Cameron Farlow is the Farmer Programs Director at Organic Growers School and will be speaking during the Beginning Farmer Pathways Saturday Session.
What role do you play in the local, organic food movement?
I started working with Organic Growers School six years ago, and have been the Farmer Programs Director for the last two. Through my work, I’m an educator and facilitator helping train, equip, and connect farmers of all levels with the skills and knowledge they need to run viable and sustainable farm businesses. At OGS we’re big believers in the power of farmer-to-farmer training and that is at the root of everything we do. We are continually working to invest in and help farmers to be leaders in the community. They are the real experts and we strive to amplify their voices and experiences.
Before joining OGS, I worked with a land conservancy helping preserve farmland with conservation easements, completed a Community Food Assessment for the small town where I live, started a land linking program for farm seekers in Western NC, and even made cheese!
Outside of work, much of my life still revolves around the local, organic food movement. I am a natural beekeeper, baker, cook, gardener, forager, and passionate advocate for social justice in the food system. I’m also lucky enough to be able to live on the farm where my husband is the farm manager raising grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and poultry. My weeks are peppered with corralling cattle, cuddling piglets, and making sure gates are closed.
Why are you excited to present about your topic and what are some key takeaways attendees will get from your session?
Traditional ways of farming knowledge and transfer are being lost and we need to recreate a path to farming for folks that may not come from a farming background or are a few generations removed from the farm. Farming is a tough job that calls for many different skill sets. And, farming requires training just like any other profession. Many people jump into farming without a lot of planning or forethought, not realizing they are actually becoming business owners and can quickly get in over their head. Supporting farmers to be better decision makers for their own quality life and farm goals is incredibly important to me and integral to their success. Farmers really are the backbone of our country and they deserve to lead healthy, prosperous, fulfilling lives, too.
We know that the training and support needs of new farmers include organic production training, whole-farm business planning, engagement in a farming community, mentoring, and sustained support through the startup years and beyond. I’m excited to share what we’ve learned training farmers in Western North Carolina over the past 25 years. Folks will learn about creating effective regional partnerships, cultivating a thriving farmer network, and what the building blocks are for a successful farmer training program that can meet aspiring, beginning and seasoned farmers where they are along their farming path.
What is your vision for the future of organic farming in Georgia?
As farmers build soil organic matter, increase biodiversity, focus on ecosystem health, and use holistic business approaches more farmers will be successful, meet their income goals, stay on the land, and be more resilient and adaptable in the face of a changing climate. I want family farmers to thrive, and a food system that is organic, democratic, and equitable, which in turn will result in strengthened communities ready and capable of reclaiming their food sovereignty. It’s a big vision but not an impossible one!
What about the Georgia Organics conference do you look forward to the most?
This will be my first Georgia Organics conference, and I can’t wait! I’m excited to learn more about and connect with the folks involved in all the amazing work I know is happening across the state.