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“Tomatoes shall taste like tomatoes”

the quarterly newsletter of georgia organics ✤




Food Stamp shoppers get double buying power at 3 farmers markets p5 O rganic P roduction T eam to train ag trainers p


W hat you need to know about F ood S afety E nhancement A ct p6 the proposed

Sowing Seeds with Farm to School “More Than a Third of Georgia Children Obese” “Georgia 14th Fattest State” “Georgians Tip the Scale” “Obesity Rates Rising”

R esearch sheds light on what makes healthy food so healthy p


upcoming events: Aug. 9 – “Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival” Tomato dishes and drinks galore. All proceeds will benefit Georgia Organics. p15 Sept. 18- Oct. 18 – “Fundamentals of Organic Farming and Gardening” From soil health to marketing, participants learn the basics of organic farming and gardening in this series of seven classes taught by Lynn Pugh. p 15

In early July, headlines from across the state echoed the results of a recent report by the Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: obesity rates are rising, Americans are getting larger, healthcare costs continue to soar, and Georgia is among the most affected. Some journalists were doing more than reporting the dismal facts and ventured into a more murky area. They asked, “Why?” and they wanted examples of solutions – two requests that few responders could fully articulate, certainly not in a sound bite. The intricacies of the obesity epidemic can’t be summed up in a single interview simply because there are so many complex factors involved. One part of the answer is that race and income levels are reliable indicators of obesity rates, and other diet-related illnesses. And since income is a factor, then so is rural poverty. And rural poverty is related to the spread of large-scale agribusiness and its habit of straining local economies that were once dependent on thriving family farms. Government budgets and policies are also a concern, because they enable processing companies and fast food companies to create inexpensive foods that are less healthy than natural fruits and vegetables. Policy also dictates the quality of food served to school children, and whether those children are learning to establish life-long healthy eating habits. Cont’d on page 8

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View from the Pastures: A Family, A Movement Georgia Organics P.O. Box 8924 • Atlanta, GA 31106 678.702.0400

Will H arris, President L eeann C ulbreath, Vice President Alex Rilko, Treasurer Gina Hopkins, Secretary George Boyhan Steve C ooke Juan C arlos Diaz-Perez Kurt Ebersbach Marco Fonseca Roderick Gilbert Diane Marie Harris C onnie Hayes Daron Joffe Jay L azega Melissa Libby Anne Q uatrano Rashid Nuri Mary Reilly Mike Smith C harlotte Swancy Ed Taylor

Staff K aren S. A dler Mentoring Program Coordinator 404.633.4534 E rin C room Farm to School Coordinator S tephanie H ass Administrative Coordinator C haz H olt Emory Farmer Liaison 770.608.4093 J ennifer O wens Development Director A lice R olls

Executive Director J onathan T escher

Farmer Services Coordinator M ichael W all

Communications Director

Photo by Paul Hultberg Photography.

Board of Directors

Will Harris is owner of White Oak Pastures, a farm that the Harris family has lived on and farmed for more than 140 years. It is the largest certified organic farm in Georgia, and is also certified humane.

Greetings from White Oak Pastures. All of our cows are re-bred, the warm season grasses are growing, and life is good. This year was a steep learning curve for us. But we now have our arms around operating our new processing plant, the last step in our grass-fed beef transition. I am also pleased to begin my first year as President of Georgia Organics. The first thing I want to do is express gratitude to my predecessor Barbara Petit and the Georgia Organics staff for the heroic strides that they have made in growing and developing our organization. Thanks to their hard work, Georgia Organics sits at the head of the table that promotes the good food movement. This movement is changing the way that Georgia farmers farm and the way that Georgia consumers eat. I think of the good food movement as growing and consuming LASH food — Local, Artisan, Sustainable and Humane).

Michael Wall

Ten years ago, few Georgia producers or consumers gave little consideration to these four LASH attributes.

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We farmers were focused on low-cost and high output production. Consumers were focused on cheap food.

N ewsletter E ditor

July, 2009 • Published Quarterly Georgia Organics, Inc. P.O. Box 8924, Atlanta, GA 31106. Volume 13 Issue #1 Copyright © 2009, Georgia Organics, Inc. All rights reserved

The three photographs on the cover of this edition of The Dirt were contributed by Anthony-Masterson Photography.

The LASH movement was born when a small number of sophisticated consumers began asking questions about how their food was produced. High-end chefs like Linton Hopkins and Patrick Gabryel led this charge, opening the door to change for a few visionary farmers.

