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a growing food movement





















ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL


market. I’ll also

I get excited about every issue of Southern Soil as

Jennifer Taylor,

it begins to come together, but this one has been especially fun for me. I hope you enjoy getting to know some of the women leading our local food

introduce you to an organic farmer and granddaughter of

movement as much as I have!

a sharecropper,

I stress the word “some” because this is only a

multiple boards

small representation of the many women here

that influence

in Southeast Georgia who are working hard to

policy and

improve our local food system. Whether it is on

organic farming standards and practices.

the farm, in the kitchen or the boardroom; women play an important role in the sustainable food movement.

who serves on

You can also get to know Janisse Ray, local author nationally recognized for her writing on the environment and rural communities here in

The demographics of farmers in America are changing and women are making up a growing percentage of new farmers. Though the food industry is one in which women are still largely 4

underrepresented, female chefs and restaurateurs are making their mark as well. In this issue, you’ll meet Relinda Walker, one of the area’s pioneers in organic vegetable farming and the current manager for Statesboro’s farmers

the Southeast, who attempts to live a sustainable lifestyle with her husband on their small farm near Reidsville. And Jovan Sage and I talk about her transition into farming as she embraces her call to the land and her calling as a healer.

a growing food movement

You’ll also want to read about Chef Lauren Teague’s

And Brandon Chonko of Grassroots farms is the

interesting transition from ballerina wannabe to

other new contributor in this issue - and the lone

award-winning chef! She’s also made a name for

male! He shines some well-deserved light on

herself in Savannah as a chef who supports local

the unsung hero of modern farming (where one

food producers.

member of the household often has to earn income away from the farm) - the farmer’s spouse, which in this case is the farmer’s wife. Be sure to read about the women who have influenced Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser throughout her culinary career, in her feature Some Kinda Good in the Neighborhood!

I’m happy to introduce a new contributor in this issue, Kirsten Breau. She has been working

We have some fantastic woman-owned businesses who are advertising in this issue, please take some time to click on their ads (and all our ads!) and get to know them. Without advertisers, I cannot do this work that I love to do! And without advertisers, you wouldn’t have the opportunity to read about the wonderful things that are going on here in our local communities. No one else is covering our local food movement to this degree. So, if you enjoy reading these articles please take a moment to “thank” our advertisers by visiting their

this year with the Forsyth Market through the

page, follow them on social media and give them

AmeriCorps VISTA. Kirsten brings us the stories

your business when you can! And if you have a

of two young women farmers: Marissa Paykos

business, please consider advertising with us - let’s

of Whippoorwill Farms and Madison Cowart of

grow together!

Bootleg Farms.

LeeAnna Tatum


ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019



SOIL a growing food




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ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019


Southern SOIL


a growing food movement

Relinda Walker:

woman on a mission

by LeeAnna Tatum

If you talk about local, organic food in Southeast

“So, I was like, yep, I need to go home and learn

Georgia, you have to talk about Walker Organic

how to farm and how to grow good food - healthy

Farms and Relinda Walker. Relinda is a pioneer

food,” Relinda explained.

of organic farming in the region. As a farmer, a Georgia Organics board member, a market organizer and now market manager - Relinda has been and continues to be a passionate proponent of organic agriculture. A Screven County native, Relinda left rural Georgia as a young woman to attend college and pursue a career, never imagining that farming would be in her future. After finding success, first in teaching and then in the tech industry, Relinda found her 9

thoughts turning toward her Georgia roots and the soil her father had worked throughout his lifetime. While living in New York, Relinda had been introduced to Joan Gussow, author of This Organic Life. Book and author made an impression. Her newly piqued interest in organic food, the loss of her mother and her father’s failing health all came together to make a compelling case for the move back to the farm. So, shortly after her mother passed away and her father had been diagnosed with a disease similar to Parkinson’s, Relinda made the decision to move home. But she moved back to the farm with more than just her father’s health in mind - she wanted to grow food.

So, in 2002, in her 50s, with a successful career in the tech industry behind her, Relinda returned to Screven County to learn as much about farming from her father as she could and to bring him some comfort and companionship in the time they had left together. Her father, Alston Walker, had a lifetime of farming experience to share, but it wasn’t all in line with Relinda’s own plans. (con tinued on page 10)

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 9)

about farming, even from people who are not doing it organically.” Relinda and her father had eight years together on the farm before he passed. “My dad farmed all of his life, it’s all he ever did. And loved it, absolutely loved it … When I came back … We really bonded over the farm. It turned out I had a love for it that just sort of blossomed late. And we had so much connection over that - it was a really positive thing.”


When asked if her father had used organic

Father and daughter learned from each other and

methods, Relinda responded emphatically, “No, no.

they learned new things together through their

And we had many head-buttings over that because

shared time on the family farm. Though he had

in the beginning he was very doubtful. I think many

his doubts in the beginning, he was proud of his

traditional farmers ... chemical farmers take it as

daughter and enjoyed showing off her work on the

a criticism or an insult when you say you want to

farm to his friends. He was so excited when she

farm in a different way.”

bought her first tractor, that she let him take it for its maiden spin.

And it wasn’t just her own father’s skepticism Relinda had to navigate, other area farmers had

“One of the things that he really enjoyed ... was my

similar reactions to her unfamiliar ideas. While she

work with Ag professionals and entomologists and

may not have won them over entirely to her way

others ... they would come to the farm ... and it just

of thinking, in the end, she did get a lot of help and

tickled him to death to have those folks sit down at

support from her community.

our dinner table and talk to them about farming and talk about what they knew.”

“I had a lot of the local farmers who did support me. And while they scratched their heads and made

“In the end, he was very proud and I think he did

occasionally derogatory remarks, at the same

get a lot of satisfaction out of it...He said to me

time, they were there for me to loan equipment

towards the end, ‘I think you got into this at the right

or advise me. Because there’s a lot to be learned


a growing food movement

is where she developed relationships with scientists and Ag professionals who worked at UGA and the USDA. Though they weren’t career organic farmers, their research was valuable and they were interested in learning more about how it could be applied to organic farming which led to useful collaborations. By 2005, Relinda was devoting her time fully to farming and had got the first 20 acres of the farm certified organic. Ultimately she was able to achieve certification for 67 acres, While Relinda was learning to farm organically,

giving her a substantial organic farm that was

she did a lot of reading, attended conferences

much bigger than average but still much smaller

and worked closely with Georgia Organics. Part of

than the large-scale commercial operations out of

that work included organizing workshops which

California. (con tinued on page 1 4)


ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL

l i o S n r Southe Swag Show your support for the local sustainable food movement southern style!


a growing food movement

Ode to a Farm Wife By Brandon Chonko

It is no easy task being married to a farmer. Faint

of the highest order. She is the glue holding this

of heart need not apply. It is a job fraught with

modern family together. You see, the farm was my

peril. Dizzying highs, terrifying lows. Through my

dream. I have learned through her that each human

career in agriculture my wife has shown me time

on earth is entitled to their own hopes and dreams.

and time again what true love looks like. Let’s face

Farming can be like an addiction. In times of plenty

it. The days of man and wife working side by side

you tend to think that you’ve finally turned that pro-

with the children on the family farm have largely

verbial corner. In the lean times the desperation and

disappeared. These days, more than likely one

stress can literally be too much to bear. Through

spouse works off the farm. The extra income is

it all I have my wife. There to cheer me on. Pick

essential for the family and without it there actually

me up. The voice of reason. She has fed chickens,

would be no farm. My wife works days leading the

watered hogs, collected past due invoices. She has

beautiful choir and music program at Saint Marys

sacrificed much to be married to this profession. A

United Methodist Church in Saint Marys, Georgia.

million thank yous would not be enough. From my-

By night she wrangles children to bed, helps with

self, the kids, all I can really say is, I cannot imagine

homework, shuttles to and from sports and dance.

where we would be without you.

She wears no cape but indeed she is a superhero 13

Nadia and Brandon Chonko ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 11)

This left Walker Organic Farm in an unusual

years before realizing I needed a sounder business

situation that didn’t exactly set it up for financial

as a foundation. So, I dug myself a pretty big hole.”

success. Too large to manage weeding by hand efficiently, labor costs quickly began to add up.

