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Member Spotlight: Karen Weaver of Bradley’s Gardens

weaver_memberspotlightMy name is Karen Weaver, and my story is two-fold: one part unexpected, devastating sickness and one part miraculous healing.

My husband, son, and I all run my son’s businesses, Bradley’s Pumpkin Patch and Bradley’s Gardens in Dawsonville, where we also host organic agriculture skills seminars and small tours.

Why do you farm organically?
At age 62, my health had always been good, only going to the doctor for a yearly checkup.  However, in March 2012, that changed drastically when I was in a really bad car accident – I went off the highway and down a steep ravine. The police officer on the scene told me I should not have survived. Miraculously, I only had bruises which disappeared after a few months.  

The inside of my body, however, took a huge hit. For the next two months, my body rapidly deteriorated: I developed lipidemia in both legs, hypoglycemia, very low blood pressure, systemic yeast infections, rashes and welts on my body, sleep deprivation, chronic fatigue, infections, depression, whip lash, and pinched nerves. I could barely function two or three hours out of the day. My blood sugar and blood pressure would drop dangerously low. My only option seemed to be a life of lots of medication, constant tests, and doctors.

My search of a new physician led me to Dr. Fogarty who had my answer: eat healthily because God made provision for our body to heal itself naturally. I thought I was eating a fairly healthy diet, but for the first time I was hearing how dangerous processed foods and even homegrown vegetables sprayed with chemicals were for your body. My new doctor told me my immune system had been severely compromised but all but one of my health issues was reversible if I would give up ALL processed foods and eat only organic fruits and vegetables. If I ate meat, it needed to be grass fed.

Within months of going organic, I saw my health issues diminish: I began to lose weight, my blood sugar returned to normal levels, my legs decreased in size and most importantly, I had energy. It was incredible – all with no medication. It’s going to take time, but I know my immune system is getting stronger, because I feel better. Every one of my health issues has gone away except one, the lipidemia, but it is controlled and been minimized greatly.

When my family saw the drastic changes in my health, they became involved in making the transition from gardening with chemicals to organic farming. Both my son and my husband were die-hard chemical people until my accident. They saw the huge benefits of my choice and decided to support me and start growing organic for me. My son has national connections and a ton of people that listen to him because he won a big FFA Agribusiness award a couple of years back for his businesses, and he’s standing firm in organic.

Why did you become a member of Georgia Organics?
Going organic is overwhelming if you have no background for healthy eating.  I was changing my eating habits drastically, and I needed help. We lived on a 70-acre farm and I had grown my own vegetables for 50 years using chemicals. Changing to organic gardening was a monumental task. Even though I was so sick, I read everything I could on organic farming.

I met someone from Georgia Organics who suggested I become a member to learn more about farming organically. Georgia Organics has been a huge support system for me and my family – the workshops and tours available to members are so beneficial, especially at the annual Georgia Organics Conference.  Most importantly, you meet a lot of people who are willing to share their experiences and solutions to the same problems we have.

Brennan Washington has been an incredible mentor through the GO mentorship program. I also took several of Lynn Pugh’s classes on organic farming where I learned the in-depth information I needed to take that step successfully into organic farming. Without Georgia Organics, we would have most likely given up and out of desperation, gone back to our old way of using chemicals. I want Georgia Organics to know that we’re appreciative.

What’s your vision?
My husband and I are retired teachers, so for us, it’s natural to want to share with others the knowledge we have learned. The Pumpkin Patch in the fall is the perfect place for that to happen. Last year, we held a few free seminars at the Pumpkin Patch on topics like composting, seed saving, raised beds, and keyhole gardens.

Several local neighbors who have farmed for years are now wanting to learn organic. We live in times where some are finding it difficult to stretch their dollar or even pay for groceries. My husband and I feel like if people can become self-sufficient and learn how to grow their own vegetables, the fear of providing for their family will disappear.

Our family tries to live by 2 Corinthians 9:6 “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Our family loves to sow seeds in others’ lives.  The more you give, the more you get back. Georgia Organics has sown fertile seed in our lives; in return our family wants to give back.

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