Georgia Mountains Farmers Network

GMFN-ChuckTaylor-InspectSoil-blog.jpgWe here at CNG have been working on a project to support local farmers networks – groups of farmers working together to their mutual benefit. As part of that initiative we’re writing up profiles of all types of networks from across the country. We’re hoping these will be a way for folks to share about what worked & what didn’t in their networks, and be an inspiration to others. (They certainly inspire us!)

This week we're delighted to feature the Georgia Mountains Farmers Network. It got started in late 2011, largely through the efforts of Justin Ellis, and has taken on a variety of projects including

  • educational farm tours
  • bulk ordering supplies
  • blog and online calendar of events
  • two-day farm tour for the public to raise awareness about local food and farming

The farmers have reaped tremendous benefits – cost savings, learning opportunities, a sense of community – and learned many lessons along the way. Click here to read the profile of the Georgia Mountain Farmers Network from April 2012.

But wait! There’s more:

Justin will be leading a webinar about organizing a public farm tour event. Sign up to learn how you can work with other farmers to stimulate business and raise awareness in your region!

Bob Redmond, Urban Bee Co., WA

WA.UrbanBee.BobRedmond-photobyAmyBaranski.jpgBob Redmond keeps bees in Seattle, Washington. That's right, 25 hives at 15 locations all within the city proper. Some of these are in private backyards, but his focus is working with community gardens such as Alleycat Acres, GroundUp Organics, and the Beacon Food Forest. Bob's bees keep busy pollinating people's gardens and making honey, and Bob keeps just as busy tending the hives, teaching workshops, delivering the honey by bicycle, and more! 

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Joseph and Sarah Bozzelli, Five Elements Farm, PA

Five_Elements_-_Farmer_Joe___Farmer_Sara_-_ed.jpgWildflowers and raptors. Those are just two of the things that make this farm unique. Six years ago, Sara and Joe founded Five Elements Farm, located 35 miles north of Pittsburgh. Before they bought it, the land was a conventional corn field and they have truly transformed it. They operate a productive market garden as well as a pastured poultry flock, and just as important, some of their land is protected habitat for native Pennsylvania flora and fauna. 

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Lauren Carey, Market Manager of Peachtree Road Market, GA

Opening Day on 2012: Lauren Carey, Dean Sam Candler, Chef Linton Hopkins Sr., Linton Hopkins JrPeachtree Road Farmers Market in Atlanta is a bountiful, bustling place. In fact it's the largest producer-only market in Atlanta, and for the past 2 years has required its vendors to be Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown. In the midst of all the hubbub is Lauren Carey - the market's Manager, Executive Director and the one making it all come together. Here's what she has to say about her favorite market and why farmers markets are so important, especially today. 

~Leave a comment telling us why farmers markets are important to you.~

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Herb Culver, Bean Mtn. Farms, Arkansas

Bean_Mt_-_Herb_Culver.jpgHerb Culver founded Bean Mtn. Farms as a greenhouse nursery business 12 years ago and has been CNG for nearly 10 of those. At his nursery, located in a remote area within the Ozark National Forest in northwest Arkansas, Herb focuses on open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, growing a mix of vegetables, flowers, and herbs. 

Below, Herb talks about everything from callused knees to the miracle of seeds.

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Elizabeth Weller, Amazing Hearth Farm, PA

This week, we're excited to introduce you to CNG member Elizabeth Weller. After several years in social work, working in orchards and farms from West Virginia to Massachusetts, and a Masters in Theological Studies, she moved back to her home state of Pennsylvania with her husband to found The Amazing Heart Farm. Below Elizabeth shares a little about her farm, her philosophy, and building community through food and a deep connection to place. 

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Interview with K. Rashid Nuri of Truly Living Well

Rashid_Nuri_Truly_Living_Well.pngTruly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, a nonprofit based in Atlanta, works to engage the community in developing local food systems through education and food production. Founded in 2006 by Rashid Nuri, TLW works to provide a model of urban agriculture as a sustainable and economic solution for helping people to eat and live better. One year after they broke ground, TLW became one of the first Certified Naturally Grown farms in Georgia. We interviewed Rashid in 2013 about how he became a farmer, what it's like to run an urban agricultural center, and why he joined Certified Naturally Grown. (Photo by Joeff Davis, used with permission)

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Aliza and Timothy Cummings, The Gathering Place, AL

Aliza & Timothy Cummings created their farm The Gathering Place around core values of community, healing, and faith. Their 10 acres of fruit, veggies and herbs supply several farm stands and restaurant accounts in their community in Jacksonville and the surrounding area in northeastern Alabama. Timothy and Aliza have been farming full-time together for about five years with temporary help from customers and community members, ages 2 to 80!  

Read on for the story behind their farm name as well as Tim and Aliza’s vision for the future of their farm. 

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Keelan Brown, Farmer Brown's Produce, TN

In 2010, after returning home from military service, Keelan Brown decided to turn his long-held dream of farming into a reality. Farmer Keelan got his mother's green thumb at an early age.Brown’s Produce is a family affair – Keelan’s wife Rachel is instrumental to the operation and their 4 year old son Wyatt helps too. Plus, a few times a year Keelan’s brother Shane travels over 700 miles to pitch in. With fifteen acres of fruits and veggies, a CSA delivery business, and farmers markets, it’s easy to see why Farmer Brown's can use an extra hand from time to time!

Read on to learn more about the virtues of overalls and what Keelan would be if he weren’t a farmer. 

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The Faces of CNG: Lori and Ben Sands, Silver Wheel Farm, PA

When Lori Sands started Silver Wheel Farm in western Pennsylvania, the condition of the soil was so poor she couldn’t even get radishes to grow. Since then Lori, with her husband and farm partner Ben, have worked diligently to improve the soil on their 10 acres. They have literally tasted the fruits of their labors (as have their eager customers!). 

Lori took a moment to answer some of our questions about farming, her favorite vegetable, and when to go to the beach. 

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