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Southern SAWG Newsletter  Volume 10,  #6


                             September 6, 2013
"The breezes taste of apple peel, the air is full of smells to feel- ripe fruit, old footballs, burning brush, new books, erasers, chalk, and such. The bee, his hive, Well-honeyed hum, And Mother cuts Chrysanthemums. Like plates washed clean with suds, the days are polished with a morning haze. " - John Updike, September

Planting fall crops and sending the kiddos back to school signals the beginning of my favorite season and our staff countdown to our January Conference.  Make plans to meet us in Mobile, AL in January 15-18, 2014 as we celebrate our 23rd Annual "Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms" Conference - packed full of excellent mentors, teachers and farmers networking and sharing their own experiences of utilizing sustainable practices in the South!


Please consider donating to our collective work of building a strong, sustainable Food and Agricultural Network throughout the South! We squeeze and recycle every dollar!   


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Food Hub Learning Network
SSAWG Conference Presenters
Farm to School in the South
Growing Farm Profits
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Don't miss out on the Southern Food Hub Learning Network!

Are you working with a Food Hub in the South? We still have slots open for you to participate in our Learning Network.  Here is a link to the online survey, which is actually your application to join a diverse group of folks from all across the South.


Exciting implications for food hubs comes from a new Survey of State Food Hubs conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. They found that "Georgia is busy-through small groups of farmers - providing the large amounts of local produce needed to grow local markets."  


Julia Gaskin, a sustainable agriculture coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences who directed the recent survey said, "There is a demand for local food and limited infrastructure for small and mid-size farms to access wholesale markets. Food hubs have the potential to make this link, increase the viability of these farms and create jobs." 

Our Presenters Are Outstanding in their Fields!


But when they are not working the fields, we are thrilled we can get them to come inside for a spell and share their knowledge and experience at Southern SAWG's Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms conference. Below are just a few of the great presenters we have lined up for January 2014:  

Brassica lettuce in hoop house at Woodland Gardens 
Celia Barss of Woodland Gardens and Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm, will present a session on moveable hoophouses. Celia, a young farmer in Georgia, is featured in the new film "Grow!" - a documentary about young farmers trading degrees for dirt. Veteran producer Alex Hitt has been farming for 30+ years in North Carolina. He and his wife Betsy have received regional and national recognition for their work in sustainable agriculture. 

Sometimes our presenters are out fishing in their fields. Louisiana farmer, Brian Gotreaux will give a presentation about adding aquaculture to your farm. Gotreaux Family Farms raises tilapia in above-ground tanks and use the nutrient-rich waste from the fish to feed their soil and vegetable crops. They also produce grass-fed beef, lambs, poultry and eggs.
Tilapia from Gotreaux Farms


School children benefit from local food sourcing!

Paige Holland and Debra Morris
- nutrition directors in two different school systems in Georgia, will be presenting a session on building relationships with school food staff to create sustainable farm to school programs.

"Selection of foods grown closer to [school] is a smart idea, which is catching on," said Morris.


Tennessee brothers Adam and Caleb Colvin will co-present on the topic of implementing mobile technology and social media on the farm. The Colvin Family Farm combines natural and sustainable farming methods with the best in new technology to run a successful CSA and sell produce at seven farmers markets. Young farmers can learn a lot from the seasoned producers, but sometimes the lesson goes the other direction. At the conference banquet dinner last year, the Colvins convinced Paul Wiediger (KY) to use a smart phone for farm management. This seasoned grower and the young growers will present this session together.
Adam and Caleb Colvin transplanting strawberry plugs 
Have we whetted your appetite? And this is just a little sample of the presenters and sessions planned! So much more is in store for you at our 23rd annual conference. Make plans now to attend this event January 15-18, 2014. Full conference program and registration will be available online October 1st. See y'all in Mobile!

2014 splash

Farm to School in the South   


As more schools are beginning to teach kids where their food comes from, bringing local and regional products into the school cafeteria or creating school gardens for curriculum, the movement for healthy food in our school cafeterias is growing exponentially. There are many different pathways leading into Farm to School activities - but the overall goals are very similar - providing local, healthy foods to school children by connecting farmers with school lunchrooms. The additional goals of improving nutritional health, agricultural and economic opportunities for the community are at the heart of these activities.   


Fayetteville Public Schools - Dana Smith and the staff at Fayetteville Public Schools just completed this VIDEO on their Farm to School activities - it's inspirational! Feel free to share this video with your own schools, farmers and politicians. We've heard resounding congratulations on a job well done!  You can also meet Dana Smith and ask her about this model program in Fayetteville, AR, at our next conference! She helps develop the program each year, and this year her work includes organizing a Farm to School short course for our 23rd Annual Conference in January 2014. 

Cooperative Extension -
If you are exploring unique partnerships in this work,
the Regional Lead for the Southeast in the National Farm to School Network - Emily Jackson of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project - will share outcomes from a tri-state project that examined the roles of Cooperative Extension in farm to school on an upcoming USDA webinar on Wednesday, September 25, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT. She will be joined by Teresa Wiemerslage from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who will share how she is supporting local food procurement, school wellness, and youth engagement in Northeast Iowa.

To view the
webinars via LiveMeeting, click here. To hear the webinars, dial 1-800-988-0278 and use the passcode 91613#.  Both webinars will be recorded and available on the USDA Farm to School website within 1-2 weeks of initial viewing. For questions, please contact Matt Benson at or 202-720-6740.
Growing Farm Profits

  Choosing Your Markets Image

Mark your calendars for November 9 & 10, 2013! Southern SAWG is coming to Chattanooga, TN with our popular Growing Farm Profits training! This intensive training, geared toward horticultural producers, will help you understand factors that impact profitability and will walk you through steps for improving farm profits.  


And yes, you'll get to learn what farmers need to know about record keeping! 


Praise from recent participants:   


"Thanks so much for a GREAT workshop that really turned around my thinking about the importance of making a profit and making decisions based on the knowledge gained by keeping records."

"When we got home we tried to go back and fill in [records] for the 2012 season. By doing this we were able to identify where our record keeping gaps really are. Labor tracking and allocating time and costs across enterprises is where we have fallen short in the past so that is where we'll focus our energy on better record keeping."

"I look at my labor hours in a completely different way now. I have never factored in time by crop before now."

 "Now that I understand my income and my expenses in such depth I can plan for putting additional land under cultivation, hiring employees, know which seed to buy and how much. [Veggie Compass] is an incredibly useful planning tool."

"I'm not a farmer, but an educator. Part of my work consists of providing outreach, training and technical assistance to small farmers and ranchers in Texas. The CD and the ideas behind Veggie Compass and Growing Farm Profits are very powerful. Probably the stronger element of Veggie Compass is the profit analysis by marketing channels... I have been talking to farmers about Veggie Compass and other similar spreadsheets to highlight all of the elements they should consider to keep records on. It is an eye opener for them."     

Chattanooga, TN - November 9 & 10, 2013.  For more information, click here to get the flier from our website or contact our local host Crabtree Farms. Email Andrea Jaeger or call 423-493-9155 ext 13.   

Show your support for our 23rd Annual Conference!  Sponsorship opportunities reach thousands of farmers and food advocates across 13 States in the South, provides great placement of your company in this movement, and makes you feel good!  

Put your money where your values live!


Call Julia Sampson {479-251-8310} for information about Sponsorship of the 2014 Conference in Mobile, AL or email

Conference 2013
Outgoing and Incoming SSAWG Board members

We welcome your own side meetings during our conference - email us here!       

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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.