There are certainly lessons to be taken away from

At any given time, approximately 20 acres were

Relinda’s experiences on the farm.

rotated out of vegetable production for cover crops including grain, but that still left significant acreage to be managed for weeds.

business plan in place and check frequently to see

Relinda never found a shortage of customers and

She also stresses the importance of knowing your

always buyers for the food she produced. But with

customers. Who are you growing food for? What

labor costs eating away at the bottom line, financial

are the needs in the marketplace?

sustainability was difficult to achieve.

how the reality is stacking up against the plan.

But it shouldn’t be all about hard work and strategic

Admittedly, Relinda went into farming being

planning. She also suggests that you grow what

driven by the desire to produce good food and

you yourself like to eat! And to make sure that you

establishing a viable business plan had not been a

find the joy in it along the way.



Her advice to anyone starting out is to have a good

“Enjoy. Make sure that you’re doing it in a way that

“I was driven by food and wanting to grow food

you’re experiencing the joy of it. For me, that’s a

and to grow clean food. This was not like, oh this

kind of dichotomy. There’s the financial side - and

is a business opportunity, it was a mission - no

you have to make sure that works - but at the same

question. And unfortunately, it took me quite a few

time, you’ve got to make sure that you feel like you’re achieving your mission and you’re really reaping joy out of the process.” When it comes to organic farming, Relinda admits one of the biggest challenges is weeds! “Figuring out an economic model that’s really sustainable is

a growing food movement

probably ultimately the big challenge. On the

“And there is a strong component of women in

ground, it’s weeds. And day to day, it’s managing

organic farming,” she continued. “Among local

what needs to be done and having the people to

farmers, I couldn’t tell if they were more skeptical if

carry that out.”

I was a woman coming to do this or because I was doing it organically,” she said laughingly.

Having spent most of her career in a predominantly male environment prior to getting into farming,

“Probably, they started out giving me the benefit

Relinda was already used to being the odd woman

of the doubt because I was my father’s daughter,”

out, so to speak.

Relinda said of the farmers in her community, “and ultimately were like, ‘she seems like she knows

“I think there were biases,” she said when asked

what’s she’s doing.’ I almost can’t overstate the

whether or not being a woman in agriculture

amount of help I got from fellow farmers even if

came with any particular challenges. “But I have

they were skeptical about my methods.”

always kind of worked outside of the traditional side of things. I was a manufacturing manager in

“There’s just something about the fact that people

technology companies. So, I guess I was sort of

who are trying to make a living growing things

accustomed to people’s first reaction maybe being

- there’s a commonality there that you have to

negative, but I always felt like I could hold my own.”

support each other.” (con tinued on page 16)


ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 15)

What Relinda loved most about farming was the

feeling of having let down her faithful customers.

relationship with the food and with her customers. She developed particularly strong relationships with

But Relinda is still working as an enthusiastic

area chefs who truly appreciated the superior flavor

proponent of organic farming and local food here in

of the produce she grew.

Georgia - through her work with Georgia Organics and as the market manager for the Statesboro

“Walking through the fields and tasting the food


and sharing that with people at the market or with the chefs - people who could really appreciate how

Relinda was instrumental in getting the market

fantastic that was,” is how Relinda described the

going early on as one of the founding vendors, both

aspect of farming she most enjoyed.

at the Statesboro Market and Forsyth Market in Savannah.

“Sometimes it would be under the shed when we were harvesting and we had this whole table full of

She is also committed to helping new people find

just gorgeous food and I’d go around tasting it. The

their way to farming because she believes the

local crew who worked on farms before, but not

market is there, the demand for organic produce

organic ones, just kept shaking their heads because


I would walk and eat ... I would eat everything raw, I would taste it in the field. And they sort of learned to do that eventually. Okra tastes no better than 16

when you first just break it off the stalk and have a

“There’s plenty of market out there,” Relinda explained. “What we don’t have enough of - and it’s because of the economics primarily - we don’t

bite like that!”

have enough people who are willing to do farming.

With Walker Organic Farms no longer being actively

willing to see that farmers make a decent living.”

farmed, a big hole has been left in the marketplace for local, organically grown vegetables. This is one of Relinda’s biggest regrets, coupled with the

We don’t have a society that values farming and is

She has recently begun collaborating with a few other market administrators to see what they can do to encourage new farmers to join the system. “We’re interested in trying to get more farmers, get more people growing food on land that’s available. Like my farm for example. And bringing people in, including people from out of the country, who are willing to come and live a farming lifestyle and grow stuff! We need more farmers.” “I guess that’s the new mission,” she said, “to find and help create and nurture - to cultivate the next generation of farmers.”


or w m k oo B e

a growing food movement

reading the best and weeding the rest



In her book The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, Janisse Ray discusses the vital work that seed savers are doing to protect our food sources and biodiversity. In her conversational approach to storytelling, Ray conveys the dire impact that corporations have had on our collective seed supply, not only through genetic modification and patenting but also through the process of selecting to preserve seeds that work well commercially regardless of other considerations (like a little thing called taste).

the spark of life and hope that lies ready to take root within the reader, germinating the desire to protect our plant heritage, and cultivating the need to put hands in soil and take part in the revolutionary act of gardening. 17

But thankfully there are still those among us who are working diligently to save a wide variety of heirloom plants through the process of seed saving - which requires a great deal of seed planting and growing as well! Ray has traveled the country to meet with a few of this quirky cast of characters and shares their stories and those of their seeds; conveying the message that not only is it important to protect biodiversity through seed saving but it’s also essential to preserve the cultural heritage that is integrally connected to the seed. Ray’s book acts as a seed itself, holding within it

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019



Southern SOIL

a growing food movement

Jovan Sage:

embracing the call to heal

by LeeAnna Tatum

Jovan Sage is a woman of many talents. She

“The land here kept calling us back... it’s hard to

is an herbalist, wellness coach, entrepreneur,

balance living in the city and coming out to the

restaurateur, food justice activist, community

farm,” Jovan explained. “We saw what we were

organizer, and most recently has added farmer to

trying to do out here (on the farm) was suffering, so

the list. But at the heart of it all is her belief in the

it was time for us to let go of that brick and mortar

healing power of food.


Through the many changes in Jovan’s life, one

“I think everything happened for a reason,” she

thing has always remained remarkably consistent.

continued, “to bring us back to this space and to

Weaving like an unbroken strand through the

this grounding - the work that we’re meant to do

tapestry of her life has been her strong connection

here... Even though it was a tough decision, it was

to food.

the right decision … We’re excited to make that move and to really reorient our work in a way that

This past year has been one of transition for Jovan

feeds us and feeds the work that we’re here to do.”

as she and her partner Matthew Raiford recently


closed down their “brick and mortar” restaurant

It’s a new beginning for Jovan, yet in many ways it

The Farmer and the Larder that was located in

is simply the next step in the journey she began as

downtown Brunswick for approximately four years.

a child growing up in the farmers market in Kansas

The couple have been feeling a call to return to the

City where she learned to appreciate foods from

land that has been farmed by Matthew’s family

all over the world and formed an understanding of

for generations and have chosen to focus their

where ingredients came from and how they could

attention on the farm.

come together to create something delicious to nourish and even heal the body. That journey continued throughout her school years in an academic setting that incorporated agricultural education with traditional subjects. “Having those kinds of experiences where my education was very hands-on and multicultural and interactive, to growing up in the farmers market … working in my grandfather’s shop and seeing the fresh watermelon come in and the corn, and talking (con tinued on page 20)

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 19)

to the farmers. Tasting the international spices

As she began to do more in her own kitchen,

then going home, taking that produce and cooking

experimenting with flavor combinations and

it … even though I didn’t live in the country, I had

preserving fresh fruits through her jams. She found

very deep roots connected to the country and to

the creative outlet was empowering and that food


could be healing. This was the starting point for Sage’s Larder.

