Monday, March 11, 2013

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network - UPDATE March 10, 2012

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network 
UPDATE March 10, 2012

1) Georgia Mountains FARM TOUR – date set – promotions and planning underway
2) Next Get-Together – Tuesday, March 26th – 4pm – Leah Lake Farms
3) NETWORK PRIORITIES – survey results
4) Still trying to schedule BLAIRSVILLE cannery visit

We don't have the rights to this image yet, but here's an idea of what this year's poster could look like. 
If you have any other artwork you'd recommend let us know as this one may be unavailable or super expensive.

1) Georgia Mountains FARM TOUR – date set – promotions and planning underway
Hey folks! We're starting to gear up for this years Georgia Mountains Farm Tour. We're starting just a little bit earlier this year which should really help us with promotions, advance sales, sponsorships, etc. But first mark your calendars….. the event will be held on Saturday June 15th and Sunday June 16th in the afternoons of both days (probably 1-6 pm just like last year). If you weren' t involved last year, but think you'd like to be this year, the very abbreviated summary is that this is a driving tour open to the public featuring 18 stops in Habersham, Rabun, White, Stephens, Hall, and adjacent counties to visit sustainable farms that sell locally. To get a good idea of how it works read last years brochure here.

But before I go any further, I have some good news. Certified Naturally Grown had just a little bit of extra money in their networking grant and we're able to hire someone to help with some of the organization of the event this month, and hopefully through until the event. I want to introduce her as she'll likely be calling some of you in the near future. Her name is Maggie Van Canfort. In addition to helping to start the Clarkeville Farmers Market last year, she's part of Green Way Community Garden in Clarkesville and is working on her Teaching Certificate from Piedmont College. We're lucky to have the help.

Maggie Van Canfort will be helping with some of the organizing and promotions for this years FARM TOUR

 Here's a quick breakdown of what we need to do to get ready for this year:

  • FARM SIGN UPS – if you'd like to participate in this year's tour now is the time. Just send me an e-mail of your interest and either myself of Maggie will call you and let you know more details. If your farm is added to the tour we'll also get detailed information about your farm to put in the brochure. (DEADLINE – we must have our final farm list by next Monday, March 18th so let us know quick)
  • IDENTIFY BROCHURE DISTRIBUTION POINTS – One key to this event is making the tickets and brochures available for purchase at multiple locations. Last year we sold quite a few at Mountain Fresh Creamery, and a few at the Root Cellar, Lake Rabun Hotel Restaurant. We'll also have online sales for mail delivery through the SRWA website. If you think of a good distribution site, let us know as we'll want to line those up soon.
  • SPONSORS – One way to not only raise the profile of the event this year, but also help the GMFN raise a little money and hopefully allow us to pay the participating farms a little bit too is to solicit a few sponsorships. It looks likely that the Habersham Chamber of Commerce will be the first one to sign up. We still need to come up with tiered sponsor categories but it will likely be something real simple like a $500, $250, and $100 category with a catchy name and different levels of acknowledgement. We'll have room on our brochures for a small logo or ad for businesses. We may even have something really small like $50. If you have any suggestions or would even like to put your own farm or farmers market on there let us know. In-kind services and donations also a possibility.
  • PROMOTIONS – we'll have a list of press outlets and deadlines hopefully by the end of next week to circulate to everyone. I know a few of you have already submitted the dates to local business association calendars etc. Any calendars you can think of please let us know. We'll have a press release and something on our website in another week or two as well. Fairway Signs has offered a free billboard provided we pay to manufacture the sign (which I think runs between $150 and $200). We can discuss this at our next get-together.
  • VOLUNTEERS – We could have used a few extra volunteers last year so this year we're recruiting some more. We'd like to have one GMFN volunteer at each farm that is just focused on making sure people have paid, that they sign a liability waiver and welcome them to the farm, letting farmers focus on giving the tours and selling them yummy food. If you know anyone who would like to volunteer, basically they volunteer one day and get to attend the other day of the tour for free. 

That's probably good for now. Let us know if you'd like to participate. Send me an e-mail to Many of you will hear from Maggie this week as she'll be starting to call folks so be sure and welcome her onboard!

2) Next Get-Together – Tuesday, March 26th – 4pm – Leah Lake Farms
Our next Get-Together is just two weeks away and its at a very cool farm. Way up in the hills actually just across the state line in NC sits Leah Lake Farm.

Brooks has made quite a name for himself over the past year or two, especially with the Locally Grown crowd which is his primary market for some of the best and most diverse salad greens in the region. Some of the many things you'll see and learn about are:

  • How to make the most of a solar greenhouse (attached to your house) and sell lots of starter plants
  • Building Low Hoop Tunnels for very little money
  • How to Farm without tilling (after the first year anyway)
  • How to build customer loyalty (tips on marketing)
  • And more
After Brook's tour Chuck Mashburn will demonstrate how to use the new EARTHWAY SEEDER that belongs to GMFN and purchased with funds from Locally Grown. This is our first piece of shared equipment and folks can loan it anytime after we establish some general care rules.

The tour will start at 4pm, dinner will start sometime between 5-5:30, then we'll have an hour GMFN meeting mainly to discuss the FARM TOUR and possibly some technical workshops around 6pm.

I'll send these out again but here's how you find Leah Lake Farms

Brooks Franklin
4811 Mulberry Rd Otto, NC 28763 

706 746 4440
Directions: Take Hwy 441 N to Dillard. Turn L on Betty Creek Rd (across from Gulf station). Go 5 miles to the NC/GA line (becomes Mulberry Rd). 2/10ths of a mile turn left at marker 4811/4815. Turn left at Leah Lake sign onto gravel drive.

3) NETWORK PRIORITIES – survey results
Well the results are in. We had 13 people take our Network priority survey. Here's how your feedback is shaping our priorities for 2013. For the full report see attached document.

#1 - Host Farm Tours (HIGH PRIORITY)
#2 - Cooperative Marketing efforts (HIGH PRIORITY)
#3 - Hosting Public Events (HIGH PRIORITY)
#4 - Organizing specific and technical workshops  (HIGH PRIORITY)

Coordinating Bulk Orders (MEDIUM PRIORITY)
Create Forums for Farmer Communication (MEDIUM PRIORITY)
Acquisition and Sharing of Equipment (MEDIUM PRIORITY)
Organization of Crop Mobs (MEDIUM PRIORITY)
Obtaining or Producing Organic Feed (MEDIUM PRIORITY)

Increase capacity for local food processing

Share up-to-date Contact Lists
Developing Marketing as a Group 

4) Still trying to schedule BLAIRSVILLE cannery visit
Many of you expressed your interest in going to see the new Cannery up in Blairsville. It's not on the calendar yet, but I'm really trying to schedule it sometime in the next two week. Keep you fingers crossed.

Justin Ellis
Soque Lover Gardens
Organizer for 
Georgia Mountains Farmers Network

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