Georgia Food Oasis Network seeks to elevate and connect pioneering communities that recognize that food is a powerful tool to unite residents, build local economies, and foster public health. From obesity and dietary-health to food sovereignty and waste, climate change and biodiversity loss to increasing economic and social disparities, food is not only at the heart of some our greatest problems, it’s also a vital part of the solution.
Applications are now open for the Georgia Food Oasis Network. Click here to learn more.
How do we increase market share for farmers?
This is a question, we at Georgia Organics are constantly asking ourselves. In 2019, we are connecting Georgia farms to Georgia families by creating and supporting existing opportunities for farmers in our state to increase their selling power.
On March 19, our friends at the River Valley Regional Commission in Columbus hosted a half-day WIC Farmers Market Regional Farmers Training to educate area farmers about the requirements needed to get WIC Authorization for 2019 Farmers Markets. Farmers who are WIC certified are able to participate in more Farmers Markets and connect with more consumers.
Farmers Markets serve as, an often low-entry, access point for farmers to sell directly to consumers. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, more than 3,390 farmers markets accept Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers. Through the WIC program, shoppers can also purchase a variety of fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs using FMNP (Farmers Market Nutrition Program) coupons.
“This training was especially important for Georgia Farmers, because it was FREE and enabled farmers to receive a certification that can expand their consumer base,” said Community Outreach Coordinator Lauren Wood. GFO collaborates with local organizations, businesses, growers, and residents within communities to self-develop innovative and affordable ways to discover, taste, and learn about food. Columbus Food Oasis officially launched in 2015 and services Chattahoochee County, Harris County, Marion County, Muscogee County, the Fort Benning area, LaGrange, and other towns up to a 100 mile radius, including Russell County and Auburn, Alabama. Learn more here.
Following the training, a few workshop participants sat down with Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr. Field Representative Tammye Jones, Georgia Organics staff, and River Valley Regional Commission Jim Livingston to discuss farmer challenges, initiatives addressing procurement, barriers to organic certification, and the Georgia Organics’ Farm to School Golden Radish Program.
Jones was excited to learn about Columbus Food Oasis work through the North Highland Farmers Market as well as ways Congressman Bishop’s office can support small scale growers like Ruby Davis of Ruby’s Garden in Arlington, Ga. Davis provided a lot of insight into the growing and selling challenges she faces. She is looking forward to seeing what plans will be developed for South Georgia farmers in the future. “You have to talk about an idea, so you can birth it,” says Davis.
Subsequent WIC trains will take place throughout the spring click HERE for more information.
GFO MEMBERSHIP CRITERIA
To become a member of the GFO Network a community must:
- Have a food partnership plan or demonstration of partner commitments, such as letters of support.
- A central point of contact(s) to coordinate and communicate for events, trainings, and grant opportunities.
- At least one partner or individual is a member of Georgia Organics.