Jovan continued her connection to agriculture throughout her career as she worked first as an

“Part of my New York City roots was learning

activist as Director of Network Engagement for

how to heal myself through food,” Jovan recalled.

Slow Food USA. And then again as she transitioned

“Getting my hands in the dirt. I did my own rooftop

into managing cafes in New York. It was during this

garden, I learned how to cook from scratch and

period in her life that she felt a yearning to connect

became an urban chicken keeping apprentice.”

with the soil … any soil … to put hand in dirt and cultivate her own food.

Jovan had met Matthew at an international Slow Food conference in Italy. Jovan was there as part of


Living in New York City didn’t afford many

her duties with the organization and Matthew was

opportunities for gardening, so she created her

attending as a representative of African American

own garden space on the rooftop of the building

farmers in the South. The two hit it off and began a

where she lived. She was also introduced to

long distance relationship that lasted for a couple

keeping chickens during this time and found the

of years until Matthew was able to convince Jovan

experience to be more rewarding than she could

to join him in Brunswick.

have imagined. The couple successfully started and ran their restaurant The Farmer and The Larder in downtown Brunswick until answering the call to return to Matthew’s family farm, Gilliard Farms, full time. It’s a return to the land that many African Americans are making, especially here in the South. As with women farmers, it is a growing trend in agriculture and one I asked Jovan to address from her own unique perspective. For Jovan and Matthew part of

a growing food movement

what compelled them to return to farming was

“For us to be here in the space right now, it’s

knowing that the land was there and it was being

nothing short of amazing and there’s a lot of

underutilized and a feeling of responsibility to make

pressure that goes with that as well. how do we

it productive again.

properly steward this land and how do we ... if we’re looking to make a living on this land. how do we do

Jovan speculated that a lot of family farms are

that in a way that is responsible, sustainable - not

lost because the connection to the land gets lost.

just for the land but also for ourselves - and really

“That’s how people end up losing their land … you

keep up that long-term legacy.”

get this parcel from your grandmother and you have these memories (of growing up on the farm or

“I think that’s the question before us right now …

visiting the farm), but you don’t use it and you don’t

we’re wanting to make this work. So how do we do

bring your kids to create their own memories, so

that in a rural setting... using our talents and using

they have no connection to the land.”

our experience, using the work that we’ve done nationally and internationally - how do we make it

“...there are folks who want to farm who are so

work right here in Brunswick Georgia?”

excited to get back to the land and get their hands in the dirt and steward land - but they don’t have

Although Matthew’s family has kept their farm for

land … The idea that you would have land and not

multiple generations, Jovan’s family history with the

have people on it, working it and living on it, you

land was more representative of the larger African

can’t disconnect the two.”

(con tinued on page 2 2)


ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 2 1)

American population. Continuing to live through

farmers … people didn’t want to pay us what white

farming was not always an option and many were

farmers were paid. Farming is already tough as it

forced to move to more urban areas and further

is, so the idea that you’re not getting the same price

North to find opportunities for supporting their

for the same work, it’s just criminal.”

families. “So you can see that migration, my grandfather was “A lot of conversations I’ve had over the years,”

part of that, he was on family land in Mississippi

Jovan said, “are that folks want to work the land,

and then moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where my

folks want to return to the land. It wasn’t that we

mom was born. To leaving her behind when she

- and I can speak from my family lineage - didn’t

was less than a year, because it was tough to get

want to work the land, it was that the conditions,

and keep work, so he ended up moving to Chicago.”

especially here in the South, were hostile.” “That’s how a lot of folks ended up in Chicago (and


‘It was hostile for us to try to make a living on the

other urban areas) was because of that migration.

land that we had,” she continued. “There were so

This idea of we can’t make a living here so we have

many barriers from farm services to markets -

to go where we can find jobs. You’ll find so many

that’s part of why Southern Federation Cooperative

black folks concentrated in cities, but not everybody

- was created was specifically because black

wants to be a city mouse! So, many of us spent

a growing food movement

summers and holidays coming to the country

more fully into her own calling as a healer and

and spending time with family and learning about

wellness coach.

chickens and about grandma’s canning.” “It took me a long time to really lean into the fact “There’s this idea of how do we feed ourselves,

that part of what I’m here to do is to help people

how do we take care of ourselves? Some people

heal. And I resisted it for a long time. Because

just want to farm, to get their hands in the dirt.

who makes money doing that?” Jovan laughingly

There’s this back to the land idea - how do we heal


ourselves? How do we feed ourselves? And how do we get some elbow room?”, Jovan said with a

“For me as a healer, it’s not that I’m going out and


healing people ... it’s this idea of going out and empowering people to take ownership of their own

“And people are growing where they are. I was living

healing, to take ownership of what’s on their plate,

in New York City and I was just like, I’ve got to get my hands in the dirt! So, I threw bags of dirt on my shoulder, went up my 3 story walk up and climbed up the fire escape to the rooftop. I think that for me and for other people, it’s like how to we get to this deeper sense of self?” “For us, it’s this idea of how do we fully express


the human experience? Some people just want to farm and I think we’re starting to hear more of those voices of individuals who want to farm. As

to take ownership of how mindful they are of what

we look at the food industry and look at all the food

information they are putting in their body.”

recalls and what’s going on with GMOs and with pesticides. I think people are trying to figure out

“I still resist in some ways, getting over that battle

how do we go about doing this for ourselves so

with self over what we’re put on this earth to do.

we’re not afraid of what’s on our plate?”

I think what the world needs right now is more people who can help guide people to greater

“I think that’s a really big thing working through

balance and healing within themselves - there just

other folks as well. Is fearing what’s on our plate

needs to be more of us.”

- we shouldn’t be afraid of our food. It’s supposed to feed us, it’s supposed to heal us - all of these

Jovan is looking forward to being able to

things. so I think people are trying to figure out how

incorporate the farm into work and bring the two

do we assert sovereignty over our own lives. Part of

separate entities into a functioning symbiotic

that has to do with the soil.”


As Jovan returns to the land, she is also stepping

“For me as a healer, as an herbalist as a wellness (con tinued on page 2 5)

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL

Have you heard?!? No “pay to play”!


Here at Southern Soil, we don’t engage in the “pay to play” method of choosing content. In other words, we will NEVER require you to pay a fee or purchase advertising in order to be featured in this magazine. Our content decisions are driven by our shared values of sustainably produced foods: ethically and humanely raised animals, responsible use of natural resources and conscientious choices for the health of the animals, the planet and the humans too. We strive to provide content that will engage, entertain and educate our readers. We are not here to promote only those who can afford advertising, we’re here to support a community and regional movement - a growing food movement in Southeast Georgia. So, as we like to say, “pull up a chair and join the conversation!” We appreciate our advertisers and rely on that revenue to keep this conversation going. And we certainly invite you to be a part of our advertising family and help us continue to share great stories of local people doing their part to improve our local food system. But we will never deny you a seat at this table for choosing not to advertise!

a growing food movement (con tinued f r om page 2 3)

coach, I want to do smaller events geared toward

“For me as an herbalist, as a wellness coach and as

the wellness industry and healing … pulling back

an educator - how can I use this space in order to

to organized retreats and bringing some of that

do that education, to do that healing work in a way

energy to the farm.”

that reaches as many people as possible but also brings people here to this space to do that kind of work.” Her new role as farmer and this new opportunity to have a very real connection with the land will be a new challenge for Jovan but one for which she has had a lifetime of preparation. Jovan is a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. A lifetime of interest in herbal teas and natural medicines was fortified through her studies at North Florida School of Herbalism and she continues to build on her knowledge through work with the Herbal Academy.


“And connecting people to the land through agritourism. We’re working with the Hostel in the Forest (a nearby hostel where guests can have overnight stays) and then they come to the farm and do hands on food work. We create foods that are healing - fermented foods, fresh foods. And really center ourselves in a different way. I think that’s the great thing about land, it’s that space to dive deep and to work on your own healing.” “Whether you’re buying my teas or signing up for me to be your health and wellness coach or I’m putting together some tinctures for you - it’s this idea of how can we work together to get you to a better place. Whatever that looks like.”

