WELCOME, FOODCORPS! National Farm to School service organization comes to Georgia 4
GOT MILKWEED? An important pollinator habitat needs your help to thrive 6
2015 CONFERENCE We're headed back to the Classic City 18
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We connect organic food from
Georgia farms to Georgia families
Georgia Organics Board Member Carroll Johnson, USDA-ARS research Agronomist,speaks at an organic peanut field day at Healthy Hollow Farms in July.
Sharing Seeds of Knowledge The more farmers know, the more they can grow.
Most any farmer will tell you that growing
food for a living is incredibly rewarding, difficult work. One of our main goals as an organization is to support our state’s organic farmers, which means providing them with the help and resources they need to prosper. Much of this work is grant-funded, and in 2012 we were awarded the Beginning Farmer and Rancher grant. At $760,451, it was the largest grant in Georgia Organics’ history, and because of it we’ve been able to reach almost 40,000 people CONTINUED ON PAGE 8
What Would Willie Nelson Do? 200-A Ottley Dr. Atlanta, GA 30324 678.702.0400 www.georgiaorganics.org
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mandy Mahoney, CHAIR Linda DiSantis, VICE CHAIR Ellen Macht, TREASURER Kurt Ebersbach, SECRETARY Robert Currey Naomi Davis Dee Dee Digby Jessica Reece Fagan Cheryl Galway Julia Gaskin Roderick Gilbert Diane Harris Jenni Harris Connie Hayes Mark Hennessy Carroll Johnson Melissa Libby Cashawn Myers Rashid Nuri Joe Reynolds Brennan Washington
DONN COOPER Farmer Services Coordinator
ERIN CROOM Farm to School Director
SUZANNE GIRDNER Conference Coordinator/Atlanta Local Food Initiative DIrector
TERI HAMLIN Northeast Georgia Farm to School Coordinator
BROOKE HATFIELD Communications Coordinator
KATE KLEIN Development Coordinator
ANDREW LADD Director of Operations
SANDY LAYTON Development Director
DANIELLE MOORE My Market Coordinator
ALICE ROLLS Executive Director
EMILY ROSE Farm to School Coordinator
MICHAEL WALL Director of Programs
ANIKA WHITE Administrative Assistant
THE DIRT Fall 2014• Published Quarterly Georgia Organics, Inc. 200-A Ottley Dr., Atlanta GA 30324, Volume 16 Issue #3 Copyright © 2014, Georgia Organics, Inc. All rights reserved.
FOLLOW US! @georgiaorganics www.facebook.com/ GeorgiaOrganics
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Sing a Song and Carry On What Would Willie Nelson Do? That’s what I thought when I read the Aug. 9 New York Times guest editorial, “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers,” which is an obvious rip on the Nelson and Waylon Jennings hit “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” For you young whippersnappers out there, the song is about how being a cowboy isn’t easy. Cowboys are loners who won’t ever be rich, so, mammas, “make ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such.” According to the editorial, that same advice should hold true for children with sustainable farm dreams. “The dirty secret of the food movement is that the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn’t making a living,” argued the op-ed, penned by Long Island Sound shellfish and seaweed farmer Bren Smith. “…[w]hile weekend farmers’ markets remain precious community spaces, sales volumes are often too low to translate into living wages for your much-loved small-scale farmer.” Unfortunately, Smith dismisses so-called “highpriced” CSA programs, farmers markets, restaurants that serve local and organic foods, non-profit farms with educational components, and the food movement as a whole. Oh yeah, and non-profits in the food movement that don’t represent the folks who are actually growing food. Ouch, Bren Smith! Fortunately, the piece turns into a call for action as it recalls at time when farmers “went toe to toe with Big Ag: crashing shareholder meetings; building co-ops … the 1979 Tractorcade, where 900 tractors – some driven thousands of miles – descended on Washington to shut down the nation’s capitol.” Reactions to the piece were varied, and honestly, not very satisfying. A Huffington Post farmer and blogger countered that farming has never been easy, never will be easy, and that parents should let their child grow up to be farmers so “… they can know what it is like to be free from fluorescent lights and laser pointer meetings. Let them challenge themselves to be forever resourceful and endlessly clever.” Romantic, but something’s missing. Joel Salatin wrote a rebuttal published in the New York Times that directly asserted, “I’m happy to report that many young farmers are making a good financial go on their enterprises by following protocols completely the opposite of Mr. Smith’s assumptions and solutions.” That’s some straight-shooting right there, and Salatin is right that there are many young farmers
whose operations are turning a profit. But again, something’s missing. So, what would Willie Nelson do? I don’t know, of course, but I’d like to think he’d do several things. He’d say, “Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.” (Actual Willie quote.) Then, Willie Nelson might say, “Hey man, don’t take one of my most famous songs and use it to diss small-scale farmers because I founded Farm Aid, which has arguably helped more small-scale farmers than any other organization out there.” He still organizes huge Farm Aid concerts with awesome musicians like John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Jack White, and the proceeds help even more small-scale family farmers. (Georgia Organics is currently using Farm Aid grant funds to unite a growing community of Latino growers and assist veterans who are pursuing careers in farming.) And, Willie Nelson just might agree with parts of Smith’s editorial. After all, Smith is getting real about the business of farming and debunking the romantic notions many may have about a farmer’s life. That’s fair, and an issue that Georgia Organics is trying to address. We have five grants pending that, knock on wood, would fund business training seminars for farmers, and educational workshops and scholarships for socially disenfranchised producers and specialty crop producers. We all know it’s not easy, but we’re going to do as much as we can to help farmers become economically sustainable. I’d like to think that Willie Nelson, Bren Smith, Joel Salatin, and us folks here at Georgia Organics all agree that farmers should be thriving, not just surviving. We all want farmers to keep on farming without burning out. We’ve been telling young people to go out and farm for a while. But educating them about how to grow sustainably without teaching them how to grow their businesses isn’t setting them up for sustained success. We need resources for small business training, accounting, risk management, life planning, land acquisition, and accessing low-interest capital so that young and beginning farmers, as well as more established growers, can enrich their soil and their communities.
Michael Wall DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS
Save Your Seeds & Share
Saturday, August 23 10:00am-12:00pm Free event!
Accepting applications for the 2015 Wylde Center Gardener Certification Program See our website for details
Fall classes include: Pest and Disease Management August 26, 6:30-8:30pm Hands-on Tool Time for Home & Garden Projects September 14, 9:30am-12pm Chickens are Easy! Intro to Keeping Chickens September 20, 10am-12pm Send in the Sheep: Prescribed Grazing for Vegetation Management September 27, 10:30am-12:30pm
Fall Plant Sale!
Coming to the Oakhurst Garden in September
Intro to Bees & Pollinators: A prerequisite to Beekeeping 101 October 4, 10am-12:15pm
More classes and info at wyldecenter.org
Farm to School
Meet the Georgia FoodCorps team!
FoodCorps Expands to Georgia One of the most successful tactics to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables is to have them plant, grow, and harvest food with their own hands in a garden, which is one of the core components of a farm to school program. Now, farm to school in Georgia is set to get a big boost. National service organization FoodCorps, which connects children in underserved communities to real food in order to help them grow up healthy, expands to Georgia next month, where they’ll partner with Georgia Organics. Over the next year, more then 15,000 students will have opportunities to grow and eat fresh, delicious food and learn more about farms and farming. Georgia Organics will serve as the state’s Host
Site, and three partner organizations serve as FoodCorps Service Sites: Captain Planet Foundation, Athens Land Trust, and the Northeast Georgia Farm to School Program (Georgia Organics’ pilot program). FoodCorps places emerging leaders into limitedresource schools for a year of AmeriCorps service during which they implement their three-ingredient recipe for healthy kids: facilitating local food purchasing, gardening and cooking with kids, and teaching about food and nutrition. Nearly 200 new service members will be placed in host agencies and schools across 16 states and the District of Columbia this year, including eight in Georgia!
Meet the three FoodCorps Service Sites:
Captain Planet Foundation
Athens Land Trust
Four service members will serve in Atlanta with Captain Planet Foundation, which “supports high-quality, hands-on environmental stewardship projects that have enabled more than 1.1 million youth across the U.S. and around the world to make significant environmental improvements to their schools or communities.”
