I probably had kale stuck between my teeth during the entirety of the 20th annual Georgia Organics conference, but nobody seemed to care (or find it off-putting). Farmers, journeymen, health and wellness professionals, chefs, public health workers and farm-to-school administrators from Georgia and the Carolinas gathered in Augusta to celebrate all things agricultural. And, boy do those folks know how to do conference banquet food.
Loads of fresh fruit and warm biscuits bookended a breakfast buffet with fresh ground coffee from sponsor, Georgia’s own small farmer coffee roaster, Cafe Campesino, served piping hot all day.
On one of the many “field trips” offered, I visited the bucolic Bella Luna Sheep & Wool Co in Tignall, Georgia. While the others talked about best practices for raising sheep (“I love birthing lambs. I get right up there and bring that baby into the world…”) I breathed in the damp mossy air and decided I needed to get out of the city and live on a farm. These people touch the earth and the earth touches them every single day. At Happy Wife Farm in Modoc, S.C., a school bus has been repurposed into a chicken coop, a moveable roost that keeps the farm yard and lawn evenly trimmed and utilized. “We let the animals and the fields do what they are supposed to – take care of one another,” said the happy wife who retired from nine-to-five and taught herself to graft pear trees to take advantage of one tree’s excellent root structure and another that promises a more prolific pear.
I learned so much from the passionate professionals who led workshops and seminars. My respect for farmers is immense. Georgia Organics is campaigning to certify 200 farmers as “organic,” by the year’s end, and the crowd gave a standing ovation for the 160 who already went through the process to earn the blue ribbon certification status.
This month, we salute growers, beautiful local food and sustainable practices. Enjoy a beautiful spring with your family and get to your local farmers market and buy some kale!