"We Are Farmers" Learning Table

More than 75 farmers and organizations that support farmers joined Food Well Alliance on Thursday, October 13 for a community-based conversation and fellowship over a meal of locally produced food called “We Are Farmers”. Gatherings like this help us to unearth critical information that shapes our activities and gives the roots of Atlanta’s Local Food Movement a voice in where we allocate time and money to solve the hard issues.

Resources from "We Are Farmers"

Bobbi de Winter, Food Well Alliance’s executive director, kicked off the evening by communicating why these convenings are so important and how they tie to our mission. “Learning tables, like this one, bring the community together to build consensus,” said de Winter, “provide an opportunity to connect better with organizations vital for pulling resources to support our local food movement.”

Some key themes from the event include:

  • Resource Constraints — for many farmers, time, money and qualified workers are often limited, impacting their ability to scale up

  • Marketing and Communications — often farmers do not have full-time staff devoted to customer and community outreach to grow their audience and demand for their production

  • Value Proposition — Because big box stores use the same language as smaller farmers, the message has become diluted and customers need to be educated on the value of locally grown, smaller production produce

  • Regulatory Requirements — It can be difficult to understand all of the requirements at various stages of scaling and due to time constraints or lack of knowledge, farmers are struggling to understand these limitation and requirements

  • Scaling Down — Supporting organizations, like the UGA Extension, are perceived as offering resources for farmers who may already be operating at a larger scale, and these resources do not always seem applicable for smaller scale farming operations

  • Building Consensus — For supporting organizations, a lack of collaboration impedes efforts to support farmers in scaling up and providing appropriate resources to assist with this

  • Lack of Business Knowledge — Many of the farmers and supporting organizations who are part of the movement are small scale and don’t necessarily have the expertise or bandwidth to understand how to scale up

See blog post for more details about the evening.