Producing Excellence shares compelling stories of American farmers and ranchers, both newcomers to agriculture and producers who span generations. Their stories are as diverse as agriculture itself, so we’ve created several ways for you to navigate:
Products Raised or Grown: Produce and flowers
Size of Operation: 70 acres
Years in Business: 5
Farm Credit Partner: AgGeorgia Farm Credit
Years Working with Farm Credit: 3
Fifteen years ago, Scott Edwards was a builder with a desire to get his hands in the dirt. More specifically, he wanted to grow produce organically and sell it locally, part of a growing trend in agriculture.
He and his wife, Ginni, had already purchased 40 acres of land, not much of which was initially suitable for farming. Through kind stewardship of the land, extensive composting and a lot of hard work, Fertile Crescent Farm and Gardens is today a Certified Naturally Grown farm that provides organically grown vegetables and flowers to northeast Georgia. “Our goal is to be organic, and we feel that’s the best way to grow food—organically and for the local market,” says Scott. “But I’m enough of a realist to know that to feed the world you’ve got to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers on large-scale operations.”
Fertile Crescent Farm produced 3,500 pounds of food on a 1-acre plot this past spring. Some of this was sold at the local farmers' market, the rest went to members of a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. Members of the CSA pay up-front for a weekly supply of freshly harvested vegetables during the farm’s 8-10 week growing season. “The CSA enables people to eat seasonally. We feel good about selling to our neighbors,” says Scott. “And they like buying from us, they like knowing that ‘Farmer Scottie’ grew this food.”
Five years ago, the farm expanded with the purchase of 30 acres adjoining their property. After clearing and restoring the land, a major undertaking, the Edwards planted flowers, also grown organically and sold locally. In addition to the farmers' market, the flowers are sold to several local restaurants and are available for special events. Plans are now in the works to build a facility in which to host consultations about flower designs – while the Edwards sell flowers in bulk, Ginni is also available to create arrangements, bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres.
Scott would like for the farm to be a source of education. They’ve already had school groups up through college level visit the farm and have participated in several area farm tours. “We want to share our passion for farming and for sustainability,” says Scott. To do that, the couple plans to continue improving the farm and infrastructure, creating an operation that people will be interested in visiting.
The Edwards are optimistic about the future of this agricultural niche. “The market for organic, locally produced, and naturally-grown foods is growing,” says Scott. “I know that as much as we can grow, we can sell.”