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A Guide to Georgia's Farms, Forests, Food and Exports
Generations of farmers grow operation into agritourism destination Sponsored by the Georgia Department of Agriculture // 2013-14
Georgia Federal State
Inspection Service Inc.
We ensure the shipment of high-quality produce through a grading process to determine quality set by federal standards. We provide an honest, impartial, efficient and accurate service to the members of the agricultural industry. We inspect peanuts, pecans, blueberries, onions, and other various fruits and vegetables. Our home office is located in Albany, Ga. We also have district offices located in Moultrie, Pelham, Bainbridge, Colquitt, Vidalia, Blakely, Tifton, Ashburn, Cordele, Fitzgerald and Millen to better serve the agricultural industry. We are a true supporter of our farmers. We are a monetary supporter of peanut research for higher yields and disease resistance. We build all the inspecting and grading equipment in the world in our Albany office. We work hand-in-hand with the department of agriculture and USDA to ensure consumers are receiving quality produce.
Way DoWn South in
thompson Farms is an independent family-owned farm in Dixie, Georgia. • animals are raised on the grounds their entire lives • no antibiotics • no steroids • no animal byproduct diet • our finished products are gluten free
Raymond & Andrew Thompson
• nitrate-free products are available • Ranked highest (Step 5+) by EarthClaims animal Welfare Rating Program • uSDa inspected by Georgia Department of agriculture
2538 Dixie Rd. • Dixie, Ga 31629 229.263.9074 • www.thompsonfarms.com
TABLE OF CONTENTS
11 A Look Inside 13 Calendar of Agriculture Events 14 Georgia Agriculture Overview
Crops, Plants & Forestry
18 Sustainability First
New crop systems, technology help conserve Georgia’s natural resources Agricultural aviation adds efficiency for farmers Lab ensures a seed’s purpose for farmers and consumers Georgia’s greenhouses and nurseries transition to keep up with customer demands Honeybees keep Georgia crops growing Georgia’s growing turfgrass industry plans for the future Sports teams around the globe rely on Georgia to grow their turfgrass Timber companies are vital to Georgia’s economy
23 Farming in Flight
24 The Science of Seeds 30 Planting New Ideas
35 The Bee’s Knees
A Guide to Georgia’s Farms, Forests, Food and Exports
36 Covering New Ground 41 Play Ball
42 Standing Tall
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Georgia Grown 2013-14
47 Trees of Life 72 Happy Trails
State’s forestry industry shares sustainability success Georgia-grown produce is healthy, safe and a billion-dollar industry Follow the path of a Georgia-grown bell pepper Georgia fruit crop sweetens the economy
Horse events draw interest to equine industry Peek inside a day in the life of a Georgia livestock showman
48 Crops for Your Crisper
77 Best in Show
53 From the Field to Your Plate 54 Wild About Watermelon
Local Food & Wine
78 Access for All
Wholesome Wave program ensures affordability of farm-fresh food Farm-to-table restaurants bring garden-fresh dishes to Georgia consumers Private label co-packers benefit Georgia agriculture Food processor installs innovative new water treatment system Heritage grapes reintroduce statewide wine industry
Animals & Livestock
58 An Industry With Wings 63 Layers of the Land 66 Got Dairy
Processors drive the state’s poultry business Consumers shell out big bucks for Georgia eggs Take a look inside Georgia’s dairy industry Georgia dairy farmer recycles, reuses and reduces to keep his farm environmentally friendly
83 Homegrown Menus 84 Packing a Punch
89 Gallons of Sustainability 90 Vintage Georgia
71 Keeping Georgia Green
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Georgia Grown 2013-14
94 A+ for Agriculture
Georgia celebrates role of agricultural education Abraham Baldwin launched ag education in state
99 An Educational Pioneer
Heritage in Agriculture
100 The Thrill of the Hunt 104 Southern Hospitality 111 A Walk in the Park
Georgia’s hunting plantations preserve the state’s agricultural heritage
118 The Business of Agriculture
State’s farmers find support in a variety of ways
Lane Southern Orchards encompasses all aspects of agritourism Piedmont Park highlights urban agriculture
112 A Global Appetite 117 Symbolic Seal
International demand is rising for Georgia’s agricultural products Official seal pays tribute to agriculture, commerce
122 Sweet Success
Stevia and other new commodities position Georgia to continue to grow
On the Cover The fourth and fifth generations of Lanes currently run Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley, Ga.
PHOTO BY JEFFREY S. OTTO
Georgia’s Privately Owned Forests
Private timber growers and family tree farmers support thousands of Georgia jobs, a high-quality environment and unparalleled outdoor recreation. Forestry is the economic lifeblood of communities throughout our state, and forest products are the largest export from Georgia’s ports by volume. Strong markets for Georgia wood and fiber keep land in trees.
Forests. They make life better.
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A LOOK INSIDE
Gary W. Black and his wife, Lydia
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GAag ricult ure.c om
A Gui For de to Geo est s, Foo rGi A's d And FAr exp ms, ort s
Read This on Your Tablet
s of farmer Spon sored s Gro by the Georg w ope ration ia Depa rtmen into t of Agric aGritou rism ultur e // 2013 -14 destina tion
Fam ily T ie
I could not be more excited to introduce this edition as we continue to highlight all the great things that Georgia agriculture has to offer. The focus of this magazine is “Heritage in Agriculture,” an idea that we continue to see as a driving force of agriculture in this state. In an industry that contributes over $71 billion to our state’s economy and continues to be the main economic driver, the concept of family farming is larger than ever, despite the many transitions of agriculture over the years. This second edition of Georgia Grown illustrates how family farms first began, as well as how they continue to expand with the advances of technology in agriculture. Across the state, the agriculture industry is steeped in deep tradition and pride. The goal of the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Grown program is not only to improve the understanding and importance of this industry to the public, but also to solidify the connection between the grower, the supplier and the consumer. Many people across our great state have put a lot of work into this publication and I want to personally thank all that contributed their time to this project. Georgia Grown will give an insight to the history of this great industry and highlight the great families and people that provide the timber for our homes and put food on our tables and clothes on our backs every day. Sincerely,
Welcome to the second edition of Georgia Grown.
A digital version of this magazine is optimized for use on iPads and other tablet devices.
Gary W. Black Commissioner of Agriculture
Visit us online at
If It Says VIDALIA® You Know It’s the Original Sweet Onion Only From Georgia
Vidalia® Onion Committee VidaliaOnion.org
Sunbelt Ag Expo Georgia Farm Bureau Convention Georgia Urban Ag Council Edge Expo
Georgia Grown Showcase & Food Show SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference Georgia Peanut Farm Show Georgia Dairy Conference
Agricultural events are a chance to show the public the importance of the state’s agriculture industry. These events also bring producers together and allow them to trade knowledge and expertise. “The opportunities in Georgia agriculture are unlimited and that is why it is important for our farmers to be informed as to the latest technologies and best-management practices,” says Zippy Duvall, president of Georgia Farm Bureau. These events give producers the opportunity to improve their products while educating the consumer about where their food comes from.
October 15-17, 2013 December 8-10, 2013 December 11-12, 2013 December 13-14, 2013 January 9-12, 2014 January 16, 2014 January 20-22, 2014 January 22-24, 2014 January 31-February 1, 2014 January 28-30, 2014
Georgia Green Industry Association WINTERgreen Georgia Young Farmers Convention International Poultry Expo Ag Forecast
Macon (Georgia Farm Bureau) Athens (Georgia Center for Continuing Education) Lyons (Toombs County Agri-Center) Tifton (UGA Tifton Conference Center) Bainbridge (Decatur County Livestock Complex) Cartersville (Clarence Brown Conference Center)
January 24, 2014 January 27, 2014 January 28, 2014 January 29, 2014 January 30, 2014 January 31, 2014 March 25, 2014 April 3-5, 2014 May 1-3, 2014 June 20-22, 2014 September 2014 October 2-12, 2014
Georgia Ag Day Georgia Cattlemen’s Association Convention Georgia FFA State Convention State 4-H Council Georgia Peanut Tour Georgia National Fair
A deeper look at the state’s important industry
It’s no wonder that Georgia
is an agricultural powerhouse, considering the diverse topography and climate of its 10.1 million acres of farmland. This land covers 28 percent of the state and ranges from coast to mountains, making it ideal for the production of a variety of agricultural commodities. Food and fiber production and processing rank near the top of all goods and services produced in nearly two-thirds of Georgia’s 159 counties. Because of this, one in seven Georgians is employed in agriculture, forestry or related fields. Georgia’s annual $13 billion farm gate value is composed of some top commodities, including broilers (chickens for meat), cotton, chicken eggs, vegetables and melons, peanuts and more. Georgia is the leading producer in the U.S. of both broilers and chicken eggs. Poultry and eggs contributed $5.4 billion to Georgia’s total farm gate value in 2011, and more than two-thirds of Georgia’s counties are involved in poultry production and processing. Dating all the way back to 1734, Georgia has a tradition of excellence with its No. 2 commodity, cotton, which was first planted for commercial use in Savannah. The state ranks second nationally in acreage and production. Despite Georgia’s “Peach State” name, the peanut is one of its biggest claims to fame, with more than 14,000 peanut farmers in the state. Producing 42 percent of the United States’ peanuts requires the hard work of 36,000 additional Georgians to process, ship and sell the peanuts. Although the state produces a number of diverse commodities, Georgia’s agriculture industry is focused on more than just crops. Farmers are working with new technology to increase conservation efforts, act as good stewards for the land and increase efficiency. Farm-to-table restaurants and agritourism are connecting consumers to the industry, while the state’s agricultural education is valued by students of all ages. Exports are another major part of Georgia agriculture. In 2011, Georgia exported more poultry than any other state, helping total U.S. exports increase by 19 percent. Other top exports include cotton, peanuts and wheat. The transportation of these commodities requires deepwater ports and inland barges, which employ more than 352,000 and contribute $66.9 billion to the economy. A major factor in Georgia’s economy, agriculture continues to contribute significant jobs and revenue to the state.
Blueberries, the highest value fruit in Georgia, are worth about $250 million annually.
pairs of jeans.
Georgia produced enough cotton to make approximately
Broilers make up more than
of Georgia’s total farm gate value.
Access more agriculture facts at GAagriculture.com.
of Georgia farms are family-owned.
Georgia is the largest producer of muscadine grapes in the nation.
Approximately 80 Georgia counties grow peanuts. The industry provides more than 50,000 jobs in Georgia.
Beef cattle production exists in all of Georgia’s
Georgia’s horse industry has a
impact on the Georgia economy every year.
Fresh Georgia peaches are available for only 16 weeks each year.
counties, and more than
total head of beef cattle and calves are raised in the state each year.
An average Georgia hen will produce about 240 eggs per year.
(22 million acres) of Georgia’s forests are privately owned.
cartons of peaches annually.
Georgia growers produce
Georgia’s top agricultural products, based on cash receipts
Consistently the state’s top commodity, broiler production in 2011 topped the national charts with 1.38 billion head. The commodity significantly contributed to Georgia’s economy, with a value of $ 3.46 billion.
Top 10 Commodities
6. Cattle and Calves
Cattle and calves, raised in all 159 counties, generated $ 357.61 million for Georgia’s economy in 2011.
Ranking No. 2 in the nation and the state, cotton production generated $1.2 billion in cash receipts. Georgia farmers harvested 1.3 million acres of cotton, resulting in 2.9 million bales.
7. Dairy Products
The average cow in Georgia produces about 2,188 gallons of milk per year. In 2011, dairy products totaled $ 317 million in cash receipts.
3. Chicken Eggs
Georgia cracked the top five chicken egg producing states in the nation, coming in at No. 3. In 2011, 4.29 billion eggs brought $491 million to Georgia’s economy.
Pecan trees covered 14,529 acres of the state in 2011, producing 102 million pounds of pecans. Pecan production contributed $265 million to Georgia’s economy.
The official state crop of Georgia raked in $431 million in 2011. The 1.65 billion pound yield accounted for about half the nation’s peanuts.
Corn production in 2011 brought $234.75 million to Georgia. Field corn is mainly used for livestock feed and ethanol production.
In 2011, Georgia produced $ 376.2 million worth of products in greenhouses and nurseries throughout the state.
More than 300 million pounds of blueberries are grown in the U.S. each year. In 2011 Georgia produced 65 million pounds, yielding $ 93.3 million for the state’s economy.
crops, plants & forestry
photography by jeff adkins
Billy Sanders cannot
remember the last time he plowed a field. “I think we sold our last moldboard plow in the 1990s,” says the Vienna farmer. He farms more than 5,000 acres in the Upper Coastal Plain without a plow, using a method called strip-till. Georgia’s farmers are among the country’s leaders in strip-tillage, a minimum-tillage system that disturbs less than one-third of a field’s soil. Using specialized strip-till and no-till equipment that only tills the rows where crops are planted helps improve the soil’s structure and water-holding capacity. “If you’re not taking care of the soil, you don’t have healthy soil, and you’re not going to have a good crop,” says Brent Dykes, executive director of the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Farmers like Billy Sanders fine-tune conservation methods to fit each
New crop systems, technology help conserve Georgia’s natural resources
farm, finding ways to keep the soil healthy and farms sustainable. “We are constantly improving our strip-till system,” Sanders says. He and his son, Johnny, grow cotton, peanuts, wheat, corn and soybeans. They sometimes engineer conservation tillage equipment, such as a 38-foot “rower,” a tillage attachment Johnny designed and built in their farm shop. Farmers also help fine-tune the computer programs that guide equipment within an inch or two of the strip-till rows. “With conservation work, the precision systems are absolutely necessary. They allow you to keep your row in the right place,” Billy Sanders says. That keeps pesticides and fertilizer applied in only the amounts needed to grow healthy crops, eliminating potential runoff. Much conservation tillage involves sowing cover crops after fall harvest to minimize topsoil loss during
Irrigation systems provide water for a crop during dry periods, which increases crop productivity and quality.
Variable Rate Irrigation technology reduces irrigation water usage by
During harvest, corn stubble is often left on the fields to protect the topsoil during the winter. The following year’s crop will be planted on the same ground.
winter, while producing more organic matter in the field for the spring. “We want as much cover crop growth in the winter as we can get,” says Sanders, who adds that cereal rye works best as a cover for their fields. “Planting cover crops is a big expense, but it’s very important for conservation work.” Conservation work is not just about crops. Farmers like Sanders also care for Georgia’s pine forests. “We’ve favored planting a longleaf pine, which is native to the region,” Sanders says. “Our crop fields are relatively small. Many (of the fields) are right next to pines.” Longleaf pines, planted for timber, will grow for 15 years before harvest. Precision planting and spraying methods keep potentially damaging sprays away from forests. Conservation tillage can also decrease the amount of irrigation water needed. University of Georgia and United States Department of Agriculture researchers say strip-till practices can increase water infiltration by as much as 30 to 45 percent over traditional tillage systems, reducing the amount of water needed for Georgia’s many center-pivot crop irrigation systems. Other irrigation technology helps save water. New irrigation nozzles spray water in droplets like rain, reducing water loss from evaporation and wind drift. Variable Rate Irrigation technology uses global positioning software to adjust for temperature and soil moisture while avoiding water application on non-crop areas like roadways. Such technology reduces irrigation water usage an average of 17 percent. VRI systems are still taking off, with less than 70 used in Georgia in 2012. To increase their use and help improve system efficiency, the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded a $1.2 million Conservation Innovation Grant through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to install and research techniques on 10 new Variable Rate Systems.
