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EDIBLE EDUCATION: Our Farm to School team travels the state to provide workshops for teachers. 3

FOOD OASIS: Find out how Georgia Organics is seeding projects to help Augusta take back their food system. 6

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Bobby Jones of Babe + Sage Farm drops some knowledge about Middle Georgia. 14

Summer 2016


Our 100 Organic Farms Campaign met its goal! In the Spring of 2016, Georgia surpassed our goal, reaching 103 farms in a 16-month period, a 36 percent increase. After achieving this historic milestone, Georgia Organics and the GADA are kicking off the 200 Organic Farms Campaign to further support farmers pursuing organic certification and boosting the ever-growing organic industry. Agriculture is Georgia’s top industry, and as organic product sales continue to grow, the state’s farmers stand to benefit in a big way. Find out more about the launch of the 200 Organic Farms Campaign on page 4.

En·trée·prenuer \än'trā'prə'nər, -'n(y)u'r\ ∙ noun ∙ American : a food entrepreneur widening the market for farmers and consumers SAVE THE DATE: The 2017 Georgia Organics Conference & Expo happens Feb. 17th -18th, 2017. See page 12.

Across Georgia, entréeprenuers are opening avenues for farmers and consumers alike. Find out how seven organizations are fighting the good fight on page 8.



STAFF ALICE ROLLS Executive Director SARAH BARTLETT Director of Development CAROLINE BENEFIELD Development Coordinator JAMES CARR Communications Coordinator EMILY CUMBIE-DRAKE Farm to School Director JILL GERAGHTY Conference Coordinator SUZANNE GIRDNER Atlanta Local Food Initiative Director/ Georgia Food Oasis Coordinator SARAH HART Administrative Assistant ABBIE KING Farm to School Coordinator ANDREW LADD Director of Operations TENISIO SEANIMA Farmer Services Coordinator STEPHANIE SIMMONS FoodCorps Fellow MICHAEL WALL Director of Programs

CONSULTANTS DONN COOPER Farmer Services Contractor DANIELLE MOORE My Market Club Queen Bee


"If you're not sharing germplasm, you're cutting your own throat." That’s from Lisa Hamilton's excellent article titled Isaacson's main emphasis is that these successes were "Linux for Lettuce" about how patenting seeds has built by many hands and minds, piling successes and stymied collaborative research among many plant failures on top of each other. Collaboration was the key. It turns out that source code and plant DNA have breeders. The remark was made by Jim Myers, a plant breeder a lot in common. Collaboration will be key to the continued development and genetics professor at Oregon State University. Seed research has historically been a collaborative process of the good food movement. During my tenure at among researchers who Georgia Organics, I've been spend decades selecting for impressed by the level of favorable traits and sharing support and sharing among among colleagues. These farmers, organizations, traits allow plants to thrive chefs and people engaged in particular conditions in the good food movement. a nd climates a nd for People are passionate about researchers to contribute building a food system to a pool of available seed founded on values of health, that allows farmers to have environment, justice and successful crops. local economies. But with the evolution of In this issue of The Dirt, Collaboration will be key to the seed patents, secrecy has we take a look at some invaded that once open continued development of the of t he i n novator s i n space. Myers experienced good food movement. the food space who are this frustration first hand helping foster the farm and with broccoli. He and his food enterprises needed predecessor used original to scale our movement. seeds from the University They a re ser ving t wo of Massachusetts from the critical roles - developing 1950's and worked to breed markets for organic farmers plants that would be easier and delivering quality to harvest. Those seeds were wholesome food to people selected over 50 years of throughout Georgia. research and then shared My hope is that as these with others to improve businesses flounder and the variety. Some of those flourish, a collective nature seeds wound up in the hands of a big seed company prevails, that principles will not fall victim to solely who tweaked and patented it. That seed company then proprietary pressures. We need to learn what works sought the rights to not just patent the seed but the and doesn't, nurture a collaborative wisdom, so that unique trait it produced. we can intelligently and professionally connect the dots Frustrated, Myers and others created the Open Source from farm to fork. It is vital that the new food economy Seed Initiative (OSSI) with a mission to maintain fair does not divorce the needs of consumers and farmers and open access to plant genetic resources worldwide or have memory loss when it comes to environmental in order to ensure the availability to farmers and and social justice. We already have that food system. breeders alike. Coincidentally, as I was reading this article, I happened All hail the new innovators! to be listening to Walter Isaason's book, The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. The key word in that subtitle is "group". No one Alice Rolls, person created computers, the Internet or social media. Executive Director



Edible Education Tours Across Georgia Georgia Organics' Emily Cumbie Drake and Abbie King know that empowering teachers

to deliver edible education is one of the most powerful ways to shape kids' behavior and instill a love for local, fresh food. The dynamic duo embarked on a week-long tour across Georgia in February, collaborating with veteran STEM educator Jenna Mobley to teach Exploring Edible Education: A Farm to School Workshop for K-5 educators to more than

