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Southern SAWG Newsletter  Volume 10,  #3


                             June 2013

Smile Wide, Eat Slow and Enjoy the Summer Bounty!  


This month we are giving you updates on some of our projects and sharing a call for Executive Director applicants. We are currently working on four projects that weave together to further our mission to help create and nurture a strong network of folks working on sustainable food and agricultural issues across the South - Ag Policy, Farm to School Networking, Food Hub Learning Network and Growing Farm Profits trainings.


Be sure to make plans to meet us in Mobile, AL in January 2014 ~ let's celebrate 23 years of Southern SAWG conferences packed full of farmers and foodies networking and sharing sustainable practices in the South!


Join us in building a strong, sustainable Food and Agricultural Network throughout the South!

Change in Leadership
Ag Policy Action
National Farm to School
Food Hub Learning Network
Growing Farm Profits
2014 Conference Dates
Become a 2014 Sponsor
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Change in Leadership Comes to Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group


Our esteemed Director, Mr. Jim Lukens will be retiring soon as the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG) Executive Director. The Board of Directors is initiating a search for excellent candidates for this key position in our organization. The Executive Director will be responsible for leading the organization in its work of empowering and inspiring farmers, individuals, and communities throughout the South to create a sustainable agriculture and food system. Southern residence is required for the successful candidate.


For a full job description, please visit HERE Southern SAWG is committed to the principle of equal opportunity and equal treatment for every current and prospective employee. Substantial efforts are made to seek out potential candidates among women, minority groups, and individuals with disabilities.


Application deadline is July 31, 2014. Position start date is no later than April 1, 2014.  We thank you for your thoughtful consideration and assistance in our search.


AG Policy Action


On the recent National Farm Bill, we have been working in close partnership with our friends at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) to share timely information and increase grassroots participation in the policy process. The bill created quite the dust up in the Senate but was then defeated in the House. This means that while current funding for farm bill related programs is still in jeopardy-a loss; we may see a more deliberate effort in the near future to create a farm bill that is fair and balanced-a win!


The House Rules Committee voted to determine which amendments would be considered "in order." The House went through all 103 amendments much too quickly, as there were many controversial amendments that deserved more time allowed for consideration and debate. In the end both Democrats and Republicans protected the country from a bill that would have eliminated funding for R&D Farm credit and for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program as well as significantly cut SNAP benefits. Read more on our website Ag Policy page HERE


We recently hosted two Ag Policy conference calls that were designed to demystify the policy process and particulars and answer participants questions. Led by NSACs' policy coordinator, Sarah Hackney, along with our two policy consultants, participants were better able to understand the pros and cons of many key amendments and to strategize on sharing stories about the policy impacts on the small to mid-size farmer in the South. We will be hosting a follow up conference call sometime after the July 4th holiday to discuss next steps as we return to square one on the Farm Bill. Stay tuned!




 Stay up-to-date with Ag Policy Action Alerts on our website

Regional Lead for the South in the National Farm to School Network  


As the Regional Lead Agency in the South in the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) we enjoy excellent networking opportunities with our partners at the local, regional and national levels to share resources and also speak to policy. 


We were joined on our recent Ag Policy calls by Helen Dombalis, Policy Director for the National Farm to School Network, who is based in Washington, D.C. In this way, our work in supporting participation in the National Agriculture Policy process also links to our role as the South Regional Lead Agency for the National Farm to School Network. This role has increased our understanding of the challenges faced by producers and food service directors in providing fresh, local foods into schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, as well as the urgent need for farmers voices to be heard in policy debates at both the State and National level.



The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) provides vision, leadership and support to connect and strengthen the Farm to School movement across the country.  



Our NFSN partners are sharing some great resources, which we can adapt to our region. A new toolkit just came in from Ecotrust in Oregon: "The Farm to School Showcase Toolkit: A Guide for Connecting Local Food Suppliers with School Food Buyers at School Nutrition Trade Shows. Since 2010, Ecotrust has been coordinating a special event for Oregon school food service staff to help them connect with local food producers, processors, and distributors. After four years of organizing these events they've published this toolkit to make it easy for local food advocates to host Farm to School Showcases of their own. The Farm to School Showcase model is a powerful and efficient way to introduce a large number of school food service staff to local food vendors, and in turn to increase institutional purchases of local foods." You can download it for free HERE  