Top: One goal for conservation tillage practices is to keep more organic matter on the field over the winter. This soybean crop was planted in a field that grew corn the previous year. Bottom: Cotton fields are also often planted using strip-tillage or no-till methods, reducing the disturbance on the soil.
Through water meters, farmers also provide data to the state’s Environmental Protection Division on their irrigation water use. “Over the last decade, Georgia EPD has strengthened its relationship with the agricultural community in order to better understand agricultural water use,” says Cliff Lewis, EPD program manager for agricultural water withdrawal permitting. In that way, farmer cooperation is helping the state maintain a high-quality, safe and adequate water supply for all of Georgia. – Matthew Ernst
Learn more about farmers’ conservation efforts at GAagriculture.com.
crops, plants & forestry
Farming in Flight
gricultural advances and cutting-edge technologies are taking off for Georgia farmers – literally. Agricultural aviation, also known as crop dusting, has become one of the safest, fastest and most efficient ways for row crop farmers to apply pesticides and monitor crops, says Eric Rojeck, vice president of Thrush Aircraft in Albany. “An airplane can accomplish more in one hour than ground equipment can in one day,” Rojeck says. “This means less fuel used, less air pollution and no soil compaction.” Those aren’t the only benefits of using agricultural aircraft. When a crop canopy is too thick for a ground rig, which could be the case in some orchards, airplanes are used for spraying pesticides that can reach the crop. If a crop is threatened by pests or disease, the amount of time for recovering the crop is critical, and aviation can take care of a problem much more quickly than ground equipment. Agricultural aircraft fly over almost every major crop in the Peach State, including cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn and pecans. Along with increasing efficiency for farmers, agricultural aviation is paving the way for modern farming technology. Pilots fly both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft equipped with precision technology like Global Positioning Systems, geographical information systems, flow controls, real time meteorological systems and precisely calibrated spray equipment to ensure accurate application.
Agricultural aviation adds efficiency for farmers
Agricultural aviation, also known as crop dusting, has become one of the safest, fastest and most efficient ways for row crop farmers to apply pesticides and monitor crops.
Rojeck says that although they haven’t currently made much headway in Georgia agriculture, unmanned aircraft are being marketed for field surveillance, using visible light and infrared cameras that help look at field and crop conditions. Bo Warren, director of business development for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, says unmanned aviation is the next
level for precision agriculture. “Scientists have already demonstrated how remote battery-operated helicopters and unmanned aircraft can use digital imagery to monitor crop disease, water and nutrient conditions,” he says. “We are fortunate to see how producers can apply these new advances in technology on their farm.” – Rachel Bertone
crops, plants & forestry
photography by frank ordoñez
Lab ensures a seed’s purpose for farmers and consumers
The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Seed, Fertilizer and Feed Section of the Plant Industry Division is responsible for setting rules and regulations related to seeds, fertilizer and animal feeds, making sure that labeling is accurate and that the items reach the minimum quality standards for being offered or transported for sale in Georgia. They also license seed, investigate arbitration complaints and supervise seed inspectors. Inspectors visit farm supply stores, nurseries, hardware stores and other seed distributors throughout the
state to collect samples for testing. They also check seed packets currently at the locations to make sure they’re properly labeled and that the weight is correct. All bags of seeds, whether flower, vegetable, agricultural or grass, must bear a label that details the country of origin, its species and the percentage of germination. State statutes establish the official germination rate for each species – standard peanuts must have a 70 percent germination, peas an 80 percent germination and rosemary a 30 percent germination – and the
Georgia’s top crops from its
booming $71 billion agriculture industry started as a seed. And since the late 1940s, the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Seed Laboratory in Tifton has played an important role in verifying that seeds sown by farmers successfully germinate to yield crops and profit. “Protecting consumers, whether farmers or homeowners, to ensure that they are getting the seed they paid for is what we are here for,” explains Reuben Beverly, director of the Laboratory Division. “Any seed that is offered for sale can be tested.”
A seed analyst tests the germination rates of wheat seeds at the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Seed Laboratory in Tifton.
The Seed Laboratory analyzes 25,000 samples annually.
The lab’s black light room helps analysts to distinguish between good seeds and bad seeds.
Seed Laboratory tests whether the label’s guaranteed germination matches what would actually occur once planted. Testing the germination rate involves pulling samples from an unopened bag and placing the seeds in optimal conditions for germination to occur, such as on a moist medium like a paper towel in an appropriate temperature. Germination can take seven to 10 days, but some species require up to 30 days. Even grass seed used in lawns undergoes this testing, though it’s considerably more challenging to test because of multiple species and soil amendments, Beverly says. Not only is the germination rate tested, samples are also screened for noxious weed seeds. The germination of a seed can be affected by factors such as storage time and environmental conditions including heat, light and moisture, so state seed law requires that seeds being sold have a tag showing the test date and can be marketed for up to nine months after the date.
Germination of most seeds can take 7 to 10 days, but some species require up to 30 days.
Georgia’s seed lab tests As many as
samples per year.
Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Corn
• • Promoting research for Georgia corn growers. Educating the public on Georgia corn and corn production and its impact on Georgia’s economy. Committed to good stewardship of our resources and sustainable farm practices for all corn growers. Grower-supported research, education, promotion and market development on behalf of all Georgia corn growers.
The Georgia Corn Growers
229-386-3006 2360 Rainwater Rd., Tifton, GA www.georgiacorngrowers.org
Come meet us and join.
Serving as a collective voice on issues related to corn research, education, public policies, production and marketing that benefit all Georgia corn growers and their families. Farm gate value: $463 million
Want to know all about corn in Georgia and the U.S.?
Go to www.georgiacorngrowers.org and www.ncga.com (The National Corn Growers Association).
If the sample’s germination rate does not match the label’s guaranteed germination, a stop sale of the seed is issued. The dealer could choose to relabel its product or divert the seed for other use, such as feed, but Beverly explains that “in general, most of our seed [that is sold] is high-quality. Conscientious businessmen will not want to sell a defective product.” Georgia farmers and seed dealers can submit a seed sample to the lab for testing by following a few simple steps, which can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website. One to two pounds of any large seed, such as soybeans, peanuts or corn can be tested and usually takes about two to four weeks for testing to be completed, depending on the seed kind. With the lab testing about 20,000 to 25,000 samples per year, Beverly says the challenge is balancing sample volume with turnaround time so that crops may be planted on time. But they are well-equipped to handle such a load in their new state-of-the-art facility, which he proudly describes as “probably one of the best seedtesting facilities in the southern region, if not in the nation.” – Andrea Watts
See more photos from the Seed Laboratory at GAagriculture.com.
Dedria H. Smith works as an analyst in the state-of-the-art seed lab, which underwent renovation in 2011.
How to Test Your Seeds
Are you a farmer or consumer who wants your seeds tested for purity or germination? Follow these steps provided by the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Market Bulletin: 1. Send between one to two pounds of any large seed, such as soybeans, peanuts or corn, and about one-half to one-quarter pound, depending on seed size, of smaller seed. 2. Include the kind and variety, lot number or other identifying mark, along with your full name, address and telephone number. For greater efficiency in receiving your laboratory report, please include your email address. 3. Mail seed samples in a cardboard box or similar container to protect them. 4. Allow two to four weeks for testing to be completed, depending on seed kind. 5. Farmers/consumers should send seed to: Georgia Department of Agriculture Tifton Laboratory Building, P.O. Box 1507, 3150 Hwy. 41 South, Tifton, GA 31793.
Crops, plants & forestry
photography by todd bennett
Georgia’s greenhouses and nurseries transition to keep up with customer demands
opened Windham Greenhouses in Glenwood in 1979, he knew his business would change and grow over the years, but he couldn’t have predicted how much the industry would evolve. “We’ve grown steadily over the years, adding on as we can afford it,” Windham says. “But in the past 10 or 15 years, we’ve really seen a shift in the number and size of nurseries in Georgia. It doesn’t mean that the industry is struggling, we’re just having to change the way we do business, how we get customers.” Where small towns used to boast three to five small mom and pop greenhouses, Windham says, now there are only one or two. “In our area, it’s just us left.” That doesn’t mean the nursery industry isn’t successful in Georgia. Greenhouses and container nurseries ranked among the state’s top 20 agricultural commodities last year. In 2011, the nursery industry had a $5.9 billion economic impact in Georgia and created more than 66,000 jobs. Windham attributes that success to the adaptability of Georgia’s growers. “We’ve transitioned. We see the demands of our customers change. We see cultivation of some of our plants moving to other states like Florida,” Windham says. “So we adapt, we change how we’re doing things so we can better serve our customers.”
When L arry Windham and his wife, Janie,
The Windhams started their business in the cut flower market. Today, Larry and Janie have an acre of covered growing area and a half-acre outside. As a small grower, the Windhams sell their products to retail florists and independent garden centers. Larry Windham says Georgia is a great state for the evolving greenhouse business. “It’s an ideal climate,” he says. “It’s not too costly to heat in the winter or cool in the spring and fall. Nurseries around here grow beautiful products.” McCorkle Nuseries in Dearing, founded in 1942 by C.S. and Avice McCorkle, is a larger nursery that still remains family owned. Over the years, it expanded from a one-stop retail, landscape and growing operation to a 440-acre plant and landscape company with multiple divisions. Don McCorkle and his brother, Jack, began working at their parents’ nursery in the late 1950s. Today, three of its founders’ grandchildren run the family business, which grows more than 4 million plants each year. “You have to adapt and change, and our industry is experiencing that in a big way right now,” Don McCorkle told Nursery Management magazine in 2010. Working in a different sector of Georgia’s nursery industry, Chuck Berry has watched his Christmas tree
Growing New Business
Christmas Tree Trends
McCorkle Nurseries in Dearing is a third-generation family business. Its growing operation consists of an 820-acre farm with 440 acres currently in production, with more than 4 million plants, from flowers to shrubs to trees, delivered to more than 1,800 customers in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
business evolve and grow over 35 years. The Berrys have been farming their land just outside of Covington – which began as a dairy operation – since 1894, and the first Christmas trees were planted in the late 1970s. Berry’s Christmas Tree Farm is a choose-and-cut operation that invites families to the farm to pick out their tree and cut it down themselves. Berry says the industry is growing now, but it experienced a slight downturn in the late 1990s. “There was an influx of artificial trees and a fasterpaced lifestyle,” Berry says. “But people are beginning to take time again to make their way back to the farm. A majority of the Christmas tree farms in Georgia have experienced positive growth over the last couple of years.” Their crops may be different, but Berry and Windham have the same outlook on their industry. “We’re one of the old ones hanging on, and we’re just going to continue to make changes to serve our customers,” Windham says. “That may mean changing things we’ve done for years, maybe adding on when we can, but it’s what we have to do.” Luckily, things always seem to come full circle, Berry says.“One of the biggest advantages of any choose-and-cut farm is the experience that cannot be found at a big box retailer. Each Georgia farm wants to build a family tradition around Christmas that will keep the families coming back to the farm year after year.” – Blair Thomas
Plants grown in greenhouses represent almost 50 percent of the Georgia ornamental horticulture industry.
In 2011, greenhouse and nursery was the
agricultural commodity in Georgia.
In 2011, the nursery industry had a $5.9 billion economic impact in Georgia and created more than 66,000 jobs.
Quality • integrity DepenDability
crops, plants & forestry
The Bee’s Knees
Honeybees keep Georgia crops growing
hen talking about the importance of honeybees, Reg Wilbanks cites a favorite fact: “One out of every three bites of food people eat is thanks to honeybees.” And Wilbanks certainly knows bees. Back in the 1800s, his greatgrandfather gave his grandfather four colonies of bees as a wedding present. Today, Wilbanks Apiaries operates approximately 6,000 colonies primarily for the production of package bees, which results in 15,000 to 20,000 packages per year. Package bees are adult bees, with or without a queen, contained in a screened shipping cage and sold. As for the queenrearing side of the operation, Wilbanks runs close to 15,000 mating nuclei that produce more than 60,000 queens annually for sale and shipping worldwide. “Everybody should look at the bee and not think of it as something that can sting and produce honey,” he says. “A Cornell University study estimates that bees contribute more than $15 billion worth of crops every year through pollination. That contribution is vital to the agriculture industry and to our food supply.” More than 100 agricultural crops in the U. S. are pollinated by bees, including important Georgia crops such as watermelons, cantaloupe, peaches and muscadines. Georgia has an estimated 75,000 bee colonies and 2,000 hobby and commercial beekeepers. The industry generates $70 million each year in the state through sales of honey, beeswax, queen bees and package bees. The University of Georgia Extension Service says Georgia
ranks second in production of queen bees and packaged bees, which are shipped to beekeepers around the world for starting colonies and for crop pollination. Wilbanks Apiaries, a thirdgeneration beekeeping enterprise, is a leader in the industry. Wilbanks says he is concerned about the decline in the bee population across the nation. “I don’t think researchers have been able to pinpoint the cause, but information on how to protect the bee population is improving,” he says. The industry has learned more about how to fight disease, how to reduce the stress on bees as they are moved around the country for pollination purposes and bee nutrition.
The addition of 40,000 bees at the governor’s mansion by Gov. Nathan Deal raises awareness of the importance of honeybees to agriculture. On a national level, the White House Garden has also added beehives. “People are becoming more aware of the importance of bees and the threat to the bee population,” Wilbanks says. “Because of that, people want to do their part in keeping the population healthy, and that’s important to the future.” The honeybee was designated the state insect of Georgia in 1975, acknowledging its contribution to the state’s economy. – Kim Madlom
photo by Jeffrey S. otto
crops, plants & forestry
Georgia’s growing turfgrass industry plans for the future
impact of most agriculture sectors is fairly straightforward. Consider inputs versus outputs, the number of jobs in the industry and the total profits earned from the commodity. But with turfgrass, things aren’t so simple. “It’s almost impossible to measure just how much of an influence this industry has on Georgia,” says Clint Waltz, turfgrass Extension specialist at the University of Georgia. “The only segment of the industry that is actually making a product is sod production, and sod is just scratching the surface. He adds, “But the industry overall makes an incredible impact on the state economy. We’ve got about
Measuring the economic
1.8 million acres across the state. That makes turfgrass one of our largest agriculture commodities, and we’re really underestimating the impact turf has on this state.” There are four segments to the turfgrass industry: golf courses, sports fields, sod production and professional lawn care. “Golf is big in Georgia,” Waltz says. “From the Masters in Augusta to the senior tournaments and the Tour Championship in September, golf is huge for the state in tourism but also for agriculture.” But measuring the farm gate value of turf management at a golf course isn’t easy. The same goes for sports fields.
The Four Main Players
Square slabs of sod are harvested by Patten Seed Company, which is headquartered in Lakeland.
photography by jeffrey s. otto
“From Little League to the Atlanta Braves and practice fields for the Atlanta Falcons, installing and maintaining safe and effective sports surfaces that ensure high performance and minimal injuries to athletes is a big part of this industry,” Waltz says. “But it’s also difficult to stick a number on.” Together, these four segments contribute $778 million to the state economy each year and provide 8,700 jobs for Georgians. The majority of these jobs are in professional landscaping and sod production. “Georgia has one of the biggest turf businesses in the U.S.,” Waltz says. “It is the biggest in the Southeast in acreages and number of producers.”
