Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
mother with three lambs
Signs of Spring   

Warmer weather, bees abuzz, lambing season, April showers--all welcome signs of spring. Whether you are starting (or transplanting) a new crop of vegetables on your farm, or assisting in the arrival of a new litter of pigs, spring is an optimistic time of the year. 


"The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer."

--Will Rogers

The State of Farm to School

State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2014, a new report from our partners at the National Farm to School Network, offers a comprehensive review of state-level farm to school policies, analysis of national trends, and advocacy guidance for those working to advance the farm to school movement across the country. The survey was prepared by researchers at Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.


The report offers good news for the state of farm to school: Twenty-two states passed 41 farm to school-supportive bills and resolutions in 2014, a 64 percent increase over 2013. State-level farm to school policy work is driving a broader expansion of farm to school across the country by establishing farm to school coordinators at state departments of agriculture and education; providing funding; and establishing databases, working groups and other crucial infrastructure. Simply put, strong laws are facilitating strong programs.


The State Farm to School Legislative Survey is designed to offer farm to school advocates a roadmap, allowing them to learn from the success of other states and copy their efforts. Download the full document or check out the map below to see how your state compares.


Meet New Board Member: 

John Patrick

John Patrick
John Patrick

John retired in April 2010 as a program analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Inspector General in Washington DC. He recently completed an EPA grant as principal investigator for the Cumberland River Compact that encourages sustainable farming methods in this watershed. He also has taught a graduate course, Sustainable Food Practices, at Lipscomb University's Institute of Sustainable Practices. John has completed his doctoral course work focusing on environmental corporate management and sustainable farming methods. He serves on the board of the Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group, Tennessee Organic Growers Association, and the Beaman Park to Bells Bend Conservation Corridor, and serves on the Nashville Food Policy Council.


John Patrick was raised on a poultry and cattle farm and is currently a co-owner of Foggy Hollow Farm (a small, organic vegetable, livestock, poultry, and blueberry farm) near Joelton, Tennessee. He currently has the only USDA-certified, organic laying and breeding operation in Middle Tennessee. He is implementing, with the collaboration of other farmers, a sustainable poultry network focusing on the economics of locally breeding and growing heritage breed chickens on pasture for meat and eggs in Middle Tennessee.
Seed Change:
Growing Farm to School, State by State

The National Farm to School Network is bringing a wave of Seed Change to states poised for significant farm to school growth. Starting with Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, this new initiative will jump start programs to bring local food into schools and elevate food education for more than 1.8 million school children.


Through the Seed Change project, the National Farm to School Network hopes to maximize the capacity for farm to school activities in these states for the benefit of kids, farmers and communities. In Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, Seed Change is funded by a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation.

U.N. Report Urges Return to Small-Scale Organic Farming 

A U.N. farming report, Wake Up Before It's Too Laterecognizes what we in the sustainable agriculture community already knew. It's time for a return to a more sustainable, natural and organic food system. Farm diversity, reduced use of fertilizers, and other changes are desperately needed, according to the report. Sections of the report also look at topics such as the role of land use; climate change; and global food security.


The report concludes, "This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers."


Read more about the report on the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy blog

Position Opening: Southern SAWG Seeks Conference Session Co-Coordinator
Primary responsibilities will include helping develop sustainable agriculture conference program and helping manage conference logistics. Applicants must be seeking a multi-year involvement with Southern SAWG. This is a part-time, seasonal contract with potential to expand work hours and responsibilities in future years. Read complete description on our website.


April 2015
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Southern SAWG
PO Box 1552, Fayetteville, AR 72702