90 teachers. Workshops were attended by 2015

Golden Radish Award district educators

and held in Athens, Savannah, Cochran, and Atlanta. Many wanted to integrate school gardens into their curricula. Several wanted to strengthen community ties with local farmers. Some wanted a better library with healthy eating and gardening books. And everybody wanted to get students excited about eating the healthy, delicious local menu options in the cafeteria. During the workshop, educators participated in farm to school science, math, reading, and writing lessons, and brainstormed simple, yet crucial, next steps for building their programs. The model lessons were connected to Georgia curriculum standards with an emphasis on easy preparation and utilizing easily accessible materials teachers are likely to have on hand. An Atlanta teacher reflected, “I love the realistic

ideas for the classroom. They are completely possible!” Another was excited that these were “lessons that I can actually incorporate into my classroom.” Educators recognized the importance of building support within the school building to increase buy-in for farm to school. Ideas for engaging the community ranged from building on existing activities, such as transforming an annual parent picnic day into a farm to school fundraiser in Athens, to getting a team together discuss how to start a school garden at a Bleckley County elementary school or simply starting a conversation with the person that started the school garden at an Atlanta school. A Bleckley County School Nutrition staff member said she wanted to connect better with her school “to let teachers know that they can bring vegetables into the cafeteria so we can prepare them and add them to lunch.” We can’t wait to see what else develops as participants return to their schools armed with new knowledge, resources and support.

Upcoming Workshops

Tuesday, Sept. 13 Macon Heard Elementary School Wednesday, Sept. 14 Carrollton Carrollton High School Thursday, Sept. 15 Atlanta Fulton County Schools Admin Building Friday, Sept.16 Atlanta Fulton County Schools Admin Building Time: 8:30am-3:30pm Cost: $15 for Georgia Organics members; $40 for non-members. Includes lunch, books, seeds, and cooking materials

For information on future workshop and educational opportunities that we will be hosting throughout 2016, sign up for our Farm to School e-newsletter, the eBite at www.georgiaorganics.org or by contacting abbie@georgiaorganics.org.

Leaf it to Spinach is Georgia Organics’ statewide effort to get kids across Georgia eating, growing, and participating in spinach-themed activities during October Farm to School Month.




Want More Organic Farms? You Got It! Nuri Icgoren is a soft-spoken, generous farmer with a heart of gold and active mind. He has a vision for his 5-acre property south of Grant Park that’s as much about community revitalization and self-sufficiency as it is about food production. His ultimate vision entails a mixed-use development with residences, office space, natural pools, and lots of community events, all orbiting the central core of the site, the popular farm Urban Sprouts.

reimbursed for all of his certification costs. That enabled him to sell his popular starter plants at the Grant Park Farmers Market in the spring of 2016 as certified organic seedlings, an appealing product for gardeners who want to raise fresh vegetables at home with the certainty that they aren’t genetically engineered or sprayed with dangerous pesticides. Urban Sprouts is one of the many farms Georgia Organics has assisted with the transition to certified organic.

That’s why Georgia Organics and the GADA are launching a historic partnership to help more farmers take advantage of the rapidly growing organic market by providing funding and training for farmers who want to become USDA Certified Organic. “Georgia can become a major player in the organic sector, but we have to help farmers overcome barriers,” said Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls. “This partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture

organic farms bY thE NUmBERS: 8 Farms. $ 1,500 in ceRtifiCation costs Covered. 345 acRes transitioNeD. Icgoren has been strategic and innovative as he builds out the farm’s operation in the short time since Urban Sprouts’ founding in 2011. He’s tapped into resources and support provided by the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to expand the farm’s infrastructure with installations of a high tunnel, well and irrigation system, and is enhancing the wash station.

Nuri Icgoren of Urban Sprouts

He also tapped into Georgia Organics’ 100 Organic Farms Campaign to fast-track the transition to certified organic, while being



In the winter of 2014, Georgia Organics and the Georgia Department of Agriculture launched the 100 Organic Farms Campaign, a state-wide collaboration to grow Georgia’s organic industry from 75 certified organic farms to more than 100 certified organic farms by the end of 2016. “Organic agriculture is entering a new phase of growth in Georgia, which is now competing squarely with other southeastern states on the number of organic operations,” said GADA Commissioner Gary Black. “With growth like this we can say we are proud of what our organic community has accomplished and excited about economic opportunities that will benefit urban and rural areas of the state.” With $43.3 billion in total organic product sales nationwide, the industry saw its largest dollar gain ever, adding $4.2 billion in sales in 2015, up from the $3.9 billion recorded in 2014. For the fourth year running, the industry saw growth in the double digits at 10.8 percent. To date, the industry has shown continuous and steady gains since the economic downturn of 2009 with a growth rate well beyond that of the overall food market at 3.3 percent in 2015.