The Athens Land Trust will host two service members who will lead taste tests, build gardens, and demonstrate cooking lessons. These service members will spend a good deal of their time with the Classic City School’s Young Urban Farmers program and with after-school program students.
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The Northeast Georgia Farm to School Program This Georgia Organics pilot program, funded by the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, is based in Habersham and Rabun counties. Service members will be building school gardens, teaching nutrition education, leading teen Farm to School Ambassadors, and assisting the district in making connections with local farmers.
Celebrate Farm to School Month this October with Grow Radish Grow, a state-wide effort to get kids across Georgia to get to know radishes by growing and eating them during October Farm to School Month. School nutrition staff at Sharon Elementary School in Forsyth County.
Feed My School Georgia Grown By Emily Rose
“Feed My School for a Week” is a program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture in which, for one week, 75-100 percent of the food served in a school’s cafeteria is Georgia Grown. Eight schools across the state participated this year, and the program will expand to five additional schools next year. The program increases awareness about the importance LIKE THIS of proper nutrition and healthy ARTICLE? eating, while assisting schools Its author, in sourcing local products. Farm to School “We take ownership of athletics. Coordinator We take ownership of academEmily Rose, ics. We take ownership of the was recently arts. We should take ownership nominated for a of nutrition, too,” Agriculture Georgia School Nutrition Media Award!
WHY GROW RADISHES? • Radishes grow really fast! Most varieties will sprout in just a couple of days, and are ready to harvest and eat in less than a month! • Because they sprout quickly, radishes are great for simple science experiments, like exploring germination rates and favorable conditions for growing. • Radishes are the perfect back-to-school plant to grow in Georgia; they need cooler temperatures, so are great to grow once students get settled into their routines in September or October. www.georgiaorganics.org/ for-schools/grow-radish-grow
Commissioner Gary Black
told students and parents in April during a celebration at Sharon Elementary School in Forsyth County on the last day of that school’s “Week.” “That’s why it’s called Feed MY School.” “As a director, it makes you aware of what local products you’re already buying,” says Misty Friedman, the coordinator of the Feed My School program, and former nutrition director of Madison County School District, who participated in the program for the first time this year. “You focus on produce a lot, but when you start looking at protein, there’s really a lot of Georgia Grown that you can use, too.” Last fall, while Friedman was still the nutrition director in Madison County, 100 percent of the food served for breakfast and lunch for a week at Colbert Elementary School was from just 14 Georgia counties. Additionally, all the produce served in the district’s other six schools was the same Georgia Grown goodness that Colbert was enjoying. “I learned a lot from it,” she says.
2014 Conference Videos Online!
Did you miss our conference earlier this year, but really want to know more about crop planning? Do you dig soil biology? Want to #farmhack your way to greatness using open source technology? Thanks to the wonders of Vimeo (and our friends at 2600 Productions) you can still learn from some of the best—videos from many of the sessions are now online. CHECK OUT THESE VIDEOS AND MORE AT
vimeo.com/georgiaorganics GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG 5
In The Field Julia Asherman
Left: Lou Clymore and Georgia Organics Farmer Services Coordinator Donn Cooper check out some asclepias tuberosa, aka milkweed.
Hey Rag & Frass Farm—How'd You Name That Farm? As told by Julia Asherman
Got Milkweed? (Seriously!) Troubling trends show a declining pollinator health nation-wide. Monarch populations have been on the decline and overwintering populations in Mexico reached a record low in the winter of 2013. On Aug. 27, The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Xerces Society and Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services to list monarch butterflies as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. One of the consistent root causes of the decrease in pollinator populations is loss of native habitat. Monarch butterflies, for example, will only lay eggs on milkweed plants and monarch larvae will only feed on milkweed. But use of broad-spectrum herbicides in lawn maintenance, along roadsides for vegetation control, and on conventional farms has drastically reduced milkweed in key Monarch migration paths. (Georgia is a major Monarch migration stop over.) This pattern is true for many native plant habitats. Loss of native plants and pollinators has a negative impact on agricultural industries nation-wide. Georgia is unique in that it is especially reliant on pollinator populations because of its large fruit and vegetable industry. A UGA study released in July highlights the biotic pollinator values for several major crops in Georgia; the pollinator value in watermelon
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alone is estimated to be $132,051,668. “Pollination could be considered a background natural asset, like water or soil quality,” said Keith Delaplane, a UGA entomology professor, at the Ag Issues Summit in July. Georgia Organics believes the best way to protect our pollinators and farms is through consumer and farmer education and establishment of more native plant habitats that support all types of pollinators. Of course we’d love to see more organic pest management methods adopted instead of the synthetic pesticides and herbicides that have been linked to pollinator declines. We’ve also been working hard to kick off our pollinator initiative by taking seed donations and working on educational outreach. But we’re not the only folks in Georgia who see the value in pollinator health. The Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta is working with the National Monarch Watch program to build the supply of milkweed seed native to Georgia; other stakeholder industries across Georgia have shown concern over declining pollinator health and are ready to take action. You can get involved, too, by planting native plants in your communities or collecting seed from milkweed and other native pollinator plants and sending it our way. Visit monarchsacrossga.org for more information on how to support pollinators in our state. Your pollinators will thank you.
I named the farm Rag & Frass because I was sick of farms having names that sound like gated communities. Farming is romantic—but mostly it’s dirty, sweaty, gritty and overwhelming. I don’t think something has to be romantic or traditionally beautiful to be important, or in the case of agriculture, vital. A rag represents the re-purposing, resourcefulness and mending, also the cleaning and renewal of spaces. Frass, or caterpillar poop, represents the other half of food production: the manure that is crucial to soil health and nutrient cycling, and also the taboo and unmentionable reality that comes from all living things. By naming the farm after these necessary and overlooked resources, which I think are beautiful in themselves, I am embracing and celebrating the whole of the farm operation and familiarizing my customers with what’s really involved in sustainable farming. _________________________
To find out more about Rag & Frass, check them out at www.ragandfrassfarm.com
Want to place an order? go to
www.cafecamp.com or call 888-532-4728 GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG 7
CONTINUED FROM COVER
in the agricultural community at conferences, field days, farm tours, workshops, and regional meetings. Through this grant we were able to invest in farmers—and in communities of farmers—across the state. So here’s a look back at three years of Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant-funded work, as well as the findings and resources we were able to produce as a result, which we hope you will find useful. So what's next? Almost of the work that pays for our outreach to farmers comes from the USDA. We know that’s not ideal, and we know that we need to work harder on helping our member farms become more economically sustainable. Please buy directly from our awesome, hardworking growers as often as you can, whether it's through a farmers market or a CSA. (And support the restaurants and businesses that support them!)
HOW YOU CAN HELP Go to our website and click Donate so we can continue to fertilize our state's organic and sustainable farmers. georgiaorganics.org
BY THE NUMBERS
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant
PRODUCERS WHO RECEIVED TRAINING THROUGH THE FARMER TO FARMER MENTORING PROGRAM.
18,045 FIELD TRIP! VIDEO VIEWS. (TO SEE MORE ABOUT THE SERIES, SEE PAGE 16)
14 27 FARM TOURS & FIELD DAYS
CONFERENCES, SUMMITS, EXPOS & SYMPOSIUMS
Switching from chemicals to farming organically was a real challenge for us, but [Farmer Services Coordinator] Donn [Cooper] was able to get us in the farmer training program that first year. He was always just an e-mail away for us, putting us in touch with whoever could help. That first year when we lost nearly everything, the farming training program kept us from giving up and going back to spraying with chemicals and pesticides. Donn and the Farmer Training Program has truly made a difference in our lives. Karen Weaver Bradley’s Pumpkin Patch
PRODUCERS WHO WERE MENTORS IN THE FARMER TO FARMER MENTORING PROGRAM
FARM FIELD DAYS These great educational opportunities take growers on-farm for lessons about everything from composting techniques to weed management. The immersion of a field day is something you can never get in a classroom environment. Farmer Services Coordinator Donn Cooper wrote this piece about a field day on June 12 at Lola's Organic Farm in Wheeler County.
SCHOLARSHIPS TO OUR CONFERENCE
Generously funded by the USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, award number 2011-49400-30528. 8
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Participants at a field day at Lola's Organic Farm in Wheeler County.