Some were seasoned industrial farmers, like Skip Glover, who had grown tired of the excesses and dangers of commodity farming. Others, like Daniel Parson, were new to agriculture and not yet infected by irresponsible industrial farming practices. Distribution specialists who “get it,” like Whole Foods Markets and Destiny Organics, stepped up to allow the movement to continue growing. In addition, organizations like Les Dames d’Escoffier and Slow Food Atlanta have stepped up to spread the Good Food movement message. I envision the role of Georgia Organics as providing the venue for farmers, distributors, consumers and food appreciators, to come together and promote and enjoy good food. We’ll stay focused on serving you, the Georgia Organics community, and I believe that is the greatest benefit we can provide. And we want to excel, not just meet expectations. To that end, if you have any thing in the world you need from us, or anything we can do better, or even just a simple suggestion, I’m a phone call or email away – Unity is a critical part of any movement. It has to happen for the movement to succeed. The progress that Georgia Organics has made to this end is legend. We disparate groups are united. We are all fighting the good fight. Bless the backs that produce good food, the hands that prepare good food, and the mouths that eat good food.

Will Harris Board President

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Photo Contest Winner: “Garden Manicure,” by Vanessa Vadim and Doria Roberts Congratulations to Vanessa Vadim and Doria Roberts, winners of The Dirt’s quarterly photo contest. Vadim is an environmental columnist for (Mother Nature's Network) and Roberts is an Atlanta-based singer-songwriter. Here’s Vadim’s explanation of their collaborative vision of sustainable foods and farms: “The nail was the last remnant of a Halloween costume. I was taking photos in the garden, and pulling sweet potatoes with my daughter. I handed the cam to Doria to snap what is, for me, yet another intersection of life and garden.” Thank you to judges Owen Masterson, Dean Bates, and Tom Brodnax. To submit your own photo for the next Dirt photo contest, email a digital photo file no later than Aug. 15 to Please send files that are between 1 and 2 megs in size. The winner will receive their choice of a Georgia Organics hat, t-shirt, apron, or book from the Georgia Organics library, and full credit each time the photograph is used. We reserve the right to use submissions for promotional efforts, and will publish full credit for the photographer. To see all the submissions, visit the Georgia Organics Facebook page

By the Numbers: Fat Chance 20 Percent poverty rate in rural Georgia. 13 Percent poverty rate in urban Georgia. 21 percent of Hispanic Georgians and 23 percent of African American Georgians live below the poverty level, compared to only 8 percent of whites. The death rate for African Americans with diabetes is 27 percent higher, and 40 percent higher for Hispanics, than for whites. African Amercians are 4 times more likely to develop kidney failure due to complications from diabetes, and 3 times more likely to develop glaucoma, than whites. 70 Percent of health care costs are associated with chronic diseases, mostly due to obesity. 27.5 Percent of Georgians are obese. 37 Percent of Georgians age 10 through 17 are overweight or obese. Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults. 16 - Percent increase in school meal participation when farm fresh food is served through certain farm to school programs.

Havana’s Urban Ag Success Story B y L eonard G. M oody III For decades, Cuba depended heavily on the former Soviet Union for oil, gas, and oil-based fertilizers to grow food for its population of about 11 million. With the fall of the Soviet bloc on Christmas day in 1989, Cuba lost more than 80 percent of its import and export trade. With more than 50 percent of its food supply gone, daily food rationing in Havana consisted of one piece of fruit and a few slices of bread. It was clear that changes in farming methods had to be made, and fast. This time in Cuba's history is called The Special Period. The Cuban government encouraged people to plant food gardens wherever they could find space. Havana, the largest city in the Caribbean with a population of more than 2.5 million, became ground zero in this effort. These small gardens ranged in size from a few square yards next to one's house or in a vacant lot, to several acres. Farmers had to use chicken and cow manure, and worm castings to enrich the soil. Large tractors sat silently rusting away in fields due to a lack of fuel and spare parts. Oxen were brought in to replace them. The people quickly organized, acquiring seeds and tools as they became available. In a true spirit of cooperation, they were able to turn Cuba into the largest organic farming experiment in the world.

602 Number of farms owned by corporations, institutions, cooperatives or estate trusts.

Today, Cubans are now consuming approximately 2,600 calories per day, the same as they did before The Special Period began. Cuba has been forced to deal with its own version of peak oil and has largely met the challenge. In many ways, the country is the world’s poster child of organic gardening, as evidenced by their winning of the Alternative Nobel Prize in 1999 for promoting the organic revolution. And America has the advantage of seeing what Cuba has been able to accomplish, and can benefit from it.

212 Average farm size, in acres.

Thankfully, Georgia’s organic farmers are not waiting until future natural resource shortages force the U.S. into our own "Special Period."

2 Number of school systems in Georgia that have adopted plans to implement farm to school programs. 41,703 Number of farms owned by individuals and families in Georgia, as of 2007.

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D and A Farms to Co-Host Organic Farmer’s Tool Chest Workshop on Aug. 20 Dave, Alan, and Amy Bentoski collectively run D and A Farm, in Zebulon, Ga. A first generation family farm, they grew their growing operation from a front-yard garden to a 10-acre certified organic farm in just three years.