is ultimately designed to put more Georgia Grown organic food on Georgia tables and help farmers thrive." The 200 Organic Farms Campaign removes the financial barrier to USDA Organic Certification by reimbursing the full cost of organic certification up to $1,000 for farmers pursuing it for the first time. The GADA will fund 75 percent (up to $750) and Georgia Organics will provide the remaining 25 percent (up to $250). In addition to financial reimbursement, farmers who participate in the 200 Organic Farms Campaign will also receive marketing assistance, access to workshops, and online resources covering topics like business training, working with distributors and institutional buyers, and guidance on the certification process. For more information about the 200 Organics Farm campaign, contact Georgia Organics at 678-702-0400 or email michael@georgiaorganics.org

American consumers spend more than

$43 BILLION on organic U.S. ORGANIC


Please support Georgia Organics work to help farmers transition to organic. Visit STATE OF THE INDUSTRY georgiaorganics.org/donate.



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Shakespeare and Seed Funding When David Young was preparing to pitch his project to a group of community members at the Georgia Food Oasis meeting at the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, he knew he had to make an impression. Young is the founder of the Hobby Farmers Association of the Central Savannah River A r e a — a n or g a n i z at ion driven to engage and educate the public and government officials about the benefits of backyard gardening--and a frequent attendee at Georgia Organics-led Food Oasis meetings in Augusta. Launched in the fall of 2015, the goal of our Georgia Food Oasis work is for residents, farmers, nonprofits, businesses, educators and health care professionals to decide on a common vision for their community’s food future and then build programs, or nurture existing initiatives, that bring that vision to life. Young’s project–-Sibley Soilworks –-was in the running for a round of funding from Food Oasis, but first he had to convince the community that his project was worthy of a microgrant over two other community-driven projects. The project originated after learning that the city of Augusta pays a company to extract hyacinth plants from the canal and take them elsewhere for disposal. The Sibley Soilworks project would build a facility near the canal so the city could dump hyacinths there for volunteers to turn into compost. Subsequently, residents could use it in their gardens—enhancing the on-going Raised Beds Campaign in nearby Harrisburg, which has installed over 150 raised beds in yards across town, while saving taxpayer money. So Young channeled his inner Shakespeare and wrote a poem he called “Ode to Hyacinth.” His delivery sparked delight from the crowd, earning a rousing applause. Young had them right where he wanted them. He gave his pitch, earned another round of applause, and took a seat to wait for the voting to ensue. It was a tough contest – another project included creating a food hub in Augusta that could be used to support on-going efforts to increase access to fresh, local produce, with the funding



L-R: Kim Hines, founder of Augusta Locally Grown, David Young of Sibley Soilworks, and Suzanne Girdner, Georgia Food Oasis coordinator

“Getting the seed money to build our composting project is the first step towards helping the community make some raised bed gardens, which is the foundation of the Food Oasis, so people can start building their own gardens and growing their own food.” - David Young of Sibley Soilworks, winner of the Georgia Food Oasis microgrant

going towards a feasibility study to determine the best model for Augusta. Another project would market existing nutritional education events put on by the students of the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Ultimately, participants chose Sibley Soilworks. After the pitches, which were preceded by a delicious vegan dinner courtesy of Denise Tucker, owner of Humanitree House Juice Joint and Gallery, Georgia Organics’ Food Oasis Coordinator Suzanne Girdner

handed Young a check for an additional $2,500. “I love getting up in front of people and having fun,” said Young. “Getting the seed money to build our composting project is the first step towards helping the community make some raised bed gardens, which is the foundation of the Food Oasis, so people can start building their own gardens and growing their own food.”

Even better: Young wasn’t the only winner. Though he received a larger share of the funding available, every project received financial assistance to get going. “The Augusta Food Oasis community has been working hard over the past nine months to develop Eat, Cook, Grow related projects and initiatives to expand and enhance local, fresh food access,” said Girdner. “Tonight we got to celebrate the community and their collective power while providing a small level of funding to assist them in bringing their visions into reality. It’s an honor to work alongside them on our Food Oasis journey.” Georgia Food Oasis was seeded by Georgia Organics. Learn more at georgiaorganics.org.

A Comprehensive Training Program for Beginning Farmers UGA Extension and partners has developed a new Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program to provide a comprehensive training program for beginning farmers. This project is funded by USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program and includes three training steps: 1. Small Farm Business Planning, 2. Small Fruit & Vegetable Production or Small Ruminants Production, 3. Hands-on Production Training. These programs are being piloted in north Georgia in the fall and winter of 2015-2016 and then will be rolled out to the rest of the state.

