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FALL 2012 DINING GUIDE:Beyond Restaurants
September 27, 2012, by John Kessler Read The Full Article
Hope’s Gardens Pesto
The freshly made basil pesto from Atlanta-based Hope’s Gardens is one of my ultimate comfort foods. It’s a simple harmony of ingredients: rich olive oil, nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano, sharp raw garlic, earthy pine nuts and sweet licorice-scented basil. Hope’s Gardens also prepares pestos like the tangy (and nut-free) sun-dried tomato (great on baked fish), jalapeño-cilantro and the mint, green pea and almond pesto (vegan). What a great way to
celebrate the season’s bounty. —JT
(Available at several locations, including Whole Foods and Peachtree Road Farmers Market.)
Buckhead Family Turns Pesto into a Thriving Family Business
October 4, 2008, by John Kessler
10 years ago, when Dave and Leslie Lennox were both around 40, they bought a small house with a huge yard in Buckhead. It was an oddly charming place, painted an unforgettable shade of blue and featuring an unlikely appendage --- a 1937 Lord & Burnham greenhouse jutting from its side like an exhibition hall at the state fair. But this house seemed a perfect place to raise their newborn daughter, a child to whom these first-time middle-aged parents had given the name Hope.
Today, the glassy, gabled greenhouse is the locus of activity at the Lennox household. Rows of leafy plants strive upward from their pots to the nourishment of grow lights suspended above. It all looks like something from the Showtime series "Weeds, " except the Lennoxes are growing basil, not marijuana.
"I go so often to the store that sells us our hydroponics that sometimes I do wonder if there are undercover DEA agents parked across the street, " Dave jokes.
With luck, all the supplies will see the Lennoxes and their fledgling business --- Hope's Gardens --- through the winter.
For the past year the Lennoxes have been delighting metro Atlanta fans with pesto made entirely from basil grown in their home garden --- a sunny, flat space the size of a goodly croquet lawn completely bordered by trees.
The whole enterprise began rather haphazardly as agardening and cooking project with Hope that resulted in 15 jars of pesto to sell at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market.
Now the Lennoxes sell their product in gourmet grocers throughout the city, including five Whole Foods Markets. They still sell at the Saturday morning farmers market, but now wheel in cases of product --- both the original basil pesto as well as a jalapeno version made from their home-grown peppers.
"Locally grown" may be the new catchphrase for all kinds of foods, but you can taste that just-picked-in-Buckhead flavor in the pesto --- that bright essence of greenness that tingles with sunshine and chlorophyll. Leslie Lennox blends it into a chunky paste with olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and she has the kind of palate that finds the canny balance of flavors.
"I love the pesto because they make it fresh and keep it fresh, " says Elisa Gambino of Via Elisa Fresh Pasta. "Most of the pesto [in stores] has been pasteurized, so the basil is cooked. They're constantly on the move. They make it like you would get it in Liguria."
A rousing start
"Eighty percent of the people who try the product will buy it, " says Dave Lennox, an affable man with an open face who tirelessly encourages shoppers every Saturday at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market to try a sample smeared on a pita chip. When not hawking pesto, he works full time in sales for a technology consulting firm.
The Lennox family business has grown as rapidly as that of the market.
They signed up last year to sell Leslie's line of greeting cards when the market --- now the city's most bustling weekly source for farm-fresh produce and artisan food products --- was but a few stands huddled in a corner of a parking lot. They brought those few jars of pesto as a lark.
"The first three people who stopped by all bought pesto, " recalls Dave.
The next week the Lennoxes tore into their basil patch with new vigor and returned with 50 small quilted-glass jelly jars of pesto.
"It was then some very nice person came up to us and asked if we had a license to sell packaged foods, " Leslie remembers. "Oops."
It took the Lennoxes two months to get their license and find a commercial prep kitchen. The name, Hope'sGardens, came to them because their daughter has long been involved in every step of their efforts to turn their once-unruly yard into a tended garden.
"We thought it was a good lesson to grow your own food, " Leslie says.
As they ramped up production, the Lennoxes moved from routine trips to the hardware and garden stores to relationships with primary suppliers. Still, there were challenges. Trucks might make it down their steep driveway but they would never come close to the hideaway garden. So tons of rich soil had to be transferred by wheelbarrow. A trio of fun.
As more stores came looking for the fresh refrigerated pesto, the Lennoxes continued expanding production, each week selling all their pesto within days of making it. They proudly have met demand thus far. But will their greenhouse get them through the winter?
"It is our hope to be somewhat self-sufficient, " says Leslie, "but just in case, we have found a good local supplier of fresh basil."
