Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Farm to School Taste Test

Check out Ronnie feeding middle schoolers Kale Chips and Green Smoothies for the first time!

One more thing to get everyone excited about Thursdays FARM 2 SCHOOL meeting at Wilbanks Middle School at 7pm. This program is making a big difference. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network - February 25, 2013 UPDATE

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network

February 25, 2013

1) Farm to School Farmers Forum this Thursday - Feb.28th 7 p.m. at Wilbanks Middle School Cafeteria
2) Ladybug Farm Tour follow up
3) Georgia Mountains Farm Tour – proposed dates - June 15 and 16 – signing up farms now
4) Next Farm Get-Together - March 26th at Leah Lake Farms
5) Don't forget to share your opinion on NETWORK PRIORITIES



1) Farm to School Farmers Forum this Thursday - Feb.28th 7 p.m. at Wilbanks Middle School Cafeteria

One of the most exciting opportunities for local foods is shaping up this year through a brand new NORTH GEORGIA farm to school program coordinated through the Habersham County School System and focused on Wilbanks Middle School. If YOU would like to grow FOOD for local schools the Habersham School nutrition staff are seeking local, nutritious, products to serve in the school's cafeteria for the 2013-2014 school year.

The meeting is THIS Thursday Feb.28th 7 p.m. at Wilbanks Middle School Cafeteria

Farmers who attend should bring the following to the Meeting:
1. List of what products they could grow for the school
2. Quantity of how much could be provided and what weeks of the year it would be available (Ex: 100 heads of cabbage per week Jan 15 - Feb.25)
3. What price you would sell the product for
4. How the product would arrive at the school (Ex: Box with 25 count per box, Washed and Bagged, etc. )
5. Thoughts on distribution: how will product get from farm to school

If you're planning to attend Teri Hamlin who is helping to organize this program requested an RSVP by Wednesday Feb. 27th. Teri@georgiaorganics.org

Leah Lake Farm, Melon Head Farm and Trillium Farm all provided produce at the first Farm to School meeting back on January 29th.

2) Ladybug Farm Tour follow up
We had a great tour of Terri Jagger's Ladybug Farms last week. It ended up being a gorgeous day. Here's a quick rundown of the things we saw and talked about:
  • Cool old 3 window Ford Truck made famous on the cover of the Mountain Laurel magazine
  • Fruit orchard and Dahlia Bed
  • 6,000 gallons worth of rainwater harvesting system that is doing a really good job of providing all the water needs to the farm.
  • Packing shed with washing station that also uses rainwater system
  • Windstrip growing trays
  • Passive solar seed starting greenhouse



And that was just the highlights. Thanks to Terri for a great tour and thanks to everyone for coming out.

3) Georgia Mountains Farm Tour – proposed dates - June 15 and 16 – signing up farms now
We're beginning our planning for this year's farm tour early, as in now! First up is nailing down the weekend. We're proposing Saturday and Sunday June 15th and 16th. If there's not any big conflicts with these dates, we're going to try and lock that down very soon. 

Next is taking volunteers for farm participants on this years tour. I've already heard that Sylvan Falls Mill plans to participate this year. If you are a returning or new farm that would like to be on the tour this year let us know and we can start to plan things out soon. 

One other enticement this year is that we do plan to use some of this year's proceeds to pay farmers for hosting the tour. We need to work out how much we can afford, and there will likely be a small difference between part time vs. full time farms. We do expect that the event should raise more money this year, so once we cover expenses and reserve a little money for future GMFN projects, we'd like to make sure everyone who puts in the blood, sweat and tears feels rewarded.

If you didn't participate in last years tour and want to know how it works, take a look at last years brochure which should tell you just about everything you need to know.


We'll be going into further detail at our March get-together. We're hoping to have almost all the farms signed up by that meeting.