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019


Southern SOIL


a growing food movement

Native Plant Highlight: Passionflower Passiflora incarnata, purple passionflower aka Maypop

By Karen Rawlins

This article is courtesy of the Coast Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society. The GNPS is dedicated to promoting the stewardship and conservation of Georgia’s native plants and their habitats. The Coastal Plain Chapter serves the people in the Coastal Plain ecoregion of Georgia. This includes all areas south of the Fall Line in middle Georgia, from the Alabama and Florida borders to the Atlantic ocean. To learn more, please visit their website. Passionflower is one of my favorite vines. It has

Caterpillars will eat the leaves, flowers, small fruits

interesting leaves, beautiful flowers, and acts

and tender stems. Passionflower usually grows

as host plant for Gulf Fritillary, Zebra Longwing,

back very quickly after being pruned by caterpillars.

Crimson-patch longwing, Red-banded hairstreak, Julia butterfly, Mexican butterfly. In addition, it is

In the landscape, Passionflower can easily be

a good nectar plant for adult butterflies and other

trained on a fence or trellis. Planting it next to a

wildlife can eat the fruits.

shrub with a short bloom time, gives you more flowers in that space without taking up extra room in the landscape. If it takes a while for the butterflies to find your plant you can pinch them back to encourage a denser growth. It can be propagated from 6-8 inch stem cuttings early in the season. Seed is sometimes difficult to germinate. There are many nonnative species, but the native passionflower is available commercially. “Passionflowers were named by scholar-priests who accompanied the Spanish Conquistadors.

You get a lot of conservation activity from this

The unusual form of the flowers reminded them of the Crucifixion and the Passion of Christ. The three styles and stigmas in the center represented

one plant.

nails, the 5 stamens beneath them were Christ’s

As with any perennial vine, it can be a thug in the

the 10 petals and sepals behind the fringe were

landscape. Fortunately because it is a host plants

the apostles except for Judas and Peter, Biblically,

for so many butterfly species, you will rarely need

‘passion’ means suffering” from Horn et al.

to prune it back. Passionflower I have grown has

Wildflowers of Tennessee etc.

wounds, the fringe was the crown of thorns, and

always been covered with gulf fritillary caterpillars. ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019


Southern SOIL Photo credit: Mike Suarez/A Greener World.


Anna Heaton looks at common factors for lameness in cattle — and options for prevention

Lameness in cattle can be defined as an abnormality that causes the animal to change the way it walks. Lameness is not a single disease, but a symptom of multiple conditions. It is not only painful for the affected animal, but has been shown to reduce production, appetite and fertility. A lame animal is not only in a state of pain and poor welfare: it is having an impact on your farm’s bottom line. Factors affecting lameness Lameness can be caused by infections, as well as environmental, animal or management factors. Reducing the risk of lameness requires an understanding of the factors present on your farm. The type of system cattle are kept in is key. Research shows that cows in pasture-based systems experience lower levels of lameness than cows kept in housed systems. Similarly, cows housed in straw yards have lower levels of lameness than those on slats. This “stands” to reason: consider the difference in standing on unyielding concrete versus walking on grass and soil, and how much your own feet hurt if you have to spend a day pounding the sidewalks in town. Managing your cows according to Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW standards will significantly reduce the risk of cows getting lame. But that doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about lameness and ways you can keep your animals’ feet and legs healthy. Other factors include breed and genetic characteristics. Research shows certain breeds are more (or less) susceptible to lameness. For example, Jersey cattle tend to have harder feet and suffer less from lameness, while Holstein Friesian cows generally experience more lameness problems than other breeds. Research also suggests that lighter animals are less prone to lameness, although one study found Guernsey cows more susceptible to white line disease. A range of management factors can impact lameness. The more time cows spend standing, the greater the risk, so both the size of the herd and the space available can be key factors. When it comes to space, it is not just the total area or number of free stalls, but whether animals that are less dominant can get away from others. There is evidence that lower

a growing food movement dominance animals spend more time standing and therefore have higher lameness risks. The risk of lameness also changes throughout the production cycle. Cows can become immunosuppressed around calving time and therefore more susceptible to certain types of lameness—particularly true for first-calving heifers. There seems to be a reduction in horn growth late in pregnancy for heifers, presumably partitioning energy to their developing calf rather than their own growth, which makes them more prone to bruising and other foot problems. Ensuring calving cows have space and comfort to lie down is essential to preventing lameness at this time. Types of lameness The majority (around 90%) of lameness in cattle involves the foot. Some of the main problems include the non-infectious sole ulcers and white line disease and infectious digital dermatitis (hairy warts). The main weight bearing area for cattle is the outer digit of a hind foot. Lameness problems are therefore more likely to be seen there, though the exact location will depend on the issue. Sole ulcers typically occur in the middle of the outer claw; white line disease on the outside of the outer claw. Each type of lameness has a different cause and treatment, the details of which go beyond the scope of this article. For more information, visit Farm Health Online (see right). Injury Injuries can also lead to lameness and a minor injury left untreated can become a severe infection that is much harder to cure. Injuries can result from debris on pastures or in handling areas. Puncture wounds to the sole can lead to deep infection which may be evident from swelling of the foot. A handy rule of thumb is that asymmetric swelling—where one side of the foot swells more than the other—is generally caused by deep infection. Symmetrical swelling either side of the midline of the foot is most likely to be footrot. It is important to examine the foot before deciding on the best course of treatment. Mobility scoring Early recognition, investigation and treatment of lame animals is essential to limit pain, aid

FURTHER INFORMATION Farm Health Online offers indepth advice on cow health. Visit farmhealthonline. com, select ‘disease management,’ ‘cattle diseases’ and then ‘lameness.’ The AssureWel Project provides guidance on mobility scoring. Visit dairycows/mobility The AHDB’s excellent mobility score guide (below) is available at Select ‘Resources library’, ‘Technical information,’ ‘Health & welfare’ and find Mobility score instructions.

recovery and minimize further complications. Regular on-farm mobility scoring is an important tool in identifying and resolving lameness issues. Mobility scoring is more than just looking out for lame animals when moving cows from pasture to pasture. Cows have evolved to mask most of the early signs of lameness (to avoid predation). In many cases, cows will go several weeks with painful foot lesions before showing obvious lameness. Mobility scoring helps to identify and take action on lameness early. Mobility scoring should be carried out at least monthly for dairy cows and every few months for beef cattle. Cows should ideally be scored while walking on a hard, non-slip surface. Each cow should be assessed individually, allowing them to take between 6–10 uninterrupted strides while observed from the side and the rear. Cows are scored from 0–3 (walking normally to severely lame). Results Scoring the herd will generate lists of cows that either need treatment now (score 2 or 3) or may need investigation or foot trimming (score 1). It is important to remember that it takes at least six weeks for sole bruising or a sole ulcer to become visible on the sole surface. Consequently, it is normal to find score 2 lame cows with innocuous lesions, such as sole overgrowth, outer hind claw overgrowth, toe overgrowth and mild surface bruising, generally indicating deeper sole bruising or ulceration. A key lameness prevention technique is routine foot trimming to maintain correct foot shape. Do not disregard a slightly lame cow with overgrown feet: without action this could develop into something much worse. Overall, the aim for the herd is for at least 85% of animals to score 0 or 1 and for no animals to score 3. Keep on moooving While pasture-based systems have a lower risk of lameness for cattle, problems can still occur causing pain to the animal and a potential loss of income. Monitor your herd carefully and take action at the first sign of lameness to keep your herd moving as they should. Anna Heaton is Lead Technical Advisor with A Greener World.

This article first appeared in A Greener World’s Sustainable Farming magazine, Winter 2019, pages 14-15. Reproduced here with kind permission. For more information about A Greener World—home of the world’s leading labels—visit .