A: Melons I guess. We grew up in Michigan, my Grandpa was an avid gardener, and melons were something that couldn’t grow up there. To be able to grow them here, relatively easy, is cool.

They serve 160 Community Supported Agriculture boxes – one of the largest CSA subscription bases in the state – full of their seasonal vegetables and melons, which can also be found on Saturday mornings at the Morningside Farmers Market in Atlanta.

Q: If there was something you could change or do differently, what would that be?

Clearly, they’re doing something right. And the public will have a chance to find out what that is during “The Organic Farmers Tool Chest” workshop on Aug. 20, held in conjunction with the Georgia Organics Mentoring Program. Georgia Organics recently chatted with Dave about the secrets of the D and A Farm’s success. Q: Are there any farm techniques or business plans to which you can give some credit for your success? A: Just the willingness to learn new things. I’m constantly on the internet researching university websites, trying to find that little edge, that untried thing that really works. Q: What’s the one fruit or vegetable you sell that you are most proud of, and why?


The “Organic Farmer’s Tool Chest” workshop will provide in-depth training on farm and crop planning and recordkeeping, the basics of organic certification, rotations, cover crops, insect identification and management. Part of the workshop will take place at the historic Whiskey Bonding Barn. The cost of the workshop is $35 for Georgia Organics members and $45 for non-members, $20 for mentoring program participants. New Dealine for Mentoring Program The application process for the 2009 to 2010 Mentoring Program will be earlier this year, with the hopes of getting mentees to on-farm visits earlier in the fall growing season. Applications are available Aug. 1 and

A: I wish I could have realized that this was my forte about 10 years earlier in my life. It’s pertinent, too, with the [Organic Farmer’s Tool Chest] workshop at my place in August. Getting exposure to younger people so they can say, ‘Yeah, I love this,' or, ‘No, this sucks.’ Wish I would have known it years ago.

Atlanta Local Food Takes Another Step Forward On May 1, about 150 farmers, chefs, community organizers and citizens took part in the Atlanta Local Food Initiative’s “Atlanta Local Food Forward” event at St. Philip's Cathedral in Buckhead. “Atlanta Local Food Forward” involved presentations, workshops and panel discussions to brainstorm the movement’s steps to create a food system in which every Atlantan has access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food produced by a thriving network of sustainable farms and gardens.

Q: If there was one thing you’d like to tell each and every member of Georgia Organics, what would it be? A: There is no easy, fast money in agriculture. But if you have the resolve, willingness to learn and adapt as necessary, and most importantly the passion for it, you can make a living in agriculture. As the wheels of the industrial revolution drove my great grandfather, grandfather, and father away from the farm and to the factory, my generation now watches the wheels come off that revolution. As first generation farmers we have come full circle. I believe my great-great grandfather would be proud.

due Sept. 1. Applicants will be notified of acceptance into the program by Oct. 1. The program runs from October 2009 thru Sept. 30, 2010. There is a $50 registration fee for those accepted into the program. The program is one of Georgia Organics biggest commitments to growing more organic and sustainable growers. Farmers targeted as mentees for the program are those with less than ten years experience, a commitment to pursue organic practices, transitioning from conventional practices and/or those with limited resources. Program participants receive support from experienced farmers, Georgia Organics staff, and educational sessions. Learn more about the mentoring program at

Joel E. Kimmons, PhD, U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.

Rashid Nuri, Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms.

Steve Cook, General Manager of Sevananda Natural Foods Market.

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Food Stamp Dollars Doubled at 3 Markets As of March 2009, more than 1.2 million Georgians participated in the Georgia Food Stamp program, which provides monthly benefits to low-income households to help pay for the cost of food. In short, the program is a safety net for Georgia’s most impoverished, and ensures they’re able to access food. But there’s food, and then there’s food. Photo courtesy Leeann Culbreth.

South Georgia Foodways Festival Volunteers from local 4-H and FFA groups helped serve donated muscadine juice from Paulk's Vineyard at the South Georgia Foodways Festival in Tifton, Friday June 26, as part of the Smithsonian's "Key Ingredients" foodways exhibit. The celebration and exhibition was held at the Georgia Agrirama. The South Georgia sustainable food community is growing strong, and a new blog called Okravore ( highlights locavore events like farmers’ markets, community gardens, festivals, and meetings, as well as locavore-friendly businesses and restaurants.

Now, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Wholesome Wave Foundation, the incentive for food stamp recipients to shop at farmers’ markets has been doubled in a new pilot project called Wholesome Wave Georgia. At three Georgia farmers’ markets – the East Atlanta Village Farmers’ Market, the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah, and the on-farm market at Rashid Nuri’s Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farm in East Point – each food stamp dollar will have the value of $2.