4) Next Farm Get-Together – Tuesday, March 26th at Leah Lake Farms 
Our next get-together will be at Brooks Franklin's farm. In addition to a farm tour, potluck, and meeting, we'll also do a demo of the EARTHWAY seeder which is our first piece of shared equipment (purchased with Locally Grown money). If anyone is interested in borrowing this equipment for a try, we'll have a simple check out system. Be sure and mark your calendars for this next great farm tour. 


5) Don't forget to share your opinion on NETWORK PRIORITIES
We've received 12 responses to our survey on our Network Priorities. Please let us know what you'd like us to work on so we can best meet the needs of the local farming community.



Many thanks,

Justin Ellis

Friday, February 15, 2013

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network UPDATE ­ February 15, 2013

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network
UPDATE – February 15, 2013


Hey Local Growers,

Just wanted to remind everyone about the great farm tour, potluck and meeting we've got planned for next week on Tuesday, February 19th starting at 2pm. See details and directions below. Also want to try one more time for a BULK ORDER from Seven Springs. The new deadline for orders will be the same day as our meeting, February 19th. See below for details. This is a democratic network so please help us identify what you'd like to see the Network accomplish by taking a quick survey to share your ideas.


1) SURVEY to establish Network Priorities for 2013 – only takes 1-2 minutes online
2) NETWORK GET-TOGETHER @ TERRI JAGGER'S LADYBUG FARMS – Tuesday, February 19th - 2pm
3) Bulk Orders for Farm Supplies (from 7 springs)  - new deadline – February 19th – 7pm
4) Upcoming - Farm to School meeting for farmers February 28th and next Get-Together March 26th at Leah Lake Farms



1) SURVEY to establish Network Priorities for 2013 – only takes 1-2 minutes online
Hard to believe it's been just over a year since the network stared. We've done a lot in a year. Help us determine what to focus on in 2013 by taking this short 1-2 minute survey. So far the network has focused on 11 priorities that farmers themselves have set. To insure  we continue to work on the projects and collaboratives most important to you we need your feedback. If you can take this online survey before next Tuesday, that way we can discuss the results at the meeting.

NETWORK PRIORITIES survey
Shouldn't take more than a minute or two 
THANKS!!


2) NETWORK GET-TOGETHER @ TERRI JAGGER'S LADYBUG FARMS – Tuesday, February 19th - 2pm
Thanks to Terri Jagger for inviting us out to her place next WEEK! There is a lot of cool stuff to see on this farm but one that is highly UNIQUE and INNOVATIVE is a Rainwater gravity fed irrigation system - 6000 gallons of in ground storage; 14 foot drop in elevation; 300 foot run to upper field and up to 20 psi in the field. Also a Packing Shed and Washing Station, Drainage swails to minimize field runoff, Portable Electric Deer Fencing (she takes it down in the winter but can talk about it if there is interest), a brand new Passive Solar Seed Starting Greenhouse, an Unheated Greenhouse (this is where we'll have dinner and our network meeting so bring a chair and maybe a table too), Small fruit orchard planted with perennial cover crop and 2 hives of Bees. It's also an extraordinarily beautiful farm in a beautiful setting so we hope you can make it.

Farm Tour starts at 2pm (due to lack of electricity in the greenhouse we have to finish up before dark.)

The tour will start around 2pm followed this time by our NETWORK meeting next at 3 or 3:30pm (short agenda below), then an early dinner sometime around 4:30pm. Don't forget it's a potluck. Bring something yummy and farmy to share and e-mail what you're bringing so we can get our tastebuds watering.

NETWORK MTG AGENDA (proposed)

  • Network Priority Results – don't forget to take the survey so your feedback is included even if you can't make the tour. Also discuss and possibly add new priorities like  farm 2 school, new processing centers (Habersham cannery, food bank). 
  • GA MTNS FARM TOUR - this seems to be one activity that will continue to draw attention to our area farms. Tentative Dates - June 14-15
  • COOPERATIVE MARKETING - discuss Gainseville Locally Grown market progress / other ideas

POTLUCK PROVISIONS
Any food you like is welcome! Please bring something even so we can enjoy a good meal together.
Also please bring a chair, plate, utensils and beverage of your choice. If you have a lightweight foldable table, we also need about 4 of those.
We'll have napkins, water, washbasins, and tables. You can clean your gear after you eat.

