Monday, November 19, 2012

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network - UPDATE November 17, 2012

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network  
UPDATE  November 17, 2012

Here's a rundown of topics in this e-mail

1) NETWORK Calendar  - Now through mid 2013 -  Seeking Volunteers to host FARM GET-TOGETHERS?
2) Northeast Georgia Locally Grown POTLUCK at Grace Calvary either November 29th or December 6th (and agenda items)
3) New COTTAGE FOOD REGULATIONS to regulate all home processed foods
4) Bulk Orders (7 springs) scheduled for completion by December 31st w/ Delivery by January 18th
6) PODCAST of the MONTH - Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farms in NC - PART 1            

Hey Local Food Growers,

Hope your FALL is going great! I've been a tad behind in discussing with you all possible upcoming activities for the FARMERS NETWORK. Hopefully you can help us organize our next six months of activities by giving your input on the items in this e-mail. Thanks!

1) NETWORK Calendar  - Now through mid 2013 -  Seeking Volunteers to host FARM GET-TOGETHERS?
I know many of you operate better with calendars planned many months in advance, so thought we'd try and plan ahead for about 6 months of NETWORK activities. Almost all of you have expressed that the on-farm tours, get-togethers, and potlucks are what you value most about this new FARMERS NETWORK, so it'd be great to continue at least an every other month schedule (bimonthly), or more frequent if desired. If you're interested in volunteering YOUR FARM to be a FARM HOST, or if there's someone else's farm that you'd like to visit that you think would be a good location, please let me or us know. Here's a draft calendar.

November 29
or December 6 (Thursday)
St. Julian's Hall 
Grace Calvary, Clarkesville
December 31
January 18  (Friday)
January 21 or 22
(Monday or Tuesday)

Seeking a volunteer farm (or suggestions)
Tours usually begin at 4pm, Dinner at 5pm, meeting at 6pm, done by 7pm.
  • Begin Planning 2013 Farm Tour Details
  • Andy and all other agenda items?
Social to watch a farm related movie
(seeking suggestions for movie and place to watch)
And / Or
Operation in Dahlonega
Mr. Natural Worm Castings
March 18 or 19
(Monday or Tuesday)

Seeking a volunteer farm (or suggestions)
Tours usually begin at 4pm, Dinner at 5pm, meeting at 6pm, done by 7pm.
  • Finalize 2013 Farm Tour Details
June 1 and 2

If you have any other suggestions for this CALENDAR or see CONFLICTS with other events, please let me know. Everything is flexible, I just thought it'd be easier if we started scheduling ahead.  SINCE we all have a bit more time over the Winter than other times of year, if anyone has any other suggestions at all for useful meeting topics, etc. please let us know.

Obviously some farms are better suited for winter tour activities than others. Please don't be shy about making suggestions of farms you'd like to visit. And please don't be shy about volunteering your farm for either the JANUARY or the MARCH get-togethers. Thanks!

2) Northeast Georgia Locally Grown Potluck at Grace Calvary - November 29th or December 6th (and agenda items)
I know not all of you are involved in the LOCALLY GROWN market but since one of the main topics we've discussed at NETWORK meetings has been the need to COLLABORATE in MARKETING and the benefits of being able to distribute farm goods from our region to the ATLANTA METRO area, I did want to invite EVERYONE to the end of year Locally Grown POTLUCK as this will be the main point of discussion.

Sorry I'm still nailing down the date, but there's been a slight preference stated for the DECEMBER 6th (Thursday @6pm) date. Please let me know if you'd like to attend but one of those dates just doesn't work for you and we'll see how accomodating we can be.

Here's a quick outline of the AGENDA:

  • EAT and be merry (everyone highly encouraged to bring a dish, drink or dessert)
  • Summary of Locally Grown performance so far in 2012  
  • Improvements needed  / Other marketing & promotion ideas for 2013
  • Expansion to Atlanta Metro Area (or Gainesville) in 2013
  • Impact of Cottage Food Regulations
  • Survey to Customers to ascertain products desired, etc.

If you have any questions about Locally Grown feel free to call or e-mail me, or check out the Locally Grown website if you're not already familiar.

3) New COTTAGE FOOD REGULATIONS to regulate all home processed foods
Just last week we discovered that the Georgia Department of Agriculture has adopted new statewide standards that will affect the sale of the following items made in home kitchens (as opposed to certified kitchens):

(a) Loaf breads, rolls, and biscuits;
(b) Cakes
(c) Pastries and cookies;
(d) Candies and confections;
(e) Fruit pies;
(f) Jams, jellies, and preserves
(g) Dried fruits;
(h) Dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures;
(i) Cereals, trail mixes and granola;
(j) Coated or uncoated nuts;
(k) Vinegar and flavored vinegars; and
(l) Popcorn, popcorn balls, and cotton candy.

The very short summary is that sale of these items will now require an annual permit (with a fee of $100 annually), be subject to one kitchen inspection prior to receiving the permit, and require the successful passing of a food safety course. The entire regulation is attached to this e-mail, and I'm attaching a link to an EXTENSION class that was recently taught on the details of how the regulations will be enacted.

Instructions: Select the link below and enter your first_lastname in the top login box.

This will be one of our discussion points at our Locally Grown market meeting coming up, and I expect will be discussed by all markets statewide at some point over the next several months.