But even as the Lennoxes think about expanding their product line and distribution, they want to keep the business in the nuclear family and at home.
Hope, a 10-year-old with lank blonde hair and an observant manner, sees a lot more of her parents than most kids. Dave works from his home office when he'snot gardening. Leslie is an avid cook whose repertoire extends far beyond pesto. Hope likes to help with both. The three have a strikingly close bond that is familiar to all who visit them at the market.
"Dave likes to talk to people, " says Leslie, whose reserve counters her husband's gregariousness. "I like to talk about recipes, but mostly just like being there with Dave and Hope."
"The three of us --- we are the business, " says Leslie with pride.
March 2012, by Bret Love Read The Full Article
While the farm-to-table movement has exploded in recent years, Atlanta gourmets Jennifer and John Maley recognized how hard it was to find all these goodies under one roof. Last May, the couple launched Local Market South (localmarketsouth.com), an online shop that sells homemade Southern specialty food items from more than 20 purveyors. It wasn't easy, but they bravely went through their many delicious Atlanta-based products to curate a list of their must-buys.
HOPE'S GARDENS PESTO
($48 for six 4oz jars)
Made in: Vinings (20 miles from Atlanta)
Jennifer: "Husband and wife team Leslie and Dave had been gardening and creating pesto for years, and sharing it with friends. They started bringing it to the farmers market and it took off from there. It's really fresh and comes in these beautiful old jars. It's the freshest pesto you can buy."
John: "Our overall ethos is that the ingredients in everything we sell are all natural. In a lot of cases, especially with pesto and meats, it's packed to order. Your jar of pesto will be packed within hours of receiving the order, because everything comes straight from the vendor."
Opening day at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market!
April 14 2012, by John Schaffner Read The Full Article
There obviously was a lot of pent up anticipation and desires among Buckhead residents— waiting for the return of the Peachtree Road Farmers Market at the Cathedral of St. Philip, 2944 Peachtree Road. The opening day crowd on Saturday, April 14, was the largest we can recall since the market started in 2007. And there were more vendors participating than in years past, including a host of steady participants and a few new ones.
As usual, there were lots of people with baby strollers (including the babies) and with dogs, all of which seemingly got along with each other.
Once again, it seems to be the place to be on Saturday mornings, between 8:30 and noon, to buy some good locally grown organic produce and other food items, to mingle with friends, to take in a chef demonstration, and maybe get a crepe and coffee for breakfast or lunch.
Foodstuff made with Georgia goodness
May 2012, The Atlantan Read The Full Article
It's a small world
Winter 2012, Bespoke Magazine Read The Full Article
Another accidental success story, the seeds of Hope's Gardens were planted in the spring of 2007, when Dave and Leslie Lennox began selling Leslie's handmade greeting cards at Atlanta's Peachtree Road Farmers Market. With interest in sustainable farm-to-table cuisine just starting to take off in the area, the couple decided to bring vegetables from their garden to sell, and that summer they began selling homemade pesto. Thus, a booming business was born.
Named after the couple's daughter, Hope, the Lennox family built their grassroots following the old fashion way. They spend just about every weekend plying their farm-fresh wares at farmers markets in the area, from Brookhaven and Grant Park to Sandy Springs and Marietta.
From their original basil pesto, the line gradually expanded to include jalapeño pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto and vegan-friendly mint pesto. Eventually local restaurants such as Cafe Jonah and Murphy's came calling, and these days you can find Hope's Gardens' products in eight WHole Foods Markets across the city.
"It's a true family business, making the best of what they love to do and are good at," says Jennifer Maley of online retailer Local Market South, a longtime vendor of the line. "It's really fresh, and it comes in these beautiful, old jars. As far as the pesto goes, I think it's mother's little helper in the kitchen. You can do anything with pesto: You can put it in eggs, pasta, pizza, meats and grill with it. It's the freshest pesto, you can buy, short of actually making it yourself."
Sandy Springs Farmers Market
Farmers Market season is about to begin and the Atlanta community is taking notice. Reporter Newspapers ran a story focusing on the Sandy Spring farmers market and had quite a few nice things to say about Hope's Gardens pesto.
The result [of local farmers markets] is budding entrepreneurs like Buckhead residents Dave and Leslie Lennox who have gained a local following for their pesto, which is available in three flavors — fresh basil, jalapeno and sun-dried tomato.
Focusing on the local food movement and how we've been able to cultivate a following
based on people re-thinking the way they eat, Amy Wenk did a great job capturing the excitement of the season.