Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group          |          June 2017
2016 Appalachian  Grown Producer Survey Findings

ASAP's 2016 Appalachia Grown (AG) Producer Survey report contains the findings from the recent survey and a comparison of survey results from over the last four years. For instance, in 2016 a pproximately half of AG farmers are new or beginning farmers: 46% of farmers have been farming for 10 years or less compared to the national average of 25%.

Farmers reported that customers recognize and look for the Appalachian Grown logo. One farmer said,  "The AG program helps market our produce by providing customers a label that they can trust is backed by value, Appalachian heritage, and most importantly a local farm."
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Chunda Feng (right) shows spinach in a disease resistance study to Ainong Shi (left) and Jim Correll. Photo courtesy of U of A System Division of Agriculture.
Arkansas Scientists Use Genetic Tools to Help U.S. Spinach Producers Meet Growing Demand 

By Fred Miller, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

"We are developing new strategies for breeding spinach varieties with durable resistance to ensure long-term disease control," said Ainong Shi, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

Shi said the goal of the research is to use advanced genetic tools to more efficiently develop improved spinach varieties through conventional breeding methods. The result would be plants with multiple means of defense against downy mildew, caused by the pathogen Peronospora effusa.

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Four Georgia Nonprofits Receive $1.45 Million to Help Georgia's Youngest Children Eat Farm-Fresh Food

Through a new national investment, four partner organizations are launching an effort to promote access to local, healthy foods for young children in Georgia's early learning environments. The statewide  initiative will offer hands-on education in nutrition, cooking, gardening and promotion of local, fresh foods in early care and education programs. Together, the partners will expand healthy food access for Georgia's most vulnerable children by encouraging family engagement, helping children learn where their food comes from, and expanding opportunities for local farmers to sell fresh foods to early care and education programs.  The project builds upon Georgia's successful farm to school movement. 

Photograph by Ethan Payne
Leveling the Field for Family Farms 

By Jodi Cash, The Bitter Southerner

If you say you like "farm-to-table," you better understand exactly what you're asking for, because your demand for those crops doesn't necessarily mean money in the pockets of farmers. But there are lessons to learn from the Berry family of Henry County, Kentucky. John M. Berry Jr. built the co-op that allowed tobacco farmers-- and their rural communities-- to prosper for 60 years. The writings of his brother, Wendell, have become the agricultural bibles of food activists around the world. Now, Wendell's daughter, Mary, leads the work of the Berry Institute, which just might have the right prescription to restore farming communities in the South.

Pasture Rental Rates by County in the United States 

By Kathy Voth,  On Pasture

"Pasture lease rates" is one of the searches most often used at On Pasture's website. The staff has published a lot of articles on how to determine rental rates and how to write up a lease agreement. But for those who would still like to see a number to give you a starting point, On Pasture has compiled a chart of annual rental rates by county from data collected the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service This information comes from a county level "Cash Rents Survey" conducted every other year in all states, except Alaska.

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Ode to the Flower Farmer

By Libby Outlaw

In honor of 35 years as a flower farmer, Libby created four beautiful art installations from last year's blooms. This ode is dedicated to all of today's flower farmers and all of the flower farmers to come. 
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Seeking Conference Coordinator 

Southern SAWG is seeking an experienced conference coordinator to manage and carry out the 2018 Southern SAWG Conference to be held in Chattanooga, TN. This is a contract position for part-time work to be performed over a period of eight months from July, 2017 through February, 2018. Application deadline is June 21, 2017, by close of business day. Potential for a longer term contract or staff position with Southern SAWG is possible depending on contract performance.

Submit Agenda Ideas for Next PCAN Call

Our  next Policy Collaborative Action Network call is July 18, 2017. We'd like to hear from you on agenda topics. Have a burning concern you would like to share? Want to know what others are doing to meet their local officials? Want to share what you are doing in your community? We want to hear from you! Please submit your thoughts, ideas and concerns today, June 15, 2017, by emailing We will do our best to have someone on the call who can help address your issue. Look for a final agenda and call registration information in early July! Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.
Our Mission

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's mission is to empower and inspire farmers, individuals, and communities in the South to create an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Because sustainable solutions depend on the involvement of the entire community, Southern SAWG is committed to including all persons in the South without bias.
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