Photo courtesy of Patten Seed Company/Super-Sod
Few know Georgia turf as well as Patten Seed Company in Lakeland. First established as a seed- and fertilizer-selling general store in 1893, the company has grown to 10,000 acres of turfgrass and today excels in cutting-edge seed and sod development, trees, soil and even pecans and grafted seedlings. Now operated by Jim Roquemore, Ben Copeland Sr. and Ben Copeland Jr., Patten Seed was a pioneer in the Centipede seed business, developing the Centi-Seed® brand in 1954 and the TifBlair™ Centipede and Zenith® Zoysia varieties in the 1990s. These seed and sod varieties are noted for their high germination rates, increased quality and less-expensive lawn establishment. Today, Patten Seed is in the forefront of developing and testing new, high-quality turf species and new growing techniques. “Everyone in agriculture always has an eye on the future,” Waltz says. “Turfgrass is no different.” Patten Seed and its Super-Sod® urban retailers just opened a new office in Fort Valley. Besides serving as a new sales center for the area, this site is an educational center for smart water use. “The future for us is all about conservation,” Waltz says. “We are constantly working on research and development to improve cultivation and sustainability, stabilizing and
Grass of the Future
Photo courtesy of Patten Seed Company/Super-Sod
Above: Georgia peach grower Henry Williams grows and sells turf to supplement his income and take advantage of unused land. Opposite page: Baseball fields and home lawns use turfgrass and sod, respectively, from Patten Seed, which retails under its Super-Sod brand.
improving our inputs while maintaining a quality product.” Improvements in water conservation and pest management are the key, Waltz says, and UGA is at work breeding new cultivars of grass species that require less water and fewer pesticides. “The thing we have to remember is the turf business is a quality business, not quantity. We can’t only be concerned with how many acres, it has to look good, and it has to be a safe and effective playing surface,” Waltz says. “And the future for us means creating more sustainable products and options.” – Blair Thomas
Turfgrass contributes $778 million to the state economy each year and provides 8,700 jobs for Georgians.
in turfgrass production across the state.
Learn more about the sod and turfgrass industry at GAagriculture.com.
Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter
■ Fairgrounds designed and built for Georgia’s youth and agriculture, state-of-the-art facilities ■ Livestock/equine facilities: barns, conditioned show rings, practice rings, RV hookups ■ Home of the award-winning Georgia National Fair, where the new Georgia Grown building will be introduced to fairgoers
Perry, GA I-75 at Exits 134 & 135
478.987.3247 • 800.987.3247 (Georgia only) www.gnfa.com • www.georgianationalfair.com
crops, plants & forestry
Sports teams around the globe rely on Georgia to grow their turfgrass
hether you’re cheering on your team in the stands as players rush the end zone, or anxiously watching your favorite golf pro tee up his final shot, when it comes to sports, agriculture is not the first thing on your mind. But the industry – and turfgrass specifically – is essential for athletics. “Golf, football, soccer, baseball, horse racing and more all utilize Georgia’s turf industry,” says Wayne Hanna, professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Georgia. “Turf helps with player safety, is aesthetically pleasing and is wear-resistant.” Hanna says most sports venues use the Tif series of grasses developed by the University of Georgia in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
The grass is a hybrid between African Bermudagrass, which has high turf quality, and common Bermudagrasses, which have good wear-tolerance and broad adaptation. This means the grass can tolerate high traffic and adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions, making it ideal for sports fields and venues. Georgia’s own TifSport Bermudagrass is becoming a celebrity for the state in the turf industry nationwide. Hanna says a TifSport was used for the top field in the last World Cup, held in South Africa, and there are plans to use it on the fields for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He also says that at least 80 percent of the top golf courses and athletic fields in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world use at least one type of Georgia Tif grass. For those looking to pursue
a career in the turf industry, the University of Georgia’s turfgrass management major helps guide students to continue agriculture’s role in sports and the development of new grasses. Graduates can develop careers as part of a grounds crew, an irrigation installer, landscape architect, lawn care specialist and more. Not only students should care about agriculture’s role in sports. Hanna emphasizes the importance of the connection for the consumer as well. “The consumer needs to know that the beautiful lawn they enjoy, the athletic event that they watch and the beautiful golf course they play on are large in large part due to agricultural research, both in the development and management of the grasses,” he says. – Rachel Bertone
photo by todd bennett
crops, plants & forestry
Timber companies are vital to Georgia’s economy
H.G. Yeomans has deep roots in the
forestry industry. Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, he helped his dad run a farm and a pulpwood operation in the Swainsboro area. “I’ve been around pulpwood trucks all my life,” he says. Yeomans later went into business with his father, who started a full-time timber company in the early ’70s. “I was in a partnership with my dad when he died in 1976,” says Yeomans, chairman of Yeomans Wood and Timber. “I went on to start the wood and timber company in 1979.” His son, Russ Yeomans, now serves as its president. Now semi-retired from the business, 66-year-old Yeomans has made his mark on an industry that is
second among Georgia’s leading manufacturing employers. In addition to overseeing a business that went from producing around 250,000 tons of wood each year to one that now turns out more than 1.25 million tons annually, Yeomans has been active in the industry on a larger level, serving on the boards for both the Georgia Forestry Association and the Georgia Forestry Commission. With some 22.2 million acres of private timberland available for commercial use – more than any other state – Georgia’s forestry industry generates $25 billion and employs more than 180,000. The state’s top two exports are wood pulp and paper/paperboard.
H.G. Yeomans and his family, which includes granddaughter Katie, operate a timber business.
photography by frank ordoñez
Companies such as Yeomans Wood and Timber are key to the health of the forestry industry in Georgia. One reason for the company’s success is its efforts toward sustainability. It “maintains a philosophy of conservation and utilization directed toward safe and healthy management techniques,” according to the company’s website. “We have a forester on staff that handles regeneration and working with land owners,” Yeomans explains. “We buy it, cut it, deliver it and plant it back, and that’s what we try to encourage. We’ve been environmentally sensitive on the wetlands with our best management practices.” Georgia’s forestry industry is moving forward after enduring a setback primarily from the downturn in the housing market that began in 2008. The state’s timberland coverage has remained stable since the 1950s, and with growth of forests exceeding removal over the years, the volume of timber in Georgia is actually greater now than it was in the 1930s.
There are various reasons for the success, says Nathan McClure, director of forest utilization for the Georgia Forestry Commission. “Generally, it’s the resource that we have, and there are several things that lead to that resource,” he says. “The most basic thing is the ownership of the timberlands. There has to be a good relationship between the markets for wood products and the land owners that grow trees and manage forests.” Around 91 percent of Georgia’s forestland is privately owned, nearly 60 percent by private individuals. “There is a good regulatory climate here that recognizes private ownership and the impacts of good markets on providing an incentive for landowners to do the right thing in terms of conservation, reforestation and other forest management,” McClure says. Georgia also has a good export industry for its timber products, with one of the east coast’s top ports in Savannah. – John McBryde
Georgia forests foster 14.5 trillion trees, plus wildlife and support for our ecosystem.
acres of privately owned forest land, more than any other state.
The average amount of trees grown in Georgia each year is
tons more than what is harvested.
More than 90 percent of Georgia’s forestland is privately owned, with 60% owned by private individuals.
Of Georgia’s 36.8 million acres of total land area, 66% is forested,the sixth-largest percentage among all the states, and twice the national average.
crops, plants & forestry
Trees of Life
State’s forestry industry shares sustainability success
hrough best-management practices, educational initiatives and certification programs, Georgia’s forestry industry is experiencing tremendous success in sustainability. In fact, the Georgia Forestry Association is sharing its accomplishments through a public awareness campaign known as “Sustainable Forest – A Georgia Success Story.” Launched in May 2013, the campaign shows how the state’s forestry industry does more than just cutting down trees for profit. It includes a short documentary that is shown at various presentations and hosted on YouTube. The message is something worth touting, says Nathan McClure of the Georgia Forestry Commission, which has worked with other agencies to contribute to the GFA-led campaign. “The latest number, which encompasses the past 10 years, shows that the average amount of trees grown each year [in Georgia] is 19 million tons more than what is harvested,” says McClure, GFC director of forest utilization. “That is expected to come down a little bit, but it’s still going to be positive for many years to come. In other words, there will be more timber grown than timber harvested.” Many landowners and harvesters learn about responsible practices by participating in certification programs such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or the American Tree Farm System. They can receive information and guidance on making forests sustainable for
timber, wildlife, soil and water conservation, recreation and aesthetic values. “Our agency, along with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, is responsible for educating loggers on best-management practices,” McClure says. “The implementation rate from loggers is around 95 percent, and most of that is voluntary. So it’s very good.” To help level the playing field for the state’s efforts on forest sustainability, Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order in fall
2012 directing state buildings to incorporate “Green Building” standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the American Tree Farm System and the Forest Stewardship Council. This initiative creates a win-win for the state of Georgia by supporting local tree farmers and ensuring sustainability and energy efficiency for state buildings. – John McBryde
Crops, plants & forestry
aren’t just good for health – they’re good for Georgia’s economy, too. Vegetables alone have a farm gate value of $781 million a year in Georgia, and fruit tacks on another $400 million, says Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. Even with the difficulties of finding skilled labor and the increase in food safety regulations, Georgia farmers are still producing quality
Fruits and vegetables
crops that are being distributed all over the world. “Vegetable farmers’ saving grace is farm management and just being good producers,” Hall says. “They’re making sure the crops they are growing are high-quality so they can have maximum productivity.” Throughout all the growth and challenges Georgia’s fruit and vegetable industry has experienced,
Georgia-grown produce is healthy, safe and a billion-dollar industry
one locally owned business has facilitated the distribution of these products for the past 60 years. General Produce Inc., the largest wholesale produce house in the Southeast, has been owned by the Folds family for more than 50 years. “We don’t only support Georgiagrown; we are Georgia-grown,” says Randy Lineberger, vice president at the company. “We’ve enjoyed being in the top 100 privately owned companies in Georgia for the last several years.”
Locally Grown, Locally Owned
Hiram Folds is founder and owner of General Produce Inc., which operates on the grounds of the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park.
photography by frank ordoñez
General Produce operates on the grounds of the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park and occupies four warehouses totaling 178,000 square feet. The company distributes to smaller wholesalers in 11 states and independent retail stores within a 300-mile radius of its warehouses. Lineberger says General Produce’s success comes from flexibility and innovation. Since 1986, it has shipped produce using its own trucking company, GenPro Trucking. “We’re not afraid to try anything and everything,” Lineberger says. “What put us on the map was growing our fleet of trucks. It’s all about taking it to the customer. In the old days, the customer came to market, but now we take it to the customer. Our delivery has made a big difference in growth of the company.” Complying with food safety regulations is another important part of what General Produce does, Lineberger says, but it also presents
General Produce occupies four warehouses totaling 178,000 square feet. The company distributes fresh fruits and vegetables to smaller wholesalers in 11 states as well as independent retail stores within a 300-mile radius of its warehouses, which are located in Atlanta.
challenges – the company can only do business with farmers who also comply with the regulations. “With all the food safety regulations, we have to be careful about how we do business and who we do business with,” Lineberger says. “When we can, we do support Georgia farmers, and we enjoy distributing their products throughout the Southeast.” Hall says more and more producers are altering their methods to comply with regulations. “The goal is to put in place proper agricultural practices – like worker hygiene, hand-washing and sanitation on the packing line – all to reduce the possibility of food-borne disease on the product,” he says. “Those that are selling to food service and retail have already made the necessary changes and many other growers are following suit and making sure they are ensuring the safety of product.” Hall says the biggest challenge fruit and vegetable producers face
is finding labor since Georgia passed its immigration bill in 2011. “The consumer wants produce to be blemish-free,” Hall says. “They want to see that pretty pepper or squash that they don’t have to be concerned about, so produce has to be hand-picked. Getting the adequate number of skilled harvesters is very challenging.” Hall says even with these challenges, he believes Georgia vegetable farmers will continue to grow some of the best produce in the nation. “Farmers are generally the biggest innovators in the world in trying to make sure what they’re doing is latest and greatest,” Hall says. – Jill Clair Gentry
The N um b e r s :
Vegetables have a farm gate value of $781 million a year in Georgia.
Fruits have a farm gate value of $400 million a year in Georgia.
People are employed at the Atlanta Farmers Market.
See photos of other Georgia-grown vegetables at GAagriculture.com
Georgia Soybean Commodity Commission
Farmers Putting Soybean Checkoff Dollars to Work for You
Projects funded in 2013
Soybean Genes for Resistance to the Kudzu Bug Evaluation of Current Georgia Soybean Cultivars to Metribuzin Herbicide (Year Three, 2013) Characterizing and Using Pest Resistance Molecular Markers in Soybean for Management of Stem Feeding Kudzu Bugs and Leaf Feeding Insects Soybean Response to Preplant Applications of Diuron Development of RR2Y/LibertyLink Soybean Varieties with Superior Protein Quality and Pest and Pathogen Resistance for Georgia Growers Funding to Support the Georgia Soybean Rust Sentinel Plot Monitoring Program and Activities of the University of Georgia’s Soybean Team The 2013 UGA Soybean Production Guide Improving Soybean Production Practices in Georgia
Greg Mims, Chairman
Tree Nut in Antioxidants
Healthy & Nutritious Certified by the American Heart Association
Georgia soil is sandy and acidic, the perfect environment for growing blueberries! Georgia has one of the longest harvest seasons in North America. Georgia’s two most common blueberry varieties are Highbush and Rabbiteye. Georgia’s short winters give the berries the right amount of chill and warm spring and summer temperatures help produce delicious Sweet Georgia Blues!
crops, plants & forestry
From the Field to Your Plate
1. Growing Season
Follow the path of a Georgia-grown bell pepper
Bell pepper seeds are started in greenhouses, and the seedlings are transplanted in the fields at five or six weeks old. Peppers are generally grown in plastic mulch on raised beds, which warm up more quickly in the spring and enhance earlier growth. At full size, the bell pepper plant is bushy, four feet tall, and two to three inches wide. Flowers will blossom through the growing season.
Peppers can be harvested when they are immature (green) or mature (red), depending on the market intended for the product. A single field can be harvested multiple times at 10 to 15 day intervals. Most Georgia-grown peppers are harvested multiple times, from June to October. Bell peppers are usually harvested by hand and dumped into bulk bins or trailers to carry them to packing facilities.
3. Grading and Packing
Peppers are graded and packed by size and color. Federal grade standards for bell peppers are based on the number of defects visible. The peppers may be cooled by hydro-cooling before packing or forced-air cooling after being packed into boxes and on pallets. Fresh peppers may be stored for up to three weeks in cool, moist conditions. They also may be frozen, dried or processed for later use.
