Georgia County Agritourism Guide Connecting Area Farmers/Visitors
MADISON, Georgia – An educational and marketing effort, supported by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) grant, is making it easier for residents and visitors to reconnect with the land in one Georgia county.
Through a $10,000 Southern SARE Sustainable Community Innovation Grant, the Madison-Morgan Conservancy in Madison, Ga., has developed FARMeander™-- a guide to the area’s farms, festivals, historic places and inns.
Christine McCauley, executive director of the Madison-Morgan Conservancy, said FARMeander was created to promote agritourism and support the local food movement by connecting area farmers with potential customers.
“The mission of the Conservancy is to provide education and protect our special places in Morgan County,” said McCauley. “Through FARMeander we want to insure the future of our farming roots by offering ways for the community to support agritourism, organic production and local foods.”
FARMeander is part of the organization’s larger Farm to Market Alliance project, intended to support the marketing and transportation of local food from the farm to the market. McCauley said the response to FARMeander has been overwhelming.
“We launched the FARMeander guide in March. We printed 10,000 hard copies and have already distributed 8,000,” said McCauley. “We are seeing increased interest from visitors coming from more urban areas, like Atlanta and Athens.”
To date 22 entities in and around Morgan County have invested in FARMeander, but it wasn’t easy bringing the people and the resources together, said McCauley.
“It takes a lot of time and a lot of resources to bring everything together, and that’s what the Southern SARE grant was used for,” said McCauley. “But the rewards so far have been great. It’s been really rewarding to see the educational opportunities come out of a farm to table project.”
As a result of the preliminary success of FARMeander, organizers are in the process of creating two additional guides: FARMeander East, which will cover Morgan, Newton, Walton, Jasper, Green, Oconee, Putnam and Clarke counties, and FARMeander West, which will cover Carroll County initially.
In addition to the FARMeander guides, the Farm to Market Alliance project also consists of educational forums designed to promote agritourism and support land conservation.
The next educational forum, a Conservation Easement Workshop, is scheduled for August 25 at Burge Plantation in Newton County. The workshop will help further the goal of the Madison-Morgan Conservancy of protecting 2,500 acres of land by 2015 in Morgan County.
Access the Farm to Market Alliance project (CS10-080) on the SARE national database.
Log on to http://mmcgeorgia.org to learn more about the Madison-Morgan Conservancy.
Sustainable Community Innovation Grants blend sustainable ag practices with community development strategies to increase and support farms, businesses, families and communities. Read to learn more about Sustainable Community Innovation Grants and how to apply.
Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region.