Meet Bobby Jones of Babe + Sage Farm. He and his wife Chelsea farm near Milledgeville, Ga. Here’s what they have to say about their farm and the good food movement:
What made you decide to become a member of Georgia Organics?
We became Georgia Organics members as soon as we moved back to Georgia to start Babe + Sage in the Fall of 2011.
While we were finishing school in sustainable agriculture in North Carolina, I remember discovering all the helpful information for farmers on the Georgia Organics website, which really helped us write our business plan.
As soon as we moved back to Georgia, a farmer friend told us to call Jonathan Tescher, who was Farmer Services Coordinator at the time, and we felt plugged into the good food movement in Georgia immediately.
How did you get started in farming?
Chelsea and I were both active with the Environmental Science Club as students at Georgia College in Milledgeville, and we connected with a few organic farmers around middle Georgia, as well as the WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program.
We graduated during the height of the financial crisis, and thought we would be travelling the country through the WWOOF program. During our first phone interview, we were offered a paid apprenticeship at Round Right Farm in West Virginia and fell in love with farming. We worked at a few other farms, and did a certificate program in sustainable agriculture at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro, N.C., before deciding to move back home to Georgia to start our own farm.
What would you like to see develop in the Georgia food community in future?
We are working with several other middle Georgia farmers to start the Middle Georgia Growers Cooperative, which will serve as a food hub connecting product from growers in middle Georgia to other parts of the state. We decided to start the co-op because we have a small but close-knit group of sustainable farmers in our region, but we don’t have a lot of the support structure to build the demand locally for all of us to make a sustainable living.
Organizations like Georgia Organics, Community Farmers Markets, ALFI, Les Dames d’Escoffier, Slow Food, Truly Living Well, Wholesome Wave, and many others are doing great work in Atlanta that builds demand for local food. Some of those organizations are reaching outside Atlanta, but I’d really love to see more support infrastructure for local food pop up in places outside of metro Atlanta in the next few years.
Our region has great land, good people, good soil, and a few truly great farmers trying to make a living and build a better food economy in these smaller cities and towns throughout the state. My wife, Chelsea, and I run a farmers market, co-op, crop mob chapter, young farmers coalition chapter, and volunteer program at Georgia College, in addition to managing our farm and raising a toddler.
We do it because we love this place and we love our community of farmers, but for the food movement to be sustainable outside of major cities, we need to invest in support structures to build that movement here.
What is your number one passion outside of work?
For the first three to four years of starting the farm, I had such a hard time thinking about anything other than farming! I think a lot of farmers are like that, as a profession it tends to attract stubborn workaholics.
When our son, Tripp, was born in 2014, it really forced me to gain some perspective and realize that there is more to life than what’s happening on these few acres. I love spending time with my son and seeing the farm through his eyes. He’s at this stage now where he basically just wants someone to follow him around the farm to pick up rocks or blackberries that he can’t reach.
I’ve also started reading and writing a lot more in the past year and a half, which has been really rewarding.
What is your favorite food to make?
Our sandy loam soil allows us to grow really really tasty root crops, so I love to make roasted root veggies. In the winter, we go through several pans of roasted carrots, radishes, turnips, potatoes, garlic, etc. every week.
I also really, really love soup. I could probably eat soup for every meal.
Up until this spring, we sold bread baked in our wood-fired brick oven at market every week, so I’m just starting to enjoy baking bread again after a hiatus of a several months.
I know that’s three favorite foods, but like many farmers I kinda got into it for the food, so it’s tough to choose just one!