Over 50 farmers and market gardeners from across Georgia came together for a unique field day at Lola’s Organic Farm in Wheeler County. Hosted by Georgia Organics and USDA NRCS, the event featured educational sessions on the NRCS Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, organic weed management, native pollinators, fruit tree grafting, and blackberry and muscadine cultivation. Attendees even had the opportunity to enjoy live music over lunch. One of the few certified organic operations in the area, Lola’s Organic Farm, is named after Lola Hampton, a former sharecropper who bought the land she once worked. The farm now belongs to Ron Gilmore and Jennifer Taylor, Hampton’s granddaughter, whose love for agriculture was inspired by the farm’s namesake. “My grandmother was a great small farmer,” Taylor said. “She only had a second grade education, but she could grow anything.” Today the farm consists of 32.5 acres, 11 of which are certified organic. The property had been abandoned for years until Gilmore and Taylor resurrected it as a commercial enterprise. When Gilmore first moved back to the area to run the farm, he stayed in a motel in Mount Vernon for three months as he worked to make the small cinderblock farmhouse livable and prepare the fields for cultivation. With a plethora of weeds and no tractor, he had the good fortune of generous neighbors. Dan Moore, who lives south of the farm, helped with most of the primary tillage. “When I see a man out here on his hands and knees working a rip, it’s hard not to help him out,” said Moore. Now in its fourth year of production, the farm has produced kale, spinach,
greens, peppers, eggplants, winter squash, heirloom watermelons and cantaloupes, strawberries, blackberries, muscadines, and even prickly pear cacti. In addition to strawberries, one of the farm’s specialties is onions, purchased as seedlings from Walker Organic Farm in Screven County. Establishing an organic farm in the hot and humid South, where weed and insect
We want people to learn that not only is it possible to farm on small areas of land, they can do it organically. Jennifer Taylor Lola's Organic Farm
pressures are unrelenting, can be a challenge. But Gilmore and Taylor have been adept at making use of available resources and programs, which took front stage at the field day. The farm has a new high tunnel thanks to the financial and technical help of USDA NRCS and its Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative. At the field day, Vontice Jackson, the NRCS District Conservationist based in Swainsboro, explained the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the production benefits of high tunnels, which can extend growing seasons and give farmers more control over environmental conditions. Jerry Larson, retired Extension agent from Fort Valley State University, discussed the farm’s producer grant from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture
Research and Education program. These competitive grants fund innovative research projects to solve production and marketing challenges that farmers face. In the case of Lola’s Organic Farm, Larson is working with Gilmore and Taylor to eradicate bermudagrass through biological and mechanical controls. An expert on organic small fruit production, Larson also explained muscadine and blackberry production using plants he helped to establish on the farm. With a crowd gathered around, he demonstrated proper pruning, harvesting and grafting techniques. Karen Smith of Southern Native Plantings at Longwood Plantation in Newington presented on the importance of cultivating native plants for pollinator habitats— including milkweed and coneflowers—and a diversity of insect life on the farm. “One percent of bugs interact with humans in a negative way. The other 99 percent are good,” said Smith, whose husband, Mike, manufactures, sells and delivers compost to Lola’s Organic Farm. Some attendees drove as long as two and half hours for the field day. Habesha Inc., an Atlanta-based nonprofit focusing on sustainable agriculture, brought members of its urban gardening class. According to Taylor, the chance to see other farms up close and to exchange ideas is the value of field days, whether you are seasoned at farming or new to agriculture. “We want people to learn that not only is it possible to farm on small areas of land, they can do it organically,” said Taylor. “We want them to see it, ask questions and go home with actions.” What would Lola say about her farm and the visitors it’s attracting today? “She would be tickled,” Taylor said. GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG 9
CASE STUDIES These case studies were researched and written by Dr. Kent Wolfe and his team at the University of Georgia's Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development to document the successes and challenges that small-scale organic and sustainable farmers experience in Georgia. While such case studies exist for large-scale farms and for small-scale operations in other states, Georgia Organics pursued the development of these case studies to serve as educational opportunities for beginning and existing farmers in our community. The farmers' names were withheld to protect their privacy. Here is one of the case studies, identified as Case Study #2.
CASE STUDY #2
A Certified Naturally Grown Produce Farm in North Georgia Note: This case study has been edited for length. The farm is a Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) farm in the Piedmont region of Georgia. The farmer grows vegetables for direct sales at farmers markets, restaurants, and a community supported agriculture program (CSA). In the past the land was used to grow cotton, so the farmer has revived the soil to a healthy condition over the years. The farmer sells to a city in Georgia with a population around 120,000. WHY CERTIFIED NATURALLY GROWN? CNG is based on ideals of organic farming, and based on a peer-review inspection process. Just as with Certified Organic, CNG producers don't use any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or GMO seeds. Certified Naturally Grown is an independent program not affiliated with the USDA’s National Organic Program. “This is my second career, I guess you could say,” says the farmer. After retiring from a career in research and development, the farmer moved back to Georgia, where he had grown up, and started a farm using organic production techniques. His son was very interested in farming organically as well. “We dove right in and started learning how to farm.” One of the goals was to work with his son to grow a family business. The farm is operated with help from the farmer, as well as his wife and son. “We decided to grow organically because we are convinced it is a more sustainable way to go. We agree with the lifestyle and think it is a healthier option,” says the farmer. “We can’t change the way everyone eats but we can be an alternative for people that want it.” CROPS PRODUCED When the farmer bought the land there was just a farm house. First they built a barn and
an equipment shed and began farming. As the farm continued to grow, they continued building their infrastructure. They built a cold room for storage that has turned into a root cellar. They then added a commercial cold room to the barn. Next, they built a kitchen for bringing crops in to wash and process them. In the coming years, they plan on adding a certified kitchen so that they will be able to process their crops into value-added products. The first garden was during the fall season on a one-fourth acre of land. The next summer the garden grew to one-half an acre. They then added their first hoop house. They have grown every year since then. This season they will grow on about five acres and in five hoop houses. “We literally plant hundreds of different types of vegetables and different varieties of vegetables,” says the farmer. The farm has five hoop houses that allow them to grow in the winter. These vegetables include: lettuces, kale, spinach, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, bok choy, sugar snap peas, onions, strawberries, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, okra, watermelons, cantaloupes, and the list goes on. The farmer can also open the hoop houses up for production in the summer. He has had a very successful pepper crop in the past. The farm gets transplants and seeds from a local business. The farmer has not worked with any animals. “It is not economical or time well spent unless you focus completely on that.” The farmer keeps a mantra of “feed the soil.” Pests and weeds have been a challenge the farmer has to overcome. The land was originally used to grow cotton, but has built up a living soil over the years. The farmer uses cover crops to add organic elements to the soil and promote microbial growth. He also uses contour plowing to reduce erosion. They use no synthetic chemicals on the farm. If things are extreme, they will use an organic certified
It isn’t easy, but if you are willing, it is very, very rewarding. 10
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insecticide very sparingly. They also plant beneficial crops to attract good bugs to the area. The farmer plants buckwheat, which acts like an herbicide. Buckwheat also attracts bees and wasps that attack the larvae of pests. The farmer has released a ladybug population to abate pests such as aphids. The farmer uses a soil test to determine what macronutrients need to be added. They have not had any problem with phosphate, but have added green sand to add potassium in the past. The farmer also plants legumes to increase nitrogen. The diversity of their crops is very beneficial to the soil. The farmer also keeps his own compost that is added to the soils. Other fertilizers he has used include: horse manure, llama manure, composted plant matter, and chicken feather meal. The farm uses a drip tape to irrigate their crops. With this application, the farmers can make sure that the water is very focused on each plant. The farm has two wells and a 5,000 gallon tank that can water about onethird of the farm. Most fields are hand seeded and weeded. The farmer has some machinery to till between rows that can keep weeds under control. “You reach a certain size and you can’t manage it by hand.” The farmer has a bush hog that he can use in the pasture, but it can’t get into the garden. That area is weeded by hand. The farmer says that they are extremely diligent to ensure that the product they sell at the market is top quality. Adding a certified kitchen will allow the farm to use product not sold at the market as well as those crops that are imperfect in value-added products. They are interested in canning, pickling, making jam, jellies, salsas, and freezing.