Southern SOIL


a growing food movement

Some Kinda Good in the Neighborhood by Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser



A Dedication to the Women Who’ve Influenced My Cooking This issue of Southern Soil is a celebration of women in food. When I think about the women chefs and home cooks who’ve influenced me personally, there are many. I’ve often said I come from a long line of good cooks, starting with my grandmother and mom. They taught me early on the joy of cook-

ing and eating together; of sharing good food with the ones you love around the family table. For that I am grateful. Julia Child, Nathalie Dupree, Paula Deen, Sara Moulton, Ina Garten -- These are my idols in the kitchen, (con tinued on page 32)

I S S U where E ~ 2 Rebekah ~ 2019 Rebekah’s mom, Debbie, has been a big influence on her style of cooking and love of good food. At home grew up in Blythe, Georgia, the family table is full of great memories and Some Kinda Good food.


Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 3 1)

the women from whom I’ve learned so much. It was American chef and TV personality Julia Child who paved the way for so many female cooking show hosts, and I am well on my way of following in her footsteps. As many of you know, it’s my dream to host my own cooking show. Before I ever attended culinary school, I had already learned how to make a buttery, flaky Southern biscuit, how to fry chicken and the components of a good casserole. I understood how to make gravy and that pancetta came from the same part of the pig as country ham. I had spent hours watching these women cooking on TV, studying their 700-page cookbooks and cheering them on in food magazines. Throughout my culinary adventures, I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of these women, most recently Nathalie Dupree and Paula Deen. As a volunteer for the St. Simons Island Food & Spirits Festival in 2012, Rebekah assisted Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart as part of the Culinary Creations Cooking Stage. Clockwise from left: Cynthia Graubart, Rebekah’s mom, Debbie, Rebekah and Nathalie Dupree.


In 2012, I volunteered for the inaugural St. Simons Island Food and Wine Festival. I was assigned to the Culinary Creations Cooking Stage, where celebrity chefs performed cooking demonstrations. My responsibility was to help serve and prep food, greet festival guests, clean up and re-set the stage after each demonstration.

Paula Deen has been a tremendous influence on Rebekah’s cooking style of Southern, coastal cuisine. Rebekah had the opportunity to meet Paula at Savannah’s Lucas Theatre in 2015.

Photos in this article courtesy of Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser

Hands down, the coolest part of the entire event was my chance meeting with Nathalie Dupree. At one point during the day, my tent captain asked me to make a run to the grocery store for Nathalie to buy an extra bag of White Lily Self-Rising Flour. It was of pristine importance that the brand be White Lily. So, there I was driving my tent captain’s Volvo around St. Simons Island with a commercial kitchen-sized pan of freshly baked biscuits on the backseat, a pound of butter and pint of heavy cream. When I got to the only convenient grocery store on the island, every bag of White Lily Flour

a growing food movement

was gone. Every other brand was there, but none of them would do. I ventured over to Harris Teeter across the island and luckily found my flour. I made it back to the festival and as I’m carrying the biscuits to the golf cart, who pops out of the SUV parked right next to it, but Nathalie herself. She said, “Hey, where are you going?” And lo and behold, she wanted a ride. I walked over and hugged her neck and told her that my mom and grandma had been cooking from her cookbooks and watching her on TV for years. She responded with, “How wonderful” and greeted me like family. I drove her to the tent, and later that day had the opportunity to take a photo with her, along with Cynthia Graubart, food writer and cookbook author. If you know anything about Nathalie, she’s got a firecracker personality. Most folks would say “cheese” when they pose for a photo, but not her. As we were smiling for the camera, Nathalie said the word “sex” just for the pure fun of it. She is something else! Recently featured in Southern Living magazine, Nathalie is still someone I hold in high esteem today.

a-mile-a-minute. She probably thought I was crazy, but she was so kind and hugged my neck like she’d been knowing me for years. She was the personable, warm and sweet-spirited woman I had grown to know and love, oozing with Southern hospitality and authentic drawl. She encouraged me to keep cooking. That day was August 15. It wasn’t until a few years later, when my husband and I were engaged to be married, after we’d set our wedding date, that I realized its significance. Not only was August 15 the day I met Paula, it also happens to be Julia Child’s birthday. We wed on St. Simons Island, August 15, 2015. Call it coincidence or fate, but either way this ironic display of events made me grin from ear-to-ear. To all the female chefs and home cooks making waves in the culinary world, I raise a glass to you! Through food, you show your love and feed our hearts, bodies and souls.


In 2014, when Paula Deen launched her comeback tour, my husband and I bought tickets and went to see her live at the Lucas Theatre in Savannah. At the end of that night, I didn’t get to really meet Paula, as she was on her way off the stage, surrounded by bodyguards and lots of fans. I quickly handed her a book, she signed it with a smile and away she went. I was so close, but so far away. It was an exhilarating moment, but one that left me sad and wanting more. We had a great time at the show, and afterwards, I wrote a blog post about my experience. I tweeted it and tagged Jamie Deen. Would you believe he read my post and invited me to return the following Saturday to meet Paula properly backstage? So, I did! I met Paula face-to-face and it was truly emotional. I was so starstruck and nervous that I talked

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019


Southern SOIL


Photo Credit: Bud Johnson Photography

a growing food movement

Chef Lauren Teague:

going whole hog in support of local farms

By LeeAnna Tatum

From ballet slippers to butcher knives, Chef Lauren

through hard work, a willingness to learn and

Teague traded her dancing aspirations in for a

patient chefs who were willing to teach her, she

culinary career after one life-changing class at the

developed her skills on the job.

Culinary Institute of America. Teague has been cultivating a name for herself Originally from New Jersey, Teague moved to

in Savannah’s food scene, all while bringing

New York in pursuit of a dancing career only to

attention to the local food movement and sourcing

find herself working as a waitress along with

ingredients from local farms for her restaurants

all the other ballerina-hopefuls. The low-paying

whenever possible.

job was not really to her liking so she took the advice of some of her friends and signed up for a

She is currently the Executive Chef of Pacci Italian

newly implemented Bachelor’s program for food

Kitchen located in the Brice Hotel downtown

and beverage directors at the CIA (as in Culinary

Savannah. In each of the kitchens she has

Institute of America, not that other CIA).

managed since coming to Savannah approximately eight years ago, she has made a point of sourcing

The program required the full culinary experience,

locally and creating a menu that reflects the

but Teague didn’t let the fact that she was inept in

produce that is seasonally available.

the kitchen keep her from enrolling. She started this tradition on a bit of a whim when “I will tell you that back then,” Teague confided, “I

she first came to Savannah as head chef for the

couldn’t even boil water! It was the biggest joke that

restaurant at the Andaz.

I was going to go (to culinary school).” “When I first got here. I worked at a hotel called “I went to this class and they put a thing that

the Andaz ... the whole idea and concept of this

almost looked like a chain link fence around you,

hotel is that you can’t be like anybody else. Every

so you wouldn’t cut your thigh or something,” she

Andaz around the world has its own theme. And

recalled with a laugh. “The first instructor was an ex

they came to me and said, what do you want

baseball umpire. He was just the craziest guy I ever

your thing to be? And I was stumped because I’d

met … and we butchered a pig the first week I was

never had anyone ask me that before. Usually you

there. And it was the best thing I’d ever done in my

go somewhere and they say here’s the concept,

life and I didn’t want to do anything else!”

we want you to make this, this and that,” Teague explained.

Teague admits that even after completing her culinary degree she still couldn’t really cook. But

(con tinued on page 36)

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Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 35)

“I struggled for a couple of days and then I was like,

keep farmers on their farms farming and out of her

we should eat local! At first, I thought I’d only cook

kitchen (but in a nice way!).

food that I could get within 50 miles,” she paused for a beat, “that lasted about 10 days. Then we just

“I have met more people who are farmers working

expanded it a little bit and went more regional.”

in restaurants, because no one can afford to be a farmer anymore - you’ve got to have a second job.

