I took the long way. I drove through endless miles of cotton stubs and fallow fields on sparse two-lane highways. I needed time to think. I had been warned countless times to not let the romantic notion of running a farm blur the financial realities of adulthood. Not only was I having a hard time justifying the risks associated with beginning to farm, I was also being trailed by the nagging sense of insecurity that comes with becoming a first-time parent.
It wasn’t adding up. I had two choices: somehow find a position managing a local organic farm, of which back in 2007 there were very few, or get a “real job” selling cell phones or waterproofing basements.
It didn’t occur to me that I would find my answer in a small south Georgia town, but I did. I was in Douglas for my first Georgia Organics conference. The next two days were a blur. I learned about soil systems, marketing, production efficiencies, crop and financial planning. I sat in awe as Will Allen of Growing Power described his incredible system of growing a symbiosis of plants, fish and worms in the middle of a struggling city. Joel Salatin concluded the conference with a passionate reminder that local farming was essential, practical – and if done right, profitable.
Not only did I learn about others around the country who were finding ways to forge a new agricultural economy, I met folks doing it right here in Georgia. I became friends with new and established farmers, and we talked excitedly – the way only farmers can – about the movement bubbling up across the state.
Driving back from the conference, I began to see for the first time that it was possible for me to farm for a living. Without Georgia Organics, I truly believe I never would have become a farmer.
Yet today, I feel the same knots in my stomach that I did back in 2007: I am again worried for the future of farming. There is a very real danger that the good food movement could be swept under the rug if we do not actively invest in its future.
We need more farmers who can see a clear path to growing real food without ending up in mountains of debt, and we need more consumers investing in local producers. We need forks banging on dinner tables, and Georgia Organics has been essential in getting people to pull up their chairs and take notice.
At my farm, as much as one-third of what I grow will never be harvested; it is turned back into the soil to ensure the system remains vital for years to come. I know I must take the same methodical approach to building a vital local food system, so I just became a Sustainer Member by giving $10 every month to Georgia Organics. Will you join me?
Last year, Georgia Organics got local food on 14 million school lunch trays, directly reached over 1,700 farmers, and recruited more than 5,000 first time farmers’ market shoppers. With a monthly gift of $100 or $10, you can ensure this movement continues to grow stronger, healthier, and more resilient – every single month.
Thank you for joining me in sustaining Georgia Organics and their positive work to grow growers and healthy families. Let’s take the long way together.