Policy Place: An Intro to the Farm Bill

The Georgia Farmers Market Association is an organization dedicated to the promotion of healthy communities. We strive to do so by connecting people to local food systems and providing support for the agricultural community both here in Georgia and across the country.  Because of our mission, it is important for us to be mindful of the many policies that exist to support the promotion of healthy communities and individuals.  This may include policies on nutrition, sustainable practices, regulations for organic certifications, equitable farming, conservation, and funding that supports local organizations like ourselves. An example of such a policy that has sweeping implications for Georgia and its citizens is the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, was signed into law in February of 2014.  The bill is a continuation of legislation that began in 1933 and is renewed about every five years, creating and reauthorizing federal programs in a number of different interests. As Congress drafts the next Farm Bill, it is important for all of us involved in or passionate about local food systems to stay aware and engaged.  The Farm Bill is a very robust piece of legislation and highlights how agricultural legislation has an impact across the national, state and local levels of the government.

Supporting nutritional programs, initiatives, and funding opportunities is essential to promoting healthy communities.  Many of these programs exist on the national level, however have direct impacts on us here in Georgia.  Namely, one of the biggest nutrition programs operating at the national level, that many of you may have already heard of is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or Food Stamps.  SNAP is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture and receives its funding from legislation written within the Farm Bill.  SNAP not only makes it possible for eligible citizens to have more equitable access to nutritious food through financial support, it also promotes a culture of creating healthy eating habits.  SNAP works with nutrition educators as well as neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure participants are making informed decision about their nutrition and works to create a more food-secure environment for all.  This national program has trickle-down effects that support policy such as school lunches, which are now, more than ever, ensuring our children are eating the most nutritious lunches that are available to them. Positive nutrition choices begin when you are young, making programs like these so important! To learn more about SNAP you can visit their website here.

At the state level, different policies have the potential to have an even greater impact on our day to day lives. Specifically, the Georgia Department of Agriculture is the state governmental office responsible for protecting and promoting agricultural and consumer interests, and ensuring safe food for all of Georgia. It is also the oldest state department of agriculture in the United States! The Georgia Department of Agriculture receives some of its funding from the Farm Bill, which it uses to help sustain numerous programs with the goal of maintaining the states farm industry and protecting the consumer. One of these programs is Georgia Grown, which is a marketing and economic development program with the goal of aiding our agricultural economies and helping new and established agribusiness grow and thrive! Georgia Grown also has deep roots in sustainability and its logo is a marker of agricultural products grown right here in the state of Georgia. Georgia Grown is also one of our very own platinum sponsors! To learn more about the Georgia Department of Agriculture, visit their website here, and visit with Georgia Grown here.

Locally, we have the potential to have the biggest impact! There are many organizations right here in the Atlanta metro area, existing throughout its various communities that are working to promote the sustainability of agriculture, farmers, producers, consumers, and healthy families, to name a few. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is one of these organizations. ARC works to secure metro Atlanta's future by providing world-class infrastructure, building a competitive economy and fostering healthy, livable communities. An example of this effort is their Green Communities Program. The Green Communities Program is a voluntary certification program that helps local governments implement measures that will reduce their environmental impact to create a greener, healthier and more livable region. GFMA’s very own Norcross Community Market, which is a 2018 member market, is a Green Community honoree with a platinum status, which is the highest status that can be earned within this program. GFMA was able to help Norcross upgrade to their platinum status from a gold status in January of 2016. Norcross was able to promote smart growth through its Conservation Subdivision Ordinance and its Livable Centers Initiative plans! To learn more about ARC and the Green Communities Program, visit their website here.

Policy comes in many shapes and sizes and exists at all levels of the government, presenting many avenues for people like you and me to get involved.  They can exist in the form of governmental departments, programs, initiatives, and legislative funding.  All have the potential to greatly impact various agricultural practices and many different communities.  We encourage you to visit the websites of these organizations and the websites of many of our partner organizations who are engaging in similar work. It is important to us that our community is informed and is able to understand the implications of various policies!


