By LISA WHALEY
“This is what a whole community can do,” said Pat Sheets, proudly holding up the new Jonesborough Locally Grown cookbook to be released Saturday.
Jonesborough Locally Grown is the umbrella organization for the Jonesborough Farmers Market and year-round Boone Street Market.
Sheets is sitting in Boones Street Market surrounded by fresh, local produce as well as shelves, baskets and bins filled with locally prepared food products. The book, titled “Grow & Cook Book, ” features these products and more in the 200-plus recipes found within its covers.
“This book reflects what happens when you come to the Farmers Market,” explained Sheets, who is considered by many to be the genius behind the cookbook.
But Sheets is quick to discount her importance. The recipes, the stories, the photographs, the designs and more, she said, are all the contributions of an amazing group of 70-plus local volunteers who were determined to bring this project to a successful conclusion.
“Honestly, a whole community did this,” she stressed. “Everybody was in on it. They wanted to do it. They were willing. They volunteered their time.
“I had proofreaders, people that spent a lot of time. All I did was collect the stuff.”
Other key collaborators that brought the project to completion include graphic designer Lise Cutshaw and several financial supporters: individual donors, the Pick TN program of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and Interstate Graphics for printing.
The idea for the cookbook began to form about four years ago when market supporters met to brainstorm.
“It was in the summer of 2015,” Sheets said. “I was on the board at the time, and it was like what kind of fun events can we do?
“It seemed like an obvious given. You got food. So how do you cook it?”
A cookbook project may have seemed an obvious one, but that didn’t mean it was easy. Sheets and fellow volunteers spent more than 36 months gatherings recipes from local farmers, chefs and a community of cooks in Jonesborough and surrounding areas.
Sheets also thought it was important to introduce readers to the farmers who were necessary in providing the ingredients. Their stories are at the front of the new cookbook.
“These are the farmers. This is what makes it possible,” Sheets said. “They had to be first in the story because they are what it’s all about.”
Chapters throughout the book are organized to mimic Farmers Market schedules. In the chapter “Spring Harvest,” for example, cooks can find recipes featuring early greens like Brussel sprouts and kale. In “Summer Harvest,” you can find ideas for beans, beets and turnips.
The full-color, spiral-bound book also includes a chapter on preserving the harvest with instructions on drying herbs, pickling, fermenting, making jellies and jams, canning, freezing and making broth at home.
There are even yellow-highlighted sections that provide guidance on how to plant the crops or cultivate bees.
“That’s the ‘grow’ part of the ‘Grow & Cook Book.’” Sheets said with a happy smile.
“I wanted our book to be extra special, because that’s how I see the market and all our farmer friends,” she added.
Such a special book deserves a special launch, Sheets believes. So this Saturday, July 20, at the downtown Jonesborough Farmers Market, the new “Grow and Cook Books” will be available for purchase – for the first time – and samples will be on hand at the Saturday market to showcase a few of the recipes that can be found in the cookbook. Then, on Tuesday, July 23, from 6 to 8 p.m., the public is also invited to sample recipes at a reception honoring the cookbook contributors at Boone Street Market, 101 Boone Street.
From then on, the cookbooks will also be available for purchase at Boone Street Market, the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center, the International Storytelling Center, the Makers Market and Mauk’s of Jonesborough. Cookbooks cost $25 and all proceeds go to support Jonesborough Locally Grown.