With the help of her parents, Teague hit the road

So, our thing is that if my $250 a week can keep

and started visiting local farms and farmers

you out of a restaurant and keep you on your three

markets looking for the local products she needed

acre farm, I’m willing to buy whatever it is you have,”

for her kitchen. One of the first farms she visited,

Teague explained.

which marked the beginning of a longstanding relationship between chef and farmer was Relinda

As the Chef for not only a restaurant, but the

Walker’s farm, Walker Organic Farms.

hotel staff as well, Teague has some purchasing flexibility that enables her to buy ingredients that

“The first time I took my staff on a tour of their farm

might not otherwise make it in a restaurant kitchen.

and we talked about bee boxes and cover crops things chefs never know about … When you have

“One of the things we’re trying to do is let people

somebody tell you how it’s grown and why, you find

know if you come to the farmers market (as a

that you take more care of what you’re touching.”

vendor) and you have a lot left over, you could bring it to me and I’d buy it. I’m really lucky now to have a


Teague continues to value her relationships with

hotel where I have to feed all the employees. So, if I

local farmers and is always on the lookout for new

can’t sell it in the restaurant, I can cook it for family

sources of local ingredients. Her goal is to help

meals. Everything gets used,” Teague said. “I have to say, in the summer, we eat a lot of radishes!”, Teague said with a laugh. “I hate to say, ‘no’.” Teague has recently started purchasing whole hogs as well, challenging her staff to make use of the whole animal. “I have these great sous-chefs, they

a growing food movement

break the whole thing down themselves. They make

harvest and collect the food. He delivers the food

head cheese, sausage, they’re grinding pork for

back to the restaurant and helps to prep it.

meatballs. Now they’re excited because they don’t have to do the same thing every day.”

“Unless they’re coming to the farmers market, the farms aren’t right here,” she explained, “so you need someone to go get it. So, he’s sort of like my farmer in charge. He can go there and we can have a relationship with the farmer.” Teague’s farm-to-table style of cooking may have started out as a bit of a lark as she searched for a theme on which to base her restaurant. But as she has developed relationships with farmers over the years, she has come to realize how impactful that choice to source locally truly is. Her dedication to local and seasonal ingredients is a boon to our

Teague recently created a new position on her staff

local food system.

to oversee farm relations and to go to the farms to


ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019


Southern SOIL


a growing food movement

Women and Farming:

a tale of two farmers

by Kirsten Breau

Women have always had strong ties to the land

of me, I had lost myself, ” Marissa says, reflecting

and to the industry of agriculture but have been

back on the years of restlessness and depression

historically underrepresented by the media and

that lead up to the decision to buy the land where

through policy decisions. Even so, the past three

Whippoorwill Farms SC now sits.

decades have seen more and more women entering the profession of farming with women

Growing up, Marissa’s father was a biology

now making up more than 30 percent of farm

teacher. She was continuously learning about the

operators here in the U.S. Among them are farming

environment, “It moved me to see all the Earth

newcomers Marissa Paykos of Whippoorwill Farms

had to offer.” It was while living in an RV Park that

SC and Madison Cowart of Bootleg Farms.

Marissa reconnected with her love of nature, and the idea for Whippoorwill Farms SC took root.

When Marissa Paykos started Whippoorwill Farms SC, a small acre farm in Pineland, South Carolina,

Marissa still lives in an RV, though now she shares

she was chasing a life that brought her closer to

it with her husband James and her daughter Ellie

the one place where she had really found herself,

who turns four next month. The RV sits nestled

nature. “Trying to keep up with what society wants

in the center of their two-acre farm. When asked (con tinued on page 4 0)

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what the biggest obstacle was to entering the field,

of the pigs and personalities of the horses. There

Marissa replied, “The whole thing is daunting, as a

are so many reasons for what I do, but on the day

female in agriculture, first generation, on two acres

to day that’s the best.”

of land – it’s difficult to be taken seriously.” On a chilly spring morning the mother, daughter team

Madison Cowart’s path to farming differed from

showed me around the farm. Ellie gently cradled a

that of Marissa. Madison (Maddi) grew up on the

small chick as we toured.

farm, but initially set out to leave that way of life behind her. Maddi’s parents, Wendy and Richard

Whippoorwill Farms SC is a sustainable small acre

Cowart started Bootleg Farm, a 50-acre farm

farm home to pigs, horses, chickens, rabbits and

in Springfield, Georgia when Maddi was in high

one goat Ellie aspirationally named “Cow.” Though


Marissa grew up with horses and a garden she tended with her dad, this was her first experience with farming as a business. She wanted her daughter Ellie to grow up “in a place that is safe and nurtures a hunger for learning and exploring and respecting all that the earth provides.” “Women are starting to take every opportunity given to them and to be anything they want to be, 40

that’s what we are trying to show Ellie,” Marissa said about the decision to move to the farm one week after Ellie was born. “Anytime a woman wants to take on a role not traditionally held by women, that’s a win.” Ellie spends most of her days working beside her mother on the farm. She collects eggs, fills water buckets, feeds the pigs and chickens, lunges and

Bootleg Farm is home to goats, chickens, ducks,

rides the horses, helps to collect the chickens for

and quail. They are Grade A licensed by the Georgia

slaughter and most importantly makes sure all the

Department of Agriculture and the USDA. When

animals have enough affection. When asked what

asked what her early role on the farm was Maddi

her favorite part of farming was she eagerly replied,

replied openly, “Being a snotty teenager, trying to

“The horses!”

get out of every chore, wanting to get away, go to

When Marissa was asked the same she said with candor, “How lucky I am that my coworkers are

school and be a business woman and not do farm labor.”

animals. I hang out outside with animals all day. I

Maddi got her BA in Business and an MS in

get to watch them thriving, learn the idiosyncrasies

accounting. With a CPA license, she worked in

a growing food movement

Atlanta for six years. Being in the city away from her big, close-knit family weighed heavy on her. “For a while it was fine, but I didn’t feel like it was a fit for me anymore,” she said. Adding, “I was drawn back to the land and back to the farm, I wish I could describe it better, it just feels right.” Maddi’s role has shifted dramatically from the early years of Bootleg Farm. She milks the goats in the morning, helps with afternoon chores, and maintains the books for farm invoicing and billing. When we

For many women, Maddi and Marissa’s stories of

spoke, she was busy mid-kidding season, they had

being drawn to the land and the work of farming

just had twenty-five births in 48 hours. Maddi’s

resonate deeply. When asked about the growing

mindset about the work has shifted as well, now

number of women in agriculture Wendy replied, “I

her favorite part about farming is the unexplainable

think it’s great. Women have been a part of farming

sense of pride she gets from the work, “It’s where I

longer than the media recognizes. While they have

want to be, even on my worst days out here.”

not been in the limelight, they were and are there

Wendy Cowart said her daughter’s return to the farm came at a time where they both needed it, “We both learn from each other, and while there are

and have always been a vital part of farming. Farming would not make it without strong women.” Statistic from: 2012 USDA Census of Ag.

days that are rough, we are here for each other. I think she is finding that hard work, callused hands and sore muscles give her a sense of peace and

To learn more about our featured farmers:

certainly helps her with a good night’s sleep.”

Whippoorwill Farms SC:

Wendy is a registered nurse off farm, helps with

Instagram, @whippoorwillfarmssc

kidding and milking, and is the primary cheese maker for Bootleg Farms, “People ask us why we work so hard all the time, and trust me, there are days I wonder that myself. But the simple reason for me is that I love our farm life. There is a peace that you find working with animals on a daily basis and, somehow, it puts life into proper perspective.”

Website, and

Bootleg Farms: Website, and Instagram, @bootlegfarmllc Or visit them both at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah, Ga.

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019



Southern SOIL


a growing food movement

Lola’s Legacy

by LeeAnna Tatum

Rural South Georgia in the 1940s is perhaps an

Lola farmed the land productively until her age

inauspicious setting for the start of a remarkable

made it impossible to do so at which point, she

story of two generations of African American

moved in with Jennifer’s family. The land was left

women and their connection to the soil. But Lola,

uncultivated for many years, waiting for other

a sharecropper and mother, defied the odds to

hands to come back and work the soil - coaxing

become a landowner and ultimately left a legacy of

fertility from the sandy earth.

farming which her granddaughter Jennifer Taylor carries on to this day.

