Georgia Organics implements the following four main programs:
Presently, organic farms represent less than one percent of agricultural land in Georgia—and yet, demand for organic food is the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture. Organic farmers face a number of technical and business challenges to obtaining Certified Organic status, establishing thriving operations, and marketing their products. Farmer Services provides solutions to these challenges. First, Georgia Organics provides training and mentoring to beginning farmers, not only at our annual conference but also throughout the entire year. Georgia Organics co-facilitates the Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program, a collaboration led by the University of Georgia, which helps beginning farmers and ranchers refine skills they need to become successful. Second, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, we also lead the movement in Georgia to double the number of Certified Organic farmers by 2020 with the 200 Organic Farms campaign. Additionally, Georgia Organics promotes farmers markets by recruiting first-time shoppers, offering them incentives and swag, and placing market ambassadors to conduct outreach and create a welcoming environment. Farmer Services offers even further support, so read more on our resource page.
Looking for some farm hacks, to get Certified, or a little inspiration? Check out our Vimeo page.
Farm to Restaurant
Georgia Organics’ Farm to Restaurant campaign works to bring local farmers and chefs together to increase sustainable and organic purchasing by Georgia restaurants. In creating transparency in sourcing for eaters, the Farm to Restaurant campaign highlights restaurants that are truly ‘farm to table’ as Farmer Champions, nudging clients to support these restaurants with continued patronage. The campaign is three-fold and includes direct farmer services provided through a yearly farmer cohort. Supported by Georgia Organics’ Organic Procurement Coordinator, farmers in the cohort receive consultation in the field of business management, post-harvest handling, crop rotation, and variety management. Additionally, there is programming around events and opportunities to network and connect with chefs throughout the year. Restaurants that participate in the Farmer Champion program receive decals that showcase their verified commitment to spending and each year Georgia Organics hosts a chef-centric Farmer Champion fundraising event that awards the restaurants at the top of their class. All money raised from this event go towards farmer services and moving the needle on increased local and sustainable purchasing by Georgia restaurants and chefs.
Georgia Food Oasis
Georgia Organics is working to eliminate food deserts in cities and towns across the state. Our Georgia Food Oasis program convenes community stakeholders to develop innovative and affordable ways to discover, taste, and learn about healthy, fresh, and local food. By working together and with facilitation and microgrant funding from Georgia Organics, neighbors and community leaders develop their own strategies to improve food access and health outcomes. Through an Eat – Cook – Grow strategy, Georgia Food Oasis communities collectively cook up their own food future.
Farm to School
Georgia Organics is developing a generation of adventurous and conscious eaters by working with school district leaders, school nutrition staff, educators, farmers and community members to engage kids across Georgia in farm to school activities, such as tending school gardens, serving locally sourced school meals, conducting taste-tests, and incorporating gardening and nutrition lessons into standards-based curriculum. We founded the state’s first farm to school program in 2007, initiated the Georgia Farm to School Alliance and is Georgia’s lead for the National Farm to School Network. We provide hands-on training for educators and school nutrition staff and coordinate Georgia’s October Farm to School Month campaign. Georgia Organics partners with University of Georgia Extension and Georgia’s Departments of Agriculture, Public Health, and Education to coordinate the annual Golden Radish Awards, honoring school districts for their farm to school successes and encouraging the expansion of farm to school into new districts. Georgia Organics is the State Partner for FoodCorps, a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy. FoodCorps places emerging leaders into limited-resource schools for a year of service.
More than a conference, this two-day experience is one of the South’s most powerful forums convening sustainable and organic farmers alongside foodies, environmentalists, chefs, educators, home gardeners, and community organizers. Through educational sessions on topics ranging from cover crops, business management, canning and herbal medicine, farm to school, food access for communities, farm tours, and peer networking – participants are inspired and re-energized while garnering new skills and ideas to increase organic food production in Georgia. Among the diverse attendees are beginning farmers, school nutrition staff and educators, and community advocates. The culminating event is the Saturday night Farmer’s Feast, a celebration of the year’s toil and fruits of the harvest. Join us!