The Daily Dirt

Behind the Conference: Murray Brett

Murray Brett is the co-owner of DaySpring Farms and will speaking during the Hey Ya Saturday Session.

What role do you play in the local, organic food movement?

DaySpring Farms may very well grow and grind the tastiest grits in the good ole’ south! We’re not the large scale commodity farm, nor the small-scale market garden. We’re somewhere between these two as a small farm supplying wholesale markets.

We produce stone-ground milled goods and whole grains for Athens and Atlanta area restaurants, bakeries, breweries, distilleries, and grocery stores. DaySpring offers whole wheat flour for hearty breads, all-purpose flour suitable for a variety of baking needs, pastry flour, cornmeal, polenta, corn-flour, wheat berries for pilaf, whole white and yellow corn for hominy, dry southern peas, dry beans, sweet potatoes, and some fall and winter greens.

Why are you excited to present about your topic and what are some key takeaways attendees will get from your session?

While commodity grains are an important part of Georgia Organic Agriculture, especially for farmers with large acreage, since our inception DaySpring Farms has sought to build our business with as many on-site, value-added processes as possible and to market locally and regionally.

This year we will grow around 30 acres of hard winter wheat, 15 acres of hybrid and open pollinated corn, 10 acres of beans and southern peas, 3 acres of sweet potatoes, 2 acres of collards, and various other greens as an integral part of our crop rotation. We’ve installed 30 acres of sub-surface drip irrigation through a grant from NRCS without which it would be impossible to grow productive summer crops. Without summer crops, it’s difficult at best for a small farm in the south to survive and be profitable.

We carefully study what we do; we perform soil tests regularly on 1 1/2 acre grids, we pull tissue samples on each crop, and track soil health and crop health from emergence through the reproductive stage. After harvest we calculate yield and grade for quality. We also track input costs, production costs, and processing costs on each crop to know what we must make per pound and per acre.

Nathan and I have sought to cultivate the best of friendships with the owners, chefs, managers, brewmasters, and employees of the businesses that buy and use what we grow, and we also do business with them. We value them and what they do highly, and they have high regard for us and what we do on our farm, so we have them out to our farm as often as possible. After six years we’ve cultivated a niche by studying what we do, working hard, and building good relationships with local businesses.

What is your vision for the future of organic farming in Georgia?

My oldest son and partner, Nathan and I desire to recover a better way of life for ourselves and future generations through organic, sustainable, hard-working, productive, local and regional agriculture.

What about the Georgia Organics conference do you look forward to the most?

We enjoy connecting with the broader farming, food, research, and agricultural supplies community in order to learn, keep growing, and to give back by being a help to others.

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