Georgia Organics has teamed up with the Georgia Department of Agriculture for the 100 Organic Farms Campaign, which removes the financial barrier to USDA Organic Certification by reimbursing the full cost of organic certification up to $1,000 for farmers pursuing it for the first time.
So far, the following three farms have gotten their certification for the first time. And they also got checks from Georgia Organics to pay for their certification costs!
Camp Southern Ground, Peachtree City, GA
Southern Ground Farm is owned by famed musician Zac Brown and managed by Larry Dove, an organic farmer for the last 10 years at Two Doves Farm. The entire land is around 400 acres, 10 of which are Certified Organic to support a kids camp known as Camp Southern Ground. Covered in virgin pine woods, the farm began transforming two years ago when the trees were cleared and cover crops were intensively planted.
The farm became the kick-off site for our 100 Organic Farms initiative in 2015. Camp Southern Ground continues to grow as an educational facility, as well as a CSA and provider to farmers markets in Peachtree City.
“It was a priority of Zac Brown that the farm be Certified Organic and to produce fresh wholesome produce for the campers attending this great camping experience,” said Dove. “The vision for the farm is as a teaching/learning experience with a combination of permanent staff and interns with coursework credit available through the sustainable ag program at the Universities of Georgia and West Georgia.”
Canewater Farm, Darien, GA
Rafe Rivers founded Canewater Farm with his wife Ansley when they moved back to Georgia from the West coast in 2013. They have 50 acres in total but currently plant crops on 20 acres, in addition to managing some land in Northwest Georgia and running an emerging oyster business.
Rivers is still trying to figure out which crops grow best on the limited soil and climate of the coast, saying, “We’re trying to grow 500 crops and figure out the 15 that we grow really well that are financially and organically viable.”
It was important to Rivers that the farm be Certified Organic for environmental concerns, particularly due to his location near the coast, to provide clarity to his consumers, and to provide a smooth entrance into the marketplace. With several producers claiming to be organic, Rivers wanted to cut out any questions. “If the customer is gonna pay for organic prices, they deserve to not worry about it,” said Rivers.
Hunter Farms, Jakin, GA
Founded in 1937 by John Wesley Hunter, Sr., Hunter Farms is a 300-acre Animal Welfare Approved and recently Certfied Organic farm raising a closed herd of grass-fed Angus cross cattle – a breed known for excellent tasting beef.
Chad and Bishop Hunter manage Hunter Farms as a pasture-based farming system that gives the cattle constant access to a diet of grass and forage their entire lives, which also protects the land and soil against environmental degradation and improves the quality of life for the animals.
Hunter Farms chose to get their pasture land certified earlier this month because, “[I]t was about environmental sustainability purposes, and the need to not use so many synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in kind of a ‘going green’ aspect,” said Chad Hunter.