- 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
- 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
Walker County, and the surrounding region in northwest Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee are experiencing rapid urban and suburban growth. The area is still primarily rural but residential developments are influencing the conversion of farmland to non-farmland and placing additional strains on agricultural communities due to complaints associated with farming practices. These land use changes are affecting the livelihood of farm communities and will require farmers to make adjustments to maintain their way of life in the future.
The Walker County Young Farmers recognize the above changes but also recognize the potential opportunities associated with the changes. To address the issue, they are proposing a regional, tri-state “locally grown farmers market”. The market will provide a venue to support local agricultural communities by providing an outlet for locally grown crops, educating growers on sustainable farming practices, identifying important environmental issues, identifying local products desired by the consumer, and by providing outreach to citizens on nutrition and fresh foods. The interaction between the farmers and the new communities at the market will serve to foster an environment of mutual respect for both communities.
The market location, the tri-state service area, support of numerous partners, planned marketing and outreach plans, all provide a unique opportunity for the Battlefield Farmers’ Market to be successful and to help promote sustainable agricultural for the area.
Project objectives from proposal:
According to the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Service, in order for agriculture to be sustainable, it has to be profitable, environmentally safe, and socially acceptable.
Improving Farm Income - To help meet this need, the Walker County Young Farmers are establishing a locally grown farmers market to be housed at the Agricultural Center in Walker County. It will serve a ten county area including two counties in Alabama, seven counties in Georgia, and one county in Tennessee.
The market will provide an outlet for farm families in the area to market local agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, live plants, crafts, and 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. The market will also provide local consumers with a competitively priced, safe, convenient source of fresh and healthy foods. By buying locally, consumers are benefiting the community economically by keeping food monies at home instead of going out-of-state or to different parts of the state.
Promoting Sustainable Agricultural Practices - Recent polls indicate that environmental protection is one of the most widely held values in the United States. Approximately 75 percent of people in America are concerned about issues such as food safety, how agriculture is effecting the environment, and how products are produced.
A farmer’s market will be useful in providing a venue for farmers and agricultural agency representatives to educate the consumer about land stewardship, conservation, low impact farming practices, and the benefits of eating fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables. Through the establishment of the market and workshops, local growers will also gain knowledge on sustainable farming practices that protect water quality and reduce traditional farm inputs such chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Sustainable agricultural practices are more easily implemented on a small scale due to time and labor costs associated with non-traditional inputs and pest control. A locally grown farmers market can provide a primary source of income for some farmers that are downsizing or have smaller tracts of land and a secondary source for others who still manage larger farm operations. Additionally, the market provides opportunities for subdivision residents with gardens spots to participate.
Connecting Farm and Non-Farm Communities: The Battlefield Farmers’ Market will be housed at the Walker County Agricultural Center on U.S. 27 Highway just north of Lafayette, Georgia. It is approximately 10 miles from the cities of Chickamauga and Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia and within 25 miles of the cities of Calhoun, Dalton, Ringgold, Summerville, and Trenton Georgia as well as Chattanooga, Tennessee. Additionally, a planned 900 home multi-family housing project has been approved within one mile of the Agriculture Center. The close proximity of the market to metropolitan and suburban areas provides a great opportunity for farming and non-farming communities to interact and create a mutual appreciation for each other.
The establishment of a locally grown farmers market probably will not significantly slow the conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses but will help serve to keep agriculture a part of the new communities.
Market Development - The Walker County Young Farmers and the Limestone Valley Resource, Conservation, and Development Council have held two organizational meetings in order to determine interest and to begin the planning process for a farmers market in Walker County. After the first meeting, the Young Farmers conducted an informal survey of Walker County farmers and found about 40 growers interested in participating in the market.
Wendy Crager, Market Manager for the Cotton Mill Farmers’ Market in Carrollton, gave a presentation at the groups second meeting on how to establish a successful market. Approximately 50 farmers, civic leaders, agricultural agency representatives, and interested citizens attended the meeting. Her presentation included methods of governing a market such as the establishment of a steering committee, creation of by-laws, legal requirements for selling products at a market, and marketing techniques for a successful market.
After the meeting, a steering committee was established from local farmers and other individuals interested in the market. The market participation area will consist of all counties surrounding Walker including Catoosa, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, and Whitfield Counties, Georgia; DeKalb and Jackson Counties, Alabama; and Hamilton County, Tennessee. The Walker County Commission has offered the Agricultural Center building and grounds as the location for the farmers market.
Additionally, the group approved the name “Battlefield Farmers’ Market” and a logo developed by the University of Georgia School of Landscape Design. The Young Farmer Association has agreed to pay incorporation fees for the market and to serve as primary sponsor.
Hold an orientation workshop for growers before market opens – In order to prepare interested growers on rules and regulation governing the market, by-laws of the organization, membership criteria, and legal requirements for selling products and how to display products for success.
Develop a marketing campaign – To promote the “ locally grown” market and attract potential growers and buyers. The campaign will include a website, weekly e-mail message about products and activities for the upcoming Saturday market, initial newspaper and radio advertisements, banners for the site and workshops, colorful market postcards for mailing and handouts by sponsors, three signs for site location along highway, a grocery list notepad with market logo and information for consumers, and a display board that can be used at the market and workshops to promote sustainable agricultural practices, individual growers, sustainable farms and other market activities.
Hire a market manager – To oversee all activities of the market including enforcement of market rules and regulations, management and implementing of marketing campaign, educational campaign, and outreach plan, and coordination of activities with partners. Note: This budget item will be supported in future years through membership fees, weekly vendor fees and additional funding sources.
Conduct educational workshop of sustainable agricultural practices and value
added products - In addition to the orientation workshop, conduct a least three additional workshops on sustainable agriculture opportunities such as value- added products, alternative agricultural practices to protect the environment, product marketing, and small farm management.
Develop a market survey for consumers – To determine interest in the market, what products consumers would like to see available at the market, and how to improve the market.
Create an evaluation form for growers – To get feedback from growers on ways to improve the market and services to growers.
Coordinate with other locally grown markets in nearby areas – To promote the new market to consumers and growers and to provide the most convenient times, dates, and coverage to the public.
Form partnerships with County Extension Services, health food stores, local restaurants, and other agencies involved in health and nutrition services – Utilize resources to provide nutritional information, and educate the public with displays, events, and demonstrations.
Form partnerships with local Agriculture School Programs – In order to provide FFA and 4H students with a market for the agricultural products they produce, on-farm educational opportunities for students, and opportunities to educate the public on local school programs at the market.
Special Emphasis outreach – Utilize marketing campaign (community meetings and promotional materials) to attract minority and female growers and consumers. Coordinate with Georgia Department of Human Resources to help growers serve the poor and under-privileged in the area.