Sitting in the shade of a tall pecan tree that her grandmother had once tended, Jennifer shared

Lola spent her life working the land in Lawrence

her own path that had led her back to the place

County where she was born and in Montgomery

it all began. The tree, along with several others,

County where she eventually purchased her very

stands as a living memorial to the woman whose

own farm. When given the opportunity to buy a

hard work and determination made it possible

piece of land, Lola and her children worked every

for her children to leave the land and pursue

odd job they could find, saving up their money.

lives elsewhere while also paving the way for her

“My mother,” Jennifer recalled, “who was one of six

granddaughter to one day return.

kids, said that year they worked so hard helping

“When I grew up,” Jennifer explained, “we would

other people on their farms, cooking or cleaning

come and visit the farm and I would receive the

house - coming up with different ways of earning

packages (care packages full of produce and

money. And when the land owner came back she

preserves from the farm) and my grandmother

had the money and she bought the farm.”

would come and visit us as well. And so, when

Lola not only changed her own life and standing within the community through land ownership, but was able to lay the foundation for her children’s success as well. Lola’s farm produced fruits and vegetables, nuts, poultry and dairy. With the produce from her farm, she made butter, syrup, jams and other preserves, with plenty to stock her own shelves and enough left over to send her children and grandchildren who lived away from the farm.

I decided to go to school, I decided to study agronomy. I didn’t particularly tie it in to my grandmother at the time, but I’m sure she was in there somewhere. I liked the idea of studying the soil, the earth, the dirt, the plants … I could envision myself doing something like that.” Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber and land reclamation. It’s an integrated and holistic (con tinued on page 4 4)

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Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 4 3)

approach to agriculture, and agronomists are

a doctorate from Virginia Tech in vocational

specialists in soil and crop sciences as well as

tech education with an emphasis in sustainable



“I was really happy with Agronomy really, really

“That allowed me to bring over all of the

enjoyed it … Always with the interest of how ... do

agronomics studies into the implementation and

you work with farmers to increase knowledge,

capacity building on behalf of small farmers. Isn’t it

increase production, share the information in such

great how that worked out?” Jennifer exclaimed.

a way... that is in the farmer’s interest.” Jennifer’s goal from the start was to receive a

but I was hoping that was how I could pull these

formal education at college while also learning

pieces together. Because sometimes people want

from the farmers themselves who had the practical

you to believe if you’re an agronomist, like I am,

knowledge and know-how that went beyond the

that you don’t really work with farmers, you tell

academic. She envisioned a partnership of shared

farmers what to do, you don’t work with farmers

learning and growing.

… But my emphasis and interest was always to

“When I went to school, it was about getting that background information about farming but then also with the realization that the farmer’s knowledge is beyond what I could actually 44

“I couldn’t see how it would work out that way,

comprehend in school,” Jennifer explained. “So, I’m

see how it is in the field, to enhance the learning and the knowledge that the farmers already have … and how to help them grow and be successful. To be able to find that kind of space in there in the development issue.”

trying to enhance that knowledge and that sharing

Bringing together her understanding of crop

of information. And what it is that I need to share

and soil health, coupled with her education in

and how I can be helpful. With the hope that I’m

sustainable development and teaching has put

growing and learning - I’m learning from them and

Jennifer in an excellent position to help small farms

we’re growing together.”

reach their full potential.

Jennifer continued her education and received

It was with an eye toward bringing together her educational background with practical hands on experience that Jennifer looked to return to her grandmother’s farm. “When I had the opportunity to come back to the farm, my

a growing food movement

emphasis wasn’t on growing agronomic crops so

Farm located in Glenwood. Ronald works the farm

to speak, but it was more on enabling healthy living,

full time, while Jennifer shares her time between

healthy soil, healthy environment and benefiting

the farm and her position at Florida A&M University

the communities and benefiting the farmers in that

where she serves as coordinator of the FAMU Small

kind of way - that good food pathway.”

Farm Program.

Returning to her grandmother’s land has been a

Achieving organic certification was something

positive experience for Jennifer who remembers

Jennifer and Ronald chose to do from the

visiting the farm as a child.

very beginning. Not only is it a way of setting

“It’s been so enjoyable,” Jennifer said of her nine years on the farm. “It’s been such a delight to grow food, to touch the soil, to believe that I have a smile

themselves apart in the market, but the certification allows potential customers to know something of their practices up front.

from my grandmother, it’s been so enjoyable. And

“The certification has helped us in that way,”

the food is good and tasty. And to have customers

Jennifer explained. “It speaks for us, on behalf of

and the community say they like the smell of the

us before people even meet us ... so it’s been great

strawberries, or they’re so delicious... that’s such a

because we’re so small.”

joy. Jennifer and her husband Ronald Gilmore produce USDA certified organic produce at Lola’s Organic

But certification is not just a marketing tool, Jennifer believes in being a good steward of the (con tinued on page 4 6)


ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 4 5)

land and not only looking out for her own health

you’re building healthy food systems for the

and that of the farm, but for the wellbeing of her

communities. You’re building healthy people,

community also.

healthy local environments and healthy global

“Organic agriculture is about the building of healthy soil and biodiversity and it is about building that

growing … like the pebble in the pond,”

kind of biodiversity and healthiness throughout

“That was where I found myself in my agronomic

that whole system of agriculture and using your

studies,” she continued, “and that is the knowledge

natural resources and low inputs and you’re not

and the emphasis that we share here on the farm.”

using GMOs and the toxic chemicals and that kind of thing in your farm environment. And the strategies you use to support that - that would be the message of organic agriculture.”

That one opportunity. That one pebble in the pond. That one life-altering chance to transition Miss Lola from a sharecropper to a landowner is still generating positive changes. The land provided

Jennifer is not just a proponent of organic methods

Lola the opportunity to provide for herself and her

on her own farm, she also assists other farmers


through her work as a board member for the National Organic Standards Board, the Organic Farmers Association, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement - North American Board and Georgia Organics. Her various roles 46

environments, it has the idea of expanding and

within these different organizations give her the opportunity to influence policy development and procedures on behalf of organic farmers and organic farming throughout the nation. Lola’s Organic Farm is also used to test out organic farming methods and as a teaching tool for other farmers. “For me, organic agriculture or agroecology, which is the same foundation as organic farming systems was the message that could be shared with farmers that would enable them and give them the skills to improve their soil and to improve their farm environment and grow the most healthy crops or animals that they could grow for their communities,” Jennifer explained. “So, therefore you’re helping the communities,

Now, two generations later, as a direct result of that opportunity, Jennifer is using her education, her knowledge, her passion and her land to not only impact her local community through good stewardship and healthy foods but is able to help shape and inform the organic movement on a national level. Lola’s legacy of farming, of hard work, of determination, of good stewardship that was cultivated so many years ago is growing strong today!

a growing food movement

There is

no tool for development more effective


than the

empowerment of women. ~ Kofi Annan ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019


Southern SOIL


a growing food movement

Janisse Ray, Author and Gardener: planting seeds of hope

by LeeAnna Tatum

Since starting Southern Soil last year, I have repeatedly been asked if I know Janisse Ray. She writes books involving environmental issues in South Georgia, I write articles about sustainability in South Georgia. She’s a proponent of the local food movement, as am I. We live about 20 miles apart. It just seemed to a lot of people that I should meet Janisse. And I happened to agree. So, when I decided to devote an entire issue to highlight local women making an impact on our food movement, it was only natural that Janisse make the top of that list. 49

Janisse is an author who has written six books, including one book of poetry. She is nationally recognized for her work and was a 2015 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. She is an environmentalist, naturalist and activist who voices and pens her concerns about the loss of natural habitat, biodiversity and wildness.

lumber that was milled right there on the property.

I met Janisse at her picturesque farm just outside

The kitchen and living area is a spacious and

of Reidsville. The white federalist style farmhouse

open room separate from the main structure but

sits off the dirt road nestled in a stand of mature

connected by a covered porch.

trees alongside verdant pastures. Janisse and her husband Raven Waters purchased the homestead about ten years ago.

