Sharing Our Story: Visitors from Georgia
By Maggie Donin, Beginning Farmer Specialist
In early June, the Intervale Center welcomed a group from Georgia for a two day visit. The four visitors, Ross, Rebecca, Judith, and Joe, are all involved in the Georgia sustainable agriculture movement. Ross and Rebecca have been running Many Fold Farm right outside of Atlanta, where they raised sheep for milk and made cheese. As of January 1, 2017, Ross and Rebecca decided to stop making sheep cheese due to the challenges with profitability of raising sheep and making a value added product. In order to be profitable they would have needed to buy in frozen sheep’s milk from Nebraska, which they did not want to do. They own their farm property and are trying to figure out what else they could do with it to benefit the agricultural community. They reached out to the Intervale Center to arrange a visit in order to get some ideas. Ross and Rebecca brought two close friends, Judith and Joe with them. Judith started a meal delivery service in Atlanta called PeachDish and she and her partner Joe operate Love is Love Farm, an organic vegetable farm on leased land in a co-housing community. They all have a vested interest in supporting organic farms and sustainable food systems in Georgia.
The group mainly wanted to spend their time focused on the incubator program since they would like to replicate on their land. But, as with most visitors, we encouraged them to learn about our organization as a whole and our various programs and enterprises as they are all pieces of a puzzle that only as a whole create the Intervale Center.
For their first day at the Intervale Center, Rebecca, Ross, Judith, and Joe spent the first half of the day with me. I gave them an overview of our organization as a whole including our history, staff, and budget. Next we toured the farmstead area and the farmer complex so they could see how the Farms Program functions on the ground. We had lunch together and were joined by Teddy and Bobby from the Intervale Food Hub for an hour of discussion about their enterprise, including a tour of the facility. This was especially pertinent for Judith from PeachDish as she also manages a business delivering local food to her community. Their second day was spent with Travis Marcotte, our Executive Director, discussing organizational structure and big picture questions. For the afternoon, I took them down to the farmer complex to meet with a few farmers to get their perspective on being participants in an incubator program.
We were so honored to host their group. They asked informed questions and made me consider both how we can continue to improve our programming and also feel proud about what we are doing. As with all groups we host, we were able to share written resources with them such as our Farms Program manual which outlines all the details of our land leasing program, information about the Intervale Farm Equipment Company, and food safety information from the Food Hub. We look forward to hosting many similar groups in the future!