formed many relationships with families at the market. “I’ve watched families grow in number and watched those kids grow up. It’s great knowing that you are a part of the community.” “The restaurant market is not as interesting from a business point of view, but it is an outlet that has been a nice supplement. Chefs
MARKETS The farm sells at a local farmers market. They also sell to local restaurants and have their own CSA. The farm has expanded every year in the restaurant and wholesale markets. The farm started selling their produce at a small market and at a restaurant in a near-by city. Along with other farmers selling at the restaurant, they decided that they needed to expand into a farmers market. With a group of community activists, they started a farmers market to promote local agriculture and culinary efforts. The farm has a Facebook page and a website. They both inform the customer about what the farm does, where they are, what the seasonal crops are, and directs consumers to the CSA. The farmer says that the best marketing the farm does is at the farmers market. Having a great product and interacting with people helps spread the word about the farm. The farmer has
FARM MANAGEMENT The farmer did not come into this experience with a specific plan, but he did have specific goals in mind. He knew we wanted a diverse variety of plants and to maintain a balance between supply and demand. He did not come from an agriculture background. “It’s been a hands-on learning experience.” The farmer says that other farmers were very helpful as well. Two years ago, the farm had grown to the point that they needed more employees, in addition to the farmer, his wife, and his son. They added a full-time worker and a part-time worker to their farm. The farm is not currently an LLC, but the farmer will probably make this transition at some point in the future. The farm is under an umbrella liability policy. The farmer is more worried about employees getting harmed by
are looking for unique things that they can’t get from their distributor.” The farmer says that heirloom tomatoes are very popular with restaurants. “Restaurants are happy to get what we have. They are very busy people. They don’t buy huge volumes. It’s a give and take." The farm maintains a CSA program through locallygrown.net. Members sign up and pay up front. The farm has also opened up the CSA site to restaurants. It has been very successful.
equipment than their product harming the customer. They have a system to rinse and clean the product, store in a correct temperature, and sell the product the next day. Being a Certified Naturally Grown farm, farmers keep each other in check. They inspect each other and make sure that everything falls in line with certain standards. When it comes to additional training or education, the farmer says that Georgia Organics has been a great source of information. “Farming is a lot of hand-on learning, especially in sustainable farming. Conventional farmers have Extension to help, but that is not also available for farmers who use organic methods.” He also says that USDA has helped some. The farm has received grants from the USDA to build wells and hoop houses. FARM ECONOMICS The majority of the farm's expenses come from payroll (44%) with equipment (16%), transportation (15%), seeds and plants (6%), and fuel (5%) coming next. "Other" makes up the last 20% of the farms budget. This includes: chemical inputs, natural fertilizers, fuel, maintence, taxes, utilities, fees, and other miscellaneous expenses. Farm income comes from farmers markets (71%), community supported agriculture (15%), and wholesale markets (14%). CHALLENGES AND LESSONS LEARNED The farmer has encountered a number of challenges. “The biggest challenge in starting the farm was just learning how to farm. It’s a lifetime process, I think. We will have to adjust, modify, and deal with both nature and the market. Some attitude and perceptions of organic have been challenging too. There are a lot of naysayers out there.” The challenge of starting a farm without a background in agriculture has not come without a great reward. “I am very proud of what we do here, but also out in the community. My favorite part of working on the farm is eating what I have grown. I love the satisfaction of planting the seeds, stepping back, and hoping I did this right. Then seeing it come to terms. I love the community that farming has brought along with it.” The farmer is very supportive of new farmers. “Dig-in and start small and carefully. Don’t expect to become a big successful business all of a sudden. Do it carefully and thoughtfully. I would encourage them to get started, but they have to realize that it is a commitment. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t easy, but if you are willing, it is very, very rewarding. “ GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG 11
ORGANIC PEANUTS IN GEORGIA Earlier this year, Farmer Services Assistant Perri Campis wrote a series of blog posts about the possibilities and challenges of organic peanut production in the state, using a field day at Healthy Hollow Farms in Stilson as an entry point. She also wrote about a collaboration between USDA-ARS and Auburn University's College of Engineering, which resulted in a modified peanut digger prototype that could be a game-changer for mechanical weed control, which is always a challenge for organic farmers. Campis' work was featured in Growing Georgia, a popular daily agribusiness newsletter. Her post about the USDA/ Auburn collaboration was featured in several editions across the Southeast. 12
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AN OPPORTUNITY Georgia is the number one peanutproducing state in the country. In 2012, Georgia produced nearly 50 percent of the 6.7 billion pound peanut production total for the United States. But less than one percent of organic peanuts are produced in the state, the majority of organic peanut production is in the Southwest. With Georgia as the leading peanut production state and the demand for organic peanuts rising, it only makes sense that the amount of organic peanut production in Georgia will increase as well. “In 2012, we produced a yield that matched the state average,” said Connie Hayes of Healthy Hollow Farms. “There is more demand [for organic peanuts] than we can even produce.” “The biggest challenge is getting a stand without seed treatment,” Hayes said. “Seeds sprout because microbes break them down, but with a root crop like peanuts, those same microbes can create conditions to allow pathogens to enter, thus causing the seed not to sprout.” Although there is a lack of certified organic peanut seed treatments, there is development of peanut varieties that can be used, untreated, in organic production. Dr. Albert Culbreath, a professor at the University of Georgia in the department of plant pathology, is researching partial plant resistance used along with different cultural practices to reduce occurrence of foliar fungal diseases and tomato spotted wilt virus. Another concern for organic peanut producers is weed control. Conventional growers rely on herbicides to manage weeds, but organic producers don’t use chemical weed controls. Dr.
Carroll Johnson, a Georgia Organics board member who studies weed control primarily in organic systems with USDA Agricultural Research Service, is researching methods of mechanical cultivation, says weed management in organic peanut production is possible. Johnson’s research of mechanical and cultural practices in organic peanut systems indicates that there are realistic and cost-effective methods for weed control. A FIELD DAY On July 15, Georgia Organics and Coastal Organic Growers hosted an organic peanut field day at Healthy Hollow Farms near Stilson in southeast Georgia. This was a unique opportunity for growers interested in organic farming not only to visit the only certified organic peanut farm in Georgia, but also to learn production practices on a large-scale organic operation. The sandy soils of the Coastal Plain have proven to be fertile ground for growing peanuts organically, and most of Georgia’s certified organic production occurs in its southeastern section. One of the challenges organic peanut production faces is a variety suitable for organic production. Selecting varieties that have full or partial resistance to disease common among peanuts is the best way for organic peanut farmers to prevent disease. The main diseases that plague peanut farmers are tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and early and late leaf spot. “[Tomato spotted wilt] is a disease that came close to putting us out of peanut production in Georgia in the 90s,” Culbreath said. But more recent peanut varieties, including the popular Georgia-
From left: Organic peanuts grown at Healthy Hollow Farms near Stilson. Dr. Albert Culbreath, a professor at the University of Georgia in the department of plant pathology. Connie Hayes, Georgia Organics board member and farmer alongside her husband Jimmy at Healthy Hollow Farms. Georgia Organics Farmer Services Coordinator Donn Cooper speaks at the outset of an organic peanut field day at Healthy Hollow Farms. "Nuts About Organics" t-shirts, coming to a 2015 Georgia Organics Conference merchandise stand near you!