The presentation of two checks, totaling $12,750, launching Wholesome Wave Georgia.

nomic incentive to access buy the fresh and wholesome food sold at farmer’s markets. Second, it creates a new customer base for farmers, who also receive twice the amount of money for their produce and meats.

It’s a significant victory on several fronts.

Fundraising to keep the 2-for-1 program running in perpetuity has already begun, and was given a promising boost with a $2,750 donation from The Ellis Hotel in Atlanta.

First, low-income earners, who’ve historically been one of the groups more likely to suffer from severe chronic diseases that are attributable to poor diet, have an eco-

The program is administered by the Wholesome Wave Georgia Board of Directors, for which Georgia Organics serves as the fiscal agent.

County Extension Agents Join Sustainable Ag Training Team A partnership between Georgia Organics, Fort Valley State University, and the University of Georgia is working to better acquaint the cooperative extension program with organic and sustainable agriculture. The program kicked off on May 19 when 12 extension agents from around the state, called the Organic Production Team, gathered for the first time at the UGA Horticulture Farm for workshops on soil biology, cover cropping, and the crop rotation plan used at the university's farm. This summer, Georgia Organics will pair each agent with a farmer who runs a sustainable operation, where they will study and map that farm's operations. The agents will then share their discoveries with the rest of the Organic Production Team when it gathers again in the Fall.

Photo courtesy of Ayanna McPhail

Robert Tate, UGA Organic Agriculture Program Coordinator, discusses the organic farm management with the Organic Production Team.

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From The Hill to Field: Advocacy Update on Food Safety Act



A act

HR 274

Contact your congressman and express your concern over the flat fee structure and its impact on small farms. If you are a farmer, include any current safety practices you already employ through sustainable practices or GAPs. You can:

The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, HR 2749, is steadily moving through Congress after passing the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 17.

The Basics

Key components include:

1. Write a letter to your congressman 2. Call your congressman 3. Plan a visit during Congress’ summer recess August 3rd - September 3rd

• Additional U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors funded through a mandatory fee, currently set at $500, levied on food processing facilities; • Recall authority when particular foods/products are identified as causing health problems; • Trace-back systems for most foods; • Inspections of high-risk food processing facilities every six to 12 months • FDA regulation of produce safety standards; and • Expanded oversight of imported food.


Recent improvements to the bill pushed by sustainable agriculture advocates include exemptions for traceback systems for direct market sellers; criteria for produce safety standards that include impact statements on family farms and organic farms; and methods to address standards such as fair trade through accreditation.

The FDA regulates most of the nation’s food supply except livestock, poultry and eggs, which are regulated by the USDA.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a new Georgia law supporting local food...

Areas for Improvement

HR 2749 doesn’t recognize that many farmers turn fruit into jams, make pickles from harvested cucumbers, etc. Under this legislation, these activities could qualify you as a food ‘facility’ and would require payment of an annual fee to the FDA. Georgia Organics has joined the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in promoting an amendment to exempt small farms from this fee and establish a sliding scale or remove small farms from the regulations altogether. Other strategies include a full exemption based on a farm’s percent of income from these products or a sliding scale fee commensurate with the farm’s size and income.


SB 44, sponsored by Ross Tolleson of Perry, signed by the Governor in late spring, gives contract preference to in-state vendors and suppliers who demonstrate tax multiplier impacts of supporting local products. The bill goes into effect July 1, 2009 and will not impact any contracts entered into prior to July 1.

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IN THE FIELD: Georgia Organics Program Update (May – June, 2009) 1

GROWER EDUCATION Farmer to Extension Training

Paired 12 University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University extension agents with organic farmers to support a new Organic Production Team being developed within cooperative extension. Photo 1 - Henry County Extension Agent Frank Hancock with Larry Dove, of Two Doves Farm. Farmer to Farmer Mentoring


Mentees from this year’s program met in May at Love is Love Farm for skill-sharing and an educational farm tour led by mentor Joe Reynolds. Photo 2 – Robert Tate, on the left, UGA Organic Agriculture Program Coordinator, has joined the team as a mentor. Several mentees have applied for funding through the new USDA Organic Initiative, and Georgia Organics assisted applicants and NRCS in outreach to Georgia farmers. Urban Farming Mentoring Program


A two-year urban farming mentorship program is currently under development for 10 participants. Thanks to support from Heifer International, the first year of the program will focus on education, and the second year will place participants into paid positions for growing food, will place participants into positions for growing food with community partners. Applicationswill be available in Fall 2009. Organic Farming and Gardening Curriculum


Georgia Organics farming curriculum has been completed and uploaded to the website for instructors to access free of charge ( The 2nd edition has also been integrated into the Georgia Dept. of Education’s Agriculture Education Curriculum CD.



