Georgia Organics Blog

Georgia Grown, Jackson Strong

by Emily Rose

The students of Jackson County Schools were recently treated to a very local meal. To kick off “Georgia Grown, Jackson Strong,” on Sept. 24 all twelve _MG_0553cafeterias in the school district served a lunch that was entirely grown in Georgia, and most of it from right inside Jackson County!

The menu was:

  • Baked Chicken Breast with chicken from Wayne Farm in Jackson County and an organic rosemary rub from Bouchard Farms in Jackson County
  • Veggie Patch Salad with organic lettuce mix from Bouchard Farms in Jackson County, more leafy greens from Stone Creek Hydroponics in Hartwell, GA, and organic tomatoes from Day Spring Farm in Jackson County
  • Roasted Vegetables with organic tomatoes from Day Spring Farm in Jackson County, and squash and zucchini from Bouchard Farms in Jackson County, Moore and Porter Produce in Thomasville, GA, and Southern Valley Fruit and Vegetable in Norman Park, GA.
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes from Coggins Farm in Lake Park, GA, with a drizzle of honey from Peckerwood Bees in Jackson County
  • Peach Cobbler with peaches from Jaemor Farms in Alto, GA (in the county next door!)

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black was on hand for the kick-off event and told students at East Jackson Elementary School, “Georgia students deserve the best and our farmers produce the best. This program is connecting the dots.” After an assembly, students had the chance to meet farmers, pet pigs and chicks, and climb inside a tractor. See pictures here.

“Georgia Grown, Jackson Strong” Day kicks off a series of Georgia Grown days for the district. Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year, students will enjoy one lunch a month of entirely Georgia Grown products.

The kids are pretty excited!

26 Sep 14

Talking with: Almeta Tulloss of the Athens Land Trust

by Brooke Hatfield


Left: Almeta Tulloss of A Labor of Lunch and the Athens Land Trust. Right: Nicole Bluh of the Good Shepherd Agroecology Center

By Nicole Bluh of the Good Shepherd Agroecology Center

There are many positions coming available in the periphery of the field of agriculture… urban agriculture, agriculture policy and research, and non-profit business organizations have jobs for folks who are transitioning out of other fields and for activists in the food movement.

Many people end up sitting in buildings and in front of computers or at desks and meeting tables for many hours a day with jobs that supposedly advocate for ag work. Some really are assisting. Some are completely out of touch with the movement due to lack of experience and lack of connection to the land, the work, and its spirit.

A couple weekends ago I stayed over in Athens, Ga., on my way to Danielsville to visit with Almeta Tulloss. We first connected years ago over a conversation about growing mushrooms at the cafe she was running inside the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Later we found out we were connected in many other ways including that she was one of the pioneers of creating an artists communal living space in Atlanta where I lived years after her. Now almost every time we’ve seen each other lately, we have worked on some sort of project together that involves processing of our fresh vegetables or wildcrafting plants. Continue reading →

22 Sep 14

#dirtlife: August on Sun Dog Farm

by Brooke Hatfield


Editor’s Note: We’re kicking off #dirtlife, our new producer-written blog series, with a post from Darby Smith of the Sun Dog Farm in Blairsville. This series is funded by the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant

By Darby Smith

It feels like just yesterday my husband Elliot and I were in the greenhouse, intoxicated by the smell of greenhouse markers and the infinite possibilities of tiny seeds. It’s a slow Spring here at Sun Dog Farm, way up in the Northern Mountains of Georgia, just 10 miles or so from the North Carolina border.

The winters are long, icy, and they often linger deep into the Spring months with late frosts, chilly mornings, and the slow roll of growing sunlight. Our nerves are always tested as we wait for things to grow, for the greenery to reclaim the abandoned landscapes. Our farm is a long sliver in a valley. With shade on all sides and mountains in the distance, we are in a micro climate, often maintaining temperatures several degrees lower than our neighboring areas. Continue reading →

18 Sep 14

Great Ideas for Healthy School Fundraisers

by Emily Rose

Recently, Georgia’s State Board of Education voted to allow exemptions to the new federal Smart Snacks rule, permitting schools 90 days of fundraising by selling junk food to kids. But schools can choose to fundraise in LOTS of ways that don’t put the health of their students in jeopardy. Here are some great ideas from the New York City Dept. of Health (see full descriptions and examples here):

  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Sale (potentially from a school garden)
  • Flower, Plant, or Seed Sale (potentially from items grown or seeds saved in a school garden)
  • Back-to-School Supply Sale
  • Pumpkin Sale in the Fall
  • Holiday Item Sale (i.e. wrapping paper, candles, etc.)
  • Holiday Event (i.e. concert, dinner, etc.)
  • Talent Show
  • Board Game Night
  • Flower Sale for Valentine’s Day or in the Spring
  • Graduation Sale (i.e. flowers, balloons, etc.)
  • Photo Fundraiser
  • Donation Drive
  • Fitness Fundraisers
  • Flea Markets
  • Family Dinner Events
  • Auctions
  • School Store
  • Recycling Drive

17 Sep 14

Talking with the USDA’s Samantha Benjamin-Kirk

by Emily Rose

Samantha Benjamin-Kirk is the USDA’s Southeast Regional Lead for Farm to School. She is a great resource for us here in Georgia and we love working with her! Read on to hear her story of how she got involved in this movement.

samantha_benjamin_kirkBenjamin-Kirk: I have always cared for others in one capacity or another, whether it was providing clothing, shelter, food, or even fighting for my country in the United States Army. My career as a food service professional is diverse, from feeding troops in the deserts of Kuwait to serving underprivileged children in the public school system of Georgia. My 29 years of experience in food services have shaped the way I perceive sustainable food systems: as a right rather than a privilege, as a necessity not an added pleasure.