2017 Food for Thought Conference Recap

An Energizing Boost for Farmers, Producers and the Local Food Movement from the Georgia Farmers Market Association.
A Report by Laurie Wakefield, Gwinnett County Master Gardener
Photo Credit, Warren Cameron, 5 Acre Studios

At the end of 2017, the Georgia Farmers Market Association (GFMA) hosted its second
Food for Thought Conference. It was my privilege to help the association coordinate and promote the conference as well as the Celebration of Farmers and Local Producers that followed the conference on Friday evening.
Two hundred participants, including farmers, producers, and local food advocates, attended the two-day conference; enthusiasm was high and participants were eager to learn and share their own knowledge and experience.
Throughout the conference, I heard two common themes expressed: Keynote speakers’, presenters’ and attendee’s statements echoed their shared passion to impact and serve their communities by growing responsibly, raising awareness and improving local food systems. I also heard similar versions of the statement, “I learned over time, grew through my experience and my performance improved, here’s how...” All were generous with their time and eager to help one another.


Keynote speaker Ken Dawson said, “In addition to making our living, we must improve upon the land that supports us, teach younger growers to do the same, and feed the community in which we live.” Ken has been farming, selling at farmers markets and serving in leadership roles for these markets over 30 years. During his keynote session he shared photos and specific tips and techniques for selling produce at farmers markets that he has learned through the years. Following his presentation, Ken was an active participant in the conference.


Keynote speaker, Dr. Leni Sorensen, a culinary historian, teacher, consultant and writer, said her philosophy is “to pass on the stuff I know.” During her keynote, Leni shared entertaining stories and photos from her life while describing the rural life skills that she inherited and learned along the way. At one point during her presentation Leni asked for a show of hands, “how many of you have a cast iron pan?” then she replied, “I have 40.” In addition to her keynote session, Leni answered questions and coached attendees over lunch and an informal Q&A session.


Sessions on a variety of topics designed for farmers, homesteaders, market managers, and food advocates took place over two days. Presentations were made by a variety of leaders and experts including the University of Georgia faculty and members of the UGA Cooperative Extension, representatives from the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and various farmers and market managers! Powerful networking and idea sharing took place during lunches and between sessions, then extended into the celebration event on Friday evening.


The Celebration of Farmers and Local Producers followed the conference on Friday evening at the Hudgens Center for Art and Learning. Participants mingled among the artwork of Elizabeth Catlett, enjoyed live music by local independent soul jazz artist and farmer, AjaRay, and enjoyed delicious, locally produced cocktails and food, prepared by local chefs. 

A Note from the Executive Director: Fresh Stop Markets

Georgia Farmers Market Association Will Introduce Fresh Stop Markets to Support Local Farmers and Improve Equitable Food Access in Taliaferro County, Georgia

  Pictured Above: Sagdrina Jalal, Executive Director of GFMA and Karyn Moskowitz, Executive Director of New Roots, feeling the Fresh Stop Market love

Pictured Above: Sagdrina Jalal, Executive Director of GFMA and Karyn Moskowitz, Executive Director of New Roots, feeling the Fresh Stop Market love

Through partnerships with New Roots of Kentucky and leaders of Healthier Together Taliaferro, the Georgia Farmers Market Association will roll out the first Fresh Stop Market in Georgia

The Fresh Stop Market concept originated in Ohio and has been further developed since 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky by News Roots, Inc. under the leadership of Executive Director Karyn Moskowitz.  Based on the belief that fresh food is a basic human right, these community driven markets utilize cooperative economics: a philosophy and practice that includes pooling of resources, sharing of skills and taking care of one another. This overarching principal has increased sustainable food systems and improved fresh food access across Kentucky and southern Indiana with fourteen successful Fresh Stop Markets in communities in this region.

I was introduced to the Fresh Stop Market approach to food equity at Harvard University Law School’s Food Justice Forum in the early 2015. For the last three years, Karyn and I have been very intentional about getting to know each other as leaders as well as our respective organizations.  I have been so impressed by New Roots’ work and its incredible impact in Kentucky, and I am thrilled to bring this movement to Georgia. There is immense value in the financial opportunities that the markets provide for small scale farmers as well as their ability to improve food equity in their communities.