F arm to S chool

C ommunications

Established the Georgia Farm to School Alliance with key state agencies and stakeholders to begin exploring how to integrate fresh, local food into school meals. Promoted and provided written testimony at the May Farm to School Field Hearing convened by Senators Chambliss and Harkin at CDC. Working with Emory University food service chefs to pair seasonal ingredient needs with farm production cycles. W holesome W ave G eorgia

Received $12,750 in matching funds from the Wholesome Wave Foundation and Ellis Hotel in Atlanta to encourage food stamp recipients to purchase farm fresh food at three pilot farmers markets. This will support healthy food options for low income individuals while putting dollars in the hands of farmers. S timulus D ollars on the F arm

Photo 3 – Georgia Organics leveraged available stimulus dollars in Hall County to connect youth with green jobs on farms employing organic practices. Lynn Pugh from Cane Creek Farm was one farmer that played host to the young workers, which was a perfect fit as she is a former school teacher and developer of the “Fundamentals of Organic Farming and Gardening” curriculum offered by Georgia Organics.


Coordinated involvement in the Farm to School Field Hearing; testified before the Dunwoody City Council to keep their farmers market open; participated in federal food safety policy conference calls; and instituted advocacy updates in both the eDirt and The Dirt as a means of regular member updates on pertinent policy issues.

Reached 5,400 people through outreach events in the first six months of 2009. Photo 4 – Board President Will Harris, Communications Director Michael Wall, and board member Daron Joffe, at the Food Inc. “Hungry for Change?” panel discussion. The organization’s Facebook page passed the 1,600 fans mark. Featured in 13 media reports, including Henry Herald, Creative Loafing, Sunday Paper, and a letter to the editor in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. W ebsite

Held an all-day strategy meeting to outline a dynamic, robust new organizational website to be completed by the end of the year. Meetings and bids from eight web firms have been completed.


Membership is 1,300 strong! Signed an agreement with eTapestry as our new online constituent management program. Data conversion is underway, and our member management will be enhanced to allow direct login for membership accounts. E vents

Celebrated the grand opening of Five Seasons Brewing’s new location and Chef Dave Larkworthy prepared a feast of tastes to raise $1,000 for Georgia Organics. Pizza Fusion hosted a 10 percent benefit night for members and donated $300 back to the organization. G rants

Secured a renewed partnership grant from USDA’s Risk Management Agency to continue farmer to farmer mentoring and education in 20092010. Submitted 10 grant requests between April and June to support farmer outreach, farm to school, website development and general operations.

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Sowing Seeds | Continued from page 1 Another factor is access; some schools don’t provide the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables, if any at all.

school garden, planted and maintained by students, teachers, parents, school staff, and community members.

There are many other factors, too, and it’s crucial for the good food movement to admit that there’s not a magic bullet that can solve these challenges.

They also include an integrated standardbased curriculum focused on nutrition, science, literature, math, and local community history.

With 13 percent of the state living at or below the poverty level, buying local is not an option for many Georgians.

The curriculum and garden are coupled with breakfast and lunch menus that feature fresh, local fruit, vegetables, and meat. Students take field trips to farms, and explore the holistic connection that links food, health, the environment, and local economies.

The harsh reality is that it’s as true to say that those who are most likely to become obese in Georgia are black, Hispanic and poor, as it is to say that the people who crowd the state’s largest farmers’ markets for fresh, wholesome food are white and affluent. It’s also fair to say the strongest message to come out of the obesity report is that current health and wellness programs are utterly failing, and Americans are paying the price for it in billions of dollars, early deaths, and amputated limbs and glaucoma – two common results of diabetes. The scale and impact of the obesity epidemic is a key motivator for one of Georgia Organics newest and most empowering programs.



One quarter of all healthcare costs go to treating obesity related conditions.

Farm to school efforts, coordinated by Georgia Organics’ Erin Croom, are making historic inroads that could prove to be a major step in addressing the health and eating habits of Georgia’s children. In a nutshell, farm to school programs connect schools with local farms, allowing schools to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias, support local farmers, and provide nutrition education experiences that can improve long-term eating habits. Farm to school programs are based on the premise that students will choose healthier foods, including more fruits and vegetables, if they are fresh, locally grown, and picked at the peak of their flavor, and if those choices are reinforced with educational activities. A typical program will include an edible

It’s important that a student’s first exposure to the farm to school concept be as positive as possible. For this, Croom relies on various secret weapons that are guaranteed to delight and impress almost any child. A handful of top chefs regularly volunteer to lead classrooms through cooking demonstrations and taste-testings. Cathy Conway of Avalon Catering, Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Seth Freedman with the Mendez Foundation’s Seeds of Nutrition program, the rogueApron network, and Christy Nolton of the Graveyard Tavern are regular donors of their time, passions, and expertise. Freedman and Nichole Lupo, with the Seeds of Nutrition program, are valuable partners in Croom’s farm to school work.