Working in the public school system was an eye-opener and a gateway for me to help children. I realized that when school is out, for long weekends, holidays, spring break, and summer vacation, children who depend on school meals go hungry. The realization that student meal entitlements decrease, and hunger increases during school breaks is what drew me to my current position in the USDA/FNS Farm to School Program. Continue reading →

15 Sep 14

Chef Spotlight: Asha Gomez of Spice to Table

by Brooke Hatfield

ashaAward-winning chef Asha Gomez enriches the Atlanta restaurant community with food inspired by what she calls her “two Souths”: Kerala, the southern region of India where she was born, and the American South. Her most recent culinary endeavor is Spice to Table, which features globally inspired cuisine, as well as an open spice market. A fried chicken stand called Spice Road Chicken is set to open in Krog Street Market later this year.

What inspires a chef?
The farmers and their produce. There is a symbiotic relationship between farmers and chefs. I’m inspired by the passion and respect for the craft that the farmers I work with have for the abundance of nature around them. In essence a chef is tasked with and receives stewardship of bringing out the best flavors from the produce,meats,and seafood procured from the artisans we call farmers. Farming and agriculture is truly global and surprisingly local. Earlier this year , I was privileged to work as a CARE ambassador and traveled to the mountains of Peru where I saw first hand the positive impact that responsible farmers can have on local communities. Here I witnessed the tangible results of sustainable agricultural practices making a difference in the lives of an impoverished community.

What’s the first dish you remember making?
That would be biryani- a celebratory, layered- rice dish that came to us by way of the royal Moghul courts of India. It’s India’s answer to paella. Every family in every region of India has their own way of making it. As a young girl growing up in India I have fond reminsences of watching my mother go through the multi-staged processes of making biryani for any number of celebrations and holidays. The intoxicating aromas of spices wafting through the kitchen and the rich, textured flavors of the dish bring back tons of memories. The first time I made biryani for my family it was simultaneously exhilarating and nerve racking all at the same time. Since ancient times to the present day – biryani making is a craft that has passed down from generation to generation almost akin to the barbeque pittmaster of the American South.

Continue reading →

11 Sep 14

Summer Outreach in Savannah: Connecting with the Community

by Claire Maxwell

By Deidre Harrison

Is it possible to make learning about food fun?  The volunteers at the Forsyth Farmers’ Market teamed together to provide engaging and community centered outreach in metro Savannah to promote local services. Volunteers attended community centers, health fairs, and social groups to connect local residents with the My Market activities and Mixed Greens programs.

healthandwellnessTo kick off the year, volunteers taught parents of elementary school students about the benefits of eating whole foods and local produce. Kids enjoyed learning how to dance zumba while parents received small group training about accessing the market and using the token system.

Similar to other statewide markets, the Forsyth Farmers’ Market values customers from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Thus, outreach services incorporated communities that may have limited accessed to healthy foods.

Making connections and building relationships is critical when sharing valuable information to improve the health and wellness of local residents. Savannah is home to hundreds of churches, community centers, and special needs organizations that prioritize the betterment of others.

In addition to telling the good news of My Market programs, volunteers also showed untapped consumers the healthy and affordable products to purchase.

In addition to receiving FFM materials families were able to see and sample local products at community classes at local organizations such as the Union Mission, IMPACT Foster Parent training, and the Savannah Baptist Center.

While giving training at a local senior residence, participants enthusiastically voiced excitement in learning how to cook healthier foods with FFM products. Many had never known about Buffalo meat or colorful squashes sold year round at the market. Surprisingly, one attendee added her own testimony to the significance of healthy eating. Since living at the senior center, she began walking twice a day, and shopping at the market. In two years, she lost over 100lbs and was no longer required to take any medications.


09 Sep 14

FoodCorps Launch Boosts Farm to School in Georgia

by Brooke Hatfield

FoodCorpsLogoWPATLANTA— One of the most successful tactics to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables is to have them plant, grow, and harvest food with their own hands in a garden, which is one of the core components of a farm to school program.

Now, farm to school in Georgia is set to get a big boost.

National service organization FoodCorps, which connects children in underserved communities to real food in order to help them grow up healthy, expands to Georgia next month, where they’ll partner with Georgia Organics.

Over the next year, more then 15,000 students will have opportunities to grow and eat fresh, delicious food and learn more about farms and farming. Georgia Organics will serve as the state’s Host Site, and three partner organizations serve as FoodCorps Service Sites: Captain Planet Foundation, Athens Land Trust, and the Northeast Georgia Farm to School Program (Georgia Organics’ pilot program).

Continue reading →

08 Sep 14

Savoring the last bit of summer

by Anika White

anika_mealOn an exceptionally hot day last week I paid a visit to the Mulberry Street Farmers Market, a producer-only farmers market in Downtown Macon. Located in Mulberry Street Park between 1st Street and 2nd Street, the market is open year-round from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The market is hosted by Community Health Works, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve access to and consumption of fresh produce in underserved communities. Continue reading →

05 Sep 14

How’d You Name That Farm: Mud Fairy Farm

by Claire Maxwell

By Cary Thornton

Mud Fairy Farm sprouted from our generous daughter-in-law’s artsy mind. Mud Fairy was to be the name of her pottery business, but she gifted the name to the farm when we were spinning rounds of ideas.  It also fits with our 2 daughters who are famous in our family for childhood photos of their mud bath when the greenhouse area was being graded and after a summer rain. Those photos are considered our farm mascots, since the babes are now adults.mudfairy

I enjoy the image that the name brings to my mind. It is of wonderful things rising up from the mud and the Mud Fairy presides – a whimsical figure. Mud is so basic and seemingly simple – soil and water – yet there is a complex world within  … or maybe it’s just magic. That’s always a fun way to view complexities.

04 Sep 14