Jack Brantley, owner of Bear Creek Worm Farm in Douglas, shows a worm and compost sample to Fort Valley State University extension personnel during the Sustainable Agriculture Tour July 30.
Fort Valley State University's Cooperative Extension Program along with the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program housed at FVSU sponsored the Georgia Sustainable Agriculture Farm Tour July 29-31.
Sustainable agriculture is an operation that is profitable to thefarmer, protects the environment and promotes a prosperous and stable rural community for farmers and ranchers.
For three days, a traveling party of over 40 individuals consisting of FVSU faculty, staff, students, extension agents, specialists, officials representing U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies and farmers visited several sustainable agriculture operations in southwest and southeast Georgia. The group also attended lectures along the way concerning the farm bill and how Women's and Infant Care (WIC) programs can assist farmer's markets.
James Hill, FVSU's 1890 land-grant liaison for the Southern Region (SARE) Program, and Dr. James E. Brown, associate dean and professor of horticulture, collaborated in organizing the event. "Basically, this sustainable agriculture tour of Georgia is a train-the trainer educational opportunity for extension agents, specialists, USDA staff, agricultural consultants, non-governmental organizations and mentor farmers in sustainable agricultural practices," Hill said.
Hill said that one of the prime objectives of the tour is to give the participants an opportunity to witness sustainable agriculture operations in action. In Bluffton, the tour stopped at White Oak Pastures, a five generation farm that
processes animals on site and markets beef, lamb and poultry directly to consumers. Animal remains from processing are turned into fertilizer and spread on the grass which the animals use for feed.
Fredando Jackson from Americus is one of the farmers that traveled on the tour. Jackson said he learned about the tour from FVSU Terrell County extension agent Atonya Jordan, who also services Sumter County. After receiving information about the tour, Jackson jumped at the opportunity to participate.
"I learn better on hand and get inspired by watching other people do things," Jackson said. "I saw it as a good opportunity to learn from people that are more experienced than myself." Jackson, a full time farmer since 2011, considers himself new to farming. He said if the tour takes place next year, he would like to be an exhibitor on one of the stops.
Hill said due to the tour's success, they plan to continue next year with financial support provided by the Southern Region SARE Program.
For more information about SARE, contact Hill at 478-825-6263 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.