Father and son work side-by-side on hard-won land that’s been in the family since 1874
The roots run deep at Bugg Farm, where Addis Bugg Junior is the sixth generation on his family farm in the western Georgia hamlet of Pine Mountain. His great great great grandfather T.J. was brought to the land as a slave, and worked hard to purchase 1,000 acres after emancipation. The Buggs have continued to grow vegetables and raise cattle on the same land since 1874.
His father, Addis Senior, grew up riding the tractor alongside his father and grandfather. Back then, they managed a large-scale cattle and vegetable farm with acres of soybeans and corn.
Farm life gave Addis Sr. a strong work ethic, and he joined the Marines in 1984. His career took him around the world, but “nothing was like the country,” he recalled. After nearly 30 years of service, “something inside” compelled him to head back to the farm.
Bugg Farm has shrunk over the years as housing took precedence over farmland. Addis Sr., his mother, and his son now own 162 acres where they grow 4 acres of CNG vegetables, manage 20 Black Angus Cattle on 50 acres of pasture, and devote the rest to timber.
Addis Bugg Sr. on his farm. Photo by Anthony Masterson.
Nevertheless, the CNG label helps the Buggs continue to grow, competing with nearby conventional farms. Addis Jr. says, “A farm down the road grows big old collard greens using synthetic chemicals. One of our customers says collards like theirs make her daughter get sick. She tried some of our Certified Naturally Grown collards and guess what? Her daughter felt fine after the meal.”
Addis Sr. considered USDA organic certification, but he was drawn to the tight-knit foundation of CNG growers he saw in Georgia: “I saw CNG as a community-based certification for local farms, and that meant more to me than certified organic.”
The Buggs host an on-site farmstand after their Friday harvest, and they participate in local farmers markets as well as the West Georgia Farmers Co-operative. The WGFC was founded in 1966, and has been recently revitalized by a group of farmers who share tools, crops, skills, and work - including a bi-weekly farmers market featuring an expanding group of sustainable producers.
Despite his many years away from the farm, Addis Sr. feels right at home among his sweet potatoes and other Certified Naturally Grown vegetables. “I don’t think the farm ever left me,” he says. “I came back because it’s in my bloodline."
Addis Bugg Jr. with his tomato harvest