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Georgia Organics and GDA Pass 100 Organic Farms Mark

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Nuri Icgoren at Urban Sprouts Farm with his Organic certification reimbursement check from Georgia Organics.

Nuri Icgoren is a soft-spoken, generous farmer with a heart of gold and active mind. He has a vision for his 5-acre property south of Grant Park that’s as much about community revitalization and self-sufficiency as it is about food production.

His ultimate vision entails a mixed-use development with residences, office space, natural pools, and lots of community events, all orbiting the central core of the site, the popular farm Urban Sprouts.

Icgoren has been strategic and innovative as he builds out the farm’s operation in the short time since Urban Sprouts’ founding in 2011. He’s tapped into resources and support provided by the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to expand the farm’s infrastructure with installations of a high tunnel, well and irrigation system, and is enhancing the wash station.

He also tapped into Georgia Organics’ 100 Organic Farms Campaign to fast-track the transition to certified organic, while being reimbursed for all of his certification costs.

That enabled him to sell his popular starter plants at the Grant Park Farmers Market in the spring of 2016 as certified organic seedlings, an appealing product for gardeners who want to raise fresh vegetables at home with the certainty that they aren’t genetically engineered or sprayed with dangerous pesticides.

Urban Sprouts is one of the many farms Georgia Organics has assisted with the transition to certified organic.

In the winter of 2014, Georgia Organics and the Georgia Department of Agriculture launched the 100 Organic Farms Campaign, a state-wide collaboration to grow Georgia’s organic industry from 75 certified organic farms to more than 100 certified organic farms by the end of 2016.

BrightSpot_InfographicIn the Spring of 2016, Georgia surpassed that goal, reaching 103 farms in a 16-month period, a 36 percent increase.

After achieving this historic milestone, Georgia Organics and the GDA are kicking off the 200 Organic Farms Campaign to further support farmers pursuing organic certification and boosting the ever-growing organic industry.

Agriculture is Georgia’s top industry, and as organic product sales continue to grow, the state’s farmers stand to benefit in a big way.

“Organic agriculture is entering a new phase of growth in Georgia, which is now competing squarely with other southeastern states on the number of organic operations,” said GDA Commissioner Gary Black. “With growth like this we can say we are proud of what our organic community has accomplished and excited about economic opportunities that will benefit urban and rural areas of the state.”

With $43.3 billion in total organic product sales nationwide, the industry saw its largest dollar gain ever, adding $4.2 billion in sales in 2015, up from the $3.9 billion recorded in 2014. For the fourth year running, the industry saw growth in the double digits at 10.8 percent. To date, the industry has shown continuous and steady gains since the economic downturn of 2009 with a growth rate well beyond that of the overall food market at 3.3 percent in 2015.

That’s why Georgia Organics and the GDA are launching a historic partnership to help more farmers take advantage of the rapidly growing organic market by providing funding and training for farmers who want to become USDA Certified Organic.

“Georgia can become a major player in the organic sector, but we have to help farmers overcome barriers,” said Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls.  “This partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture is ultimately designed to put more Georgia Grown organic food on Georgia tables and help farmers thrive.”

The 200 Organic Farms Campaign 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. The GDA will fund 75 percent (up to $750) and Georgia Organics will provide the remaining 25 percent (up to $250).

In addition to financial reimbursement, farmers who participate in the 200 Organic Farms Campaign will also receive marketing assistance, access to workshops, and online resources covering topics like business training, working with distributors and institutional buyers, and guidance on the certification process.

For more information, contact Georgia Organics at 678-702-0400 or email michael@georgiaorganics.org

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