Farm tours are the best way to learn about farming so I had a chance to do a second farm tour at the Georgia Organics Farm Rx 2013 Conference. The first tour stop was the Umurima, The Burundi Women’s Farm which was truly enlightening and inspirational experience. Then second stop is Decatur’s Kitchen Garden at the United Methodist Children’s Home. This facility is a Global Growers Project which offers market garden plots to more than 30 community producers, primarily from the nearby international refugee community. Community producers come from cultures that include Nepali Bhutanese, Burmese Chin, Burmese Karen, and Burmese Zomi, and share their unique growing traditions and specialty crops in this 1.5 -acre garden and reclaimed fruit orchard. Many of the refugees did not know how to do anything but farm when they arrived to America. They had faced genocide or lived for years in refugee camps in their native countries. When they arrive in the United States, they are often bewildered by the interstates and fast food lifestyle of metro Atlanta. The Global Growers Network gave the refugees a comfort zone and provides a chance for them to make money and learn new skills and the American way of farming.
“This market garden is designed to foster community, offer education about healthy food traditions and growing practices and enhance biodiversity through cutting-edge sustainable resource management.” Quote from Global Growers Project
The Decatur’s Kitchen Garden has a demonstration garden and a small orchard on the United Methodist Children’s Home grounds. We had a chance during the tour to see the each gardeners garden plots and the types of foods that were being grown there. This garden is located in the back of the sprawling grounds of the United Methodist Children’s Home next to a lake where the farmers use their specialized green friendly irrigation system. As we traveled through the muddy dirt path we had noticed that each farmer has their own plot which is tagged with the farmer’s name, their community location and language background. The Farmers are allowed to plant their native countries fruits and vegetables on these plots and then have the chance to sell their produce to the local farmers markets and at the United Methodist Children’s Home. The Decatur’s Kitchen Garden successful cost effective format is based on having a self-sustaining green living garden. The Farmers everything from the garden and there is no such thing waste here. They use the different bins labeled as Compost, Landfill and Recycle and everything if possible is being reused for the land, for profit from the landfills or made as a gift for sale.
One of the items that were for sale was the baskets that were made from the wide spread grown problem weed called Kudzu. Some of the Bhutaneses people basket weavers would take Kudzu, bamboo, local vine and made a distinctive beautiful basket.
Another thing that the Farmers will do is to offset the cost by volunteering time with the Global Growers Network as part of the farmer’s teaching training program. The Global Growers Network (GGN) does not charge any refugee farmer for their plots but a portion of the monies of the produce sold does go back to GGN programs.
Immediately following the second tour, The Spotted Trotter held a open house tasting of their cheese and cured, salted, and smoked meats. It is a boutique charcuterie owned and operated by Kevin and Megan Outzs. They work with local producers, like the Global Growers Network to ensure humane-treatment and sustainable practices are used in the production of all of their ingredients. All of the food from the The Spotted Trotter was very delicious and tasty.
I truly had a great time at all of the the Georgia Organics Cultural Farm Tours. I embrace all of these farmers styles of gardening and their love for the Decatur, Georgia Communities. Since being on these Farm Tours I have now open my mind up to the green way of living and trying culturally diverse organic foods. So the next time you decided to come to a Georgia Organics Farm Rx Conference make sure you do a Farm Tour and be open to a new way of farming! Click here for more photos of the Cultural Farm Tours.