Program Locations 2016-2017

These programs are being run in four locations during 2016 -2017. Carroll County Extension (contact – Paula Burke pjburke@uga.edu): AgAware Small Farm Business Training – August 19th Small Ruminant Production Training –January 10 – February 28; Tues evenings ($100) Screven County Extension (contact: Ray Hicks rhicks@uga.edu): AgAware Small Farm Business Training – August 5th Small Ruminant Production Training –Oct 3 – Dec 1, Thurs evenings; and Sat. Dec. 3 for hands-on session ($60) Dougherty County Extension (contact – James Morgan morganjl@uga.edu): Small Farm Business Development: Aug. 2016 16, 18, 23, 25 from 9-noon Small Fruit and Vegetable Production: Jan. 2017 17, 19, 24, 26 from 9-3 p.m. (no cost) Metro Atlanta County Extension (contact: Lynwood Blackmon blackmonl@dekalbcountyga.gov): Small Farm Business Development: Sat. Sept. 24 and Oct. 1st from 9-1 p.m. Small Fruit and Vegetable Production: January 11 - February 22; Wed. evenings 6-8 p.m. ($75)

Learn More at SustainAgGa.org GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG



En·trée·prenuer /'än'trā'prə'nər/, noun, American.

In the last few years, the Good Food movement has been supported by innovative entréepreneurs, who have also supported Georgia Organics with business memberships. We caught up with a few of them to find out more about their support for local, organic food. THE DIRT FARMERS

Founded in 2013 • Joe Zawacki, founder • thedirtfarmers.com Money Spent on Georgia produce: ~$200,000/year Joe Zawacki used to work as a sales rep for several major food

distribution companies. That is, until he started seeing through the system. One trip to a farm in California was particularly eye opening. “I was on a tour and I reached down to grab a head of lettuce and the guy was like 'no no no no no, do not eat that,’” recalled Zawacki. Instead, they served lunch from a separate, private garden. At that point, something had to be done. Zawacki started driving all over the state to get local, organic produce, as there was a dearth of options in middle Georgia. Suddenly, he realized he could combine his knowledge of food distribution with his desire to procure good food for himself and his family. In 2013, The Dirt Farmers became official. Zawacki partnered with a few farmers and began distributing food out of the back of his hatchback. It took two years of doing both jobs while feeling like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde before he took the leap of faith and went full time in the good food business.



Now, The Dirt Farmers are fully operational thanks to an investor in Atlanta who believed in Zawicki’s vision of an all-encompassing CSA model that thrives on transparency. All of the approximately 175 items available for purchase are labeled by location and growing method. Their weekly newsletter is full of nutritional information about the produce, along with recipes so folks know how to cook what they’re buying. They’re also partnering with chefs to produce videos that show customers tips and tricks in the kitchen. To top it off, Zawacki even started his own farm, The Dirt Farm, where he’s more than happy to let you bend down and pick something to eat straight out of the ground. THEDIRTFARMERS.COM


Founded in 2010 • Bob Sandage, founder • wreckingbarbrewpub.com Money Spent on georgia produce: $280,000 in 2015 On Christmas eve in 2015, Rachel Hennon was preparing to leave Wrecking Barn Farm in Loganville to spend some time with her family for the holiday. Then it started to rain. A lot. By the time Hennon pulled out, the farm was under several feet of water. All she could do was laugh and chalk up another win for Mother Nature. A week later, she was back on the farm, dealing with massive erosion and coming up with new plans for the year. To Hennon, that’s what makes farming worth it. “It’s super fulfilling,” said Hennon. “I think in any practice, not just farming, but being able to witness it really work through and seeing things come full circle is like a warm fuzzy feeling.” Now, her favorite part of the circle is eating the food she grew as prepared by Wrecking Bar’s Head Chef Terry Koval. That’s part of what makes the relationship between Wrecking Bar and Wrecking Barn so compatible – Koval geeks out at the fact that

he can call Hennon on Monday and have produce to the exact size, shape, and flavor he needs for Tuesday’s menu. Subscribers to the Wrecking Barn’s CSA can pick up their share at the Wrecking Bar, or buy produce at Freedom Farmers Market. A major buyer of local and organic food, Koval describes his kitchen as “a playground.” “It’s a dream come true,” Koval said of his current gig. “Dream come true” is interesting phrasing for a chef who moved out of his parents’ house at 15 to pursue dreams of becoming a professional skateboarder. While Koval may not be grinding any rails, he’s certainly familiar with the daily grind of running a kitchen. Plus, he and the Wrecking Bar team are more than used to falling down, getting up, and paying homage to Mother Nature.

“The great thing is that you're not only eating a healthy supper and learning some new cooking techniques, but you're supporting local farmers at the same time.” - Emily Golub, founder of Garnish & Gather