You can also invite others as long as they are FARMERS and let us know in advance. The more the merrier!

DIRECTIONS

Directions to Ladybug Farms from Clayton

 

From 441 (at the Dairy Queen) Turn onto 76 West and travel 7.7 miles.  Turn right onto Persimmon Road and continue for 4.5 miles.  (Midway down Persimmon is a “V” in the road; stay to the Left.)  From Persimmon Road turn left onto Coleman River Road and travel for .6 miles.  Ladybug Farms is at 676 Coleman River Road, Clayton, Georgia  30525.  I will put a ladybug balloon at the entrance of Coleman River Road as it is an easy road to miss…




3) Bulk Orders for Farm Supplies (from 7 springs)  - new deadline – February 19th - 7pm
We're gonna try one more time to see if enough people want to do a bulk order to make it worth our while and save everyone some money. Last year, this collaborative went really well with about 12 of us of us purchasing $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. I'm attaching a PDF, but it's really easier to just use their website and cut and pasted the items you want into an e-mail exactly as I have outlined below. I'm also attaching the orders I received back in December so you can see how it's organized. Please follow the instructions below exactly, as it takes me time to clean up and make sense of hastily submitted orders that don't include your contact information. I'll have to return your e-mail (essentially decline your order) if it's not exact. 

To make your selections:  

Peruse their catalog by clicking this link http://www.7springsfarm.com/catalog.html  
You'll need to submit orders to me via e-mail (soque@windstream.net) no later than Tuesday, February 19th by 7pm
Orders Must have the following Information exactly or will be declined:
<P

YOUR NAME
YOUR PHONE #
YOUR E-MAIL
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)
QUANTITY
SUB-TOTALS
GRAND TOTAL

Your order should look EXACTLY like this:          

Alan Mashburn   
706-782-4933

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 soque@windstream.net

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).

SHIPPING FEES
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.

PAYMENT
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.

If we don't receive enough orders to almost fill a pallet we may have to postpone, but hopefully this worthwhile collaborative will come together. Thanks for the interest.


4) Upcoming - Farm to School meeting for farmers February 28th and next Get-Together March 26th at Leah Lake Farms
If you're not yet in the loop on the new Northeast Georgia Farm to School program and would like to be, please attend the farmers forum meeting listed below. You can also find out all the details of the FARM to School Program by reading this newsletter that summarizes things nicely. http://www.soque.org/pdfs/F2SNewsletterHabersham.Feb2013.pdf


Farmers Forum

February 28th, 7 p.m.

Wilbanks Middle School

Farmers Meet with Paige Holland, School Nutrition Director, to Discuss

Growing Produce For Next School Year

Agenda

Growing Guidelines for Farmers

Local Food Purchasing from School




Next after that is our March FARMERS GET TOGETHER

Tuesday, March 26th at Leah Lake Farms in Rabun County
In addition to a farm tour, potluck, meeting, we'll also do a demo of the EARTHWAY seeder which if popular may become our first purchased shared equipment (we have some money from Locally Grown we're willing to spend).


We also may try and squeeze in a trip to the Blairsville (Union County) brand new cannery and their amazing Farmers Market pavillion. Habersham County is currently looking at how to spend their next SPLOST, and also just finished final plans for their new cannery. We may try and get inspired by a trip up there in early March likely on a Monday afternoon. Let us know if you'd be interested.


Thanks,

Justin Ellis
Soque Lover Gardens
706-499-2261 (cell)
&
Organizer for
Georgia Mountains Farmers Network