Once the peppers have been graded and packed, they are shipped to the buying points in refrigerated trucks. Peppers grown on south Georgia farms are distributed to a number of states throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Peppers could be sold to fresh market, which includes roadside stands, wholesalers and retailers, farmers markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA), produce auctions and cooperatives. These fresh peppers are often used in salads, stuffings, garnishes and more. Peppers can also be processed and frozen, cut or pickled.
crops, plants & forestry
Georgia fruit crop sweetens the economy
photography by frank ordoñez
A long with fireworks and
patriotic music, Independence Day celebrations require watermelons – and at celebrations east of the Mississippi, that means Georgia watermelons. “Georgia melons are on the market and ready for July 4,” says Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. “June and July are the window we fill. Watermelon territory starts in south Florida, which has an earlier season, and moves up the East
Coast. Georgia melons are mature in early June through mid-July, which means most of the melons on the market around July 4 are going to be Georgia melons.” Hall says consumers’ rising interest in nutrition is good news for watermelon growers. Watermelons are a healthy product, high in vitamins A and B6 – both good for the immune system – and in lycopene, a cancerfighting carotenoid. Home cooks and professional chefs are finding new ways to serve watermelon in
savory salads, on sandwiches, frozen into sorbets and even hot off the grill. Georgia melons are the specialty of the Cordele State Farmers Market, the major distribution hub and shipping point for the Southeast as well as a shopping destination for melons and other fresh produce. During watermelon season, the market is open and busy from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The market moves more than 1 million watermelons from farms to buyers, to be shipped north and
Vendors at the Cordele State Farmers Market sell commercially and directly to consumers.
west, according to Jennifer Felton, market manager. During peak season, watermelons roll up by the truckload. “We have small farmers, those with 50- to 100-acre farms, come in and bring their watermelons for sale, and the buyers pick them up and take them north where Georgia watermelons sell for big dollars,” she says. “The price was high in 2012, no less than 12 cents per pound. That’s great considering in years past the price has been as low as two or three cents per pound.” Hall says watermelon is one of the larger commodities in Georgia, estimated as a nearly $100 million industry with roughly 25,000 acres of watermelons planted throughout the state. Watermelons thrive in sandy or sandy loam soils, like the soil in Cordele, which claims the title of Watermelon Capital of the World for the quality and quantity of watermelons grown in the surrounding Crisp County. Georgia’s top five watermelon-producing counties are Worth, Tift, Crisp, Dooly and Wilcox. The most popular watermelons grown in Crisp County are the juicy, seedless, red watermelons. Felton says in the 11 years she has been with the market, she’s seen watermelon varieties come and go, but the popularity of the seedless melons is consistent. Other varieties that move through the Cordele State Farmers Market include crimson sweet, sangria and yellow flesh. Cordele celebrates all things watermelon at its annual Watermelon Days Festival, which marked its 64th year in 2012. Festival activities include the Watermelon Days Parade, Watermelon Festival Dance, the Junior Watermelon Entry Contest, the Watermelon Chunking Contest, the Big Melon & Adult Seed Spitting Contest, Singing at the Suwanee, live music and food. Emphasizing the importance of watermelons for Georgia, the fruit leads per capita consumption of all U.S. melon crops with a 60 percent share, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew. On average, Americans eat an estimated 16 pounds of watermelon per person per year. – Kim Madlom
Watermelons lead per capita consumption of all U.S. melon crops with a 60% share, followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
Georgia Counties for Watermelon Production: 1. WORTH 2. TIFT 3. CRISP 4. DOOLY 5. WILCOX
On average, Americans eat an estimated
pounds of watermelon per person, per year.
Watermelons are high in vitamins A and B6 – both good for the immune system – and in lycopene, a cancer-fighting carotenoid.
Cordele, Ga., is the Watermelon Capital of the World.
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animals & livestock
Processors drive the poultry business
from the poultry processing industry in Georgia, take a look at Springer Mountain Farms. Founded in 1972 in the northeastern part of the state, the family-owned company has 4,200 employees. Of those, about 3,000 work in two processing plants located in Gainesville and Cornelia. Its importance to the local economies can’t be overstated. “We are the largest employer in Habersham County and the largest in Hall County,” says John Wright, Springer Mountain’s vice president of operations. “We are also the largest water customer in Gainesville and largest in Cornelia. The economic impact of both of our facilities is not only felt at home but in the municipalities as well.” Similar significance can be seen throughout Georgia, the nation’s leading poultry-producing state. With nearly 4,000 poultry farms in Georgia – including processing plants, feed mills, hatcheries and delivery systems – the industry generates about $28 billion per year, according to a University of Georgia study. Approximately 111,000 Georgians are directly or indirectly employed by the
To get a glimpse of the economic impact
poultry industry, most of them in the processing sector. “The processing part of the industry is vital to the Georgia economy,” says Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation. “And it is really the basis for all the farm opportunities that exist for poultry growers throughout the state.” Other notable poultry-processing companies in Georgia include Victory Foods in Gainesville, Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton Poultry. Pilgrim’s Pride, headquartered in Greeley, Colo., has six processing facilities in Georgia. Claxton Poultry, which lists Chick-fil-A and other national chains among its 750 customers, has a workforce of around 1,800 at its processing plant in Claxton, a feed mill and two hatcheries in Glennville, and a distribution center in Savannah. Springer Mountain is at the forefront in terms of safe handling and humane treatment of chickens at its facilities. In fact, the company became the first poultry producer in the world to gain the endorsement of the American Humane Association under its American Humane Certified program.
photography by jeffrey s. otto
“We believe a more educated consumer learns about the products they eat,” Wright says. “It’s important that we recognize that raising chickens in a humane manner is not only the right thing to do, but it’s the best-quality product.” As a whole, processors are operating much more efficiently than they did 20 years ago, according to Giles. “From the farm through the processing plant, this is an industry that has adopted innovations as they come and has become more efficient, and also one that because of challenging financial times has really paid attention to driving down costs where feasible so that profit margins will be maximized,” he says. Exports have also played a bigger role in the industry in the last decade or two, which Giles says is particularly true for processors in Georgia. “About 20 percent of all poultry produced in the U.S. is exported, and in Georgia that number is slightly higher because of our proximity to the ports on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts,” he says. “So exports are really important to poultry producers in Georgia, and that’s a trend that has really been noticed over the past 20 years.” – John McBryde
Georgians who are either directly or indirectly employed by the poultry industry, and most of those jobs are in the processing sector.
There are approximately
Processing Good Business
ith nearly 4,000 poultry farms in Georgia – including processing plants, feed mills, hatcheries and delivery systems – the industry generates about $28 billion per year. Four major poultry processing companies have set up shop in Georgia, to be close to the high volume of birds raised in the Southeast and the available ports for exported products. And these processors have created a large number of jobs for Georgians. This company was founded in the hills of northeastern Georgia more than 50 years ago. Today,
Poultry processors contribute to state economy by employing thousands of Georgians
Springer Mountain Farms remains family-owned, even while it employs 4,200 people. Headquartered in Baldwin, it has processing plants in Gainesville and Cornelia. Victory Foods, along with its sister company Prime Pak, employs 900 people at its poultry-sizing and de-boning facility in Gainesville.
Douglas, Elberton, Ellijay and Gainesville. The company employs 38,000 people throughout the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico. Its net sales in the 2012 fiscal year totaled more than $8 billion. Considered an egg-to-market operation, Claxton Poultry has been producing chicken since 1949. The family-owned company operates a processing plant in Claxton, a feed mill and two hatcheries in Glennville, and a distribution center in Savannah. In total, the company employs 1,800 Georgians and sells 300 million pounds of chicken each year.
Springer Mountain Farms
Although it’s headquartered in Greeley, Colo., Pilgrim’s Pride has six processing facilities and one prepared foods operation in Georgia, with locations in Athens, Canton, Carrolton,
animals & livestock
Layers of the Land
Consumers shell out big bucks for Georgia eggs
ince Booker had been in the egg and chicken business since childhood, so not long after college he was ready to get cracking and put his experience to work. In 1976, he founded Country Charm as a small egg distribution company. Today, Country Charm produces and distributes more than 444 million eggs each year. More than 1.1 million laying hens are kept on the company’s state-of-the-art farm in Banks County, and the company contracts with area farmers to care for another 400,000 hens. The average hen produces approximately 260 eggs annually. The millions of eggs originating from Country Charm start with healthy laying hens. “We are partners in our own hatchery and feed mill, which gives us control of the quality of both the chick and the feed,” says Brent Booker, president, who has followed in his father’s footsteps. Controlling quality means keeping the hens healthy and properly nourished. “There’s a misconception about the poultry industry regarding steroids and hormones,” Booker says. “That’s just not true. No hormones or steroids are allowed in raising chickens. The Food and Drug Administration prohibits it, and more importantly, we are committed to keeping our hens healthy and producing high-quality eggs.” Once the hens do their jobs, the eggs move through a series of conveyor belts to be washed, sanitized, weighed, graded and separated into the medium, large, extra large and jumbo categories typical of grocery store displays.
The packaging ranges from the common dozen to cartons of either six or 18. The packaged eggs are stored in a 45-degree cooler and either shipped to customers or, in some cases, picked up at the plant. Country Charm’s customers include Eggland’s Best, Publix, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Booker says demand for eggs is seasonal. “October through Easter is our busiest time of the year,” Booker says. “That’s when people are cooking and baking for the holidays and the demand for eggs is high. Every hen we have is laying at that time of the year. Summer is usually our slowest time of the year so that’s when we are
changing out the flocks and taking the older birds out of production.” The growing national appetite for whole, nutritious foods bodes well for the egg business, Booker says. “Eggs are an affordable high-quality protein,” he says. “Eggs are the protein all others are measured against. There’s no processing, so it’s a very natural product. Just break the shell.” Eggs rank fourth in Georgia farm commodities, with a 2011 farm gate value of $568 million. The state ranks in the top 10 nationally in total egg production, producing 4.29 billion eggs in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. – Kim Madlom
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animals & livestock
photography by brian mccord, frank ordoñez, and jeffrey s. otto
like Bud Butcher, the desire to supply a safe, quality milk product is more than just his job. It’s personal. “As food producers, we are the only industry that produces something that people absolutely cannot live without,” Butcher explains. “And I think that 98 percent of the people that produce food, whether it’s milk or strawberries, conscientiously try to do a good job of producing a wholesome product that people will like.” Butcher, a third-generation dairy farmer, has worked at Butcher Family Dairy for more than 30 years. Located in Senoia, the 300-acre farm is also home to Butcher’s own family,
For Georgia dairy farmers
including his son and business partner Kirk Butcher. With the aid of four employees, the Butchers maintain and milk approximately 350 Holsteins every day. Farrah Newberry, executive director of Georgia Milk Producers, says Georgia is a key player in the American dairy industry. Like the Butcher Family Dairy, many of the state’s farms are family-owned, averaging 375 cows. In 2012, the Georgia Department of Agriculture reported that 55 percent of the milk produced in Georgia was exported to other states. “As far as the Southeast, we’re probably the top dairy state in the
Take a look inside Georgia’s dairy industry
Major Georgia Industry
of the milk produced in Georgia was exported to other states.
Butcher Family Dairy Farm in Senoia milks approximately 350 Holsteins every day.
Bud Butcher, left, has worked at Butcher Family Dairy Farm for more than 30 years. His son Kirk, right, is also his business partner on the 300-acre farm.
United States,” Newberry says. “We have the most milk production. Many of our surrounding states have lost production and dairy farms over the last decade, but we’ve been able to maintain and actually grow our milk production.” One way the Butcher Family Dairy maintains milk production is by calving (birthing) the cattle year-round rather than seasonally. While Butcher admits that continuous calving increases the difficulty of managing his operation, it has benefited the farm by keeping milk production steady throughout the year. “Our herd average [of milk production] is 22,500 pounds per cow, per year,” Butcher says. “We tend to feed for the most efficient production.”
Georgia ranks at the top for milk production in the Southeast and exports more than half of it to other states.
Georgia’s hot and humid summers present a unique challenge to dairy farmers, who have to work hard to keep cattle as cool as possible in 90-degree heat. The Butchers house their cattle in free-stall barns with fans and water sprinklers. Other dairies, such as Oak Hill Dairy Farm in Leesburg, have transitioned into tunnel-ventilated barns, which can produce 13 miles per hour winds. “All the fans are at one end and produce a steady flow of air, based on inside barn temperatures,” says Marty Erickson, Oak Hill’s dairy manager. “We want to have that breeze over the cows to promote cooling.” Erickson oversees approximately 30 employees and more than 1,800 dairy cattle daily. “I deal with people as much as cows,” Erickson says. “Everything everybody does affects the next guy down the line. Each job (on the farm) is just as important in that phase of the cow’s life. If she doesn’t get milked right, she may get mastitis, and that will affect the guy treating cows. If the guy doesn’t clean the barn, it’ll affect five other guys on the farm. [My job is] to organize that, so that at the end of the day, we have a safe, quality product that leaves here.” Georgia dairy farmers thrive on the need to produce a superior product, but their main motivation lies in the prospect of improvement. “I like the challenge of always striving to do better, [whether it’s] growing a better crop or getting more milk,” Butcher says. “There’s no ceiling. No matter how good you do, you could always do better.” – Allison Rehnborg
A Team Effort
The Butchers harvest corn for silage, which is a common feed for dairy cattle.
Georgia dairy farms have an average of about 375 cows.
Learn more about other Georgia dairy farms at GAagriculture.com.
animals & livestock
Keeping Georgia Green
Dairy farmer implements environmental efforts
s a lifelong dairy farmer, Everett Williams of Madison excels at the art and science of dairy farm management. But for Williams, successfully running his dairy goes beyond ensuring healthy cattle and quality milk products. Whether he’s recycling water or testing the soil before adding fertilizer, he knows that managing a dairy farm also means managing its environmental impact. “Farmers live in the same environment [that you do], so they don’t want to pollute their living environment, either,” Williams says. Williams works with his wife, Carol, and his two sons to manage WDairy LLC. The family milks approximately 1,300 cows each day, resulting in 3.3 million gallons of fluid milk each year. But dairy cows yield more than milk. A dairy cow can produce more than 100 pounds of manure and urine per day. As a result, dairy farmers view manure management as a top priority. “A dairy cow requires a lot of nutrients to grow, to live and to produce milk,” Williams explains. “A cow also excretes a lot of nutrients in the form of manure. Most folks consider [manure] a liability, but I’ve always tried to look at it as an asset. If you can figure out ways to utilize those nutrients and recycle it, it’s a win-win for the environment and for the dairy producer.”
Williams employs a number of methods to reduce his farm’s impact on the environment, such as managing farm waste, recycling water, and reducing his reliance on electricity for heating water or cooling milk. Dairy nutritionists help Williams to balance his dairy cows’ rations, so that the resulting waste contains less nitrogen, which can be damaging to the environment. By flushing his barns with recycled water, Williams can capture up to 90 percent of the sand he uses for bedding down the cows, as well as use the manure and wastewater as
fertilizer for crops. Williams also uses heat exchange coolers and well water to cool down milk and heat water for cleaning pipes. In 2011, Williams received the Georgia Governor’s Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Award for his work in manure solids separation and reducing waste water. “It was a great honor to receive it,” he says. “It does make you feel better that someone took notice that you were trying to protect the environment and work with the environment.” – Allison Rehnborg
animals & livestock
Danny Hogan cares for more than two dozen quarter horses at his farm near Dexter.
photography by frank ordoñez
Horse events draw new interest to equine industry
Georgia. Just ask Danny Hogan, who farms near Dexter. Along with raising corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, grain sorghum and sesame seeds, he finds time to take care of more than two dozen horses. And he’s not alone. Having a horse or two, to take a trail ride, show in a class or compete, is a way of life for many Georgians. “I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have horses,” Hogan says. “I guess you could say they raised me.” As a founding member of the Georgia Equine Commission, he’s hoping many other youngsters get the same chance. Recently, the commission unveiled an equine license plate, which features a beautiful brown horse. Funds raised from the tag help with equine promotion, research and education. The group gets $10 from each $25 tag sold. Horses rank sixth among top commodities in Georgia, with a farm gate value of $327 million annually. That contributes more than 8,500 jobs to the state’s economy. Hogan wants even more youth and adults to have the experience of owning and taking care of horses.