Founded in 2012 • Emily Golub, founder • garnishandgather.com Money Spent on Georgia Produce: approximately $250,000 in 2015 When Emily Golub decided to start Garnish & Gather, she spent several weeks at the Georgia Organics office to broaden her understanding of organic farming and learn how to best support farmers. Now, she’s doing the same for her customers. “The great thing is that you're not only eating a healthy supper and learning some new cooking techniques, but you're supporting local farmers at the same time,” said founder Emily Golub. “What that means is that we are not going to have tomatoes on the menu in December and we are not going to have sweet potatoes on the menu in June, but it does mean that we're learning new cooking techniques and teaching people how to cook within season. It’s really a lot of fun.” A particularly fun moment came when Golub decided to put a recipe for pan-seared octopus created by Chef Craig Richards of Atlanta’s St. Cecilia on the menu. Admittedly, she wasn’t entirely sure how people would respond. “Let's be honest: no one is comfortable cooking octopus in their home,” Golub said. “But it was one of our best sellers, because people have come to know Garnish & Gather’s brand and quality, and, of course, St Cecilia's well known reputation.” In a nutshell, that is what Garnish & Gather offers: A chance to experiment with combinations you may never try yourself with the

assurance of recipes created by a renowned chef and ingredients sourced from some of the best organic farmers in Georgia. Every week, five new recipes appear online, with a wide range of seasonal options to choose from. Customers order online, and the food is either delivered to one of 40 pickup locations around metro Atlanta or straight to your home in reusable gray bags. Additionally, if you only need an item or two, Garnish & Gather’s online storefront essentially acts as a locally stocked grocery store. Thus far, business is going well, even as the marketplace becomes more crowded. When Garnish & Gather is ready, they’ll expand to other cities and make connections with local farmers in those areas. “It's been neat to be able to make an impact in so many different ways to get folks more comfortable and confident in the kitchen,” said Golub. “To help improve people's health by cooking whole real foods and then be able to support and give back to our local economy is great as well.” And if life in the kitchen is easier, it might just start making other aspects of life easier, too. Continued INSTAGRAM @GARNISHANDGATHER



“We want to create a sustainable, viable living for farmers by passing along as much of the food dollar as possible to create viable farms, and to increase affordable access to local, good food in all of our communities." - Susan Pavlin, founder of Common Market Georgia


Founded in 2015 • Susan Pavlin, founder • thecommonmarketga.org Money Spent on Georgia Produce: Goal - $400,000 in 2016 It’s easy to sit down and say, “Why the heck aren’t hospitals or universities serving fresh, local food?” But it’s much harder to figure out how you’re going to meet demand for 10,000 meals per day, how food from various farms can be stored and packaged to maintain quality, safety, and technical standards mandated by institutional buyers, and, to top it all off, how to track down the buyers and national distributors who already own the contracts to provide food to many institutions. Luckily for Georgia, local food legend Susan Pavlin took on the task. Co-Founder and Founding Director Director of Global Growers and former Slow Food Atlanta Board Chair, Pavlin stepped up when Common Market Philadelphia was looking for other markets in which to expand their model in 2015. “We want to create a sustainable, viable living for farmers by passing along as much of the food dollar as possible to create viable farms, and to increase affordable access to local, good food in all of our communities,” said Pavlin. Common Market’s nonprofit classification means they can apply for grants on behalf of farmers. They’ve already secured money to help the West Georgia Farmers Co-op build their post-harvest handling

facilities. Other potential grant funding could go towards refrigerated trucks or food safety training. “It was a big help and a big benefit, and it put us on a positive trajectory,” said Eric Simpson, a board member of the West Georgia Farmers Co-op. “It’s going to help us develop a mini-food hub in our area so we can supply our markets, particularly our retail and institutional markets, in our locale in the Columbus and LaGrange areas.” Thus far, Pavlin has spent a significant amount of time building out infrastructure and putting out figurative fires. But they’ve still made progress. In 2015, The Common Market partnered with City Schools of Decatur and the Wylde Center for their Local Produce of the Month program to supply enough of the selected vegetable to feature once a week on school menus. Since the launch of 2016 deliveries in late spring, they've sent local farm products to area hospitals, schools, restaurants, daycare and retail operations on a weekly basis. Hopefully, that is just the tip of the iceberg, and five years from now, we’ll all wonder how Pavlin made it look so easy. FACEBOOK/THECOMMONMARKETGA


Founded in 2013 • Hadi Irvani, founder • peachdish.com Money Spent on Georgia Produce: $150,000 in the first quarter of 2016 Chris Edwards of Mayflor Farms in Stockbridge had some

more room to grow, but really needed someone to commit to purchasing food before he expanded. Judith Winfrey, the President of PeachDish, was that person. The timing was perfect, as Winfrey was looking to take PeachDish’s game to the next level. In addition to becoming a certified benefit corporation – often referred to as “B-corp,” which mandates a positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment, in addition to profit as its legally defined goals – PeachDish is looking to help farmers scale up their operations. The first project is with Edwards. Not only did Winfrey want to help him get more land in production, she helped him chart out the rest of the year, while committing to buy at least 80 percent of what’s produced on that land. “That’s the name of the game: developing your market before you even plant a seed,” said Edwards. “[PeachDish] allows that to take place on a



large scale, so you can really map out your farm plan in conjunction with them.” That kind of planning will make PeachDish’s mission that much easier to accomplish. “Everything you need to make a great dinner is just waiting for you,” said Winfrey. “All you have to do is pour a glass of wine and get out a knife. In 30 minutes or so you have a great dinner. That is rewarding for people.” If it sounds simple, that’s because PeachDish has done the hard work to make it so. You don’t just get a meal delivered to your doorstep; you get fresh, healthy produce and a recipe created by a chef and approved by a dietitian, in a box that can be recycled with materials that can go in your compost or can be used as mulch, and an icepack that can be re-used or safely put down the drain. You also get peace of mind, knowing that any extra produce was donated to a local foodbank, and that you’ve provided a valuable market for local, organic farmers. Now that’s what we call a benefit. INSTAGRAM @PEACHDISH


