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Appalachian Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour Highlights Food Businesses, Agriculture Entrepreneurship in Georgia

May 2013


ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Georgia state and local economic development officials visited a series of local farms and food producers in Appalachian Georgia May 9–10 as part of ARC's ongoing Appalachian Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour. Launched at the March 20 Appalachia Funders Network Conference, the tour highlights the potential of local food systems to create economic opportunity and grow jobs in the Appalachian Region. The tour will showcase successful food entrepreneurs and businesses, and community efforts to support the development of local food systems.

The Georgia leg of the tour included visits to the Shields-Etheridge Farm in Jefferson, an agricultural museum and working farm; Nature's Harmony Farm in Elberton, an award-winning artisanal cheese farm; Jaemor Farms in Lula, a family-owned business that is incorporating agritourism into its operations; and Mountain Fresh Creamery in Clermont. At each stop, officials learned about the businesses' operations, economic impact, and efforts to expand and diversify as part of the local food system. A visit to Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge on May 10 also featured a presentation on the development of an ARC-supported survey of opportunities related to the local food economy in north Georgia.

The Georgia tour participants included members of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, and the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission; other state employees; and an agribusiness economist with the University of Georgia's Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

The ARC Jobs and Local Food Systems Tour will continue in May with a focus on local food systems in Alabama and West Virginia.