Horses are big business in
He’s helped put together a Youth Equine Day in Georgia, where 4-H and other youth leaders who have won awards with their horses are recognized at the state Capitol. In the 1980s, legislators believed in the value of horses and kids so much that they allocated money to build the Agricenter at the Georgia National Fairgrounds so kids would have a topnotch place to show their horses. Jim Floyd with the Georgia National Fairgrounds gets ready for 45 to 48 events in any given year, but by far the most important to him is the state 4-H and FFA livestock show in February. “Besides the Georgia State Fair, it’s the biggest, and one of the main reasons this facility (Agricenter) was built,” Floyd says. “The state of Georgia has one of the most active 4-H and FFA groups in the country. We care about our kids. Back in the ’80s, Rep. Larry Walker of Perry, Ga., pushed for this because he wanted a quality place for kids to show.” The state fairgrounds has 1,143 acres and includes a multitude of buildings. Events include the National Barrel Racing Youth World Championship that requires
1,840 stalls and kids from 36 states and nine countries. A staff of more than 50 is needed to host all the events. “We do the whole gamut with horses,” Floyd says. “The only thing we don’t do is hunter/jumpers.” Mat Thompson, Equine Health Manager for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, makes sure horses at shows and on farms get good care. “We had 900 new cases of neglect or complaints against individuals last year,” he says. “We’re having to deal with this in a different way because of the economy – we’re enlisting the help of rescue organizations, and it ends up we’re helping more horses than ever.” Thompson says the state mandates humane care for horses, so a rescue organization may keep one for three to nine months, then provide training for that horse to become a barrel racer or trail ride horse. Then they are sold through an auction to the public, many to 4-H and FFA kids. In addition, the state has a program in which inmates help train and care for the abused horses. “Last month, the inmates came and rode while their animals were being auctioned,” Thompson says. “It’s a big matter of pride with them to take that animal to the next level. There were a lot of tears too when that animal was sold.” Hogan sees the industry going through some hard times because of the economy and not being able to slaughter horses. In addition, it costs more to feed and travel to shows. At one time he raised 70, but now he raises 27. “You can still sell a good pleasure horse for $3,500 and a good registered quarter horse for $25,000 to $30,000,” Hogan says. “Horses still bring a good price provided they’re good at something – barrel racing, reining, pleasure or racing.” He’s hoping to bring the industry back to its heyday through the Equine Commission and his work as chairman of the Farm Bureau Equine Committee. “We’re doing anything we can to promote horses,” Hogan says. “We’re going to continue to do that.” – Charlyn Fargo
Photo courtesy of Lisa Lee
The Georgia National Fairgrounds hosts anywhere from 45 to 48 horse-related events each year.
The Equine industry contributes More than 8,500 jobs to the statewide economy.
in top commodities in Georgia with a farm gate value of
In 2010, 2.4% of all adults in Georgia owned a horse, representing more than 173,000 people.
“Making education work for all Georgians.”
Georgia Agricultural Education www.gaaged.org
Georgia FFA Association www.georgiaffa.org
Georgia Young Farmers www.georgiayoungfarmers.org
Georgia FFA Foundation www.georgiaffafoundation.org
Georgia FFA Alumni www.ffaalumni.org
animals & livestock
Best in Show
f you ask the common teenager how he or she spends the summer, many will say that they tend to get bored as the warm months roll on. But in the life of a livestock showman, the word “bored” is unheard of. We are Macy, Landis and Heidi Seagraves, and we are honored to share with you the life of the showman. Growing up on a beef farm, we were exposed to animals and the show ring at an early age, but we weren’t forced to be involved with it. We chose to become showmen. To us, showing cattle is not just a hobby – it has become a lifestyle. Responsibility in the show barn is a daily occurrence. Feeding, washing and haltering calves are some of the few things required of us each and every day. Each morning, I [Macy] go to the barn, feed, water, hay and halter our calves. I also turn on fans to ensure the animals are cool and their hair grows at a faster rate. In the afternoon and evenings, we all go to the barn to walk, wash and blow the calves. Then, Landis and Heidi feed, water and hay the calves, clean out their pens, then turn off the fans and let the calves run freely down electric-fenced alleys where they can graze. The goal is for each calf to build an adequate amount of muscle, depth of body, spring of rib and soundness of structure that makes them appealing to judges in the show ring. Preparing a calf for showing requires daily chores and responsibility, but through those tasks, character and work ethic is built.
Peek inside a day in the life of a Georgia livestock showman
We’ve grown together in our years of showing. Our family has really developed a spirit of togetherness by having mutual productive goals. We’ve built a strong team. Despite the early, cold mornings and the late-night walks to tie-outs in the rain, the love for the cattle remains. To us, our fellow showmen are like a family. We work together, eat together, win together and lose together, and the impact that people in the cattle industry have had on our lives is overwhelming. Thankful is a word that doesn’t come close to describing the gratitude we have for our 4-H
agents, agriculture teachers, parents and Young Farmer advisors. Throughout the winning and the losing in the show ring, we feel truly lucky to have such a great family of people in the livestock show barn. It is a blessing to live on a farm and have the opportunity to exhibit livestock. Each and every day in our lives as showmen is an adventure, and we are looking forward to another exciting show season with our family, show team and advisors. We can’t wait for the good times sure to come our way this season! – Macy, Landis and Heidi Seagraves
Macy Seagraves exhibited the Champion Simmental at the 2013 Georgia National Junior Livestock Show.
local food & wine
Wholesome Wave program ensures affordability of farm-fresh food
“This Wholesome Wave program is really needed to bring these folks in so that they have the same opportunities that other people have shopping at these markets,” says Debra Chester, chair of the Statesboro market. “I think sometimes people forget this is a large part of our population that has been underserved by farmers markets.” Nineteen percent of Georgians live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. Residents who qualify for nutrition aid can visit any certified market to use their benefits. However, the markets partnered with Wholesome Wave Georgia allow recipients to swipe their card at a central location and earn double tokens to buy food. Nearly 130 farmers markets are spread across Georgia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. income levels frequent the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. In the market’s rural six-county region of eastern Georgia, nearly one-fourth of residents live in poverty. Yet, the market tosses aside any wealthy-man stigma. Its partnership with Wholesome Wave Georgia gives low-income families affordable access to the market’s fresh-picked sweet corn, locally preserved jams, and farm-fresh eggs and meats. At 21 partner markets like this one, every $1 in government nutrition benefits becomes $2 at the swipe of an Electronic Benefit (EBT) card, thanks to Wholesome Wave. The double-dollar incentive means more value for the shopper, farmer and local economy.
A bout 1,000 people of all
While a higher concentration serves urban populations, the markets also operate in Georgia’s rural areas, says Matthew Kulinski, deputy director of marketing for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. “These community farmers markets help solve some of the issues of living in a food desert, places where access to fresh produce is not easily available,” Kulinski says. “Surprisingly this can be in rural areas where they grow a lot of produce.” The Georgia Department of Agriculture supports all types of farmers markets. The department helps them navigate federal and local regulations, offers guidance for new markets, and provides marketing assistance to attract customers and vendors.
At more than 20 farmers markets across the state, low-income families can swipe their Wholesome Wave EBT card to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I think the growth of the farmers market movement is so incredible, and Georgia’s really just getting into the depths of it,” says Lauren Carey, executive director of the Peachtree Road Farmers Market in Atlanta, the state’s largest market. “The energy you might see on the West Coast or the Northeast is really hitting Georgia now. I’m excited to see more people stepping out of the box store and into their farmers market.” In its 2009 inaugural season, the state’s Wholesome Wave chapter partnered with three markets and used private funds and donations to double the value of $3,000 to $6,000. The program in 2013 secured 21 partner markets and expects to turn $170,000 into $340,000. The Statesboro market joined in 2013. Within the first 11 Saturday mornings, 113 EBT customers
had visited the market’s nearly 40 vendors and spent $3,849 on fresh food. The Peachtree Road Farmers Market doubled $7,488 to $14,976 in 2012, Carey says. And just one-third of the way into its 2013 season, the market had already reached 47 percent of its 2012 amount. A total of about 3,000 consumers visit the market weekly to shop from 50 vendors, Carey says. The vendors offer only what they produce under the Georgia sun, from eggs, berries and peaches to Vidalia onions and watermelon. But that’s not all. “People can come here and find multiple cheeses, certified organic beef and pork, pasture-raised poultry, Savannah shrimp and a wide variety of produce,” Carey says. Doubling the dollars through Wholesome Wave means more
low-income Georgia families can affordably move from the produce aisle to the farmers market scene, she says. And this food movement is a trend among all income categories. “One reason people specifically come here is the variety, and shoppers want to be able to trust their products and buy local,” Carey says. “It’s one of the reasons this Wholesome Wave program is so powerful. It encourages you to buy locally grown and support local farmers.” Find Wholesome Wave Markets at www.wholesomewavegeorgia.org. – Joanie Stiers
Find links to a Georgia farmers market near you at GAagriculture.com
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Local food & wine
Find Wholesome Wave vendors near you
11. Rockmart: Rockmart Farmers Market facebook.com/ rockmartfarmersmarket 12. Statesboro: Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers Market statesborofarmersmarket.com 13. Bluffton: White Oak Pastures Farm Stand whiteoakpastures.com 14. Augusta: Veggie Truck Farmers Market theveggietruck.org 1. Athens: Athens Farmers Market athensfarmersmarket.net 2. Rock Spring: Battlefield Farmers Market battlefieldfmkt.org 3. Clarkston: Clarkston Farmers Market facebook.com/ clarkstonfarmersmarket 4. Macon: Community Health Works Veggie Van facebook.com/ communityhealthworks Mulberry Street Farmers Market facebook.com/ mulberrystreetmarket 5. Carrollton: Cotton Mill Farmers Market cottonmillfarmersmarket.com 6. Decatur: Decatur Farmers Market decaturfarmersmarket.com 7. East Point: East Point Farmers Market eastpointfarmersmarket.com East Lake Farmers Market elfmarket.org 8. Ranger: Farm Mobile facebook.com/farmmobile 9. Savannah: Forsyth Farmers Market forsythfarmersmarket.org 10. Warner Robins: International City Farmers Market facebook.com/ internationalcityfarmersmarket 15. Atlanta: East Atlanta Village Farmers Market farmeav.com Grant Park Farmers Market grantparkmarket.org Peachtree Road Farmers Market peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com SWOOM Market Project facebook.com/swoom Truly Living Well trulylivingwell.com
11 15 5 7
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Local food & wine
Georgia chefs create garden-fresh dishes
he collective culinary conscience of the United States is being awakened by chefs with a vision of sustainability and vitality. The public is embracing farm-to-table restaurants with an eagerness once reserved for the toy at the bottom of a Happy Meal. This trend has been encouraged in Georgia with the implementation of the Georgia Grown Executive Chef program. Its mission is “to promote and foster relationships between chefs and farmers,” and to “create a pathway for consumers to find ‘Georgia Grown’ in their communities in order to support local, seasonal foods when dining out,” according to its website. The chefs with the honor of being inducted into the program serve as ambassadors to local farmers and consumers. Diners can enjoy the local bounty Georgia has to offer, while supporting local farmers, the environment and the economy. Georgia Grown Executive Chef Dave Snyder of the Halyards Restaurant in St. Simons Island described the chef-to-farmer relationship as unique, since the farmer serves as an advisor, letting the chefs know what they’re going to have available for the next week. Snyder says he uses the farmer’s insight for foods that are in season to craft his menus. He also says he strives to maintain a respectful balance with Mother Nature because “she always wins.” As a fisherman himself, Snyder often supplies his restaurant with the fish he catches, but he’s careful to respect federal limits and regulations to avoid overfishing. “We have to be responsible,”
Chef Dave Snyder of Halyards Restaurant in St. Simons Island works closely with local farmers to source ingredients and develop his seasonal menus.
Snyder says. “We can harvest incredibly efficiently, but if you do that for 15 years, the species will take a beating.” Fellow Georgia Grown Executive Chef Ahmad Nourzad says he does his best to respect the environment as well. His catering business, Affairs to Remember Caterers, became Atlanta’s first Zero Waste Zone caterer in 2009. It composts food scraps and other organic matter, recycles, donates grease to be turned into biodiesel fuel, and donates unused prepared food to Atlanta’s Table to feed local hungry people. These efforts have reduced the catering company’s landfill material by 83 percent.
Chef Jennifer Hill Booker of Your Resident Gourmet in Lilburn and Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta also embody the tenets of the Georgia Grown Executive Chef program with their locally sourced produce and seasonal menus. Georgia residents have responded to conscientious and sustainable culinary practices with overwhelming support. The prevalence of farm-to-table restaurants is the result of chefs and farmers uniting to provide fresh, delicious food to an enthusiastic public. As Snyder says, “We’re in this thing together.” – Hannah Patterson
Local food and wine
photography by frank ordoñez
Co-packers add value to ag products
Jars of jelly make their way through the production line at Braswell Food Company, a Statesboro food manufacturer with co-packing and private label programs.
Georgia is lauded for its
peaches, peanuts and of course, Vidalia onions. But thanks to a number of companies with co-packing programs, knowledge of these and the state’s other top commodities spreads throughout the country and around the world. Co-packers, which manufacture and distribute private-label products for a variety of clients, help take Georgia agriculture across the globe. “We sell many of our products internationally,” says Stuart Saussy, vice president and one of the owners of Braswell Food Company in Statesboro. “It’s a good way to get the Georgia
name out there, to show the world the products that are grown here.” Braswell Foods has been in business since 1946, primarily making specialty preserves, salad dressings, sauces and condiments. It manufactures 400 to 600 products in 27 different categories. The co-packing and private-label side of its operation has been around since the 1960s. “We were one of the first companies to establish a private-label section,” Saussy says. “It’s been a good program, and we have a large following.”
Co-packing at Braswell Foods works in a couple of different ways, as it does at similar companies. Clients can provide their own logo and design and have them incorporated on a label printed at Braswell Foods and placed on a choice of products from its 27 varieties. “These are time-tested flavors and recipes we have developed since 1946, so we know what the market likes,” Saussy says. “We can certainly suggest to a client what sells better in their particular part of the country.” Alternately, groups or individuals can have their own special recipes
developed into products manufactured at Braswell Foods. “Let’s say someone brought in a barbecue sauce they wanted as their signature product, using their own formula and recipe,” Saussy says. “We would take the formula and the recipe to our lab, where one of our full-time R&D people will recreate the product and then get it approved by the customer. Saussey adds, “We can then go ahead and create the product, private-label it, send it off for all approvals from a (quality control) and regulation standpoint, and even provide nutritional information from our lab.” Co-packers not only help spread the word about agricultural products grown in Georgia, but they also directly
benefit local producers. Of particular note are Georgia Grown members who are able to have their own food business because of co-packing. “We manufacture a lot of private labels for area farmers, orchards and things of that sort,” Saussy says. “We use as many local products as we can, such as onions, peaches, pears, blueberries and honey.” The owners of Hillside Orchard Farms in Lakemont also do their part to help local farms through their co-packing program. The company was founded by Robert and Patsy Mitcham in 1983. Private-labeling
makes up about 90 percent of its business. “We have between 600 and 700 different customers,” Patsy Mitcham says. “They want to sell their name, and that’s what we encourage.” Hillside Orchard’s client list includes local farmers. “We’ll take a farmer’s produce that may not go into a fresh market, like strawberries, for instance, but we can turn them into preserves and they can have a shelf life,” Mitcham says. “That’s how we help the farmers. There are quite a few in this area that do that.” – John McBryde
Giving New (Shelf) Life
There are more than 10 privatelabel co-packers in georgia. using a co-packer can greatly reduce costs for a small food business.
