Georgia Grown is a statewide program that allows new and established agribusinesses to grow and thrive by bringing producers and consumers together. Local producers can add their businesses to a statewide, searchable list, which gives their business exposure to potential customers, suppliers, and partners. By supporting Georgia’s local businesses, we can build our small communities and boost our economies.
Sarah Cook, director of domestic trade for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, said Georgia Grown is part of the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s marketing division. Georgia Grown’s mission is to promote products that are grown and processed in the state of Georgia. Initially, Georgia Grown products were only promoted to Georgia residents, but Cook said the program has now expanded, and Georgia Grown products are being sold throughout the U.S. and globally.
In August of 2019, the Donaldson Dining Hall at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) became the first college dining hall in the state to partner with Georgia Grown.
Cook said the vision for the partnership came from Dr. David Bridges, president of ABAC and director of Georgia’s Rural Center. ABAC is an economic driver of South Georgia with an annual economic impact of $584,544,166 on the region.
As a Georgia Rural Center endeavor, the project came to life by bringing locally grown products such as produce, dairy products, and proteins to ABAC. Bridges said the school can have a more significant and positive impact on the agricultural industry of Georgia.
Cook said President Bridges decided to support as many local agribusinesses for the dining hall as he possibly could before having to look for out-of-state producers. The Georgia Grown team has worked closely with the ABAC staff to help with sourcing and making connections with local farmers. As a part of the project, the dining hall received a new look to reflect the Georgia Grown connection and educated students and visitors where their food came from in Georgia.
Only time will tell if other colleges and universities in Georgia will be following in ABAC’s footsteps and partner with Georgia Grown. ABAC has become a trailblazer by showing that its model is successful. So, ABAC students, next time you eat your meal in the dining hall remember that something on your plate started at a farm in Georgia.