Founded in 2010 • Steven Carse, founder • kingofpops.net Money Spent on Georgia Produce: $10,824 through June, 2016 When we asked Cory Mosser, founder of Natural Born Tillers, what kind of shape the King of Crops farm was in when he first saw it, he asked us how long we had to talk. Let’s just say the project was not for the faint of heart. King of Pops, the up-start popsicle company taking over the Southeast, bought 68 acres in Winston for their own farm in 2014. In one purchase, King of Pops expanded their market potential exponentially. Now, they’re able to have a company-wide CSA, sell produce and pops at farmers markets, get the nursery back into gear, lease out part of their land, and, eventually, host events on the property. But it took quite a while just to get to that point. After months of trying to crack the dead soil poisoned by conventional herbicides and pesticides while navigating gravel and staples, losing plants to dead soil, losing more plants to a faulty irrigation system, Mosser advised leadership at King of Pops – the owners of King of Crops – that it was time to hire a full-time Farm Manager. Russell Honderd was the perfect candidate. It’s been a little over a year since he was hired and a lot of hard work, but the property is slowly becoming a farm. “We did grow a little bit last year but most of our work

and time was spent on getting the infrastructure in place to move forward as a farm,” said Honderd. “This year we began our hoop houses, we have about three quarters of an acre that we’ll be growing in. And then we have three half acre fields that we’ll be doing for vegetable production and installing an additional three quarter acre field of blackberries.” The plan, Honderd says, is to get an additional acre back into production each year. The goal is to make everything beautiful. They’ll be installing native trees, flowers, and grasses to help with erosion control, water conservation, and to bring in beneficial insects and pollinators. “There’s a beneficial element to everything we put in,” Cooper Starr, formerly of Trees Atlanta, told Georgia Organics. That level of utility and beauty won’t be ready for years, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to dazzle this summer. Neil Ringer, Head Fruit Juicer at the new King of Pops Bar & Good Grub in Ponce City Market, says customers can look out for a melon pop entirely grown from the farm that features an old Tennessee melon variety Honderd found last year. Even better, the melon flavors can be layered for a rare swirly pop. It’s a thing of beauty.

“We try to set it up where people can come to us, drop it off, get a check, take home the check, and go grow good food. That is really the whole idea of it.” - Michael Schenck, founder of The Turnip Truck of Georgia


Founded in 2008 • Michael Schenck, founder • turniptruckga.com Money Spent on Georgia Produce in 2015: $614,439.23 Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a farmer. You’ve just spent weeks – months, even – building soil, mulching, planting, weeding, and harvesting. Now you have to sell your produce. Before The Turnip Truck was founded in 2008, that meant delivery costs, additional accounting requirements, and more labor costs. That’s where the Turnip Truck comes in. “The Turnip Truck is an asset to the community in Atlanta and beyond because [founder Michael Schenck and this team] aggregate the produce, make sure things are utilized properly, and suddenly farmers have between 4 to maybe 10 extra hours a week,” said Maurice Small, Farm Manager at Truly Living Well Center for Urban Agriculture in Atlanta. “It’s a much more efficient use of fuel, time for farmers, and for buyers on the other end, and it creates jobs.” “The Turnip Truck has been crucial to uplift the local food movement,” said Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls. “Georgia Organics introduced the Turnip Truck to an investor who provided an infusion of capital when they needed it. We helped the Turnip Truck expand and that enabled our farmers and our movement grow at a faster rate than they otherwise would have.” After developing their infrastructure, the Turnip Truck now provides

Atlanta area restaurants, schools,

and institutions with the finest locally grown vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and other foods, as well as specialty items, all while saving farmers valuable time and money. “We try to set it up where people can come to us, drop it off, get a check, take home the check, and go grow good food,” said founder Michael Schenck. “That is really the whole idea of it.” Over the years, a huge part of Turnip Truck’s growth came from working closely with growers to plan what crops to grow, what size they should be, grading to meet customer needs, packaging and postharvest handling to ensure that the product looks like it should and has the shelf life necessary to be successful in the marketplace. “Once these procedures and systems are in place, we can provide long term commitments to purchase product that help the farms grow their business in a real, significant and sustainable way,” said Schenck. To put it simply, the Turnip Truck has blazed a trail for many to follow, changing the landscape for farmers and eaters, while getting farmers back to work they do best: growing good food. GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG



Get to Know Us Jill Geraghty, Ed.D., joined the Georgia Organics staff in June as conference coordinator. Jill’s previous experience includes conference and association special events management, volunteer relations, and scholarship program stewardship. Jill also has a background in educational leadership, serving as both an administrator and faculty member at the University of Central Florida and Valencia College, jill Geraghty, Conference Coordinator both in Orlando. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member for North Georgia Technical College. Jill has a B.A. in Psychology, and a M.A. and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, all from the University of Central Florida. She resides in Dawsonville, with her husband, Mike, an IT and Project Management professional, and their two children. As with all new staff members, we sent her some tough, investigative questions. This is what we found out:

THE MERCANTILE CO. The Sustainable General Store

Shop online at:

TheMercantileCo.com Georgia Organics Members save 5% when using the code GAOrganics5%.