06G, have tomato spotted wilt resistance and “tremendous yield potential.” Culbreath has also been working with an experimental breed that he says is “promising” for organic and small-scale production. The variety, CRSP-192T, was developed by Dr. Roy Pittman and Dr. Jim Todd and was planted this season at Healthy Hollow Farm. It has partial resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus and early and late leaf spot. Culbreath’s research has shown that not only is variety an important decision when developing a disease management plan, but other cultural practices are also key, as organic growers cannot use chemicals that are not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Crop rotation is one of these cultural practices, along with copper fungicides, which are approved for organic use. Johnson’s research is also extremely valuable, as weeds are a major problem in both conventional and organic systems, particularly palmer amaranth. “[Palmer amaranth] is the most troublesome weed in almost every crop grown in the South,” said Johnson. “In 10 years it’s gone from basically obscure to (…) dominating how we grow crops or what crops we grow.” With large tap roots and half a million seeds, this plant is not only physically hard to remove from the field, but also can make deposits into the soil weed seed bank. Because palmer amaranth produces an abundance of seeds and cross-pollinates, it developed mutations with resistance to glyphosate and rapidly reproduced those mutations across the country. “This is a man-made problem, it’s pure and simple,” said Johnson, “And now that we’ve got the
horse out of the barn, we’ve got to find a way to corral it. There’s a lot of research talent trying to solve this problem, but unfortunately it’s after the fact.” Knowing how to control this prolific weed without chemicals is not only useful knowledge for organic growers, but conventional growers as well. Reliance on glyphosate to control palmer amaranth in conventional systems has enabled the plant to develop tolerance to the common herbicide. “Most [palmer amaranth weeds] are resistant to glyphosate,” said Johnson. “The attribute for herbicide resistance is in the pollen and that’s why it is spread so rapidly throughout the whole eastern U.S. and the Mid-South and other similar species up in the Great Plains.” Research has shown that mechanical cultivation is an effective weed control method for palmer amaranth. Using a tine weeder three to four days after planting and repeatedly on a weekly or bi-weekly basis after the initial pass-through removes weed seedlings from the field before they have a chance to outcompete the crop. The key is to begin early and remove weeds before they have a chance to establish. Johnson’s rule of thumb is if you see the weeds in the field, it’s too late. However, in Johnson’s opinion, the most troublesome weed for peanut production isn’t palmer amaranth at all, but annual grasses, because of the large root masses they form. “The peanut pods themselves are going to be forming in the root mass and you try to dig peanut that has a lot of crabgrass in it, or any annual grass, as you try to dig them and lift them out of the ground the pods are going to get wrapped up in these roots and they’re going to shed,” explained
Johnson. “You’ll have a lot of harvest losses. So you’ve already had yield reduction from competition then what you’ve produced you’re losing a good bit because of harvest losses due to these weeds." The tine weeder is also effective in controlling annual grasses. Innovations to help control perennial weeds, such as bermudagrass, are also promising for the future of weed control, especially in organic systems. DEVELOPING SOLUTIONS This year, a cross disciplinary collaboration that encompassed students and professionals alike has resulted in a solution for a practical agricultural problem. Nutsedge is especially problematic, as it is a perennial weed that grows from underground tubers. As long as tubers remain in the soil, nutsedge remains a pest for farmers. The key, Johnson believes, is being able to remove the nutsedge from the field after digging it up with the peanut digger, an implement traditionally used to harvest peanuts by excavating the plants and laying them on top of the soil. In previous research, the peanut digger successfully dug nutsedge plants and tubers, but manual labor was needed to physically remove displaced weeds from the fields. This type of labor is extremely costly and time consuming. Johnson shared these observations with Dr. Thomas Way, an agricultural engineer with USDA-ARS in the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory on Auburn University’s campus. “I asked [Way] if he had any ideas and he said ‘Let me think about it,’” Johnson said. “A couple of months later he got back with me and said ‘I got an idea, how GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG 13
would you feel about that being a senior class project in mechanical engineering?’” In January, nearly 60 senior mechanical engineering students of Auburn University’s College of Engineering gathered to listen to speakers from various industries discuss needs, problems, and projects within their given trade. Johnson and Dan Evarts, a research technician with USDAARS, gave a seminar presentation on research they had been conducting using peanut diggers as a form of weed control, primarily for nutsedge in organic transition systems. Johnson’s presentation to the senior class was met with enthusiasm. Ten students elected to work on the project, a number so large that the group was divided into two teams. Dr. David Beale, a professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Auburn, was the faculty advisor for the project. None of the students working on the project had any background in agriculture, but were quick to understand the practical agricultural need. “I’m not an engineer, but I knew what I wanted,” Johnson said. “And if I sensed [the students] were missing something, I’d mention it to them, but it really wasn’t necessary. They had a good grasp of the Top: Several of the Auburn University mechanical engineering students who worked on this modified big picture. (…) We did not have peanut digger had never actually seen a peanut to reel them in from some sort of plant before. Above: Research agronomist (and a wild tangent. They knew exactly Georgia Organics Board Member) Carroll Johnson with the modified peanut digger. what they were going to do.” Throughout the spring semester, Auburn’s campus under his supervision. the two teams developed different proposals for modifications to a peanut digger The peanut digger was a rusty, forgotten that would allow nutsedge to be collected and piece of machinery found grown-over in removed from the field. However, ultimately the woods, and the transformation was undoubtedly impressive. only one proposal was constructed. A cart attached to the rear of the origi“At the end of the spring semester,” Johnson explained, “[Each team] made nal peanut digger collects weeds from the a presentation and a prospectus with a spokes as it passes through the field. When detailed budget, CAD drawings, list of the cart is full, it can be taken from the field materials, and all sorts of calculations on where the cart hydraulically opens at the the stresses placed on various points of the back, tilts, and a conveyer rolls the plant prototype. These are the services a profes- material out of the cart. The implement is sional engineer would provide. We chose meant to be used in fallow land, with the the best concept and then the two teams goal of decreasing weed pressure before planting crops. Johnson plans to use this were merged into one.” The combined team then began construc- modified peanut digger in future research tion on the modifications to the peanut on weed control in transitional organic land digger. The work was done in Way’s lab on to determine how effective it is in removing
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nutsedge tubers from the field. “If [land] is in organic transition and nutsedge is problematic, then this is the thing [farmers] could use before they start transition to get it cleaned up,” Johnson said “Then by the time they get to be certified organic, the nutsedge is beat into submission.” Although transitional organic land will be the bulk of Johnson’s research, the peanut digger can also be used in fields between seasonal plantings as a method of weed control. This will be especially beneficial to organic operations, as there is currently no effective way to deal with nutsedge. On July 28, the modified peanut digger was moved from its home at Auburn University to University of Georgia's Ponder Farm in Tifton, where Johnson conducts his research. During the field test, Johnson observed that the cart needed to be moved closer to the digger to catch more of the plant material. The students quickly and efficiently determined the best way to do this, which required swapping the location of the peanut digger wheels and the cart hitch, then the conveyer chain on the digger. “I think on a project like this there’s got to be a reasonable level expectation for a prototype,” Johnson explained to the students during the field test. “For me the concept is proven. These are actually, I think, pretty little things. (…) That’s something y’all might have to take into account professionally is reasonable level of expectation for the prototype. One of the things that impressed me was we saw the problem on this end and y’all saw what the solution probably would be, and we just stood back and y’all did it. That’s what a team is supposed to do." The success of the prototype is promising for Johnson’s research purposes and for farmers, both conventional and organic, dealing with nutsedge since it physically removes nutsedge from the field. It is also good news for the students who worked on it, as they will soon be graduates of the College of Engineering. “This is an experience they’re going to carry forward as professional engineers,” Johnson said. “They had a client, the client had a need, they made a proposal, a very detailed proposal, they designed it, and they built it. And that’s the way it is in the real world.” __________________________ Want to see video of the modified peanut digger at work? Check out www.vimeo.com/georgiaorganics
WRITTEN BY FARMERS, FOR FARMERS These producer-written articles, funded through the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant, are intended to help existing and beginning farmers learn from experienced producers on a variety of topics. (A partial list is below.) They're some of the most popular content on our website, and are another way we spotlight the wealth of knowledge in the brains of growers across the state. __________________________ To read more producer-written articles, go to www. georgiaorganics. org/for-farmers/educational-articles/
CROP PRODUCTION • Producing Wheat and Whole Wheat Flour for the Local Market • What to Produce on the Farm? • Growing Organic Potatoes • Growing Summer Lettuces
LIVESTOCK • Sustainable Sheep Production • How a Young Farmer Started Raising Pigs • Line Breeding for Better Livestock
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS • Learning About Lease Agreements
Learning About Lease Agreements By Bobby Losh-Jones Babe + Sage Farm
After our first season as apprentices on a vegetable farm in West Virginia, [Bobby's wife] Chelsea and I moved back home to live with our respective families and plan our next step. We had caught the farming bug. We knew we wanted to farm as a career. But we faced a common hurdle: How do young farmers, who have little or no capital and no access to land, start their own farms? During our apprenticeship we learned to transplant a million trays an hour, to harvest quickly, to wash and pack produce efficiently, to sell at farmers markets, to manage soil fertility and weeds and to handle those long mid-summer 16-hour days of hard physical labor. But we didn’t learn how to start a business or secure land tenure. Chelsea and I knew that we could either work off-farm for 10 years and save money to buy a farm property or try to make do on leased land. For many different reasons, we chose not to defer our farm dreams. We learned from other farmers (both successes and failures) that leased farmland did not have to mean a lack of long-term security. GET IT IN WRITING The most important piece of a solid farming lease agreement is often overlooked: write it down. Consider all possible scenarios. Don’t want to be bombarded by visits from your landlord while you’re trying to weed carrots? Put it in the lease. Does the landowner’s brother want to have access to his power tools that are stored in the barn? Put it in the lease. Are you going to be using tools
or equipment owned by the landowner? Are you going to want to build outbuildings or other permanent structures on the property? How are damages to the property from natural disaster paid for? Are you going to want to have public farm tours? Does the landowner need to be included in your liability insurance policy? All of these things should be in a written lease. INFRASTRUCTURE At Babe + Sage we are fortunate to have supportive landowners who see our business’ success inextricably linked to the long-term security of their property. We arrived on the property in October to an overgrown farm with crumbling infrastructure. From day one, our landlord’s selfappointed role has been to create an environment that allows our business to thrive. A successful Babe + Sage Farm means that the rent checks keep coming in, property taxes are paid, and the land stays with their family even though no one in the family can take care of it. Also, if one day we “hit the big time” as they like to joke, the permanent infrastructure investments the Oetters have made will make the property more marketable to future tenants. CLEAR COMMUNICATION The keys to a successful leased land agreement are simple: be honest and write it all down. Most failed land agreements are missing one or both of these elements. Open and honest communication between tenant and landlord from the beginning will prove invaluable. It is important to openly and honestly discuss expectations, perceptions, roles, responsibilities, money and liability. Once your roles are defined, find the best way to write everything down in legallybinding language. GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG 15
THREE YEARS, 45 FIELD TRIPS These farmer-led videos in our Field Trip! series spotlight the expertise of growers across the state who are experts in their field(s). These beautiful videos were shot by AnthonyMasterson Productions, and were made possible with grant funds from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Let's take a look at the growers who have shared their awesome brains with the class.
