Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group          |          March 2017
Welcome to Southern SAWG's New E-Newsletter, 
Seeds of Sustainability
In Seeds of Sustainability, Southern SAWG will give you a glimpse of some valuable tools, solutions and perspectives on sustainable agriculture and food systems that are developing across the South. Every month we will provide several highlights of notable work being done by organizations, communities, universities, farmers and farm advocates who want to see a more just and sustainable farming and food system in our region. Just as the Southern SAWG conference is a wonderful place to learn from your fellow farmers and colleagues in the region, Seeds of Sustainability will provide ideas and information to ignite your work while you are hard at it back behind the tractor or the computer. We hope you enjoy this opportunity to learn and stay connected with some of your Southern colleagues over the year! Oh, and if you have something valuable to share that would help your fellow farmers and farm advocates, please be sure to send it to me at Thank you!

Pam Kingfisher, Editor
Photo and caption from Community Farm Alliance: Red Bird residents and other Eastern Kentucky farmers work the steep hills and narrow bottoms like the one pictured here -- buildings are built into the hill, like this barn.
Food Before It Was a "System"

By Sister Kathy Curtis, posted in Breaking Beans: Appalachian Food Story Project

"Here in eastern Kentucky there have been a lot of conversations using the term 'food system'. According to the folks at S.O.A.R. (Shaping Our Appalachian Region), 'creating a local foods movement by connecting local producers to markets for their products both within and outside the region' is one way to meet their mission. SOAR's mission is to expand job creation, enhance regional opportunity, innovation, and identity, improve the quality of life, and support all those working to achieve these goals in Appalachian Kentucky. I am excited that our elected officials see the value in connecting farmers and eaters.

What I have to wonder, though, is what was in place before? I decided to find out."  

Pop-Up School Market: Engaging Farmers at Early Care and Education Centers

By Kara LeClair, RDN and Kenna Ho, MS Georgia Organics

As toddlers stir from their naps and parents shuffle in and out of the Burke County Early Head Start every afternoon, hellos and pleasantries are exchanged between staff and parents. The scene usually ends in a sleepy-eyed child walking out the doors with their caregiver, heading on their way until the next morning. However on Wednesdays at the beginning of this school year, the day ended just a little bit differently, thanks to an after-school farmer's market pilot funded by a 2016 National Farm to School Network Innovation Award granted to Georgia Organics.

RAFI USA Releases Under Contract: Farmers and the Fine Print

For the first time in a full-length documentary, contract farmers tell their stories, and industry experts reveal how the corporate production model pits farmer against farmer. Under Contract: Farmers and the Fine Print takes audiences across the American South and to southern India to understand what's happening to farmers living under contract and what we can do to change our food system for the better.

Around the world and all across agriculture, contract farming is taking hold. But farmers who sign contracts often face unfair challenges and hidden risks under the terms that are offered by large firms. Under Contract provides a timely glimpse into the little understood fine print of modern agriculture.

We've made the film free to farmers as a small way of saying thanks. Let other farmers know about the film. Please click here for your copy. 
Warren Wilson College, Berea College, Clemson University, College of the Ozarks, Berry College and Central Carolina Community Noted in Top 20 College Farms in U.S.

From small student-run organic farms, to large agribusiness training centers and entrepreneurial programs, farming plays a central role in many American higher ed institutions. To highlight this unique offering, Best College Reviews surveyed over 50 schools to come up with a list of the best university farms in America. They realize that a university or college farm can mean a number of things, and so as not to compare apples and oranges (literally), they have taken the following criteria into account.

Ranking Criteria:
  • Farm size
  • Integration with the main campus
  • Sustainability
  • Are courses taught at the farm?
  • Do students use the farm?
  • Integration with the community
Read More

We Plant the Seed

By Ron Rosmann, 2014

We plant the seed but the harvest is not ours,

A speck of soil in our eyes, in our lives, in our time spent on the soil.
We plant the seed.

We weep for the soil, so to the soil our speck returns, our bodies return,
all bodies return,

We do not save our soil, so to the river our speck of soil goes,
to the ocean where it weeps for us.

Sustenance for a future harvest that is not our own, we plant the seed.

We plant seeds so we might live, so others might live,

Who no longer stand on the soil, standing instead on cement,

The hardened earth that will be ground up one day returning back to soil,
We plant the seed.

The speck of soil in my eye sees the small Honduran farmer riding his small pony

Up the mountain to tend his soil, his seeds.

Seeds that carry the memory of tens' of thousands of years,

How long will they be his seeds, his brother and sister farmers' seeds?

The public seeds? We plant the seeds. We must save our seeds.

Who can really own the soil or the seed? Do we own the sun? 
Do we own our own name?

I see a hollowed out scarecrow watching over a hollowed out field,

Grown from seed for a harvest that is not ours to save.

We plant the seeds. We must save our seeds.

To be in communion, we strive to be, with the soil, with the seed,

With the art, with the science,

We must all become farmers in our way.

We plant the seeds. We save our seed.

How to Make Conference Session Suggestions

Southern SAWG hosts a conference each January that is highly regarded for the educational content and networking opportunities. As part of our main conference program we generally provide over 50 educational sessions. 
Although we don't formally solicit session proposals, we welcome ideas for compelling topics and presenters. If you would like to make a suggestion, please click here to learn how to submit your idea.
PCAN Call for Agenda Topics

The first quarterly Policy Collaborative Action Network call is approaching and we'd like to hear from you on agenda topics. Want to know more about what others are doing to meet their local officials? Want to share what you are doing in your community? We want to hear from you!  Please submit your thoughts, ideas and concerns before April 10, 2017, by emailing Our call will take place on April 25, 2017 and we will send out an agenda before the call. We look forward to your participation!
Our Mission

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's mission is to empower and inspire farmers, individuals, and communities in the South to create an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Because sustainable solutions depend on the involvement of the entire community, Southern SAWG is committed to including all persons in the South without bias.
Do you have something you would like to share in Seeds of Sustainability?
If so, please send it to