Fresh Stop Markets are community led, farm-fresh food markets set up at local faith-based institutions and community centers in fresh food insecure neighborhoods. The food is ordered and paid for in advance so that farmers are assured of their earnings. Within the model, shareholders pool their SNAP benefits and cash to purchase equal “shares” of local, fresh fruits and vegetables every other week for a 22-week market season. Families pay on an income-based sliding scale with everyone receiving a “share” of the same ten varieties of delicious, seasonal, fresh produce (enough to feed 2-3 people for two weeks).  I can’t imagine a better system than one that makes the highest quality food available in Georgia accessible to everyone.

Through Fresh Stop Markets, community members help farmers market their produce to their neighbors. This cooperation eliminates the risks that farmers sometimes face in traditional farmers market models, while also ensuring that all communities can have access to fresh, local, nutrient dense foods. Volunteer chefs are also on hand at Fresh Stop Markets to demo tasty and healthy ways to prepare the food.

“People in the community describe Fresh Stop Markets as welcoming and happy. They are like a family reunion where all five senses are engaged along with lots of laughter, food and fun. We have been eager to share and expand this concept to other states and we are delighted to work with Georgia Farmers Market Association to bring Fresh Stop Markets to Georgia.”  -Karyn Moskowitz

 Through a partnership with leaders of Healthier Together Taliaferro, GFMA will introduce a community-driven Fresh Stop Market to distribute local, farm-fresh food in Taliaferro County. With the right funding, we plan to establish additional markets in other Georgia locations in 2018.  A key first decision was to engage our member farmers to advise the GFMA staff as we develop Fresh Stop Markets in Georgia.  Leading this charge are two local farmers and GFMA board members, Musa Hasan and Gail Zorn.

“I believe in food equity and providing access to fresh food for all. I am proud to be a part of the team bringing Fresh Stop Markets to Georgia. I will participate as a farmer, community builder and an organizer of Fresh Stop Markets.” –Musa Hassan

You can learn more about the upcoming Fresh Stop Market in Taliferro and how to bring a Fresh Stop Market to your community here.

Interested in Joining this Good Food Movement?

On February 13, 2018, we will convene a group of farmers interested in helping us build the model. Please email me at sagdrina@mygeorgiamarket.org for more information.

Farmers Market Funding Opportunity - DEKALB COUNTY

Attention DeKalb County GFMA Member Farmers Markets:

Please review the funding opportunity outlined below. GFMA is happy to provide support in the application process for any of our eligible DeKalb County member markets. Please contact programs@mygeorgiamarket.org for partnership possibilities related to this funding.

Funding Opportunity

DeKalb County Board of Health (DCBOH), with funding made available by the CDC, is pleased to announce the availability of grant funding to qualified farmers markets in DeKalb County, Georgia. Selected farmers markets will receive limited funding to support the implementation of a farmers market with DCBOH.

To be considered for funding, the awarded responder must already have an existing farmers market and be willing to extend services to target population. Contingent upon the availability of funding and the performance of the grant awardees, the award period terms are considered as follows: 

·       Award period term:  Beginning upon contract execution through September 14, 2018

Please download the application packet for further details and instructions for applying.

Responses are due no later than Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 10:00.

All questions MUST be in writing and sent via email to Edward.Prime@dph.ga.gov . No telephone inquiries will be received.

News Release
Celebration Graphic.png


Georgia Farmers Market Association to Present a Q&A with Jon Jackson, Veteran, Farmer, and Comfort Farms Founder at the Celebration of Local Farmers and Food Producers

Locally produced food, prepared by local chefs will be featured On December 1, 2017
at the event hosted by the Hudgens Center for Art and Learning and the
Georgia Farmers Market Association

November 13, 2017, Atlanta, Georgia: Upon arrival, attendees will sample cocktails and local food. As they mingle among the artwork of Elizabeth Catlett, including her famous piece, “Sharecropper," they’ll hear music by local food producer and soul singer, Aja Ray. Rohit Malhotra, Executive Director and Founder of Atlanta's Center for Civic Innovation, will be the master of ceremonies and interview Jon Jackson about his military history, the program at Comfort Farms, and his passion for helping other veterans recover through Agrotherapy.