Restaurant Eugene Chef Linton Hopkins demonstrates pare at E. Rivers Elementary School.

students who grow and prepare garden fresh food are more likely to eat and enjoy it.

Each time the chefs prepare a meal for a class, dozens of students experience fresh, tasty food, and learn the benefits of nutritious eating. When attached to a curriculum, experiential learning has proven to be more effective at improving long-term eating habits than traditional curricula that rely on memorizing the food pyramid.

As for the Cafeteria, schools report up to a 16 percent increase in school meal participation when farm fresh food is served through farm to school programs.

The Georgia Organics program targets the four “C”s: Classroom, Community & Farms, Culinary, and Cafeteria.

In that time, Georgia Organics has taken the farm to school concept to new heights in Georgia.

Classroom activities involve hands-on learning, which is crucial to the farm to school experience, and can be connected to Georgia Performance Standards. The Community component simply enables students to put a face to a real, working farmer, and fosters relationships between schools and their farming neighbors down the road. The Culinary component has shown that

Croom began Georgia Organics’ Farm to School program in 2007 as a volunteer, and joined the staff fulltime on July 16, 2008.

Georgia Organics launched quarterly roundtables, and provided targeted workshops for teachers, parents, students, farmers, school administrators, and food service professionals. Croom has spearheaded a new farm to school alliance with officials from the Georgia Dept. of Education, Georgia Dept. of Agriculture, Division of Public Health, and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The group is exploring partnerships that have never been attempted before, educational outreach, and policy opportunities.

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says Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls. “It’s time people asked why schoolchildren are served Washington apples, and not Georgia apples. Or why they aren’t given Georgia watermelon in September.” But the next farm to school challenge is radically more difficult in scope – and importance. It involves re-writing the national legislation that governs the type of lunch students eat at school each day. Success could mean that school systems nationwide would incorporate some degree of farm to school programming, and could even mean that some schools would procure a certain percentage of their lunch food from local sources. In short, the good food community has been given a tremendous opportunity to help shape a fresher, healthier future for the nation's children, in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. The act includes programs and subsequent funding for the national school lunch program, among other things.

that food can be delicious, healthy, and easy to pre-

Dedicated moms, devoted teachers, passionate nutritional directors, Croom, and many others encouraged the Atlanta Public Schools and City of Decatur Schools to choose to adopt system-wide initiatives to incorporate farm to school principles into their wellness policies. They are the first school systems in the state to do so. With this effort, Georgia Organics finds itself in new territory. For the first time, health and education groups are turning to Georgia Organics for leadership and advice. “Finally, many people are taking a commonsense perspective and seeing that health has something to do with food, where it comes from, and how it’s grown or processed,”

One of the cornerstones of Georgia Organics’ newly elevated advocacy effort is to encourage Congress to request that the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization include $50 million in mandatory funding for farm to school programs. This would fund 100 to 500 projects per year with up to $100,000 to cover start-up costs for farm to school programs.

Chef Christy Nolton of the Graveyard Tavern dishes out local cuisine during a cooking demonstration at Burgess Peterson Elementary School in East Atlanta.

A act

Participate in Slowfood USA’s “Time for Lunch” Eat-In campaign. An Eat-In is a potluck that takes place in public and gathers people to support a cause - like getting real food into schools.

The latest version of the act is set to expire on September 30, 2009.

On Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009, people in communities all over the country will sit down to share a meal with their neighbors and kids. This National Eat-In will send a clear message to Congress: It's time to provide America's children with real food at school.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss is a ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, the key committee in drafting the Child Nutrition Act, and getting his support for this campaign will be a major boost for farmers and schools statewide. “The most important thing we can do this year to improve the health of America's children, and make a down payment on health care reform, is to reform the school lunch program,” author Michael Pollan says. “By feeding our children real food, ideally from local farms, and keeping junk food out of the schools, we can accomplish many things at once: reduce the risk of type II diabetes, which is bankrupting the health care system, revitalize local agriculture, and teach our children good food habits that will last a life time.”

Please contact Sen. Saxby Chambliss today.

Learn more at Info

Visit these resources to learn more. farm_to_school.php



Treating obesity costs Georgia $2 billion annually.

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New Research Sheds Light on Why Fresh, Wholesome Food is Healthier New Georgia Organics board member Diane Harris is an Associate Researcher at the UCLA Center for Excellence in Pancreatic Diseases, and is currently expanding her training in public health at Emory University. On the whole, Americans do a lousy job of eating enough fruits and vegetables. Only one in four of us eat even a minimal recommendation for fruits and veggies every day. There are compounds that are unique to plant-based foods that increasingly are found to be important in preventing disease. These compounds, called phytochemicals or phytonutrients, are found in plants that are not required for normal functioning of the body, but have a beneficial effect on health or an active role in prevention of disease.