The wrap-around porch is inviting and as evening closes in on a cool spring day, this is where we settle in for a conversation about gardening, book-

Janisse showed me around the restored

writing, local food and the challenges and blessings

farmhouse, most of the restoration work was

of the rural South.

done by the previous owner. Much of the original woodwork is still in place, made with

(con tinued on page 50)

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019

Southern SOIL (con tinued f r om page 4 9)

Janisse has been gardening since her childhood

much about nature. I think we all mostly live really

and it’s a practice she has taken with her

extravagant, luxurious lives. I think sustainability is

throughout her lifetime. As a college student, she

a scale and I’m just always trying to push myself

was able to purchase some land where she built

down the scale so I’m living more sustainably, more

her own cabin and lived off the grid.

lightly on the earth.”

On the land where they live now, she and Raven raise cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens. They have two gardens for growing vegetables and have incorporated fruit trees and other edibles throughout the property. Their goal is to produce as much of their own food as possible and to be a resource to friends, family and the community. And to do so as simply and sustainably as possible.

Having just read her most recent book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, I was curious to know what prompted Janisse to write an entire book on seed-saving. 50

“I’m an environmental writer,” she explained. “I just wanted to join the conversation about food - local food, good food. And I thought ... I’ve been a gardener since I was young. And I’ve been a seed“We know we’re at the edge of a climate crisis …

saver for a long time and been interested in seeds.

we’re trying to provide as much food for ourselves

And I just thought people understand organic - that

as we can,” Janisse explained.

food grown without chemicals is healthier. And they

“I’m an environmentalist,” Janisse responded when I asked why this lifestyle appealed to her. “I care so

understand local - that food grown close at home is fresher so it’s more nutritious. But they don’t really understand what is happening with our seeds.” She went on to explain her concerns over the loss of seed varieties as fewer and fewer companies now control more and more of our seed supply. This coupled with fewer people gardening and more and more of our food seeds being produced through hybridization and genetic modification is putting our food supply at risk.

a growing food movement

have lives that make sense, that have meaning, that put them close to the earth, that put them in community with each other.” “I just thought it was such a hopeful thing to use food as the metaphor that might knit our lives back together, might solve so many crucial environmental concerns.” Speaking of seeds, Janisse shared with me that she and Raven had helped establish a seed catalog at the Reidsville Library and that a community garden was since established there as well. Seeds of change in rural South Georgia. We ended our conversation talking about gardening and I asked Janisse what she would say to encourage someone who had never tried it “I just thought that we aren’t understanding that

before to take up gardening.

the crux of our food supply, the thing that holds

“I think a little tiny garden is greater than the sum

the genetic memory of all food is at risk,” she

of its parts. It gives you so much more,” she said.

continued. “And we are losing these amazing

“... just dig up a little patch by your front door, put

varieties of food that we’ve all grown up with ... that

in some parsley and watch it grow, eat it, let the

we developed. And then we allowed corporations to

caterpillars eat it …”

take them away by hybridizing seed, by genetically modifying seed, by providing our food so we don’t have to grow our own food, and on and on and on.”

“If I could say what gardening brings to me, it is a connection with the seasons and with the cycles of life and also this resourcefulness and this security.

Feeling a sense of hopelessness about the state

Security is so important. You may not have a lot of

of the world, Janisse locked onto the hope that

money in your bank account ... but always having

she found in the local food movement and most

the ability to eat, to feed yourself something is

specifically the hope she finds in the seeds


themselves. “I think there’s a lot of hope in the local food movement - I call it the good food movement. Just so much hope. Like young people wanting to

“To grow something - what a joyful, hopeful, reconnecting, grounding thing that is!” You can learn more about Janisse, her books and how to order them, as well as, her upcoming speaking schedule at her website. For a review of The Seed Underground: A Revolution to Save Food, check out The Bookworm in this issue of Southern Soil.

ISSUE ~ 2 ~ 2019


Southern SOIL


Business Index




The Douglas Farm


Laurent Farm



Midnight Run Distillary The Hancock Farm, LLC


Farmer and the Larder Gilliard Farms Richland Rum Sage’s Larder Strong Roots Provisions


Dig In Farms

Cumberland Island Baxley

Miles Berry Farm (Organic and Conventional) Ten Mile Creek Farm


Greyfield Inn


Canewater Farm Turnip Greens

Southern Press and Packing



Red Brick Farm

Ottawa Farms


Bristol and Brunswick Rabiteye Winery


Hunter Cattle

Dublin Farm and Ristorante de Maria Local Lands Organically Grown Gardens Market on Madison


Dodge County Farmers Market

a growing food movement


Garden Botanicals


Comfort Farms Green Market Milledgeville Salamander Springs


El Capitan Longhorns

Mt. Vernon

Hardeman Apiaries


Watermelon Creek Vinyard



Hands Indigo Farm Walnright and Son

Lola’s Organic Farm



Better Fresh Farms Greenbridge Farm Heritage Organic Farms

Longwood Plantation Southern Native Plantings


Mickey’s Farm, Inc. (Organic Pure Cane Syrup)


The Hinesville Downtown Farmers Market


Garden of Eatn Health Food Store


Polks Plus and Polks Plus on the Go Savannah Sauce Company The Salt Table Two Addison Place Farmers Market


Vacuna Farms


Clark & Sons Organics


Gayla Grits Georgia Olive Farms


Rackettown Wildlife Club


B & G Honey Farms


Grassroots Farm Swampy Appleseed Mushrooms


Wildhaven Farm


Foods of the Farm

Richmond Hill

Billy Botanicals The Ford Plantation Hardwicke Farms Swallow Tail Farms

ISSUE ~ 5 ~ 2018


Southern SOIL

Rocky Ford

Jacob’s Produce



Victory Gardens Wilmington Island Farmers Market


Downtown Sandersville Market

Bootleg Farm, LLC


Saint Mary’s Community Market

1540 Room 22 Square Restaurant Alligator Soul Back in the Day Bakery B & D Burgers Brighter Day Byrd’s Famous Cookies Cha Bella: Farm to Table Cotton and Rye East End Provisions Economy Feed and Seed Elizabeth on 37th Forsyth Farmers Market Frali Gourmet Friendship Coffee Georgia Land and Cattle Gratitude Gardens Grow. Eat. Repeat. Husk Kayak Kafe Downtown Kayak Kafe Midtown Kitchen 320 Local 11ten Local Farmbag Lucky’s Market Ogeechee Meat Market Prohibitions Russo’s Seafood Savannah Bee Company Savannah Bee Company: Wilmington Island Showroom Service Brewing Company Smith Brothers Butcher Shop South Islands Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market Southbound Brewing Company The Grey The Olde Pink House Restaurant The Salt Table The Sentient Bean Thrive Catering Vertu Farm

St. Mary’s

St. Simons Island

Georgia Sea Grill Halyards Restaurant Little St. Simons Island B&B Savannah Bee Company Sea Island Resort The Market Sea Island Uncle Don’s Market


920 Cattle & Co. Anthony’s Roots HL Franklin’s Healthy Honey Main Street Farmers Market Scratch Made Catering Sugar Magnolia Three Tree Roasters


Ox and Broadfork


Pinetucky Country Meats The Sugar Bowl

Sylvania 4and20 Bakers Boddiford’s Deer Processing Hammons Flatland Farm Old Freeman Family Farm (Danny Anderson’s Real Feed, non-GMO)

a growing food movement

Savannah River Farms Victory Garden General Store Walker Organic Farms


Brothers in Farms, LLC Georgia Buffalo Ranch McCurdy Berries

Waynesboro Byne Blueberry Farms Pineland Bakery Southern Swiss Dairy

Woodbine Morning Belle Farms (Organic) Woodbine Farmers Market

Waycross Hickox Family Farm Waygreen Homestead Guild Waygreen Local Fare Market


An online magazine focused on the local, sustainable food system in Southeast Georgia. Connect with us today! ISSUE ~5 ~ 2018

Southern SOIL


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Southern Soil Issue #2 2019