Small Farmers Meeting in Albany - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Small Farmers Meeting in Albany

Dr. David Langston of the University of Georgia answers a question after his presentation on plant diseases. Dr. David Langston of the University of Georgia answers a question after his presentation on plant diseases.
CCs Homestyle Bar-B-Que sauce.  One of the products made at the East Baker Commercial Kitchen. CCs Homestyle Bar-B-Que sauce. One of the products made at the East Baker Commercial Kitchen.
James Tillman, the NRCS State Conservationist for Georgia gives a speech about programs to help farmers. James Tillman, the NRCS State Conservationist for Georgia gives a speech about programs to help farmers.
The East Baker Commercial Kitchen, host of part of Friday's program. The East Baker Commercial Kitchen, host of part of Friday's program.
Collard greens wait for customers at the Flint River Produce Co-op in Newton. Collard greens wait for customers at the Flint River Produce Co-op in Newton.

By Jay Polk - bio | email

NEWTON, GA (WALB) - Angela Moore was part of a big crowd at the East Baker Community Center, but in this crowd she stands out.

She's not a farmer.  So she's learning quite a bit.  Even about that staple of the Southern diet - grits.

"I thought it was fascinating to see corn meal produced," she said.

This is Moore's first trip to the Federation of Southern Co-operatives Small Farmers Conference, but as farming evolves, rookies and veterans alike are learning some new things.

From government programs that are designed to help them:  "we tailor a number of our programs - the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program -tailor those programs to work with small farmers and large farmers," said James Tillman, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, state conservationist for Georgia.

To ways that they can keep their crop healthy:  "to teach growers how to identify the problems that they have through photographs or descriptions of plant diseases.  And give them tools to better manage those problems," said Dr. David Langston of the University of Georgia.

But there was more going on here than just education.  After the lectures, it was time for the tour to begin.  After learning how to increase their yields from the scientists, the small farmers then came to the East Baker Commercial Kitchen to learn how to better market some of the products created by those higher yields.

Products such as CCs Homestyle Bar-B-Que sauce.  It isn't made in some big industrial plant in some far away city.  It comes from a machine right there in the kitchen.  And it's one of dozens of products that come from that kitchen, from pies to grits.

David Milliner, the Manager of the East Baker Commercial Kitchen said, "you can literally push a shopping cart through our organization and get dinner for the night."

Products like this one have helped to fill plenty of shopping carts for this community. 

"There are over 100 jobs that we've created over a three year period," said Milliner.

As it is for most people who aren't familiar with the process, one of the biggest surprises for Moore was to see the way that the food gets to the table.

"Coming here has been quite educational to me, to see the process," she said.

And everyone is hoping that the lessons learned here today will lead to sweet rewards in the years to come.

The conference continues tomorrow at the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany. To get more information about the Federation of Southern Co-operatives you can go to their web site.

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