Roasted pork from heritage hogs, raised by Jackson and his team at Comfort Farms will be part of the menu of locally sourced food, along with delicious vegetarian and vegan small bites, local beer and cocktails served by local chefs.

Jackson, an Army veteran, served six deployments and fought with the Rangers in Afghanistan. He himself suffered a traumatic brain injury before returning to his own farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, where he began to heal. He founded the nonprofit, STAG Vets, a veterans acute crisis program which includes the healing farm for veterans, Comfort Farms.

This event is designed to acknowledge, celebrate and raise awareness of the important work of local farmers and producers. Proceeds will fund Georgia Farmers Market Association programs that strengthen farmers markets and support local producers. These programs impact individuals and entire communities by helping to grow healthier food systems and improving equitable food access.

The celebration will feature local food and beverages prepared by local chefs including:

Roasted pork from heritage hogs, raised on Comfort Farms
Prepared by Hector Santiago of El Super Pan Latino Sandwiches & Bar

Matthew Raiford- Strong Roots Provisions

Hilary White- Bistro Hilary

Jenn Robbins- Good Food Kitchen

Nick Leahy- Saltyard

Woolery Back- Table & Main | a southern tavern

Monday Night Brewing

 Signature kombucha and shrub cocktails crafted by Sage's Larder

Independent Distilling Co , LLC. spirits

The 2018 Farmer Fund Calendar will be released at this celebration.

Founded in 2015, The Farmer Fund produces an annual calendar that celebrates Georgia farmers to raise funds that help keep them farming through natural disasters. Jon Jackson and Matthew Raiford, chef and farmer of The Farmer and the Larder, appear on the cover of the 2018 calendar.

“Such beautiful and relevant art, delicious food, and wonderful people will make this a spectacular and memorable event,” said Sagdrina Jalal, Executive Director, Georgia Farmers Market Association. “We can’t wait to join these chefs, food producers and local food advocates to recognize the importance of their work. What could be better than celebrating those who feed Georgia?”


Ticket sales for the Celebration of Local Farmers and Food Producers are open to the public and may be purchased through the Georgia Farmers Market Association. Tickets are $60 for association members and $70 for non-members. www.eventbrite.com/e/celebration-of-farmers-and-local-producers-tickets-39550878743

About the Food for Thought Conference

Additional information about the Food for Thought Conference, links to register and purchase tickets for the Celebration of Local Food Producers can be found on the GFMA website www.mygeorgiamarket.org/food-for-thought-conference-2017. 

About Comfort Farms - STAG VETS INC

STAG VETS INC created the nations first Acute Veterans Crisis Agriculture center named (Comfort Farms), named in Honor of Army Ranger Captain Kyle A. Comfort, (KIA, May 8, 2010). Its location currently prepares veterans and students for careers in sustainable food production that integrates economic profitability, environmental stewardship, and healing through the use of Agri-therapy and time-tested natural approaches.

The facility will also serve veterans in acute situations where time and help are of the essence. Featuring a short-term stay lodge that can provide rooms for up to two veterans or one family Comfort Farms is building the resources to offer shelter and therapy that allows veterans to regain strength and re-boot for everyday life and a fulfilling future.

About the Hudgens Center for Art and Learning

The Hudgens Center for Art & Learning is a non-profit organization that has been focused on the arts since its establishment in 1981. The Hudgens’ mission is to bring art lovers, leaders and learners together through quality programs and exhibits. That mission is accomplished through visual arts initiatives, such as year round fine art exhibits and classes for all ages, and community arts initiatives, which reach out to underserved populations.

The Hudgens Center for the Arts is located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Bldg. 300, in Duluth, in the Infinite Energy Center complex. For more information about art exhibitions, events and classes at The Hudgens, please visit the website at www.thehudgens.org or call 770-623-6002.

About the Georgia Farmers Market Association (GFMA)

GFMA is an association of farmers markets, producers and farmers, community organizations, and local food advocates. Members believe that farmers markets can be vital community building, economy bolstering organizations that grow local, healthy food systems and improve equitable food access. The association hosts the annual Food for Thought Conference and works to promote and support community-based farmers markets through its membership, consulting and education programs.