We’re learning that, for several reasons, the best way to get the health benefits of phytochemicals is by eating the whole plant food, rather than taking supplements. But here’s the really, really important part. Research is increasingly showing that individual phytochemicals are probably most effective in combinations with other phytochemicals, as found naturally in whole foods. In the case of my example of lycopene, eating tomatoes as a tomato sauce condenses the lycopene and carotenoids, and when they are consumed with a little olive oil, as common in Italian dishes, absorption of the fatsoluble carotenoids is enhanced. However, eating tomatoes with broccoli will provide an additional set of sulfur-containing phytochemicals, and experimental evidence suggests that the combination of the two kinds of phytochemicals may be more effective in combating prostate cancer than either alone. Also, by eating real food there is almost no possibility of getting too much of these beneficial phytochemicals. But harmful effects, or toxicities, are a risk when dietary supplements are overused.

On a biochemical level, these phytochemicals can act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, they can modulate cell growth and death, regulate hormone action, and more. Photo by Colin Owens

What’s so exciting is that there are an estimated 25,000 different chemical compounds that occur in fruits, vegetables, and other plant parts eaten by humans. So far only a fraction of these have been studied. Understanding the action of phytochemicals is an active area of research, especially in the context of cancer prevention, which is my field. In my own laboratory work, I study how certain phytochemicals from edible plant sources might reduce inflammation, which is a promoter of cancer development.

An employee-owned company

Come to us for all your organic pest and disease control needs. or call us toll-free at 1-877-564-6697 Winslow, ME U.S.A.


Furthermore, a number of studies have shown that produce grown using organic methods have higher levels of certain phytochemicals than their conventionally grown counterparts. For example, studies out of my alma mater, University of California Davis, show that organic tomatoes have higher levels of several important antioxidants. In addition, many phytochemicals degrade over time, so you can see if produce is transported across country or across the world, there is a greater chance that quality will be lost. All this tells us is that your best bet of obtaining these healthful phytochemicals is to find the freshest produce grown close to home and preferably grown using organic standards.

Adams-Briscoe Seed Company “The ABCʼs of Buying Seed” 325 E. Second St. / P.O. Box 19 Jackson, GA. 30233-0019

Since 1946 Adams-Briscoe Seed Company has been serving agriculture and the seed industry with all types of seeds, many of which are difficult to locate elsewhere. We stock all types of seeds for cover crops, forages, erosion control, wildlife enhancement, vegetables, land reclamation and other uses. As a dealer for National Garden Wholesale we also supply a good assortment of organic fertilizers and plant protection products. Please contact us for a seed and product list. You may visit our website at

Phone: (770) 775-7826 FAX:(770) 775-7122 E-Mail : ABSEED@JUNO.COM Jimmy Adams Mail Orders Welcome * Credit Cards Accepted Greg Adams



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MEMBER PROFILE - Hannah Solar U sing the S un to A ssist S ustainable F armers This year, renewable energy grant dollars at the State and Federal levels are up more than 500 percent from last year, thanks in part to stimulus dollars available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Like other members, we have a sincere interest and investment in sustainable strategies and technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help us become more caring and active earth stewards. "Our favorite thing about being a member is the passion of the people involved. We are moved by the commitment of Georgia Organics members to build and sustain the green food movement. We are proud to do our part in ensuring the success of Georgia Organics and its individual members, and building a legacy of environmental stewardship for our own children and future generations.

Hannah Solar designs and installs solar electric, solar thermal and wind power systems for clients ranging from farms and businesses to municipalities and home owners. Jay Richardson: "Most growers are interested in offsetting their operational costs and carbon emissions at the same time. One of our best-known projects is at White Oak Pastures working with Will Harris. "We joined Georgia Organics because we found likeminded businesses and individuals here. We believe in the green values, ethics, and goals of organic growers, who are leading us in healthy food growing practices.

Hannah Solar’s Pete Marte and Jay Richardson install solar panels on the roof of the White Oak Pastures operation plant Info

Learn more about Hannah Solar, contact Pete Marte.

"Our vision for the sustainable food and farm community in Georgia is to help farmers provide our communities healthy food, generate healthy electricity, and receive healthy revenues for their energy contribution."

Good Shade For All


Georgia Organics garden hat. Order by Aug. 31, 2009, and receive a pair of Nitrile Touch garden gloves.

$15 Georgia Organics baseball cap. Mesh back or solid back The small print: Shipping rates will vary. Contact Stephanie at 678-702-0400 to order.


Shop Local! Own Local!

