Category: Organic farming


Although agriculture is Georgia’s largest economic sector, ironically 80 percent of the food that the state buys is from out-of-state. 

The Georgia Sustainable Agriculture Consortium wants to bring local food back to Georgia.  Within in the next five years,  the state wants to create  two food hubs to shift agriculture back to local markets by making it easier for farmers to sell their produce locally  or regionally.

Food hubs, a new concept, allow smaller-scale producers to directly sell produce and meats to consumers.  “This is something that can affect all of our farmers,” said Julia Gaskin, coordinator of UGA Cooperative Extension programming in sustainable agriculture.

Frank Riley, a farmer who grows corn and pumpkins, would like to develop a farmers market in Hiawassee, Ga.  “Food hubs are good for the community. They are good for everyone,” Riley said.

Food hubs are locally managed, have the potential to generate jobs, improve rural economies and increase the capability of mid-scale farms. However, the creation and implementation of food hubs can be difficult.

Additional Consortium goals include:

  1. Form a working network structure that will facilitate interaction between key institutions and stakeholders;
  2. Quantify barriers and infrastructure needed for local/regional food hub development;
  3. Conduct life cycle analysis of vegetable and grazing systems;
  4. Begin research on multi-species grazing systems; and
  5. Increase research and extension on small to mid-scale vegetable production systems.

The Consortium was formed by the University of Georgia College and Agricultural and Environmental SciencesFort Valley State University College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Other key partners are in this effort are: Georgia OrganicsGeorgia Farm Bureau, Community Health WorksUSDA Agricultural Research ServiceGeorgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association andGeorgia USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

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Bunny Brundred met  Jim Murray during World War II  where she trained in the service as an aviation mechanic and attended Officer Candidate School. They married soon after they were discharged. In 1953, James and Jean “Bunny” Murray left  New York, and purchased a group of adjoining farms in central Virginia which they named Panorama Farm for its beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The farm sits on land that is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Jim ran a manufacturing business and taught at U.Va. and Bunny ran the farm, raised cattle, sheep and eight sons.

In its early years, Panorama Farms was home to a number of conventional farming enterprises of agriculture and livestock.  In 1996 they decided to rethink their vision for the farm. “We began looking at the farm as a resource,” says Panorama Pay-Dirt founder Steve Murray of the property he grew up on. “Out of that decision, came Panorama Pay-Dirt, Panorama Running, and Panorama Trails. We also lease hay-making and hunting rights.”

So far, so good. “Our efforts have made the farm sustainable into the next generation,” Murray says.

Hitting Pay-Dirt

Establishing the compost business and other alternatives to conventional agriculture has allowed the Murray family to preserve the beautiful 850-acre property as an agricultural enterprise. At the same time, they are recycling organic matter that would otherwise be headed for the landfill, and they are supplying area gardeners, landscapers, and farmers with a product that adds vital nutrients to the soil. “The response has been enormously favorable,” says Pay-Dirt co-founder Drew Murray. “My brother and I take pride in the TLC we put into our product, and our customers seem to appreciate it too.”

 The Farm is also the home course for the University of Virginia and Albemarle County High Schools’ cross country teams. Additionally, the Farm hosts the A.R.C. Natural History Day Camp for three weeks every summer.

As of the 2002 Census, the average age of all U.S. farmers was approximately 55. More distressing, though, is that from 1982 to 2002 the number of young principal farmers under 35 years old has declined from 16% to 9%.

To support the rise of a new generation of young farmers and ranchers, the USDA is stepping into the fray. It recently awarded 36 grants totaling $18 million for organizations to provide assistance and training to enable beginning farmers and ranchers to receive the training and assistance necessary to operate and grow successful, sustainable farms, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced September 30.

“Beginning farmers and ranchers face unique challenges, and these grants will provide needed training to help these producers become profitable and sustainable,” Merrigan said. “American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in America, a critical contribution to the strength and prosperity of the country.”

Merrigan continued: “The sheer productivity of our farmers has given Americans access to a cheap, wholesome food supply and provides us with more discretionary income than much of the rest of the world. But our farmers are aging, and more of our young people are looking outside of farming for their careers. It’s time to reverse these trends, keep farmers on the farm and help beginning farmers and ranchers thrive in their careers.”

The grants will flow through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) “Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program” (BFRDP).  Established in the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA makes these grants to organizations carrying out education, training, technical assistance and outreach programs that help beginning farmers and ranchers with 10 years’ experience or less.

Awards were made to organizations in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, the US Virgin Islands, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Select awardees include:

  • A project in New York to provide workshops, conferences, apprenticeships, online resources and mentoring services for more than 1,200 beginning farmers by 2014
  • A project in Montana will offer financial, credit and marketing training to beginning American Indian farmers
  • A project in Mississippi will develop and disseminate training materials and decision-making tools to high school and college students who plan to enter farming and ranching

 More information is available at: http://www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/beginning_farmer_awards.html.

 

Although they’ve been in Wisconsin for over 80 years, Standard Process hasn’t been well-known until the last few years as people have become more concerned about health and nutrition.

The 420-acre certified organic farm, located a mile or so from its headquarters in Palmyra, WI., grows whole foods for their high nutrient content – alfalfa, barley grass,oats, pea vine, buckwheat, Spanish black radish, kale, beets, radishes, Brussels sprouts – and processes them into nutritional supplements.

Organic growing methods include:

  • All of the seeds are organic and always untreated and free of genetically modified organisms (GMO)
  • Zero tolerance for genetically modified seed, synthetic herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or seed treatments. Our whole foods are cultivated with only natural nutrition and no synthetic fertilizer.
  • Every field is professionally tiled to optimize drainage. And, we set our soil testing levels well beyond what’s required because we believe that well-managed soil produces high-quality raw materials.
  • Irrigation water is supplied from a naturally occurring artesian flowage, although we water as infrequently as possible to encourage the roots dig deep down and find nutrition.

 

Health Care Partners

Standard Process sells only to health care providers  including chiropractors, dentists, and acupuncturists. Many chiropractors prefer to recommend Standard Process supplements to their patients because the products use whole foods instead of more highly processed ingredients. Standard Process offers more than 300 products through three product lines: Standard Process whole food supplements, Standard Process Veterinary Formulas, and MediHerb herbal supplements. The company is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as state and federal agricultural departments.