BAINBRIDGE – There’s no doubt that people want to know the origins of their food, and that locally grown food is one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture. That’s why Southwest Georgia Farm Credit began the Fresh from the Farm Mini-Grant program four years ago.
“The growing interest in our communities for locally grown fruits and vegetables is resulting in an increased demand from consumers and has led to expansions of established farmers’ markets as well as the development of new produce stands,” said Brant Harrell, Relationship Manager at Southwest Georgia Farm Credit. “The Fresh from the Farm program is a way to provide cash for grant recipients to enhance their marketing and promotion—maybe buy ads or develop a website and social media presence—anything they can do to let people know what they are selling and when they are open.”
One of this year’s recipients is Farmer Bears at Baker County High School. This exciting program is integrating the school’s garden with the business finance class, who will advertise, promote, and operate the school’s produce market stand. The business class will then keep the financial records for the produce stand to learn and understand the concepts of record keeping, market trends, and profit margins through this unique hands-on educational opportunity.
As interest in local and regional food systems has increased, so have applications to the Fresh from the Farm Program. Harrell noted that this year, the association received 25 applications, an increase of 56% from last year. The 10 recipients selected will each receive a $500 mini-grant and 250 reusable shopping bags. Grant recipients include: Golden’s Fresh Produce & Boiled Peanuts, Thomasville; Healthy Living Farms, Inc., Albany; Sisters Produce and More, Bronwood; Farmer Bears at Baker County High School, Newton; Mark’s Melon Patch, Dawson; Hopkins Farm to Table, Cairo; Lick Skillet Farmers’ Market, Arlington; Coach’s Produce, Iron City; Harrell Farms Fresh Produce, Leesburg; and Southern Fresh Market, LLC, Bainbridge.
Headquartered in Bainbridge, Georgia, Southwest Georgia Farm Credit (www.SWGAFarmCredit.com) supports farmers and farm businesses, as well as rural property owners, providing safe, sound, dependable financing. The association is part of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of agricultural and rural lending institutions cooperatively owned by their borrowers. Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm, through its constant commitment to competitive lending and expert financial services.