Left: Braswell Foods processes its own Braswell’sbranded dressings, preserves and sauces, but through its co-packing program, it also develops and lab-tests recipes and ingredients from farmers. Many Georgia Grown members are able to have their own food business because of co-packing.
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Local food & wine
Gallons of Sustainability
ike Georgia’s farmers, the state’s food processors are turning eco-friendly for business. “We live here, we operate here, we see ourselves as stewards of our community’s resources,” says Chuck Staton, director of operations at Snyder’s-Lance in Columbus. “We are working toward a day in which no section of waste from this facility ends up in a landfill.” In 2005, Lance acquired the original Tom’s Foods plant and began facility upgrades. When Snyder’s of Hanover and Lance, Inc. announced a “merger of equals” in the summer of 2010, it created a national industry leader for snack foods, with a broad product portfolio including iconic pretzel, sandwich cracker and potato chip brands. Since that merger, production at the Columbus plant has increased to some 70 million pounds annually. “Our existing wastewater
Food processor adds innovative water treatment system
operation wouldn’t support the increase in volume,” Staton says. So Snyder’s-Lance invested $1.5 million in a new wastewater treatment system. “I’m proud to say that we’ve had no issues with water quality since the new system went online in late 2012,” says Chad Burns, the plant’s environmental health and safety manager. Full-time wastewater operators oversee a Dissolved Air Flotation System that skims effluents from wastewater. “All our wastewater has met the guidelines from Columbus Water Works for pH and oil and grease content,” Burns says. The system can treat far more than the weekly load of 4,000 to 7,000 gallons of wastewater. “Our holding tank is 99,000 gallons,” Burns says. “We wanted to position ourselves for long-term growth for water treatment that keeps us being stewards in the community.” The plant also creates steam for its boilers by incinerating peanut hulls. Hulls from 12,000 tons of peanuts currently produce steam, says Harry Broughton, peanut and candy plant manager. “Now, we’re using more peanuts from farmers in Georgia, Florida and Alabama, but our needs for steam are not increasing much. So we’re looking for ways to use our extra hulls,” he says. Hulls not used by the plant are hauled away to be processed for animal feed. The Columbus plant plans to continue to look for better ways to be a good environmental steward. “Here in Columbus, Tom Huston started out with a product connected to Georgia agriculture in 1925,” Staton says. “We are dependent on agriculture for our main ingredients of flour and peanuts, and we will keep looking for ways to be good stewards of the resources in our community.” – Matthew Ernst
Snyder’s-Lance has significantly reduced its environmental footprint at its processing facility in Columbus, Ga.
Local Food & Wine
Heritage grapes reintroduce wine industry
Photography courtesy of Lindsey McIntosh Photography
With an established wine
industry in the mountains and the reintroduction of heritage wine grapes expected to thrive elsewhere in the state, Georgia is on track to revisit – and relive – its winemaking history. Winemaking in Georgia is as old as the state itself. Early settlers cited making wine for export back to England as a reason to colonize Georgia. In the years prior to Prohibition, the state was among the top wine producers in the country. When the law changed, so did the course of the state’s wine industry. In recent years, vineyards have taken root in the northern region, where the climate and soil consistency is similar to the Piedmont area of Italy. Wineries throughout the north Georgia mountains are producing critically acclaimed European-style wines and top-quality grape harvests. In White County, five wineries are located within 15 minutes of one another. “People can make a day out of coming and tasting different wines, visiting the wineries and enjoying the scenery and vistas of our region,” says Joe Smith, winemaker for the award-winning Yonah Mountain Winery and the owner/winemaker of Serenity Cellars, both located in Cleveland, the heart of the north Georgia wine region. Yonah Mountain produces two main wines. “The owners wanted to focus on producing the very best possible chardonnay and a red blend Meritage that is a Bordeaux-style wine called Genesis,” Smith says. The strategy has worked. Yonah Mountain has earned more gold medals in a prestigious West Coast competition than any winery east of California. Grapes grown in the Yonah vineyards include chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and sauvignon blanc. Three miles away, Smith’s Serenity is growing cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese. Those grapes don’t grow as well elsewhere in the state, but the answer to growing Georgia’s future in the wine industry lies in its past. Heritage bunch grapes including lenoir, norton, herbemont and
Northern Georgia’s climate shows similarities to the Piedmont region of Italy, proving to be a prime location for growing grapes and producing high-quality European-style wine.
1. Boutier Winery boutierwinery.com 2. Butterducks Winery butterduckswinery.com 3. Cartecay Vineyards cartecayvineyards.com 4. Cavender Creek Vineyards cavendercreekvineyards.com 5. Chateau Elan Winery chateauelan.com 6. Courson’s Winery (706) 444-0616 7. Cotttage Vineyard and Winery cottagevineyardwinery.com 8. Crane Creek Vineyards cranecreekvineyards.com 9. Crimson N Scarletts Vineyard cnsvineyard.com 10. Currahee Vineyards curraheevineyards.com 11. Fox Vineyards (770) 787-5402 12. Frogtown Cellars frogtownwine.com 13. Georgia Bob’s Cane River Winery (478) 257-6570 14. Georgia Winery georgiawines.com 15. Habersham Winery habershamwinery.com 16. Hightower Creek Vineyards hightowercreekvineyards.com 17. Horse Creek Winery horsecreekwinery.com 18. Meinhardt Winery meinhardtvineyards.com 19. Montaluce Winery montaluce.com 20. Odom Springs Vineyards odomspringsvineyards.com 21. Paradise Hills Vineyards paradisehillsresort.com 22. River’s Bend Winery and Vineyard riversbendwineryga.com 23. Sautee-Nacoochee Vineyards sauteenacoocheevineyards.com 24. Sereberry Vineyards serenberryvineyards.com 25. Serenity Cellars serenitycellars.com 26. Sharp Mountain Vineyards sharpmountainvineyards.com 27. Still Pond Vineyards stillpond.com 28. Three Sister Vineyards threesistersvineyards.com 29. Stonewall Creek Vineyards stonewallcreek.com 30. Tiger Mountain Vineyards tigerwine.com 31. Tilford Winery tilfordwinery.com 32. 12 Spies Vineyard 12spiesvineyards.com 33. Warm Springs Winery (706) 655-2233 34. Watermelon Creek Winery watermeloncreekvineyard.com 35. Wolf Mountain Vineyards wmvwine.com 36. Yonah Mountain Vineyards yonahmountainvineyards.com
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lomanto, and a few recently developed American hybrids such as blanc du bois that were bred for the Deep South, are being planted from the coast of Savannah to Carroll County in the west. “We’re bringing back grapes that were used to make wine in Georgia before the Revolutionary War,” says Doug Mabry, CEO of the Vineyard and Winery Association of West Georgia. “These grapes put all 159 counties in play to be in the vineyard winery business. These grapes are versatile. Winemakers can make dry and sweet wines, port wines and even Madeira.” Georgia farmers are interested in growing wine grapes, Mabry says, and the agriculture education nonprofit group is ready to help. Each year, the association conducts symposiums, workshops and field days to teach novice growers about the vineyard and winery business, from planting to pouring. “We started planting grapes outside of the north Georgia mountains about three years ago,” Mabry says. “Carroll County’s first harvest will come this year, and our association members in 32 counties have already planted, or will soon be planting, these grapes. Everyone is chomping at the bit waiting for the first wineries to open in west Georgia. We’ve got two coming this year, and more in the works.” Carroll County issued its first permit for establishment of a winery to Little Vine Vineyards, which expects to open in 2014. The University of Georgia is conducting a study identifying the economic impact of the wine industry in the state. While those numbers aren’t in yet, Mabry estimates the current industry value is less than $100 million. “We have a long way to go,” Mabry says. “North Carolina has exceeded $1 billion and Texas is more than $2 billion. That’s the trend across the country.” – Kim Madlom
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A+ for Agriculture
The Beginnings of Agricultural Education in Georgia
The Georgia General Assembly set aside 40,000 acres of land to endow a college or seminary of learning. This would become the University of Georgia, incorporated by an act by the General Assembly in 1785. Georgia was the first state in the U.S. to charter a statesupported university.
Georgia celebrates role of agricultural education in developing future leaders
take a look at the historical events that shaped the state’s rich agricultural education programs, dating back to 1784.
The University of Georgia graduated its first class of students, with a curriculum of traditional classical studies.
The Morrill Act of 1862 provided federal funds to establish land-grant colleges and universities and strengthen agricultural education at the new institutions. For the University of Georgia, this was especially important because it established the integration of agriculture into university studies.
Underneath the Morrill Act, colleges and universities for African-American citizens were established in the southern region to ensure that all people were served. In Georgia, three colleges were founded, yet only Fort Valley State University, with more than 1,300 acres, remains today.
Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and young people across the state have plenty of opportunities to develop an appreciation for it. Organizations such as 4-H and FFA help middle and high school students understand the world of agriculture, and Georgia colleges and universities help prepare students for careers in agriculture. “Career opportunities in agriculture are very diverse, whether you are science or research-minded, sales and marketing-minded or talented in technology and web design,” says Ben Lastly, executive secretary for the Georgia FFA Association. “And of course there are always crop and livestock production careers on the farm where it all begins.” Many middle and high school students in Georgia get their first look at agriculture from the Georgia FFA Association, which has more than 35,000 members and 290 agricultural education programs at schools statewide. Georgia FFA is the third-largest FFA program in the nation and includes 400 agriculture teachers at middle and high schools across Georgia. “The three things that make agricultural education complete and unique are classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experiences and FFA leadership. That winning combination is the major reason the FFA organization has lasted from 1928 until now,” Lastly says.
Georgia FFA Association
A University of Georgia student cleans a horse’s hoof as part of his coursework.
The first Agricultural Corn Club, which would be the precursor to Georgia 4-H, was launched by G.C. Adams in Newton County.
The Georgia General Assembly enacted Public Law 448, which established a staterun agricultural and mechanical school in each of Georgia’s 12 congressional districts. Called A&M schools, they filled a void at the time, due to a void of accredited statewide high schools. The schools were closed in 1933, when high school agricultural education programs had become more prevalent throughout Georgia.
The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established a system of cooperative extension services, connected to the land-grant universities. One major contribution to agriculture was that these cooperative extension services would help farmers learn new agricultural techniques. The funding to establish Georgia 4-H was also formed through the Smith-Lever Act.
The first FFA chapters in Georgia joined together to form a state association.
The Georgia State College for Men in Tifton was renamed as Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, in honor of the first president of the University of Georgia and a signer of the U.S. Constitution. Many felt it was important to have an independent agricultural college in Tifton, since the region had agricultural issues particular to its own geography.
An Oklahoma native, Lastly joined FFA in the eighth grade and went on to study agriculture communications and agriculture economics at Oklahoma State University. He later earned his master’s in agricultural education from the University of Georgia and has worked for Georgia FFA since 2001. “FFA made a huge impact on my life, and my ag teacher had a tremendous influence on me,” Lastly says. “FFA gives young people leadership skills and opportunities to travel outside their hometowns, whether it’s to Indianapolis for the National FFA Convention, D.C. for the Washington Leadership Conference, or competitive events in other cities. FFA helps students understand the value of agriculture even if they don’t choose it as a career.” Andy Paul is Georgia’s state FFA president and plans to major in agricultural communications at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in fall 2013 and pursue a career in public relations. “I got involved in FFA in 8th grade, and through FFA, I learned hard work, dedication, versatility and compassion,” Paul says. “FFA teaches students about leadership, agriculture, people and living to serve. We learn to be future leaders and future producers, and we learn to be outstanding young adults.” Georgia 4-H is another stellar organization that gives students hands-on learning experiences focused on
Photo by jeff adkins
agricultural and environmental issues, leadership, communication skills, food and nutrition, health, energy conservation and citizenship. Georgia 4-H is a program of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension System. “4-H in Georgia began [in 1904] as a corn club to help young boys learn to grow a better crop,” says Arch Smith, director of 4-H at the University of Georgia. “The information the children learned was then absorbed by their parents, which resulted in better agricultural practices on Georgia farms. By participating in 4-H, more and more children are becoming aware of agriculture and the need for a sustainable food and fiber production system. 4-H has encouraged children to look at the many careers available in agriculture and agribusiness.” Oakley Perry of Jeff Davis County 4-H is the 20132014 Georgia state 4-H president, and he says 4-H has helped him become the person he is today. “Through 4-H, I have met people from across the nation as part of the Citizenship Washington Focus event, experienced my first airplane ride, visited our nation’s Capitol and learned gardening tips from master gardeners,” Perry says. “I used to be bullied, and 4-H was an outlet for me to grow and learn. Through 4-H, I gained courage and self-confidence to rise above hate.
Pike County FFA members Tuesday Hurt, Cameron Hadley and Makia Jenkins attended the National FFA Convention. Georgia FFA is the third-largest FFA program in the nation.
Because of 4-H, I can candle an egg, tell you how many logs a lumberjack could get out of one tree, make flower arrangements, grow a better garden, make a terrarium, lead a group of fifth-graders on a nature hike, and lead Georgia 4-H as state president.” Georgia colleges and universities offer students a way to continue their 4-H and FFA experiences by majoring in agriculture and pursuing future careers in the industry. Several colleges and universities have made major contributions to Georgia agriculture, from the large, well-known University of Georgia in Athens to the smaller Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton and Fort Valley State University in central Georgia. ABAC has 3,000 students and offers a variety of bachelor’s and associate degree programs, and FVSU has more than 4,000 students earning bachelor’s degrees in more than 50 majors, as well as master’s degrees. Perry, who plans to attend the University of Georgia in 2014, says he appreciates the role these schools play in developing future agriculture leaders, and he looks forward to his own opportunities to grow. – Jessica Mozo
Georgia Agriculture Schools
A seasoned 4-H member helps a younger member learn to shoot archery.
The Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development
Adding value to Georgia’s economy through research and extension.
Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development Athens, GA 30602-7509 (706) 542-2434 tel (706) 542-0770 fax www.caed.uga.edu Or contact your county Extension agent: (800) ASK-UGA1
Helping Georgians succeed in agribusiness by providing:
• Market research • Economic feasibility assessments • Data, such as farm gate value • Educational workshops • Annual Georgia ag forecast seminars • The Flavor of Georgia food product contest gaagriculture.com
An Educational Pioneer
braham Baldwin became one of the founding fathers of education while the founding fathers of America fought for independence. Son of a blacksmith and one of 12 children, Baldwin had the opportunity to pursue theology at what is now Yale University. His father borrowed money to support Baldwin’s pursuit of his degree and career as a minister. Baldwin’s dedication to education was evident in his interactions with his sibling, who he helped raise, feed and educate himself. After graduating, Baldwin became a tutor until he joined the Revolutionary Army as a chaplain. After the war, he pursued a legal and political career in Georgia. The governor of Georgia, Lyman Hall, gave him the honor of drawing up an educational plan for secondary and higher education in the state of Georgia. This plan resulted in land grants to establish Franklin College, named after Benjamin Franklin. Now known as the University of Georgia, Franklin College was granted its charter in 1785, and Baldwin took his position at the helm as president. Georgia was the first state to charter a statefunded university. Students began attending the University of Georgia in 1801 which now boasts one of the premier agricultural programs in the nation and also paved the way for other land-grant universities and agricultural education. Abraham Baldwin Agricultural
Abraham Baldwin launched ag education in Georgia
Photo courtesy of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
College was named in honor of this great educational legacy. Originally the Second District A&M School, it was renamed the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in 1933 when it became part of the University System of Georgia. ABAC offers diverse Agriculture and Natural Resource Management degree programs. “Abraham Baldwin’s legacy is ours to preserve and protect,” says Tom Landrum, an expert on Abraham Baldwin at the
University of Georgia. “I think he would be astonished to see the educational achievements of ABAC, UGA, and all the other components of the System. But I think he would readily recognize – and appreciate – the continuation of the fundamental premise of his charter that our public prosperity and security depends on successfully educating the next generation of citizen leaders.” – Hannah Patterson
Heritage in agriculture
The Thrill of the Hunt
Georgia’s hunting plantations preserve the state’s agricultural heritage
photo by Jeff Adkins
Cader B. Cox III, Martha Cox, Heather Topper Cox and Cader B. Cox IV operate Riverview Plantation, a working farm and commercial hunting business in Camilla, Ga. The farm has been in the family for five generations.
The Riverview Plantation experience includes lodging, gourmet meals and other amenities for its hunters.
Cox family’s farming operations have shared a relationship with their plantation’s resident wildlife. Quail particularly love their plantation, though it’s no surprise, considering they farm in southwest Georgia, known as the Quail Hunting Capital of the World. These creatures love the plantation’s fencerows, treelines and crop fields. The family provides the upland birds some food plots. They also establish conservation plans to enhance their habitat. “Quail and agriculture work real, real well together,” says Cader Cox, who represents the fifth generation at Riverview Plantation, a farm and commercial hunting business in Camilla. During Georgia’s warmest months, the family grows peanuts, soybeans, cotton, grain sorghum and sweet corn. When the crisp fall air arrives, they provide food, lodging, dogs, a bountiful hunt and Southern hospitality to corporate executives from throughout the United States. The Cox family opened their plantation to hunting in 1957 to supplement their farm income. They were the first for-profit, commercial hunting plantation in Georgia, Cox says. In 2012, more than 150 commercial hunting plantations operated in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Most were quail plantations, though some offered ducks and pheasants. The state also has 35 fox hunting preserves. Hunting and agriculture have coexisted for a long time. Cox tells stories of his family’s earliest generations farming with mules and hunting for recreation. “You were a farmer, and because you were a farmer, you had a good quail population. Every farmer had dogs and would hunt with family or neighbors,” Cox recalls. “Hunting plantations have been an evolution from a mindset that we come from a hunting background, and we know hunting. We’ve decided to expose the public for a fee.” The value of wildlife recreation and agriculture provides a tremendous boost to rural areas.
For six generations, the
photo by Frank Ordonez
Georgians and non-residents spent $4.6 billion on hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in 2011, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The expenditures equal the value of Georgia broilers and cotton, the state’s top commodities, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. More specifically, residents and non-residents spent a total of $965 million on hunting-related items in 2011, the survey reports. Half of those expenditures included trip-related expenses, such as food, lodging and transportation. “When Mom and Dad first started, our business included more individuals or two friends coming down to hunt,” Cox says. “Our original accommodations looked like an old Holiday Inn. As our business evolved it became more corporate, where people would come down and bring their best clients.” It’s not uncommon to see clients fly to the state on private jets, he adds. The family constructed private cottages and recently built larger eight-guest cottages because private jet capacities have also increased. They added individual dining rooms, and each party also has a separate lounge with fireplace, card table and leather sofas. Hunts are assigned and private, too, with 10,000 acres available. “They can stay completely to themselves,” Cox says. “It’s much more exclusive, more private and more corporate than it was in the old days.” Likewise, the farm business has changed. The family grows most of the same crops as their ancestors, but today the farm is more high-tech. Satellite-guidance technology allows variable -rate application of lime and fertilizer, tractor cabs resemble cockpits of airplanes, and smartphones keep them in touch with markets. “It’s our heritage. We’re a farm family. We’re stewards of the earth,” Cox says. “God owns the land; he gave us the stewardship of it. It’s not an easy way to make a living, but it’s sure a great place to raise a family.” – Joanie Stiers
Georgia residents and visitors spent
on hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in 2011, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
heritage in agriculture
photography by frank ordoñez
Farm families welcome visitors to agritourism destinations
come, so the movie saying goes. But for the Lane family, customers came first, then the family decided it was time to build. Lane Southern Orchards, a fifthgeneration, 3,000-acre peach farm near Fort Valley, expanded into a tourist destination for peach lovers. Today, peaches abound here – from a catwalk, with a bird’s-eye view of peaches to fresh peach cobbler. Even their phone message drips with a Southern drawl as sweet as the peaches themselves.
If you build it, they will
“The family was looking to a stateof-the-art packing facility,” says Duke Lane III, who works with his father, Duke Jr., and uncle Bobby in the operation. “Travel on the highway was moderate at that time. We’d have farm visitors stopping by, enamored with the idea of buying fresh from the farm. We didn’t start out to have this tremendous presence – it just evolved.” It began with his great-grandfather, who planted peach trees in the early 1900s. “He was a pioneer,” Lane says. “Maybe not the very first peach grower
in Georgia, but one of the first. He planted a couple of peach varieties that later made Georgia a great peach state, and grew into the industry in the 1950s.” Despite ups and downs in the industry, the Lane family survived by emphasizing Georgia peaches’ sweet taste and educating consumers about it. Harvest starts in mid-May and goes through the end of August. Peaches are hand-picked, placed in containers and taken to the packing house. They’re immediately rinsed in cold water to stop further ripening, and are cleaned,
Duke Lane III and Mark Sanchez of Lane Southern Orchards welcome visitors to their operation, to learn how peaches are grown, harvested, processed and sold.
Greg Rutland, left, has grown row crops such as peanuts for years, but his son Ryan, right, helped expand the Tifton-based Rutland Farms into an agritourism operation that includes an on-site market, U-pick fruits, corn mazes and field trips. Ryan’s young son, Bryce, may be the next in line to work on this multi-generational farm.
graded and defuzzed, ready to be sold or shipped. In Tifton, family-owned Rutland Farms is also offers farm-fresh peaches – and much more. “We mostly grow row crops,” says Ryan Rutland, who runs the farm with his father, Greg. “But we grow almost every fruit and vegetable you can think of for our market, like strawberries, peas and pumpkins.” The farm opened their on-site market in 2011 after Ryan developed the business plan for a college class. “Dad had been growing strawberries for 12 years, and the interstate runs right through the center of the farm, so we decided to take advantage of that,” Rutland says. They sell everything from fresh produce to honey to fresh baked goods. More than just the market, Rutland Farms is ahead of the game in agritourism efforts. They offer U-pick berries, peaches and pumpkins, corn mazes in the fall, school field trips and more. Rutland says they’re constantly
Georgia agritourism includes visits to working farms, orchards, ranches, wineries and other agricultural operations.
Top Five Counties for Agritourism
In 2011, Glynn, Thomas, Habersham, Fannin and Quitman counties had the highest agritourism farm gate value.
Agriculture and tourism are Georgia’s top two economic generators.
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Union County Farmers Market
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looking for ways to grow. Future plans include a new structure for a petting zoo and planned events for holidays. Back at Lane Southern Orchards, visitors can take a self-guided catwalk tour to watch the process, or pay a minimal fee for a guided farm tour into the orchard. The real draw is the peach itself – made into ice cream, jam and more – sold in the gift shop. A café serves sandwiches and fresh fruit desserts. Annually, the facility draws 300,000 visitors. “We wanted to make this an experience,” Lane says. “I’m a peach eater. I still look forward to it after all these peaches. I’m not a peach expert by any means, but I’ve learned a lot from my family – my father and his siblings.” He credits the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Agritourism Association with helping the business grow into a tourist stop. “They’ve helped us tie shopping in with the agricultural experience,” Lane says. “People want to know the farmer who raised their food. We’re all about farm-to-table.”
Top: Visitors to Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley enjoy peach ice cream. Bottom: The Market at Rutland Farms in Tifton sells a variety of value-added products using produce grown on the farm, including salsas made with peaches and strawberries.
Connect with Georgia-Grown Products
For updates on the latest agricultural happenings in Georgia, a guide to finding the fresh bounty of the state’s hardworking producers and even locally produced Georgia Grown merchandise, look no further than georgiagrown.com. The website for the Georgia Grown marketing program – part of the Georgia Department of Agriculture – is a onestop shop for agriculture news, events, state resources and career help. It’s also the place for new state producers who want to join the Georgia Grown program and grow their business locally. Upon visiting the dynamic homepage, visitors get a glimpse of the most recent news in the state’s agriculture industry scrolling across the top of the page. New articles, resources for in-season produce and information on Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, progress down the page. Across the top are easy-to-find navigation buttons that let consumers browse the latest articles and news. Click on the “Find” button and browse Georgia’s local producers for everything from livestock to agritourism. Events are listed with details and a map to show the exact location, and the website offers a helpful tool for those interested in a career in agriculture. Visitors can search job openings in fields such as education, advertising and customer service. Producers looking to sell local can join Georgia Grown by making a free business profile, then choosing the right membership level for them to secure great perks like the Georgia Grown logo and free publicity.
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heritage in agriculture
A Walk in the Park
n the heart of Atlanta, Piedmont Park redefines the notion of a walk in the park. Here, where hands hit the dirt, kids learn about gardening and the Green Market offers fresh produce, Georgia agriculture finds a home just 2 miles from downtown. The only thing growing faster than plants is knowledge. Education tops the list of priorities at Piedmont, where more than 800 children explore the park’s Education Garden each year, learning how to grow food and identify plants. Through Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Seed to Market program, children witness the seasonal circle. Children plant seeds and maintain plants, harvest fruit and veggies, and even participate in culinary classes. Produce harvested from the garden is sold at the Green Market, and all the money raised goes back to the garden to purchase seeds and materials for the next growing season. “What better way to teach kids to be healthy than to let them participate in growing the good food they eat,” says Yvette Bowden, president and CEO of the conservancy. Founded in 1904, Piedmont Park is referred to as “Common Ground” where food and the great outdoors become the great common denominators for everyone. Each year, kids take full advantage of the garden, wetlands, swim areas and more as part of the Enviroventures summer program. With its long history spanning nearly two centuries, the park began as a forest. The original
Georgia’s Piedmont Park highlights urban agriculture
Photo courtesy of Piedmont Park Conservancy
pioneering owners, Samuel and Sarah Walker, transformed the thick forests into farmland, scraping out a living from the earth. While the park changed faces through the years from fairground to exposition center, its original mission of promoting agriculture and industry has
stayed the same. Today, Piedmont Park’s agricultural past continues to thrive, teaching kids about food and the origins of food in one of the biggest cities in the U.S. It is a garden without borders, rich in growing possibilities. – Karen Mayer
International demand is rising for
DA A N
Top five international markets for Georgia
Georgia’s agricultural products
heart of Georgia’s history – and at the forefront of the state’s economic future. From its beginning as a colony in 1733, Georgia’s mission was to produce food and other agricultural products to ship back to England. Today, the state ships agricultural products across the country and around the globe. In 2012, the value of Georgia agricultural exports topped $3.32 billion, a 26 percent increase from 2011. “That increase comes in part because Georgia’s producers, farmers and companies are becoming more active and educated about the export process,” says Shehzin Jafar, international trade manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “One of our primary goals is to help the small producers gain access to the export markets. In 2012, 84 percent of companies assisted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development Trade Division had 100 employees
Exporting agricultural products is at the
or less, and 55 percent had fewer than 20 employees. These companies were located in 128 Georgia counties. We have a great infrastructure for helping brand and promote Georgia.” Georgia ranks first in the nation for exporting poultry, peanuts, pecans, paper and paperboard, cotton and wood pulp. The top five international markets for Georgia are Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. “Those are where Georgia exports have been going and growing,” Jafar says. She says demand is on the rise for the state’s fruits, vegetables, nuts, poultry and beef. Georgia’s transportation assets are integral to the success of the state’s export efforts, Jafar says. Atlanta is home to Hartsfield-Jackson International, the world’s busiest and most efficient airport, and Savannah is home to the second-largest container port in the country. Georgia is crisscrossed by Interstates 75, 85, 20 and 16, and with 5,000 miles of rail track the state has one of the most extensive rail systems for moving freight.
Fast facts about Georgia transportation:
Georgia is crisscrossed by four major Interstates, including 75, 85, 20 and 16.
Georgia boasts 5,000 miles of rail track, which makes it one of the most extensive rail systems for moving freight.
Savannah is home to the
of all the Georgia-produced goods shipping out of Savannah are agricultural products.
largest container port in the country.
Truck transportation is mostly used for perishable products and items that need refrigeration.
“Our transportation assets give our producers access to customers domestically and globally,” Jafar says. “Of all the Georgia-produced goods shipping out of Savannah, 39 percent are agricultural.” Pecans represent a growth market for Georgia growers as Chinese and Indian consumers develop an appetite for the iconic Southern nut. Lamar Pecans of Hawkinsville got into the export business in 2007, and currently ships approximately 2 million pounds of pecans annually to China. The company farms about 2,200 acres and also buys and sells pecans for export. China is a good market for Georgia pecans, says R.G. Lamar, partner and vice president in his family’s company. “Georgia pecans are preferred in China over pecans from other parts of the country due to the size and quality,” he says. “The pecans we grow in Georgia are larger, and that has helped us capitalize on the China market.” Lamar visited Istanbul, Turkey in September 2012 to attend a Georgia Economic Developers Association food show to introduce Georgia pecans. “We’re really optimistic about that market,” he says. “One of the keys for us is being able to sell the product categories that are more difficult to market here, like meal and small pieces and the in-shell product.” Though pecans are not traditionally used in Turkish cooking, Lamar says the market is showing interest in small pieces for use in sweet treats like baklava, Turkish delight and halva. Lamar says the in-country consulting services provided by state agriculture and economic development officials help Georgia producers locate customers and establish trade relationships. Another Georgia company, Augusta beef producer FPL Foods, ships beef products across the country and around the world to customers in Turkey, Dubai, Egypt, the Philippines and Thailand. Promising markets for beef products include Chile and the Caribbean. Georgia’s red meat exports were up 49 percent in the first half of 2012. Meanwhile, Georgia’s poultry industry is looking to develop new markets throughout Asia. With 10 international offices all over the world, Jafar says, the state is continually working to open new markets for Georgia’s producers and products. – Kim Madlom
Photo courtesy of Russ Bryant
The 20- and 40-foot containers that move through the Port of Savannah can hold upwards of 60,000 pounds of agricultural cargo.
