Donn Cooper of Cooper Ag Services offers free consulting during the 2017 Fencepost Sessions to Matthew Raiford of Gilliard Farm in Brunswick.
Most folks know about the great classroom-style educational opportunities that Georgia Organics puts on during our annual conferences. Now, you can get one-on-one coaching from experts on grants, ag law, production, and dozens of other topics.
We call them Fencepost Sessions. And they’re free for conference attendees.
“The Fencepost Sessions were my favorite part of Conference, I can’t wait for next year,” says Aisha McDonald. After recently graduating from the four week Augusta Urban Ag Boot Camp led by HABESHA Works and sponsored by Georgia Food Oasis- Augusta, Aisha and her fellow graduates began cooperatively farming on 11 acres through the Boggs Rural Life Center in Keysville. But as any farmer will tell you, the learning is never done. For the cooperative at Boggs, who are building capacity with limited resources, the Fencepost Sessions were a great place to start.
Through the Fencepost Sessions offered at the 20th Anniversary Georgia Organics Conference in Atlanta, Aisha received a consulting session on agricultural grant writing with Donn Cooper of Cooper Agricultural Services. This May, Aisha was awarded a grant through Georgia Food Oasis’ Potluck & Pitch, which will fund an on-site harvest and cleaning facility.
2017 marked the pilot year of the Fencepost consulting sessions, which begin with the efforts of Cory Mosser, founder of Natural Born Tillers. The Fencepost Sessions are free 20-minute consulting sessions that take place during the Georgia Organics Annual Conference to give attendees a chance to dig deeper and gain valuable information specific to their operation or project. Topics range to cover the interests and needs of all conference attendees, from farmers to educators to community activists, and everyone in between.
In 2017, 50 people received free consulting; over half were farmers. More than 30 topics were offered for both farmers and good food community members alike.
The topics covered at Fencepost sessions include:
- Business Planning
- Organic Certification
- State and Federal Compliance
- Production Planning
- High Tunnel
- Forming and Managing an LLC
- Grant Writing
- Fruit Production and Local Markets
- Value-Added Producer Grants
- Marketing Strategies
Cory Mosser of Natural Born Tillers offers free consulting during the 2017 Fencepost Sessions to Charlene Glover of Healthy Living Farm in Albany.
“Everything went really smoothly,” says one anonymous participant in their feedback survey. “Time goes by quick—but it’s a great way to connect with others and get advice.”
On average, participants gave the Fencepost Sessions a 4.89 (out of 5) in addressing their needs or concerns. But registrants weren’t the only beneficiaries.
“The Fencepost Sessions allow professionals to market themselves, network, and make an immediate impact in a particular organic operation/business,” says Andrew Hazen, attorney with Hall Booth Smith, P.C. “Of the four people/operations I met with during the 2017 Fencepost Sessions, I have had follow-up contact with all of them and have established a working business relationship with two. I cannot recommend the Fencepost Sessions enough for those professionals seeking to expand their involvement in Georgia Organics.”
Consultants, on average, felt their sessions had a 51% chance of leading to new business. But most importantly, the Fencepost Sessions provide a space for peer learning, networking and community building with endless possibilities for new projects and partnerships.
“The Fencepost Sessions at the Georgia Organics Conference provide a unique opportunity for consultants to engage one on one with a diverse group of potential clients, customers, and networking contacts involved in organic production and processing or otherwise serving the organic agriculture industry in Georgia and the Southeast,” Hazen says. “It’s a chance to provide much needed guidance to eager participants, all while demonstrating your ability to provide efficient and effective service within particular area(s) of expertise.”
“PLEASE do this again!” says another participant in an anonymous feedback survey. And after a successful pilot year, we definitely are. Look for more information on the 2018 Fencepost Sessions, to be offered next February at the Georgia Organics Annual Conference in Augusta, this fall.
Did your participation in the 2017 Fencepost Sessions lead to a new partnership or project? Email Perri at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story! Is there a particular topic you’d like offered during the 2018 Fencepost Sessions? Are you a consultant interested in offering your services? Fill out this quick form!