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Middle Georgia Growers Unite to Extend Reach

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Farmers in Middle Ga. united to form a food hub.

Across the country, eaters are searching for more ways to get their hands on fresh, local produce. With a global food system already in place, the onus to create local options falls on farmers and community members who aim to be the change they wish to see in the world.

That’s why six farms in Middle Georgia banded together with the goal of forming a food hub – an ambitious endeavor that will only succeed with your support.

Farmers at Forest Grove, The Little Farm, The Lonely Cricket in Milledgeville, Babe + Sage, and Rag & Frass – which collectively produce everything from fruits, veggies, eggs, milk and herbs, to lamb, pork, beef, chicken, rabbit, and fish – launched a crowdfunding campaign in mid-May to create a cooperatively owned food hub.

The goal of the hub is to keep the farms financially viable and dynamic by expanding markets into other areas of Georgia. The food hub will facilitate efficient ordering for wholesale accounts, aggregate products, and deliver on a weekly basis for all the farmers participating, rather than selling and delivering individually.

“The farmers of Middle Georgia, under 25, over 60, and everywhere in between, are looking down the road and wanting to still be doing this in 10 and 20 and 30 years,” said Julia Asherman of Rag & Frass Farm. “Some of us want to retire or send our kids to college—some of us just want to have kids.  To make that happen we need to create the infrastructure and collaboration to sustain our businesses and farms, so we can sustain the land, the community, and our own families.”

A food hub represents an excellent way of making this happen, especially with two major interstates that connect Middle Georgia to the coast, the mountains and the plains of Georgia.

In the long run, the food hub will benefit local eaters, the state of Georgia, and, of course, the farmers themselves.

A cooperatively owned food hub means less driving, marketing, distributing, and overall hassle for farmers, so they can spend more time growing food for CSA shares and markets. In time, many farmers involved in the co-op will be able to expand production on their existing land. That means more produce for middle Georgia and more options for chefs and stores across the state.

Most importantly, it means farmers have reasonable means to make a living.

Progress is already underway – the co-op has been gathering over kale salads and cold beer to create plans, write by-laws, opening accounts, projecting cash flow and preparing a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo. Now they need your support.

Prizes ranging from a social media shout-out for $10 to a private dinner for $500 (there’s even an opportunity to name a lamb for $150) will all support the first major purchase: an insured vehicle with a deep freezer to meet the state’s requirement for mobile meat licenses. The rest will fund administrative, legal, and accounting costs..

In total, the co-op aims to raise $10,000 to get the food hub up and running, in what will be a truly ground-breaking initiative for farmers.

“There are very few actual food hubs in the country, and even fewer that are owned and run by the producers themselves,” said Asherman. “If we can make this work for us, even on the most grassroots effective level, we will be pioneers in the state, pioneers in the southeast, and even still pioneers in the country.”

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