Georgia ranks first in the nation for exporting these products:
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Official seal pays tribute to agriculture and commerce
t was clear from its beginnings that Georgia was destined to become an agricultural leader. Agriculture is so much at the core of the state’s history that working the fields and exporting crops is enshrined in the doublesided official seal, adopted in 1798. “The fact that Georgia’s state seal is two-sided is not commonly known to the average citizen,” says Gary Black, Georgia commissioner of agriculture. “The common side, or according to the Constitution, the reverse side, reads ‘Wisdom, Justice and Moderation.’ The front side refers to agriculture and commerce with a ship sailing to sea with exports, and an ox plowing a field. Since Georgia’s founding by Oglethorpe, agriculture has been the driving force behind our strong economy and will continue to be for years to come. Our state seal is a demonstration of the impact agriculture has on everyone’s daily life.” The seal bears a harbor scene with a sailing ship anchored at a wharf. Workers on the wharf carry tobacco and bales of cotton onto the ship. Small boats filled with more tobacco and cotton bales appear in the foreground, and on the shore a man plows a field. Sheep graze in the background. One ship displays a U.S. flag symbolizing the exports of the state, while another boat appears to be landing, representing the state’s internal traffic. The boats represent commerce, while the farmer and sheep represent agriculture, according to the official description provided
by the Georgia Secretary of State. The original seal featured 1799, the year of the seal’s formal adoption, instead of 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence. Georgia legislators changed the date in 1914. Founded in 1733 by colonists led by Gen. James Oglethorpe, Georgia’s mission was to produce agricultural commodities for export to England. Those early exports were to be silk, wine and indigo. History says Queen Caroline of England wore a dress made of Georgia silk in 1735 to celebrate her 52nd birthday. The boat loaded with crops shown on the state seal foretold
a future that likely exceeded the dreams of the early colonists. Savannah, where Oglethorpe founded the new colony, is now home to the second-largest container port in the nation. By the mid-1800s, Georgia was shipping $20 million worth of cotton overseas. In 2012, Georgia shipped more than $3 billion in agricultural products overseas. Agriculture contributes more than $70 billion annually to Georgia’s economy, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture – the first department of agriculture created in the nation. – Kim Madlom
Georgia farmers find support in a variety of ways
agricultural technology companies. Farm equipment manufacturers, retail outlets, and banks and lending companies would also fall along that circle’s outer edge. Read on for examples of those businesses that support the nucleus of agriculture. AgSouth Farm Credit has been serving farmers since 1916. It was created as a result of the Farm Credit System established by President Woodrow Wilson to help farmers and others in rural America meet their financial needs. Headquartered in Statesboro and serving 54 counties in Georgia and another 34 in South Carolina, it is one of the largest lending cooperatives in the Southeast. “We do land loans, operating agriculture loans, equipment loans, timber loans, as well as loans for people in poultry and dairy,” says Christy Smith, AgSouth’s Georgia regional marketing director. “We also finance agribusinesses, timber harvesters, foresters, sawmills and circle representing agriculture in Georgia, the very center of the drawing would show farmers, ranchers and other producers. They, after all, are directly responsible for producing the vast agricultural commodities that come from Georgia. They’re at the core of the industry. But the periphery of the circle is no less important. It includes entities such as seed and fertilizer facilities, transportation firms and
If you were to draw a
Financing the Farmers
Grain elevators and gins veterinary services
farm equipment aviation
farmers, ranchers and other producers
seed and fertilizer companies
technology transportation livestock auctions and sale barns
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meat processors, and services that are provided to farmers. We do leasing and crop insurance as well.” AgSouth not only helps full-time farmers with their credit and financial needs, they can also assist others with loans to purchase lands. “If someone just wants to buy some land and move out of a metropolitan area, we can finance that too,” Smith says. The company is particularly mindful of the needs of young or beginning farmers. It started a program in 2012 known as AgAware, which helps the next generation of young, beginning, small and minority farmers. “We’re doing free workshops where we teach them about balance sheets, budgeting, financing and how to apply for a loan,” Smith says. “It’s meant to help them be better prepared financially for farming. “They know the production side of farming because their parents or grandparents taught them all of that. But what they may not know and weren’t taught is the bookkeeping and financial side of it. We’re trying to put something out there to help educate them.”
We’re doing free workshops where we teach [beginning farmers] about balance sheets, budgeting, financing and how to apply for a loan.
– christy smith, agsouth farm credit
Fifty years ago, Raybon Anderson started a fertilizer business to serve local farmers in the Statesboro area. Today, Bulloch Fertilizer Company is still helping farmers in the region and beyond. In 1965, two years after its founding, Bulloch Fertilizer built the first liquid suspension fertilizer plant of its kind in southeast Georgia and coined the SUR-GRO brand name. By the early 1990s, the business had expanded beyond farms and pastures to serving the needs of area golf courses, sod farms and recreational facilities. “Over half of our business is still farmers,” says Mike Anderson, Raybon Anderson’s son, and president of Bulloch Fertilizer.
“We mainly supply them with their fertilizer needs, and everything that goes with that such as spreading equipment and pesticide applications. “But we also serve the turf market and produce bag fertilizers we sell through the lawn and garden stores.” Anderson and his wife, Vicki, also operate Anderson’s General Store, which opened in Statesboro in 2005 and sells farm supplies, apparel, sporting goods, and lawn and garden equipment. – John McBryde
Learn about other Georgia-based agribusinesses at GAagriculture.com.
One in seven Georgians work in agriculture, forestry or a related industry.
to the economy annually.
Agriculture contributes more than
Supporting rural Georgia
More than $172 billion in loans have been administered throughout Georgia to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents and farmers in the state, as well as improve the quality of life in rural America. These funds are managed through the U.S Department of Agriculture Rural Development program.
Stevia and other new commodities position Georgia to grow
Georgia’s agriculture industry is already booming.
It brings in more than $71 billion to the state each year – but its researchers, farmers and distributors never stop innovating. From introducing new commodities such as stevia to establishing a local distribution system for organic farmers, Georgia agriculture remains a dynamic industry with plenty of room to grow. With the rise of obesity, diabetes and hypertension, many Americans have turned to artificial sweeteners, which may have their own negative side effects. But stevia, a perennial sweet herb in the sunflower family, has earned a reputation as a safe, natural sugar alternative. It does not alter blood sugar levels, making it safe for diabetics, and research has shown stevia is helpful in weight and blood pressure management. In the fall of 2012, researchers at Fort Valley State University received a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Agriculture to find the best way for growers to make stevia a profitable and sustainable new commodity for the state.
A Natural Fit
Dr. Bipul Biswas examines a stevia plant in the greenhouse laboratory at Fort Valley State Univerisity.
photography by frank ordoñez
Termite Swarm Season is Here
Peach Blueberry Parfaits
Georgia produces more than 130 million pounds of peaches (worth almost $30 million) and more than 60 million pounds of blueberries (valued at $ 94 million) each year.
Don’t Be Confused
The Termite Colony:
King Queen Soldier Worker Swarmer
Facts About the Termite Swarming Process
• A “swarm” is a dispersed flight of winged termites to start new colonies. • Subterranean termites typically swarm in the Spring on warm, calm, sunny days following rain. • Termites swarming indoors will attempt to get outside by flying toward light around windows and doors or even lights turned on in the home. • Swarmers shed their wings after flight and never fly again. • After shedding their wings, the termites mate, then seek out sites to begin new colonies. • Wood in contact with moist soil is a suitable colony site for subterranean termites.
½ pound mascarpone ½ cup heavy whipping cream ¼ cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups fresh sweet peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped 1 pint fresh blueberries sprigs of mint leaves
1. In a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the mascarpone until creamy. 2. Add whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat until thick and mixture stands in peaks. 3. Assemble in tall stemmed glasses by alternately layering peaches, blueberries and mascarpone. 4. Garnish with a sprig of mint leaves.
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Find more recipes at farmflavor.com.
“The opportunities are endless,” says Govind Kannan, dean of the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology at FVSU. “With the prevalence of diabetes and other diseases, this is very timely.” Currently, 80 percent of stevia is grown in China, but that country has cut stevia production even though worldwide demand is rising, Kannan says. This creates an opportunity for U.S. farmers, especially in Georgia, where the climate is perfect for growing the herb. Stevia is currently grown domestically only in California. Kannan and his staff, led by Anand Yadav, the horticulturalist/ biotechnologist overseeing the stevia research, believe stevia would grow well in peach and pecan orchards. “Intercropping peaches and stevia would give farmers a more efficient utilization of acreage and extra profit,” Kannan says. Field trials and laboratory research are being conducted at Fort Valley State’s campus and on Rigby Farm in Alma. Sweet Green Fields, a leading producer of stevia products, has partnered with Fort Valley State in the research and will supply the research materials. Kannan hopes FVSU’s research, which will take two years to complete, will help determine best practices for growing stevia and encourage farmers to try it. The research will determine the best propagation methods, expected profitability levels for farmers and methods with potential for maximum yield of sweet agent concentration. Once research is completed and farmers embrace a new commodity, there is still work to be done. How do farmers get their product in the hands of consumers? Small-scale farms usually sell directly to customers at farmers markets or through communitysupported agriculture, but farmers producing larger quantities of a niche item, such as certified organic Vidalia onions, need a wholesaler to distribute their product. Organic wholesaler Destiny Organics has risen to meet this need.
Stevia produces small white flowers, which are an indicator that the plants are ready to be harvested.
Destined for Organics
Georgia, California and North Carolina are the first states in the U.S. to start growing commercial stevia.
ACC for Corn http://georgiacorn.org ACC for Peaches www.gapeaches.org
Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter www.georgianationalfair.com Georgia Pecan Commission www.antioxinut.org Georgia Poultry Federation www.gapf.org Georgia Power www.georgiapower.com Georgia Restaurant Association www.garestaurants.org Georgia Seed Development www.gsdc.com Georgia Watermelon Association www.georgiawatermelonassociation.org Golden Peanut Company LLC www.goldenpeanut.com Harvey’s Supermarkets www.harveys-supermarkets.com Jaemor Farms www.jaemorfarms.com Jam’n Designs www.jamndesigns.com Lasseter Tractor Company Inc. www.lassetereq.com LMC Ag www.lmcag.com Mercier Orchards www.mercier-orchards.com Orkin www.rollins.com Snyder’s – Lance Incorporated www.snyderslance.com Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association www.southern-southeastern.org Southern Proper www.southernproper.com Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition www.sunbeltexpo.com Terminix www.terminix.com The Coca-Cola Company www.coca-cola.com The Southeast United Dairy Association Inc. www.sedairy.org Thompson Farms www.thompsonfarms.com Union County Comissioner’s Office www.uniongov.com University of Georgia College of Agriculture & Environments www.caed.uga.edu University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences www.caes.uga.edu University of Georgia Research Foundation www.research.uga.edu/tco Vidalia Onion Committee www.vidaliaonion.org White Oak Pastures www.whiteoakpastures.com
Abraham-Baldwin Agricultural College www.abac.edu
2013-14 Edition, Volume 2 journal communications inc.
Content Director Jessy Yancey Agribusiness Content Team Rachel Bertone, hannah patterson, lisa scramlin Proofreading Manager Raven Petty Contributing Writers Matthew Ernst, Charlyn Fargo, Jill Clair Gentry, John McBryde, Jessica Mozo, Kim Madlom, Allison Rehnborg, Joanie Stiers, Blair Thomas, Andrea Watts Senior Graphic Designers stacey allis, Laura Gallagher, Jake shores, Kris Sexton, Vikki Williams Graphic Designers Jackie Ciulla, Kacey passmore, Matt west Senior Photographers Jeff Adkins, Brian McCord Staff Photographers Wendy jo barr, Michael Conti, Frank ordoñez, Michael Tedesco Color Imaging Technician Alison Hunter Ad Production Manager Katie Middendorf Ad Traffic Assistants Krystin Lemmon, Patricia Moisan Chairman Greg Thurman President/Publisher Bob Schwartzman Executive Vice President Ray Langen Senior V.P./Operations Casey Hester Senior V.P./Agribusiness Publishing KIm Newsom Holmberg Senior V.P./Agribusiness Sales Rhonda Graham V.P./Sales Herb Harper V.P./External Communications Teree Caruthers Controller Chris Dudley Accounts Receivable Coordinator Diana Guzman Sales Support Project Manager Sara Quint Sales Support Team rachel lorance, christina morgan IT Director Daniel Cantrell Web Creative Director Allison Davis Photography Director Jeffrey S. Otto Creative Services Director Christina Carden Creative Technology Analyst Becca Ary Distribution Director Gary Smith Integrated Media Manager jessie wilks
ACC for Soybeans Georgia Department of Agriculture www.agr.georgia.gov AGCO Corporation www.agcocorp.com Agri Supply www.agrisupply.com AgriTrust of Georgia www.agritrust.com AgSouth Genetics www.agsouthgenetics.com Agstrong LLC www.agstrong.com Aimtrac Farm Implement Distribution Network www.aimtracco.com American Peanut Growers Group LLC www.apgg.com American Proteins Inc. www.americanproteins.com Birdsong Peanuts www.birdsong-peanuts.com ChemNut www.chemnut.com Chick-Fil-A www.chick-fil-a.com Destiny Organics www.destiny-organics.com Farm Credit Associations of Georgia www.aggeorgia.com Fort Valley State University www.fvsu.edu FPL Food LLC www.fplfood.com General Produce Inc. www.generalproduceinc.com Georgia 4-H Foundation www.georgia4hfoundation.org Georgia Blueberry Commission www.georgiablueberries.org Georgia Crop Improvement Association www.certifiedseed.org Georgia Development Authority www.gdaonline.com Georgia EMC www.georgiaemc.com Georgia Farm Bureau www.gfb.org Georgia Federal State Inspection Service www.gafsis.com Georgia FFA Association www.georgiaffa.org Georgia Forestry Association www.gfagrow.org Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association www.gfvga.org
Georgia Grown is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is distributed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. For advertising information or to direct questions or comments about the magazine, contact Journal Communications Inc. at (615) 771-0080 or by email at email@example.com.
Georgia department of agriculture:
Commissioner Gary W. Black Director of Operations Dr. James Sutton Director of Administration dan brown Chief Security Officer stewart hicks Director of Marketing jack spruill Chief Information Officer mary kathryn yearta Special Projects Coordinator alec asbridge Special thanks to all Department staff for their support. For more information about the Georgia Department of Agriculture, contact: Jack Spruill, Director of Marketing 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30334 (404) 656-3368 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org No public funds were used in the publishing of this magazine. © Copyright 2013 Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Member Member The Association of Magazine Media Custom Content Council
Top: Destiny Organics hosts events at grocery stores such as Kroger help connect shoppers with the farmers who grow their food. Bottom: Fort Valley University researchers studying stevia hope their findings will become best practices that Georgia farmers can use when growing the crop themselves.
“We are the ‘to’ in the ‘farm-to-table’ solution,” says Benjamin Pruett, Destiny Organics communications director. “We try to connect local and organic producers with the end user.” In 2001, Destiny Produce began as a conventional short house for Kroger. In 2008, Destiny changed its name and focus to become Destiny Organics, LLC, sourcing and providing an array of organic produce to retailers, restaurants and other foodservice outlets. In late 2011, Destiny Organics began a major strategic change to enhance its product line by concentrating on regional producers, striving to bring local produce and non-produce to the forefront. “We’re in a great position distributing organic and local products,” Pruett says. “Organic is no longer a fad – it’s here to stay. We’re excited to be in the place where we are, and we’re growing.” – Jill Clair Gentry
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