4) Bulk Orders (7 springs) scheduled for completion by December 31st w/ Delivery by January 18th
We had a very successful bulk order through Seven Springs Farm Supply up in Virginia last year. About ten of us purchased $1,400 worth of products and received a good discount in the process. If you are interested in purchasing organic amendments, soil mixes, pesticides, row covers, cover crop seed, etc. then you should at least take a look at the 7 Springs catalog to see if you might be interested in getting in on this order by December 31st.

To make your selections:
<Peruse their catalog by clicking this link  
You'll need to submit orders to me via e-mail ( no later than December 31st
Orders Must have the following Information exactly or will be declined

ITEMS (to select items you should cut and paste the item from the Catalog exactly and make sure the same item doesn't come in two forms like liquid or granular)

Your order should look EXACTLY like this:          

Alan Mashburn   

HarmonyTM Ag. Organic Fertilizer (5-4-3)            
2x 50 lb bag                 $15.50 ea = $31.00

McEnroe Premium Lite Growing Mix                    
2x 22 qt. bag                $ 8.00 ea = $16.00

GRAND TOTAL before shipping  $47.00

Then just e-mail that to me at

I'll e-mail you back to confirm receiving your order. Please help us keep up with orders easily by following this system (I'll basically cut and paste what you submit into a master order form) or I may e-mail you to correct errors. I recommend cutting and pasting the ITEM name from the website to insure you get the name just right (they don't use SKU#s).

There will be add'l shipping charges and possible handling fees (by 7springs) added to the order. Shipping costs last year ran exactly 8 cents a lb. That's $4.00 for a 50lb bag. I assume they'll be similar this year. Some items received a bulk order discount, but we won't know about those until the orders are placed.

Don't send us a check until we calculate these fees. We'll write a check to 7springs from the Locally Grown Market bank account. We'll collect check or cash at or before pickup. Checks will be to NE GA Locally Grown or SRWA (that's the market non-profit sponsor Soque River Watershed Assoc). PICKUP may be at Sid Blalock's Burton Mountain Farm near Batesville again. We'll need to double check with him to see if he's willing to do that again. Feel free to give Sid a small thank you gift for helping us by using his BOBCAT to unload the pallets and storing everything under cover until it can be picked up.

Here's a short recap of the last NETWORK meeting at Harold and Joni Kennedy's MELON HEAD FARMS. If you didn't get a chance to listen to it last time I'm re-attaching the  AUDIO RECORDING of the business portion of our meeting (it starts a few minutes into the recording). If you enjoy being able to hear these AUDIO recordings of the meeting let me know and we'll keep doing them. It's a good way to make sure we don't forget our progress from meeting to meeting, and you can feel like you attended even if you couldn't make it.

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network
September 10, 2012
Melon Head Farms
Meeting #4

Farm Tour Discussion and Ideas
About 1/3 of farmers visited another farm during the tour
Better Directions next year
In SC they sell buttons as passes, and every farm sells passes
Encourage people to arrive on an hour, or half hour so that tours are scheduled
Sales – We were able to sell a lot more than expected (many sold out – Leah Lake and Burton Mountain Farms)
Some people just stopped because they saw cars (need to be able to make stopper bys pay)
Volunteers - Have every farm have at least one appointed volunteer by the Network who collect money and explain how the Tour works, so the farmer can focus on the tour and selling things. Recommended 5 people per farm.
Scheduling – some people prefer earlier, some prefer later in the year. A lot of people on the tour are growers themselves and are interested in the process. In NC, SC that’s what people talk about (how to grow things). If our goal is to educate. It was all questions. “We could sell a lot more if we have produce to sell.” Cooler weather earlier.
Budget – we netted $630 from the event and that can be used for the Network, or for next years event. Could be used to pay someone to help do the organization.
Summary – we had 150 people come. The SC event which is 7 years old had about 2500 people attend. Start planning for next year.

Cooperative Marketing
After discussions at multiple meetings arrived at: probably not interested in wholesale sales. Coordinating delivery to a weekend ATL farmers market is tricky, especially conveying through a market manager what the items are, how they are grown, and what do you do

  1. Locally Grown deliveries to Gainseville or Hoschton
  2. Can we meet the demand? – Folks thought yes, “if we could all plan for it.” Which is another reason to start planning now.
  3. Clemson Market increased sales by 1/3rd when they added a hospital. The hospital staff helps distribute and collects the money.
  4. People like the convenience of sitting at computer and order and be done and don’t have to attend open air markets.
  5. Discussed a collaborative CSA – would have to establish a way to equate units. Haven’t seen a good model for this and how to manage who would grow which shares.

6) PODCAST of the MONTH - Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farms in NC - PART 1
I have a handul of recordings of really good farm courses given by some of the best farmers in the Southeast. Winter time is a great time to let this information sink into your consciousness, so I thought it'd be nice to share these with everyone. Alex Hitt is one of my favorite farm lecturers beause he's been teaching courses on small scale farming for many years, so his thoughts are well informed, concise and insighteful. If you like this type of thing Download It and stick it in your ear next time you're headed down the road. I guarantee you'll enjoy it. The first few minutes is just intro, and the audio quality improves once Alex starts his talk.

HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS LONG E-MAIL! Any thoughts on any of this, send 'em on!

Justin Ellis
Soque Lover Gardens
Organizer for
Georgia Mountains Farmers Network