Battlefield Farmers’ Market – Growing New Opportunities

Project Overview

CS04-029
Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2004: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
David Matteson
Walker County Young Farmers

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes
  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (other), figs, grapes, pears, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: pecans
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beans, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, celery, cucurbits, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy

Practices

  • Animal Production: free-range, manure management, grazing - multispecies, preventive practices
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, networking, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, marketing management, market study, value added
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, integrated pest management, physical control, mulching - plastic, prevention, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, composting, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, community services, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures

    Abstract:

    Walker County, and the surrounding counties of northwest Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee are experiencing rapid urban and suburban growth. Even though the area is still primarily rural, commercial and residential developments are steadily converting farmland to non-farmland uses. These changes are affecting the livelihood of agricultural communities and requiring farmers to make adjustments to maintain their way of life.

    The Walker County Young Farmers Association recognized the land-use problem and identified an opportunity to help sustain farm communities. Through the establishment of a regional, tri-state “locally grown farmers market”, an outlet was created to market locally grown crops, educate growers on sustainable farming practices, identify important environmental issues, and provide outreach to citizens on nutrition and fresh foods.

    The Walker County Young Farmers have been very successful in implementing The Battlefield Farmers’ Market-Growing New Opportunities SARE grant project. During the first two years of existence, the market has grown to over 40 vendors, attracted numerous local and regional consumers, and expanded from a weekly market to a twice a week market.

    The market has been and will continue to be an asset to the local and surrounding communities. It provides additional income for growers, high quality food products for citizens, and a venue for rural and urban communities to interact.

    Introduction

    Like other areas in the southeast, Walker County, Georgia and the surrounding counties in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee are experiencing increased urban and suburban growth. Residential development pressures are driving up land prices and contributing to the conversion of rural farmland to subdivisions. As land prices increase, so do property taxes. Often families are unable to justify continually managing their land as farms due to taxation. This results in the splitting-up of larger tracts into mini-farms or the total conversion of farms to subdivisions.

    As the clear lines between agricultural properties and urban/suburban properties disappear, additional pressures are being placed on farm families due to complaints about air quality, water quality, and noise pollution from surrounding homeowners.

    The existing land use changes and predicted changes for the future, agricultural communities will have to make adjustments to maintain their way of life. These adjustments probably will consist of farming smaller tracts, planting crops for local consumption instead of broad scale production, monitoring food product trends by local consumers in order to grow the right crops, farming more environmentally to meet public expectations, and becoming a natural resource advocate for the farming community.

    Project objectives:

    OBJECTIVES / PERFORANCE TARGETS

    The objectives of this project are to:

    1. Improve farm income – Market provides an outlet for farm families to market products such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, live plants, crafts, and other value added products. By selling locally, growers stand to improve their profit margin by removing ”the middle man” and get retail-like prices for their products.

    2. Promote sustainable agricultural practices – Through workshops, provide education to consumers on land stewardship, conservation, low impact farming practices, and the benefits of eating fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. Through the establishment of the market, educate growers on sustainable agricultural practices that protect air and water quality by reducing traditional chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    3. Connect agricultural and non-agricultural communities – Market provides a venue for interaction between farm and non-farm communities and serves to foster an environment of mutual respect for both communities.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.