By Porter Mitchell
Snapfinger Farm sits on a sleepy, winding suburban road, across from an old church and its small cemetery. A steady stream of airplanes fly over the 14-acre farm in Henry county. Rahul Anand has farmed here for two-and-a-half years, slowly reshaping the fallow pasture land into tilled rows of soil, building a hoop-house on the old horse ring, and constructing an impressive fence to keep out the deer. He’s an ambitious business owner, always looking to grow his business and differentiate his farm in a crowded marketplace.
“One of Rahul’s greatest assests is that he’s very inventive and he’s not afraid—even if he doesn’t know something, he’ll dive in and figure it out along the way,” explains Chris Jackson of Jenny Jack Farm, where Rahul first began farming as an apprentice in 2015.
Rahul walks along a long row of sunchokes, a native North American cousin of the black-eyed Susan whose nubby roots’ artichoke-like flavor gave the plant its name. Their woody stems tower nine or ten feet in the air, their dried leaves barely clinging onto the stalks.
“White Bull buys pounds and pounds of these every week, they can’t get enough of them. I have no idea what they’re doing with all of these sunchokes but I’m happy they’re buying them,” he laughs.
Rahul sells his produce at a smattering of restaurants across Atlanta including Local Three, White Bull, Eat Me Speak Me, and Watchman’s, at the Decatur Wednesday Market, and he operates a CSA. Rahul also recently joined the Middle Georgia Farmers Co-op to send his famous mizuna, arugula, and black radishes out into new markets.
“I would rather work with Rahul than someone else because he has this mindset of ambition and growth,” said Pat Pascarella, executive chef at White Bull, who has sourced from Snapfinger since meeting Rahul at the Decatur Farmers Market last year. “He doesn’t try to be a supermarket and have everything—he grows what he grows and he does well. His green garlic, hakureis, and sunchokes are the best—no one compares.”
Rahul first became involved with Georgia Organics in the summer of 2019 after hearing about the 200 Organic Farms Campaign. The 200 Organic Farms Campaign provides one-on-one coaching to guide farmers through the laborious certification process and reimburses them the certification cost.
“I’m not against the spirit of the program, but I don’t know if I believe that certified organic is necessarily better than local,” Rahul explains, “but being certified will open up new markets for me, both literally and figuratively, especially with the fruit trees I’m planting this year and with an on-farm market.”
Rahul hopes that the certified organic label will appeal to the suburbanites of Henry County and set his farm apart from other operations in the area. Even with the incentive of this new market, the certification process is still difficult to go through.
“Transitioning to certified organic is hard, even if you really want to,” Rahul said between sips of coffee. “The record keeping is a lot of work, especially since it’s just me right now. Plus the application has a million ambiguous questions so it’s helpful to have Michael to call and ask ‘what does this mean in practical terms?’, ‘What are they looking for here?’.”
In fact, Rahul believes that without a strong network to reach out to, he wouldn’t have come this far at all.
“It’s really important for farmers to have someone they can call,” he said. “I can call Chris and Jenny of Jenny Jack Farm up any time for advice, and I do. I don’t know how you would farm without that.”
Rahul walks along his property and motions to an empty field. He explains that soon, the whole tract will be planted with dozens and dozens of fruit trees and berry bushes. He even plans to grow niche citrus trees like Meyer lemons in his hoop house. He’s always undertaking new projects, as if the time and labor required to operate his farm wasn’t enough. However, they seem to always pay off—Rahul has recently constructed his own vacuum seeder, a piece of equipment that speeds up the planting process, saving him significant amounts of valuable time.
“To have a farmer apprentice at our farm, leave, start their own farm in Georgia, and for that farmer to be successful—that’s really our ultimate goal. It means a lot to us,” says Chris Jackson.
You can read all about Snapfinger at www.snapfingerfarm.com and find their produce at the Decatur Wednesday Farmers Market, the Grant Park Farmers Market with the Middle Georgia Farmers Co-op, at White Bull, Local Three, Watchman’s, and Eat Me Speak Me. On Sunday May 5, Snapfinger is the featured farm in our first Cast Iron & Collards Society Family Meal at New Moon Gardens.