Farmer of the Month is a Farm To School platform that applauds the local farmers who are growing fresh, nutritious produce for Habersham County students. Wide Bottom Farm, with land in the North and South ends of Habersham County, is the Farmer of the Month for September.
Wide Bottom Farm derives its name from the flat, bottomlands where Habersham County creeks often overflow creating an influx of rich, dark, sandy soil perfect for crop production. Bottomlands have been sought-out by generations of farmers as the perfect areas for growing the best variety of produce. Two families and three generations work together to plant, harvest and process a variety of vegetables and fruits for Wide Bottom Farm. They use traditional farming techniques such as small tractors, walk behind tillers, hand held hoes and sweat to plant, weed and pick the produce.
Though not totally organic, the farmers of Wide Bottom Farm use best practices to be as earth-friendly as possible. James and Phillip Franklin, lead farmers, take pride in the quality and taste of their produce. “What we don’t sell we can and put-up for enjoying ourselves during the winter months” said James. “One of our goals is to add more heritage seeds to keep the old varieties alive and be able to save seeds after harvest for replanting future gardens.” Carey Madigan, a member of the Kollock family justifies their techniques by saying, “Being a farmer is not easy, laboring in the fields is hard, hot work, but once you have the first bite of a summer tomato or enjoy the sweetness of a fresh ear of corn, it makes it all worthwhile.”
The duo farm families, the Franklins and the Kollocks, farm 15 acres of land producing 3 to 4 varieties of corn, half-runner beans, field peas, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, okra, strawberries, melons and pumpkins. Their typical farming day includes planting, hoeing and picking. “We like to start early and break once the heat of the day sets in,” explains James. Wide Bottom Farm’s produce can be found at local farmers markets, and it is sold directly to individuals by contacting James Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are proud to be one of the Farm to School farmers. The students in the schools should be able to eat produce that is grown in local soil. It’s important, when available, to give our children good, healthy produce with the knowledge of where what they are eating came from and that it can be produced right in your backyard,” states Phillip.
Thanks to the grant funding from Northeast Georgia Food Bank and Georgia Organic’s Farm To School program, the Habersham County School’s Farm To School pilot program at Wilbanks Middle School will serve as a model for the rest of the state. The pilot model incorporates food and nutrition education into the classroom, integrates gardens in the school environment, and brings local food into the cafeteria while working in partnership with the community and local farms.
Habersham Farm to School September Events
September 4 – F2S leadership meeting, Wilbanks Middle 3:30 pm
September 9 – Farm to School Presentation to Board of Education by Student Ambassadors
September 16 – Cafeteria Staff Training: Whole Wheat and Cornmeal from Sylvan Falls Mill
September 24 – Northeast Georgia Nutrition Directors Meeting
September 27 – Farm to School Ambassadors tour Chattooga Belle Farm
September 30 – Farm to School Taste Test – Students will meet farmers from Wide Bottom Farms, taste their produce and vote with their taste buds.