Lynn Pugh, Cane Creek Farm, GA

Posted on February 11, 2013

GA.CaneCreek.Lynn_in_sunflowers-ed.jpgLynn Pugh is a leader in sustainable agriculture in Georgia. Dubbed a 'Grower of Growers' by Georgia Organics, Lynn Pugh has been farming at Cane Creek Farm for 10 years and teaching about farming for 5 of those. In that time period she's taught more than 85 new and beginning farmers. We're so proud to count her as a member!

Where is your farm? Cane Creek Farm is in Cumming in north Georgia 

What do you produce? We grow vegetables, flowers, fruit, and herbs for a CSA, on-farm market, on-line market and a restaurant. We have a couple of cows a few sheep and a flock of chickens. We sell grass-fed beef, lamb and eggs from the chickens.  We also grow goldenseal and a few other medicinal herbs. 

GA.CaneCreek.Lynn_crew_tomatoes-ed.JPGWhat is special about your farm?  The farm is a full time business with both production and education missions.  Every year we teach two intensive courses on Organic Farming and Gardening in partnership with Georgia Organics.  One- day workshops, field trips, and farm tours are also offered to the community.  Through internships, apprenticeships and the CSA worker program interested people are trained each year to run their own farms.

Who farms with you, if anyone? I am the farmer. My parents, William and Carolyn Mills, and my husband Chuck Pugh have specific tasks they help with on the farm. Michele Gillman works part-time as Harvest and Volunteer coordinator. Many dedicated CSA workers, volunteers, and interns help with the harvest and field work.

How long have you been farming? I have been farming for 10 years.  I taught science at the high school and college level for 20 years, always having my own organic garden in the summer.

How did you get into farming? What made you want to become a farmer? After teaching for 20 years, I was ready for a change.  We had bought and lived on 17 acres of land with a dream of living a more sustainable life, but not fully realized that dream.  I loved being outside and growing plants.  I had earned a degree in plant pathology when I was young, so I had some background. Starting a farm seemed like the right thing for me.  At first I did not farm too seriously.  I grew more than I needed for our family, and sold the extra at the farmers’ market in my local town.  Then I grew a little more and went to a farmers market in Atlanta. 

How do you further your farm learning? How do you share this learning with others? As I was developing the farm, I was also working for Georgia Organics on some grant projects, interviewing farmers and developing a marketing tool, then a curriculum.  I attended workshops and conferences and had many conversations with people who were farming.

The work from these early years shaped the farm.  I realized that the CSA model was the one that best fit my vision for the farm.  I had all the skills to run a CSA, I lived in a county that was one of the fastest  growing in the country, and my desire for community could be met with a CSA. We have had a CSA for 8 years now with a loyal community of shareholders and helpers. The markets and restaurant purchase the extra produce that is not needed for the CSA.

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As I finished the work on the organic farming curriculum for Georgia Organics, I realized I wanted to teach the course, to test out the curriculum.  This started one of the most satisfying things I have done- teaching a course on Organic Farming and Gardening to adults who want to farm or develop a better garden. I teach the course twice a year, in the fall and winter.  Each course covers 7 Saturdays of classroom discussion and hands on learning on the farm.  The people I have met through these classes have enriched my life greatly and many still keep in contact.  I feel such pleasure as I see them successfully start their own farms and gardens.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered as a farmer? My biggest challenge has been running the business side of the farm.  As I have worked to make the farm more profitable, I have had to learn to consider the business aspect, as well as the growing aspect in decision- making. This has been a struggle for me, because I am not naturally interested in these aspects and have a hard time staying attentive to money issues.  Though there is still much room for improvement, I have succeeded in improving profitability and becoming more comfortable with this type of thinking.

Why did you get involved with CNG? I got involved with CNG because it was a way to communicate with my customers that the produce was grown organically, though it was not certified organic.  Since most of my customers come to the farm, I did not feel that USDA certification was necessary.  I tell my customers they can be my inspector. The opportunity to interact with other farmers is also a plus to being CNG.  Inspections and periodic farm tours and meals allow me to get to know more farmers in my area.

GA.CaneCreek.GreenGarlic-ed.JPGWhat plans or hopes do you have for your farm in the future? The future of the farm is on my mind, but I don’t know how it will turn out.  I will try to stay open to see what the future holds.

For more on info on Cane Creek Farm check out...
Website: www.canecreekfarm.net
Facebook: Cane Creek Farm LLC
Twitter: @CaneCreekFarmGA