feed the community during the pandemic. For this we are very grateful to the following: Diamond Hill Farm, Front Field Farm, Full Moon Farm, Fry Farm, Hearts of Harvest Farm, Hickory Hill Farm, Lazy Willow Farm, Sundance Farm, BJ’s Produce, Buffalo Creek Berry Farm, Byne Blueberry Farm, Cedar Grove Farm, Crystal Organic Farm, Dayspring Farm, Ellijay Mushrooms, Fungo Farms, Harvest Moon, McBride Family Farm, R&R Secret Farm, Smyly Farm, Woodland Gardens, Anderson Farms, Back in Time Farm, Bloodroot Collective, Caribe United Farm, Falling Creek Farm, Forward Thinking Farm, Grateful Pastures, Hobo Cheese Co, Old Cotton Hill Farm, Rock House Creamery, Southern Swiss Dairy, Stonethrow Farm, Farm Cart, H&F Bread Co, Independent Baking Co, Luna Baking Co, Nedza’s Donuts, Saturday Hill Baking Co, VTaste Cakes, 1000 Faces Coffee, Ally Bee’s Honey, Antonio Zenere pasta, Booger Hill Honey, Cultured Traditions, Daily Groceries Co-op, Doux South, Emily G’s Jams, Figment Brewing, Georgia Grinders, Heartsong Herbs, Jittery Joe’s Coffee, Mesca Sweet, Montane Sparkling Water, Moon’s Grove Farm, New Creation Soda Works, Oscar Bites, Phickles Pickles and Piedmont Provisions.