Gourmet Mushroom Cultivation Onions, Seed to Transplant
Sweet Potato Harvest
ADAM PARKER, ATLANTA GOURMET MUSHROOM
NICOLAS DONCK, CRYSTAL ORGANIC FARM
Portable Watering Systems
The Lambing Kit
Intro to Biodynamic Farming
Fall Direct Seeding in the Hoop House
No Turn Row Composting
Summer Hoop House Production
Shiitake Mushroom Production
Hand Tool Maintenance
Pruning Young Fruit Trees
Growing Organic Peanuts
Native Planting Mounds
Managing Dairy Goats on Pasture
BOB WOODALL, FORT CREEK FARM
REBECCA WILLIAMS, MANY FOLD FARM
JOE REYNOLDS, LOVE IS LOVE FARM AT GAIA GARDENS
MITCH LAWSON, RISE 'N SHINE FARM
______________________ To see these videos, check out our Vimeo page at vimeo.com/georgiaorganics
RYAN GRAYCHECK, GREYFIELD GARDEN
Winter High Tunnels
NICOLAS DONCK, CRYSTAL ORGANIC FARM
Packing Shed Design
TRIPP ELDRIDGE, WHITE OAK PASTURES
CORY MOSSER, BURGE ORGANIC FARM
CHRIS JACKSON, JENNY JACK SUN FARM
EUGENE COOKE, TRULY LIVING WELL CENTER FOR NATURAL URBAN AGRICULTURE
SCOTT ARRINGTON, 3RD ANGEL FARM
DARBY SMITH, SUN DOG FARM
CELIA BARSS, WOODLAND GARDENS
JOE REYNOLDS, LOVE IS LOVE FARM AT GAIA GARDENS
Growing in Sandy Soil
SHIRLEY DAUGHTRY, HERITAGE ORGANIC FARMS
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JIMMY HAYES, HEALTHY HOLLOW FARM
EUGENE COOKE, THE GOOD SHEPHERD AGRO ECOLOGY CENTER
MARY RIGDON, DECIMAL PLACE FARM
Humane Treatment of Cattle
CARTER SWANCY, RIVERVIEW FARMS
Fruit Tree Planting ROBBY ASTROVE
Seed Starting in the Greenhouse
Rotational Intensive Grazing BOB WOODALL, FORT CREEK FARM
PAIGE WITHERINGTON, SERENBE FARMS
Florida Weave Trellising
Biological Pecan Production
Packing CSA Boxes
On Farm Chicken Processing
Farmers Market Presentation
Rotational Grazing For Hogs
Winter High Tunnel Crops
Direct Seeding of Beans
Finishing and Loading Pigs for Processing
JOSH DAVIS, FROLONA FARM
RELINDA WALKER, WALKER ORGANIC FARMS
Farm Hack- High Tunnel to Chicken Coop
Brooder House Watering Systems
CHAD CARLTON, CARLTON FARMS
JAY AVERETT, MEADOWLARK GARDENS
NICOLAS DONCK, CRYSTAL ORGANIC FARM
Growing Sweet Potato Slips JENNY JACKSON, JENNY JACK SUN FARM
Land-Lease Agreement BOBBY LOSH-JONES, BABE + SAGE FARM
RYAN GRAYCHECK, GREYFIELD GARDEN
R.J. KESSLER, PLANTED ROCK FARM
BOBBY WILSON, METRO ATLANTA URBAN FARM
DOC BILL, GEORGIA COASTAL GOURMET FARMS
Propagating Tomato Successions from Cuttings
BRENDAN PRENDERGAST, KOINONIA FARM
LAUREN COX, LE TRE LUNE FARMS
MATTHEW RAIFORD, GILLIARD FARMS
TRIPP ELDRIDGE, WHITE OAK PASTURES
JOSH DAVIS, FROLONA FARM
BRANDON CHONKO, GRASSROOTS FARMS
Harvesting Flowers for Market Farm Hack: Washing Station PAULA GUILBEAU, HEIRLOOM GARDENS
ASHLEY RODGERS, SERENBE FARMS
JULIA ASHERMAN, RAG AND FRASS FARM
SAVE THE DATES 18th Annual Georgia Organics Conference & Expo Feb. 20-21, 2015 Athens, GA, Classic Center
This year's conference theme is "Changing Course: Better Farms, Better Flavors," and who better to talk about the connection between good food and good farms than Athens' own Hugh Acheson? We'll have the in-depth workshops, educational sessions, farm tours, and networking opportunities you've come to expect, and the Changing Course expo will include over 70 exhibitors, a seed swap, a Friday Night Expo Reception and Raffle, and even more awesome programming that we're still working out. Registration opens on Nov. 24, and for more information check out conference.georgiaorganics.org. Southern food is a celebration of the people within the community, using the agrarian bounty that is constantly around them. It pays homage to the past but is constantly evolving, ebbing with the seasons and flowing with the constant progression of the South.
Feb. 19-20, 2015 Athens, GA, Classic Center
The 5th Annual Georgia Farm to School Summit will gather farm to school stakeholders from across the state in Athens to learn the best and latest in school gardens, nutrition education, and local food procurement. For the first time this year, the Summit will also include great resources for farm to preschool leaders. Join us!
Hugh Acheson is the author of the James Beard Award-Winning cookbook "A New Turn In The South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen" and chef/owner of the Athens, Ga., restaurants Five & Ten, The National, and Cinco y Diez, the Atlanta restaurant Empire State South, and the Savannah restaurant The Florence. His second cookbook is "Pick a Pickle: 50 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks." Food & Wine Magazine named him Best New Chef in 2002 and the James Beard Foundation awarded him Best Chef Southeast in 2012. Hugh competed in Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Season 3 and starred as a judge on Top Chef, Seasons 9, 10, and 11.
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KEYNOTE USDA National Director of Farm to School Deborah Kane Kane was appointed in January 2012 to promote and expand USDA’s Farm to School efforts by implementing the provisions provided in the Healthy, HungerFree Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010. She oversees a new farm to school grant program, and continues to look for creative ways to increase schools’ access to healthy, local foods.
