Georgia Organics, the state’s leading advocate for sustainable farmers and organically grown food, hosted two days of in-depth learning opportunities, farm tours, and an expo March 11-12 at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. Among the thousand plus attendees was Georgia FFA students. This year’s conference theme, “GO GROW!” represented how all producers and consumers, teachers and students, growers and eaters can intermingle to create a balance system.
Months prior to the event, agriculture education teachers from Arabia Mountain High, Emanuel County Institute, Sonoraville High and Southeast Bulloch High and their star FFA members were selected to be conference presenters in a workshop entitled “FFA Digs into Farm to School.” Additionally Addie Thomason, state winner of FFA Creed, was asked to present the FFA Creed twice during the conference, once at the opening of the Farm to School Summit and again during the Georgia Organics Annual Meeting followed by an address from the state’s new Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black.
While at the conference, FFA members served as student representatives in Georgia’s second Farm to School Summit and learned about this year’s progress, the direction of farm to school in Georgia, and what they can do to keep the state-wide movement growing. The teachers and students had the opportunity to choose and attend in-depth workshops and educational sessions covering topics such as pest and weed management, distribution logistics, pasture management, crop rotation, livestock breeds, pastured poultry, soil nutrition, hoop houses, and much more. The FFA also participated in farm tours that carried them from the very beginnings of agriculture in the state, and roots of organic farming in Georgia, to trips to some of the state’s most cutting edge organic farms.
Friday evening the red carpet was rolled out to premier the movie “GROW!” an Anthony-Masterson film shot in Georgia. The movie focuses on young people who have made organic and sustainable farming a viable career choice. “GROW! provides a look at this brave new world of farming through the eyes and minds of young, new and seasoned farmers, their mentors, enablers and community supporters.” - Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson.
To make “GROW!” Anthony and Masterson traveled more than 5,000 miles and visited 20 farms, all in Georgia. Additionally the FFA was one of nearly 100 participating exhibitors in the largest sustainable food and farm trade show in the Southeast. This year’s Expo also featured a seed swap presented by the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
The Farmers Feast, the culminating local food banquet of the conference, provided an opportunity for agriculture education teachers and students, Georgia Organic staff, presenters, and attendees to sit down together at the table and enjoy local sustainable food prepared by top chefs from across Georgia under the leadership of entrepreneur, locavore and Cha Bella’s executive chef, Matthew Roher.