Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Growers Networking Meeting - Wednesday, January 25th - 4pm

Hey NE GA Local Food Growers,


I really enjoyed catching up with at least half of you over the last month and picking your brains on your interests in creating some formal networking opportunities with other GROWERS throughout the Northeast Georgia Region. I'd say interest was almost universally positive for the potential benefits that such "Growers" focused gatherings could produce.


Before giving a quick summary of the ideas everyone suggested, Sid Blalock at Burton Mountain Farms has generously offered to host the very FIRST farm get-together preceded by a tour and talk about his aquaponic greenhouses. The date that seemed best for the most people was WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25 beginning at 4pm. A rough schedule and directions are at the bottom of this e-mail.


Here's a snapshot of EVERYONE'S IDEAS that were expressed when asked about your interest in a GROWERS network.


There was general consensus that the most exciting place to have FARMER networking meetings is on people's farms

  • "What better place than ground zero."
  • "I've never seen farm"
  • "I’d be into seeing what people with Greenhouses are doing."


There were many reasons given for starting a Growers Network and most addressed social benefits, sharing knowledge and just breaking bread.

  • "If for no other reason just for encouragement"
  • "The biggest problem I see that small farmers have in our area is we don’t talk with each other and we feel real isolated."
  • "I'm even more interested in organizing"
  • "It's exciting to hear people talking about what they're doing. I think it makes people feel less isolated. I also believe it makes us more open and less competitive."
  • "We all need new ideas"
  • "Sharing information"
  • "As long as it involves a little teaching, food, socializing"
  • "That gives me a lot of encouragement."
  • "Experienced a similar thing in VA called SHARE DAYS where you share information - great for new farmers, a tour and a kind of class"
  • "We get to see one another but it’s not in that context (ie. mtgs for farmers to focus on their needs and collaborative opportunities). We’re all in it together."


Challenges to organizing a Growers Network and important considerations

  • "I'm not a meeting go-er"
  • "Should be only for sustainable growers (& home gardeners would need to be scrutinized)"
  • "Some people have proprietary information"
  • "Need a coordinator"


What could a Growers Network accomplish

  • "Cooperative efforts in marketing and purchasing."
  • "Might be good for several of us to approach a restaurant (or restaurants)"
  • "Organize Crop Mobs"
  • "Organize a Buy Local or public farm focused event"



There's a lot more but that's probably a good teaser for now.


Rough Schedule (we can revise if you have suggestions)

4 PM - Farm Tour hosted by Sid Blalock

5PM - POTLUCK (if everyone could bring just one something simple it should be fun to eat together - details below)

6 PM (or earlier) - NETWORK MTG / emphasis on cooperative purchasing of amendments,seeds,slips,etc / Brainstorm NETWORK opportunities laundry list


DIRECTIONS

Sid's Farm is at 2501 Burton Dam Road 30552

about 11 miles from Clayton/Tiger via Bridge Creek Road

about 17.8 miles from Clarkesville via 197

about 22 miles from Cleveland via 75/255/197

about 46 miles from Gainesville via 129 to Cleveland


FOOD

Since food is an important and fun aspect of such meetings but can also be a bear for the host to have to coordinate and clean-up we thought we'd experiment with a simple POTLUCK, and encourage everyone to bring a plate, utensil and drink with you. We'll have tubs where you can rinse your own goods before taking home with you. If you forget we'll have paper and plasticware.


Who's Invited

I'm attaching a table below that includes everyone that is on this e-mail list. I'm not including e-mails or phone numbers for privacy but we can discuss how folks feel about making such a list available in the future. For now, just check and see if there's anyone missing that should be added. It's organized by farm name. Anyone who is a serious grower of sustainable foods is invited. If we've missed someone please help us correct this mistake.


Hope to see ou all end of the month and thanks for GROWING,


Justin Ellis

706-499-2261

soque@windstream.net

www.northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net




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