Award-winning chef Asha Gomez has enriched the Atlanta restaurant community with food inspired by what she calls her "two Souths": Kerala, the southern region of India where she was born, and the American South. Her most recent culinary endeavor is Spice to Table, which features globally inspired cuisine, as well as an open spice market. A fried chicken stand called Spice Road Chicken is set to open in Krog Street Market later this year. What inspires you as a chef? The
farmers and their produce. There is a symbiotic relationship between farmers and chefs. I'm inspired by the passion and respect for the craft that the farmers I work with have for the abundance of nature around them. In essence a chef is tasked with and receives stewardship of bringing out the best flavors from the produce, meats, and seafood procured from the artisans we call farmers. Farming and agriculture is truly global and surprisingly local. Earlier this year , I was privileged to work as a CARE ambassador and traveled to the mountains of Peru where I saw first hand the positive impact that responsible farmers can have on local communities. Here I witnessed the tangible results of sustainable agricultural practices making a difference in the lives of an impoverished community. What's the first dish you remember making? That would be biryani, a celebra-
tory, layered-rice dish that came to us by way of the royal Moghul courts of India. It's India's answer to paella. Every family in every region of India has their own way of making it. As a young girl growing up in India I have fond reminsences of watching my mother go through the multi-staged processes of making biryani for any number of celebrations and holidays. The first time I made biryani for my family it was simultaneously exhilarating and nerve racking all at the same time. How has working with farmers affected you as a chef?
I'm inspired to do justice to the remarkable produce cultivated by local farmers. What are the biggest factors in your menu planning?
Seasonality, introduction of spice, tradition, and innovation.
DAILY DIRT georgiaorganics.org/news-center/blog
Feminist Geographer Amy Trauger on Gender in Agriculture When I first heard of feminist geography, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. I had even less idea what it had to do with agriculture. Luckily, Amy Trauger, an associate professor at the University of Georgia and an expert in the field, had some great explanations and experiences to share.—Anna Currey Could you briefly define feminist geography? Femi-
nist geography is a sub-discipline of geography that looks at the way unequal social relationships shape landscapes and places (and vice versa–how landscapes/places perpetuate inequality). It’s a lot more complicated than that, but that is the short answer! Your work covers a diverse range of topics, from sustainable agriculture to gender roles. What drew you to these areas of study? I grew up on a small sub-
nection between them overall? Yes, I do. I think
justice is not just for people. It’s for all living communities and if any are excluded from the benefits that accrue from society we are faced with an unsustainable situation that must be changed. I am interested in gender and also issues of race and class because it is in marginalized communities where I see action toward a more just and sustainable future that directs attention to non-human life as well. The classes you teach about agriculture seem like really valuable knowledge for young people to have. What has your experience been like doing service learning with the Athens Urban Food Collective and teaching classes like Geography of Food Commodities? I have enjoyed teaching
sistence farm in Northern Minnesota. My the Athens Urban Food Collective (AUFC) mother was a single working mom who also so much over the years! We have a garden ran our farm in whatever spare time she had. on our green roof and this year we used We had goats, chickens, sheep, horses, rabpermaculture principles to turn it into bits. You name it, we had it all, except a perennial food garden. The students pigs and cows. I became interested in were so great in developing the plan gender roles in agriculture after being and bringing a lot of insight into perexposed to work in feminist geography READ maculture that none of us had before MORE on the spatial aspects of social excluon the the class began. It was so very satisfying sion. I thought women farmers certainly and I think they will go away from the blog! faced different obstacles in terms of this class feeling like they did something from what I knew of the sustainable and concrete and also learned about growing conventional farming communities by the their own food in sustainable ways. The Getime I went to grad school. I have always ography of Food Commodities focuses on had an interest in environmentalism and issues of power and knowledge in the food sustainability since both my parents are system. We start with getting an understandconcerned with these issues and I grew up ing of how you really can’t know anything close to the land. about where or how your food was produced Since you have such a broad range of research areas, do you see a con-
and then go on to explore issues of exploitation and poverty in global commodities.
________________________ Check outAtlanta, the photo July 18 album at facebook.com/georgiaorganics!
ACTIVISM FAIR AT GIRLS ROCK CAMP ATL
During this week-long camp's first activism fair, Communications Coordinator Brooke Hatfield taught 60 girls from the ages of 10 to 16 how to make seed bombs using zinnia and marigold seeds harvested from the Georgia Organics World Headquarters garden.
Atlanta, July 20 ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATO FESTIVAL
Over 2,300 people supported Georgia Organics and The Giving Kitchen at the sixth annual JCT. Kitchen & Bar Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival at the Goat Farm Arts Center on Sunday, July 20. Sixty-four chefs and 23 mixologists used over 6,400 pounds of tomatoes (that's over three tons!), and the following emerged victorious: FOOD FAN FAVORITE Cherry Tomato Fried Pies with Tomato Ice Cream by Joey Ward, with Gunshow, featuring tomatoes from Serenbe Farms: FOOD JUDGES’ CHOICE Tomato Tartar with Buttermilk Caviar by Tedd Lahey with Osteria Mattone + Table And Main with tomatoes from Lionheart Gardens DRINKS FAN FAVORITE “The Nightshade Lightning Refresher,” – Moonshine, heirloom tomato water, Georgia peaches, and fresh basil, by Stuart White, Vince Landi + Zach Capito, with Miller Union, with tomatoes from Crystal Organics, Love is Love Farm, and Woodland Gardens Organic Farm DRINKS JUDGES’ CHOICE "All In One Basket,” – vodka, sun gold tomatoes, peaches, calabrese peppers, herbs & citrus, by Eduardo Guzman, with JCT Kitchen & Bar + The Optimist, featuring tomatoes from Dillwood Farms
Macon, March 31 OUTREACH AT MULBERRY STREET MARKET
Administrative Assistant/food lover Anika White was in Macon doing outreach at the Mulberry Street Market. During her trip she also met with Community Health Works and took some photos of sorrel-tahini salad dressing and eggplant parmigiana for a blog post about cooking with farmers market ingredients! The salad dressing idea was courtesy of Julia Asherman from Rag & Frass Farm, and the eggplant parmesan recipe came from Amy Bean at The Little Farm.
Tifton, July 31 Gray, August 18 GEORGIA ORGANICS BOARD MEETING
Rusty Bean of the Little Farm was generous enough to give our board a tour of his farm, where he and his family grow award-winning Bermuda hay, vegetables, and chickens. They also raise bees, and sell free-range fish that are grown in spring-fed ponds on-farm. (And his wife Amy and daughter Rachel whipped up a delicious local lunch using ingredients from their farm that rivaled any big-city chef!)
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JOINT AG COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN AGRICULTURAL ISSUES SUMMIT
Farmer Services program staff attended this meeting for information on forthcoming legislation, regulations, and state and private programs that will affect Georgia farmers in 2014-2015. The Department of Agriculture will roll out a new farmer loan program in the next few months, and we'll have the details as soon as they're available.
Clayton, June 28 GEORGIA MOUNTAINS FARMERS NETWORK FARM TOUR
Farm to School Coordinator Emily Rose tabled at Melon Head Farm, which provides canteloupe, watermelon, sweet potatoes, and rhubarb to Georgia Organics' farm to school pilot program. Meanwhile, Farmer Services Coordinator Donn Cooper gave tours of Indian Ridge Farm in Clarkesville. Georgia Organics was also a sponsor for this event.
Athens, July 10 ATHENS TWILIGHT TOUR
Former Farmer Services Assistant Perri Campis joined attendees at this annual tour of the UGArden, University of Georgia’s organic research and demonstration farm. Georgia Organics Board Member and UGA Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator Crop & Soil Sciences Julia Gaskin organized the event, and we were proud to be featured alongside the university's organic agriculture certificate program.
Atlanta, June 10 ATLANTA URBAN AGRICULTURE ORDINANCE PASSES
Atlanta became a national leader in local food systems when Mayor Kasim Reed signed an ordinance that encourages and supports the city's growing urban agriculture movement. Development of the ordinance was led by the Atlanta Local Food Initiative, Georgia Organics, a grassroots group of urban farmers, community gardeners, community development organizations, and citizen advocates working in partnership with Atlanta’s Office of Planning and Office of Sustainability and supported by the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory Law School, which helped draft and negotiate the zoning updates. Members of this coalition and city officials celebrated this new day in urban agriculture at Truly Living Well’s Wheat Street Garden, a four-acre urban farm that embodies the vital, transformative work of urban agriculture.
