The Cooperative Extension of Carroll and Haralson Counties, Carroll County Young Farmers, and Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D presented a two day conference for small farms at West Georgia Technical College (WGTC) Feb. 26-27. The West Georgia Small Farm Conference was held to give beginning producers the opportunity to learn from current experts and experienced farmers in the industry.
The conference took place in the Murphy Conference Room at WGTC with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 26. Paula Burke from UGA Extension kickstarted the event at 10 a.m. with a welcome alongside Ryan Ayers, Chapter Advisor of the Carroll County Young Farmers Association and Frank Riley, the Executive Director at Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D.
“I value the opportunity to work with beginning producers that are excited about the opportunity to feed our community, state and country,” Ayers said.
While educating attendees on the importance of small farm production within the community, the event also served as an important networking opportunity.
“The community benefits economically by its citizens becoming more effective and productive. More critically, the community values the security and improved value of locally grown food,” Ayers continued.
Following the welcome on the first day, the general session began at 10:30 a.m. and covered a program on soil with Stewart Proctor and NRCS Georgia. After this session, lunch began at 11:30 a.m. and included updates from FSA, NRCS, and UGA Extension.
After, a breakout session was held covering three vital topics to success in farming. The first was the subject of honeybees and pollinators with Jennifer Berry from the UGA Honey Lab. The second was small ruminant production with Dr. Nicky Whitley from Fort Valley State University.
Lastly, Bryan Hager from Crager-Hager Farm ended the session with the topic of vegetable crop scheduling. Time was allotted for attendees checking into hotels for the night at 4 p.m. Dinner proceeded at 5:30 p.m., and the event ended the night with keynote speaker, Todd Anduze, the Area Director of the Small Business Development Center at UGA.
Day two began with breakfast followed by the general session at 8:30 a.m. which covered marketing your farm business with Todd Anduze. At 10 a.m. the breakout session for day two consisted of three more topics vital to farming success from experts at UGA Extension. Bob Westerfield began the session with a presentation on vegetable pests. Dr. Michael Mengak, also from UGA Extension, continued the session by presenting on nuisance animals. Lastly, Gary Hawkins concluded the session presenting on irrigation. After lunch at 11:30 a.m. the conference ended with a tour to three local farms. The first stop was Brian Heatherington’s Fruit Tree and Vegetable Farm. The second was Bruce Cross’ Trillium Vineyards to see wine grapes. The final destination of this session was White Hawk Ranch to observe pastures and rotational grazing.