What was your previous job? Since 2013, I have worked for Centergy Group/Event Management Technologies as a senior program manager, and served as the coordinator of the Annual Georgia Environmental Conference. I also assisted environmental association and coalition clients with event coordination and registration management. Who/what inspired you to do the work you are doing for Georgia Organics?

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of assisting the Georgia Organics staff with registration for the 19th Annual Georgia Organics Conference & Expo. Through that experience, I came to know more about the mission of the organization. I see this position with Georgia Organics as an opportunity to expand my professional work in support of environmental sustainability, and to continue the legacy of success of Georgia’s most seminal event devoted to sustainable foods and farms. What do you want to accomplish for Georgia's farmers? I love the idea of being able to help connect Georgia’s organic farmers with consumers who want fresh, healthy food. As coordinator of the annual conference, I am honored to be able to be the support behind a unique platform that promotes the building of these valuable relationships through networking and information sharing. If you became a DJ, what would your DJ name be? DJ J-Jizzle

We want YOU to join the Georgia Organics Conference team! We want to make our 20th Anniversary Conference on February 17-18, 2017 in Atlanta the best yet, and we’ll need your support to make it happen. Interested in volunteering in the weeks leading up to conference? Email Jill at jill@georgiaorganics.org.

Visit today at: georgiaorganics.org/good-food-jobs 12



April-June 2016 MACON | APRIL 28


Farm to School Coordinator Abbie King & FoodCorps Fellow Stephanie Simmons engaged FFA students in filling out a map indicating farm to school activities occurring throughout the state. ”



Farm to School Director Emily Cumbie-Drake and Abbie King presented to school nutrition directors and staff from counties in Northeast Georgia about October Farm to School Month and the Golden Radish Awards.



Staff at Georgia Organics volunteered at Truly Living Well’s new site in Collegetown, organizing pots, planting seedlings, and putting in some new landscaping.


In order to increase GO’s technical support for farmers, Farmer Services Coordinator Tenisio Seanima and Program Director Michael Wall received weeklong training in the national organic program. As a result, Georgia Organics is now equipped to provide preliminary inspection support for organic farmers and those seeking to become certified. Email Tenisio@georgiaorganics.org or Michael@georgiaorganics. org for more information!



Residents of Columbus convened to discuss the procedure for microgrant applications, and get prepared for pitches at the next Food Oasis meeting. Columbus also planned a Chef and Farmer Mixer in July, and will unveil the Restaurant Week Contest: Inaugural Food Oasis Chef Champion Award for the restaurant that sources the most local food.



Emily Cumbie-Drake, Abbie King and Stephanie Simmons teach PTA’s how to engage parents during October Farm to School Month at the annual PTA convention.



Chef Ford Fry threw the 8th annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, a fundraiser for Georgia Organics. The event was a hit and guests enjoyed tomato-based treats from dozens of chefs and mixologists and live music at Park Tavern. GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG



Member Spotlight: Bobby Jones

Meet Bobby Jones of Babe + Sage Farm. He and his wife Chelsea farm near Milledgeville, Ga. Here’s what they have to say about their farm and the good food movement: What made you decide to become a member of Georgia Organics? We became Georgia Organics members as soon as we moved back to Georgia to start Babe + Sage in the Fall of 2011. While we were finishing school in sustainable agriculture in North Carolina, I remember discovering all the helpful information for farmers on the Georgia Organics website, which really helped us write our business plan. As soon as we moved back to Georgia, a farmer friend told us to call Jonathan Tescher, who was Farmer Services Coordinator at the time, and we felt plugged into the good food movement in Georgia immediately. How did you get started in farming? Chelsea and I were both active with the Environmental Science Club as students at Georgia College in Milledgeville, and we connected with a few organic farmers around middle Georgia, as well as the W WOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program. We graduated during the height of the financial crisis, and thought we would be travelling the country through the WWOOF program. During our first phone interview, we were offered a paid apprenticeship at Round Right Farm in West Virginia and fell in love with farming. We worked at a few other farms, and did a certificate program in sustainable agriculture at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro, N.C., before deciding to move back home to Georgia to start our own farm. What would you like to see develop in the Georgia food community in future? We are working with several other middle Georgia farmers to start the Middle Georgia Growers Cooperative, which will serve as a food hub connecting product from growers in middle Georgia to other parts of the state. We decided to start the co-op because we have a small but close-knit group of sustainable farmers in our