Jonesboro, August 16 CONGRESSMAN DAVID SCOTT’S HEALTH FAIR
AROUND THE STATE
There were over 1,000 people in attendance at on Saturday, Aug. 16 at Mundy’s Mill High School in Jonesboro, Georgia. Development Coordinator Kate Klein and volunteer Jessie Lewis talked to folks about how to start farm to school programs at their school, how to find sustainable, local food in their area, and why all that matters in the first place.
June–September 2014 Savannah, June 19
MY MARKET CLUB OUTREACH
The volunteers at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market are always providing engaging and community centered outreach in metro Savannah to promote local services. Volunteers gave a training at a local senior residence, and participants enthusiastically voiced excitement in learning how to cook healthier foods with ingredients from the market. One attendee added her own testimony to the significance of healthy eating. Since living at the senior center, she began walking twice a day, and shopping at the market. In two years, she lost over 100 pounds and is no longer required to take any medications.
Fort Valley, July 23 ORGANIC FRUIT AND VEGETABLE WEED CONTROL WORKSHOP
Farmer Services Coordinator Donn Cooper spied two past winners of the Georgia Organics Land Steward Award: recently retired Fort Valley State University Extension agent Jerry Larson and Relinda Walker of Walker Organic Farms in Sylvania. All three gave presentations at the workshop. GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG 21
Brennan Washington, Phoenix Gardens What drew you to farming? My wife
Gwendolyn and I started out as a home gardeners. I worked in information technology and it times it could be very stressful. It was really relaxing to come home and just work quietly with our veggies. Why do you farm organically? We care
about what we put in our bodies, the bodies of our customers and the land that we farm.
Why did you become a member of Georgia Organics? We encountered
Georgia Organics as we were starting our farming venture. They were the only organization doing any organic farmer training that we knew of at the time. We really liked the focus that Georgia Organics put on not only the farmer but also the consumer.
How important is the role of mentorship in growing new farmers, and how has GO's program helped build community? Mentorship and the training of
new and beginning farmers is without a doubt one of the most important activities in the agricultural world today. The average age of farmers in the United States is 57. We need
THE DIRT FALL 2014
Gwendolyn and Brennan Washington
younger farmers to replace us "old guys" as we retire and head out to pasture. Local food, farm to school and sustainable agriculture does not exist if there are no farmers. Georgia Organics's program has grown exponentially over the years. I went through the program as a mentee about six or seven years ago. Jonathan Tescher really expanded the program and asked me to be a mentor. I have had some wonderful mentees who have gone on to do
some great things in the local food community. When Donn Cooper took over the program, he sat down with me and asked if I would help him run the program. One of the goals we had was to make sure that we were reaching farmers outside the Atlanta metro area and making sure they felt included in our work. And while we have a lot of work to do, we have significantly increased our interaction with farmers in the state, developing some great relations in West and Middle Georgia and throughout Georgia. This is helping to build a community of farmers with a sustainable mindset. Lastly, the mentoring and farmer training programs are an excellent example of how member contributions are used by Georgia Organics to help build our local food community. What is your hope for the future? My
hope for the future of sustainable agriculture in Georgia is that the necessary infrastructure is put into place to help farmers thrive and to really ramp up programs like farm to school. A lack of facilities such as meat processing plants, certified kitchens and packing houses for small sustainable farmers is really the Achilles heel of our movement right now.
Organizations Did you know that you can support Georgia Organics in your company’s employee giving campaign? You can donate to Georgia Organics through EarthShare of Georgia and have a small donation taken out of your paycheck, which adds up to a significant contribution at the end of the year! Call Alice to enroll: (678) 702-0400
Events Calendar Have an event coming up? Send information
the latest farming technology. This event is for both small and large scale farmers, and will be held in Moultrie, GA. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at sunbeltexpo.com/visitors/ show-hours-admission-tickets/. NOV. 2 Crop Mob at Clyde’s Fresh Produce Farm, Grovetown Join us for “Crop Mob” at Clyde’s Fresh Produce Farm in Grovetown, GA from 1-4:30 p.m. Volunteers will help plant fruit trees in exchange for a sit-down farm fresh dinner afterwards at 5 p.m. For more information, visit http://augusta.locallygrown.net/.
to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more events, check out the calendar on our website: georgiaorganics.org/goevents/
NOV. 7-8 Tour de Farm, Cordele For the third year, Americus-based coffee company Café Campesino has teamed up with the River OCT. 2 Ark in the Park, Evans Join Slow Food Valley Regional Commission, Sumter Cycling CSR to celebrate the Ark of Taste, Slow Food USA’s and Georgia Organics to organize a two-day catalog of delicious foods facing extinction. Get cycling adventure that showcases the sustainably the opportunity to see and taste foods from the managed farmlands & food of Southwest Georgia. Ark at the Evans Towne Farmers Market from 4:30-7 NOVEMBER 8 Atlanta Veg Fest, p.m. For more information, go to http://augusta. Atlanta Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or locallygrown.net/. veg-curious, mark your calendars and get ready OCT. 3 Muscadine Wine-making for a day of engaging speakers, delicious food Workshop, Augusta Take the chance to take and fun activities. Easley Conference Pavilion at part in a wine-making workshop with Danielle Atlanta Metropolitan State College. Free. www. Shelton at the West End Market and Bakery atlantavegfest.com. in Augusta from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The demo-style workshop will take participants through the FEB. 19-20, 2015 Farm to School & wine-making process as well as a chance to sample! Farm to Preschool Summit, Athens Purchase tickets through the ALG online market for The 5th Annual Georgia Farm to School Summit $15 (http://augusta.locallygrown.net/market) or will gather farm to school stakeholders from contact email@example.com. across the state to learn the best and latest in school gardens, nutrition education, and local OCT. 4 Tastes of Earth, Newington food procurement. For the first time this year, the Southern Native Plantings at Longwood Plantation in Newington is partnering with Culinary Summit will also include great resources for farm to preschool leaders. www.georgiaorganics.org/ Connections to host an Educational Greenhouse, for-schools/f2s-summit Nursery & Soil Education Tour followed by an Elegant Farm Dinner by Chef Charleen. Enjoy a five-course menu after touring the greenhouse and nursery. Tickets are $40 at http://augusta. locallygrown.net/market/index/5781 or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $35 for Georgia Organics members. OCT. 14-16 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo, Moultrie Join us for the North America’s Premiere Farm Show, an agricultural event showcasing
FEB. 20-21, 2015 Georgia Organics 18th Annual Conference & Expo, Athens We're back in the Classic City for "Changing Course: Better Farms, Better Flavors." We'll have a full slate of workshops, sessions, farm tours, and networking opportunities. Our keynote will be chef, author, and Athenian Hugh Acheson. For more information, including registration, go to conference.georgiaorganics.org.
Georgia Organics is proud to be the fiscal partner for The Homestead Atlanta, an educational resource that has forged a community around urban homesteading. And Georgia Organics members get reduced rates! Here's a few of the classes they've got this fall.
OCT. 25 Gourmet Cookout and Stargazing Join us at Arabia Mountain in Lithonia where we’ll discuss how to read a planisphere (a rotating star chart) as well as what travels well, how to pack more efficiently, and techniques for open-flame cooking. OCT. 26 Biodynamics: Secrets of the Soil Join Darby Smith of Sun Dog Farm from 1-4 p.m. to enjoy a hands on experience of biodynamic farming, learning about biodynamic preparations, and the role of lunar cycles in plant growth. NOV. 2 Chicken Coop Design Join us as we learn what it takes to build a proper chicken coop, the best materials to use, how to control building costs, and how to protect your flock. NOV. 9 Vermiculture For Your Home & Garden Don’t underestimate the power of a worm! Get the information and supplies you need to build and maintain a small worm bin, transforming your home’s waste into garden gold. NOV. 22 The Home Dairy If a bovine pal is in the cards for your future homestead, come discover the ins and outs of dairy cow care and sanitation as well as basics of pasture management. THEHOMESTEADATL.COM
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BECOME A SUSTAINER Georgia Organics looks at things through a lot of different lenses—it’s a really great way to engage a ton of different people around an issue. It’s clever, and it’s a sustainable way to make change across the board. For me, it’s much easier to give a smaller amount of money monthly.
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–JESS REICHARD, Atlanta
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Sharing Seeds of Knowledge: What We Accomplished with the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant