Saturday, February 14, 2015

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network UPDATE - February 14th, 2015

Looking for information on our annual Farm Tour !? 
Visit the FARM TOUR page

Georgia Mountains Farmers Network UPDATE 
February 14th, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

1) GMFN Annual Meeting – Monday, March 16th – Harvest Habersham
2) Northeast Georgia Locally Grown - UPDATES 
a) NGLG January 24th meeting RECAP
b) Sign up to be a FEATURED FARMER for Northeast Georgia Locally Grown's 2015 season
c) Survey to NGLG customers starting this week
d) Help Promote GAINESVILLE market with a few SILENT AUCTION GIFTS
3) Georgia Mountains Farm Tour –  IT"S ON  June 27-28, 2015 –get on the tour! 

1) GMFN Annual Meeting (aka FARMER FEAST) – Monday, March 16th – Harvest Habersham
Hey North Georgia FARMERS!

Long-time no see. Believe it or not, it has been almost a year since we had our last GMFN formal meeting (at Mill Gap and FORTIFY). Well it's about time that we did that again. And considering the popularity of last year's FARMER FEAST where we all gathered and let one of the best chefs in the area cook us a lip smacking good meal using your own fresh foods, we've decided to do it again! (*good ideas donated by O'hana Farms)

This year's FARMER FEAST is gonna be at Harvest Habersham in Clarkesville. Chris and Laura have created another incredible Farm-to-Table restaurant here in the mountains and if you haven't had a meal there yet (and I know that many of you who sell to Harvest Habersham have yet to eat there) here is your chance. It'll be FAMILY STYLE which means you'll get a taste of a lot of different things, and a great chance to socialize with other farmers.

This year's GMFN Farmer Feast will be at Harvest Habersham in Clarkesville 
at 6pm – Monday, March 16th

Each full-time farmer and farm that has attended a GMFN meeting (this is our 11th meeting) will get priority reservations.
Just like last year, the first 25 farms to RSVP will get one GRATIS dinner (I think that means FREE). If you'd like to bring a spouse or other farm hand (often same thing) then you can purchase a second dinner for $20. Worked so well last year why not do it again. Georgia Mountains Farmers Network is gonna use some of the funds we've collected from the annual FARM TOUR (see below) to help pay for dinner. 

We've yet to identify a nearby farm for our usual FARM TOUR, followed by a MEAL, followed by a business MEETing format.  If, you have any ideas on an advance tour let us know. If we opt not to do a TOUR we may invite STEVE WHITEMAN of Trillium Farms to give a talk before dinner on "How to earn a Living Wage as a Small Scale Farmer". That title sure catches your attention doesn't it.

Send Reservations for dinner SOON! We may have to cap it at 50 people. Space is limited
E-mail me if you plan to come, and the names of anyone you'd like to bring (need a headcount).  RSVP by March 2nd, latest and sooner is better.

As we always do, after dinner we'll have a GMFN BUSINESS MEETING. We'll talk about:
  • Locally Grown Expansion / Marketing Plans
  • Upcoming GMFN Farm Tour – June 27-28 
  • Food Hub / Extension Business Training Courses
  • Other announcements (if you have something you'd like us to discuss let us know)

2) Northeast Georgia Locally Grown - UPDATES 

2a) NGLG January 24th meeting RECAP
We had an excellent annual Northeast Georgia Locally Grown meeting and potluck several weeks ago. We talked about everything from our rate of growth from our inception in 2010 until now (annual sales of $25k to $78k), our large and growing volunteer crew, our marketing grant, ways to make the market more efficient, and our need for more products and growers to meet demand in 2015. We're expecting gross sales of $100k, and shooting for $120k in 2015. That's pretty significant growth, and we're adding infrastructure and volunteers to accommodate this growth.

You can get a summary of the meeting by looking at the power point here. 

There is some useful CUSTOMER SURVEY DATA from 2013 in this slideshow you may want to check out. 

If you really want the FULL DETAILS of what happened at the meeting you can listen to this MP3 recording

Also if you never quite got around to taking the NGLG FARMER SURVEY it's not too late and will help us incorporate your ideas into our 2015 season. Go for it!

Thanks to all who attended and shared a great meal with great company. It was a good way to prepare for what's gonna be our biggest year ever!

2b) Sign up to be a FEATURED FARMER for Northeast Georgia Locally Grown's 2015 season
One of the biggest features of our 2015 marketing push in Gainesville will be our FEATURED FARMERS and VENDORS every month. The plan is to have TWO farmers and ONE non-farm vendor featured each month. We're pretty excited about this. The farms will get quite a bit of coverage, including photos of your farms, bios, and your favorite recipes. Should boost sales considerably. To sign you farm up check out the openings below and send ANDREW an e-mail

Month Gainesville Site Clarkesville Site Tiger Site Still needed
FARMER or Vendor FARMER or Vendor FARMER or Vendor
April April 8 - O'hana April 8 - Melon Head April 22 - Hollman Hollow Farms FULL
May May 6 - Leah Lake OPEN May 6-  Melon Head FARM & VENDOR
June  June 3- Mountain Earth June 3- Leah Lake OPEN FARM & VENDOR
July July 8- MIll Gap July 15- KP farms OPEN VENDOR
August August 5 - Melon Head August 5 -Leslie's Garden Dream August 12- Leslie's Garden Dream* OPEN FARM
October OPEN October 7- Mnt Sweet Honey OPEN
November November 11 - Sylvan Falls Mill November - November - 2 FARMS
December December-  December - December - WIDE OPEN
January 6, 2016- Sylvan Falls Mill
Each month will feature 2 farms and one non-farm vendor
Bolded means FEATURED - need 3 each month
You can pick any Wednesday in the month you are featured

c) Survey to NGLG customers starting this week
Review and give us ideas of how to SURVEY NGLG customers. This SURVEY will go to over 800 NGLG account holders. Help us ask the questions you want to know. We'll share the results with ALL!
Check it out! You can take it too!

Questions include: Which fruits and vegetables would you like to see in 2014? And More….
Results of this survey from 2 years ago can be found in our powerpoint from the meeting.

d) Help Promote GAINESVILLE market with a few SILENT AUCTION GIFTS
1,000s of good folks in Hall County will be attending several fundraisers this early spring AND… A lot of people who support non-profits are also people who eat LOCAL FOOD too. SO, we've come up with the idea that 4-5 nice looking baskets with shelf safe products from NGLG farms and vendors (and our new brochures and cards) would make great promotion tools as SILENT AUCTION GIFTS. If you'd be willing to donate (or sell to us for costs) a few items to help promote your goods and the whole market please let us know. Could be a very powerful way to make an impression on people. 

We hope to find some VOLUNTEERS who might help make the baskets look real nice!  
Let us know if you have suggestions for Volunteers of all kinds.

3) Georgia Mountains Farm Tour –  IT"S ON  June 27-28, 2015 –get on the tour! 

Planning for the 4th Annual Georgia Mountains Farm Tour is underway. The date is set (June 27 and 28)! Five farms are signed up already! This is the big event for our network and has helped promote our region as having a helluva cool LOCAL FOOD thang going on.

Andrew Linker (the guy who shot the AMAZING videos of the tour the last two years) is our FARM TOUR ORGANIZER for 2015. Let him know if you want to be on the tour! Send him an e-mail at Or call him at 503.758.8488. Please let us know by the first week of March so we can start organizing the brochure!

Check out last year's tour page as a reminder of how it works.

We also invested in a new website domain to make it easier to find tour information.
Right now it just links to our blog but tour info should be posted by mid March.

Thanks to you all for growing LOCAL FOOD! Hope to see everyone at Harvest Habersham in March!

Justin Ellis
Organizer for 
Georgia Mountains Farmers Network