Many Americans might assume that one of the first things kids learn in school is how to name their fruits and vegetables. Tim Smith of Vesterfield Farms did until he met the boy who had never seen a carrot.
While selling at the Cochran Market, Tim noticed a little boy apprehensively eyeing the Vesterfield produce. “He pointed and asked if those were carrots,” Tim said. “I guess he had never seen one. He said he had heard of them but never eaten one. I couldn’t believe it, so I gave him a carrot and he loved it. That little boy became our best salesman! He started running around the market and telling everyone to buy our carrots.”
It shocked the Smiths to learn that in a rural community like Cochran there are people who have not learned the importance of eating fresh produce. Vesterfield Farms made the change to growing organically about three years ago for health reasons. “We’ve been growing our own food all our lives. In the past few years we have made the change to practice organic growing because our family and community eats what we grow, even our livestock eats it.” Tim said. “We want it to be the healthiest for everyone.”
Vesterfield Farms is a regular supplier for the Mulberry Street Market in Macon, the International City Farmers Market in Warner Robins, and the smaller Cochran Market. Since the Smiths head one of the only farms in Cochran that practices organic techniques, they’ve been thrust into a position of leadership. The couple sits on the board of advisors for the Mulberry Street Market and were asked by the Georgia Department of Agriculture to provide produce for the Bleckley County week-long “Feed My School” pilot program this past year.
People like the Smiths bear witness to the importance of a commitment to local and organic agriculture, “When our kids were in this school system, there was no such thing as farm-to-school programs. They were lucky because they got it at home, but there were a lot of other kids who didn’t have a clue.”
The Smiths are members of a passionate collection of Georgia families with big dreams for the way food is produced and consumed in their community. The Vesterfield Farms mission statement points to this sort of community as the catalyst for the changes occurring in Cochran and Macon, home of the Mulberry Street Market, “We want you to know that it is indeed broccoli on your place, that it grew in the dirt, was not sprayed with any chemicals and came from someone you know down the road.”
Bleckley County schools make an effort to purchase fresh produce from farms like Vesterfield, which has made a visible impact on the students. Tim even noticed a difference in the appearance of the school, “The evidence of the things the kids were learning about agriculture was all over the walls. We’ve provided carrots and broccoli for school programs.” Drawings of carrots and broccoli now plaster the walls of the schools.
Vesterfield Farms are at the Mulberry Street Farmers Market (Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.), the Cochran Farmers Market (Saturdays 8 a.m. to Noon or the International City Farmers Market (Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.)