Southern Food Hub Learning Network
Another wheel we are turning in the Southern network involves facilitating a Southern Food Hub Learning Network of agricultural professionals, NGO assistance providers and farmers from across the southern region who are assisting farmers and community members by developing regional food hubs or regional food value chains.  The learning network will consist of a series of networking and educational activities, plus educational sessions at Southern SAWG conferences in 2014 and 2015.  There are limited spaces in the network, but multiple learning opportunities - including conference sessions - will be open to all over the next two years. 
 Southern SARE Logo 
 With funding from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, we are collaborating with the USDA Food Hub Team, Wallace Center's National Good Food Network, land grant institutions to lead this Learning Network. 
With projects like these, Southern SAWG is leading and nurturing the sustainable food and agriculture movement in the Southern U.S.  Thanks for your support and look for updates on what we are learning about Food Hubs in the South!  

Growing Farm Profits - Practical Trainings for Farmers


Right about now farmers are keenly aware that farming is hard work. So what farmer wouldn't want to be sure this hard work is profitable? Turns out it's not as simple as finding some cash still in your checking account at the end of the season. That's why Southern SAWG began providing trainings a couple of years ago called Growing Farm Profits. Feedback like the comments below from some of producers who participated in our Growing Farm Profits trainings over this past winter are pretty typical:


"I have changed my method of keeping records. I started looking at the things I needed to record from a different perspective- not just cost of seed, but literally from start to finish of each of our products. To include labor, time, water, etc. in order to see if we are breaking even or making a profit and how much of one. Also looking a marketing cost from a different point of view. Your course made me look at things from a different point of view. I felt smarter and more informed of what I need to improve my farm."


"The workshop has had a great impact on how I think about my farming operation. We are tracking costs in each enterprise and thinking more about profit margins. [I am] Trying to use this information to make better decisions about what to grow and what to sell. [I] Started a new enterprise this year based on our estimates that it could be more profitable than other things we have been raising."


" got me thinking about some of the stuff that we're not tracking, and how useful/necessary it is to have that additional information. For instance, the Unit Break Even Price. I haven't tracked all of the information needed to be able to do that kind of analysis, and I can see now that we need to in order to become profitable. I'm now tracking exact sales of each crop."


Organized by staff member Jean Mills, trainers Ellen Polishuk and Jim Munsch will be using their real farm experience to teach at least two more of these popular Growing Farm Profits trainings this fall/winter. Keep an eye on our website for announcements about dates and times or contact Jean if you want to receive an email notice.


"Many hands make light work", so our collaborations and partnerships are key to creating stronger networks by increasing the ripple effect of professional technical support for creating local, sustainable food distribution systems in the South. With funding from Southern Risk Management Education Center (SRMEC), these trainings organized by Southern SAWG have been hosted by local organizations Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF), Georgia Organics (GO), and Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP).


This winter Gaining Ground in Chattanooga and Community Food Alliance in Kentucky will each host these trainings. We are seeking funding to help even more groups host these trainings for horticultural farmers around the South this fall and winter. Here's to increasing farm profitability!!


Logo-SRMEC                                                            SSAWG Logo

Make Your Plans for the Coast!


We're cranking up the planning work for our Annual Conference that's going to be held this January in Mobile, Alabama.  You're planning to be there, aren't you?
The timing is right for those of you busy writing grant proposals this season to include your attendance costs, and that of the farmers you work with, in your current grant proposals. We know that times are tough and money is always tight - but don't miss out on this great opportunity to learn from some of the best sustainable agriculture advocates and producers in our region. Join us January 15-18, 2014 at the Mobile Convention Center!
We'll post the final program in our website in early October - but you can follow us on twitter and Face Book this summer to learn about the great presenters and informative sessions we're putting together for you.    
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logo-2014 conference  


The 23rd Annual Conference will be held at the

Mobile Convention Center
January 15-18, 2014 in
Mobile, AL 

Schedule will be available online in October.  

Do you support family farms and believe in fresh, local and healthy foods? You can join a group of like-minded supporters as a 2014 Southern SAWG Conference Sponsor!

We have Sponsorship opportunities for you and/or your company to benefit by reaching thousands of farmers and food advocates

13 States in the South.




      Our Conference Brochure is treasured and kept

on file in farm houses across the South!



If you would like to participate in or receive more information about sponsorship of the 2014 Conference in Mobile, AL  


please contact Julia Sampson,

(479) 251-8310, Email:


We welcome your feedback and suggestions 
Please write to us at 
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3
nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the
Southern United States.