Everyone Can Shop, Anyone Can Join! to learn about co-ops

467 Moreland Ave NE Atlanta, GA 404-681-2831


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Organizations Earth Share of Georgia • Georgia Organics is a proud member of Earth Share of Georgia, which provides a simple way to care for our air, land and water. As Georgia’s only environmental fund, Earth Share partners with businesses and employees to support more than 60 leading environmental groups, including Georgia Organics. If you work for a company that has the United Way campaign find out how your business can offer an environmental choice. Contact Alice Rolls at 678.702.0400. Southface • Promotes sustainable homes, workplaces, and communities. Free tour of the Energy & Environmental Resource Center, 241 Pine St, Atlanta. 404.872.3549 or e-mail info@southface. org or

Classifieds Destiny ORGANICS is a CERTIFIED organic produce distributor located in the State Farmers Market in Atlanta shipping the highest quality organic produce to large and small retailers, co-ops, and buying clubs throughout the Southeast. Destiny Organics also sells supplemental produce to buying clubs/co-ops that distribute CSA/Organic produce boxes to their members. We also offer a direct box program to buying clubs and co-ops, who handle subscription sales - Destiny does the work and delivers the boxes to you! We are looking to buy organic produce from certified organic growers in the Southeast, and we can offer growers widespread distribution and marketing of locally grown organic produce. Please contact Dee Dee Digby at 404.366.7006 or 866.366.7006.

Events Calendar For more information and event registration, please visit

Aug. 9 , 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival ; Atlanta, Ga.

Join Georgia Organics and JCT Kitchen as we pay homage to the summer wonder, the mighty tomato! Teams of chefs, mixologists, and local farmers will feature creative tomato dishes and drinks at this hip event featuring live music from the Spazmatics. All proceeds will benefit Georgia Organics. Cost: $50 per person, $45 for GO members, $90 VIP ticket available which includes admission to an expanded open bar during the entire event. Visit to register or contact Jennifer Owens at for more information.

Aug. 15, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Chicks and the City; Decatur, Ga.

Hosted by Oakhurst Community Garden and guided by Andy Schneider, the Chicken Whisperer, this is an intro to coop design, relevant ordinances, breed selection, care and feeding, and resources with a local keeper of an “urban flock. Cost: $25 OCG members, $30 non-members. Visit or contact Stephanie Van Parys at for more information.

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Events Calendar Continued Aug. 20, 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. Organic Farmer’s Tool Chest: Essentials for Organic and Sustainable Farmers; Zebulon, Ga.

Hosted by Georgia Organics, this in-depth workshop will provide valuable training and resources in farm and crop planning and recordkeeping, the basics of organic certification, rotations, cover crops, and insect identification and management. Cost: $35 for Georgia Organics members, $45 for non-members. Prices include a tour of D and A Farms, lunch, and take-home resources. Visit to register, or contact Karen Adler at for more information.

Georgia Organics Field Day Sept. 27, 4 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Sylvania, Ga.

Relinda Walker, farmer and educator, will share her knowledge of farming, marketing, and transitioning 50 acres (and counting) of her family farm to organic certification over the past seven years. Walker Farms produces a variety of vegetables and grains, including onions and onion seedlings. End-of-summer and fall practices, including cover cropping and farm planning, will be demonstrated. Relinda will also discuss her marketing strategies, and her upcoming work to transition an additional 17 acres to organic with the assistance of the new Organic Initiative through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the USDA. Cost: $15 to Georgia Organics Members, $20 for non-members.

Sept. 26, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Georgia Foodways Grow, Cook, Eat Festival; Clayton, Ga.

Hosted by Georgia Foodways, this event pairs restaurants with local growers to present fresh, local foods. Sample products from local producers including, vegetables, berries, flowers, herbs, canned goods, cheeses, honey, and grains. Also featured: live music, seminars, a raffle, and activities for the whole family. Cost: $20 For more information, contact Cricket at (706) 772-1520.

Fundamentals of Organic Farming and Gardening

Sept. 18- Oct. 18 • Cumming, Ga. From soil health to marketing, participants learn the basics of organic farming and gardening in this series of seven classes taught by Lynn Pugh on alternating Saturdays at Cane Creek Farm. Each class starts with morning lectures, discussions, and videos. Lessons are reinforced with hands-on activates in the field, greenhouse, or on a field trip to area farms. Targeted to adults who want to jump-start their organic growing projects. Prior experience or education is not required. Cost: $450 for Georgia Organics members; $475 for non-members. For registration and more information, visit w w

Is your membership current? Check mailing label for your expiration date & renew today.

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the Dirt is a quarterly publication of Georgia Organics, Inc. Support provided through a partnership with the Rick Management Agency (RMA) of the USDA.

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The Dirt is a quarterly publication of Georgia Organics, Inc. Support provided through a partnership with the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of the USDA. Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with soy ink.

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Newsletter - Summer 2009  

Summer 2009 Issue of the Georgia Organics Newsletter