Bobby Jones of Babe + Sage Farm

region, but we don't have a lot of the support structure to build the demand locally for all of us to make a sustainable living. Organizations like Georgia Organics, Community Farmers Markets, ALFI, Les Dames d'Escoffier, Slow Food, Truly Living Well, Wholesome Wave, and many others are doing great work in Atlanta that builds demand for local food. Some of those organizations are reaching outside Atlanta, but I'd really love to see more support infrastructure for local food pop up in places outside of metro Atlanta in the next few years. Our region has great land, good people, good soil, and a few truly great farmers trying to make a living and build a better food economy in these smaller cities and towns throughout the state. My wife, Chelsea, and I run a farmers market, co-op, crop mob chapter, young farmers coalition chapter, and volunteer program at Georgia College, in addition to managing our farm and raising a toddler. We do it because we love this place and we love our community of farmers, but for the food movement to be sustainable outside of major cities, we need to invest in support structures to build that movement here. What is your number one passion outside of work? For the first three to four years of starting the farm, I had such a hard time thinking about

anything other than farming! I think a lot of farmers are like that, as a profession it tends to attract stubborn workaholics. When our son, Tripp, was born in 2014, it really forced me to gain some perspective and realize that there is more to life than what's happening on these few acres. I love spending time with my son and seeing the farm through his eyes. He's at this stage now where he basically just wants someone to follow him around the farm to pick up rocks or blackberries that he can't reach. I've also started reading and writing a lot more in the past year and a half, which has been really rewarding.

L-R: Farming family Bobby, Tripp, and Chelsea Jones

What is your favorite food to make? Our sandy loam soil allows us to grow really really tasty root crops, so I love to make roasted root veggies. In the winter, we go through several pans of roasted carrots, radishes, turnips, potatoes, garlic, etc. every week. I also really, really love soup. I could probably eat soup for every meal. Up until this spring, we sold bread baked in our wood-fired brick oven at market every week, so I'm just starting to enjoy baking bread again after a hiatus of a several months. I know that's three favorite foods, but like many farmers I kinda got into it for the food, so it's tough to choose just one! Would you like to be one of the next featured members? Send us a line at james@georgiaorganics.org.


Upcoming Events Want to list your upcoming event? Send an email to James@georgiaorganics.org to add yours. For more events, check out the calendar on our website at: georgiaorganics.org/goevents.


Farmer Show and Tell Series 2015 Georgia Organics Land Steward Award Winner Julia Gaskin will speak about cover crops and soil management, while proving space for farmers to engage and learn from one another.


White Oak Pastures Workshop Join Will Harris and the team at White Oak Pastures for a workshop called Shaping Land Through Animal Impact.

Ready to build a handmade future? Welcome home. The Homestead Atlanta offers hands-on education in all kinds of self-reliance and life sustaining skills. Discover what weeds in your yard are actually delicacies and remedies. Learn how to grow delicious, wholesome food and preserve it for the winter months. Hammer metal into useful tools. Go from skein to scarf. Become a caretaker of bees, of soil, of your community. Explore ways to live more lightly on and in sync with the world around you.


Find out more about The Homestead Atlanta, our upcoming workshops, and our membership options at www.TheHomesteadATL.com. Plus, Georgia Organics members get a reduced rate for select workshops, so check them out now!



Southern Chefs Potluck Some of the South’s favorite chefs are getting into the country for the 7th Annual Southern Chefs Potluck at Serenbe, a casual Sunday supper benefiting Wholesome Wave Georgia. Tickets can be purchased online at: wholesomewavegeorgia.org/southern-chefs-potluck Southeast Farm to School Conference This year’s Southeast Farm to School Conference will offer multiple workshop sessions geared specifically for teachers, early childhood educators, parents, community health professionals, and child nutrition staff, including a presentation from Georgia Organics Farm to School Director Emily Cumbie Drake. Want to place an ad in the next issue of The Dirt? Send an email to James@georgiaorganics.org for more information.

Current members of Georgia Organics are invited to provide nominations of candidates to serve on the board of directors. The board supports Georgia Organics’ mission to connect organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families. To nominate someone for the board online, go to georgiaorganics.wufoo.com/forms/ georgia-organics-board-of-directors-nomination


CONEX Recycling Corporation is one of the Southeast’s leading recycling solutions. Choose Conex to serve your recycling needs for • apartment and condominium communities • small businesses, major corporations & government entities • hotels, hospitals & campuses • and special events! GEORGIAORGANICS.ORG




Georgia Organics Sustainers are a group of amazing members whose automatic monthly gifts help plant the seeds for a vibrant, fresh and healthy Georgia. Pledge $7.50 or more per month and receive a $25 Whole Foods Gift Card while supplies last.


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The Dirt - Summer 2016  

The Dirt - Summer 2016