Georgia’s organic agriculture community honored two of the state’s foremost leaders at the 17th annual Georgia Organics conference this weekend, which brought over 1,000 attendees to Jekyll Island to celebrate the coast and the myriad ways organic growers are essential to restoring natural resources in Georgia and beyond.
The Georgia Organics Land Steward Award was presented to farmer Celia Barss of Woodland Gardens in Athens, Ga., whose skill as a grower is matched by her business savvy and dedication to supporting the state’s organic agriculture community.
“This year’s honoree is a true leader and teacher today, not because she has sought those roles, but because she knows the direction to go and has so much knowledge to share,” said Daniel Parson of the farm at Oxford College-Emory University, who presented the award. “And as a mentor she is legendary because of her incredible track record of mentees who are still farming.”
The Land Steward Award honors an individual who has contributed greatly to the organic movement in Georgia both on the farm through environmentally friendly production, and off the farm through leadership, education, and outreach.
Savannah’s Teri Schell received the Barbara Petit Pollinator Award, which honors an individual or organization for outstanding community leadership in Georgia’s sustainable farming and food movement. As a founding member of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market, Schell has been on the ground floor of the Savannah’s good food community, and as co-chair of the recently formed Savannah Chatham Food Policy Council, her passion and knowledge continue to grow that movement.
“She quietly and doggedly keeps all these pieces moving because of her passion for equality and lucky for folks in this room she uses her love of food as the framework for change,” said award presenter Kristin Russell, owner of popular Savannah café The Sentient Bean.
The Barbara Petit Pollinator Award’s namesake is a committed leader, culinary professional, and organizer who was president of Georgia Organics from 2003-2009, and the award acknowledges exceptional success in advancing Georgia Organics’ mission by spreading—pollinating—the movement throughout community life, such as the food industry, faith communities, public agencies, schools, and institutions.