One of the regular article features in each issue of Southern Soil is Table Talk. In those articles, I have conversations with individuals involved in the local food system to discuss issues related to sustainability and how we can do better. I provide their perspectives for readers to view, but I keep my own side of the conversation out of it. In this blog, I’ll be addressing those issues myself… so, in effect I’m going to have a conversation with myself and share my perspective on these issues! Talking to oneself is normal, right?
The holidays are nearly upon us! Soon we will be gathering together with friends and family and the food on our tables will take center stage. What better time is there to make sure that food is as healthy, delicious and responsibly sourced as possible? Learn some of the benefits of pasture-raised turkeys and where you can buy a fresh one near you here in Southeast Georgia.
Our third issue of Southern Soil has made its way out into the world. I hope you'll take a few minutes to check it out!
I have to admit that I love to hold books and magazines in my hands! You know, the old fashioned ones that are made of paper, not e-readers, smart devices and computer screens. Print material can be experienced with all the senses: you can feel, touch and smell the pages ... most of us probably choose not to taste them!
So, it's with some measure of regret each time I publish an issue of Southern Soil, that I can't pick it up and hold it and flip through pages (I have a weird habit of reading magazines from back to front).
But I will say that the platform we use for this magazine, www.issuu.com, does a really great job making the best of a digital product.
They are making lots of changes and updates which make using and viewing publications on their platform much more appealing. For instance: this was the first issue I was able to use their story creator to improve the layout so individual stories from within the magazine can much more easily be read and enjoyed on smart phones and tablets.
So, I'd like to quickly walk you through the process of viewing the magazine online and point out some features that you might have missed ... or you're just way better with technology than I am!
I want to take a moment to brag on our wonderful regular feature contributors, Jovan Sage, Rebekah Lingenfelser and Jon Jackson. Not only do they bring their own unique perspectives to Southern Soil, but they are all ardent pursuers of their own dreams. With so many fantastic things going on with them individually, I wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about what they're up to.
Jovan Sage has been growing her brand Sage's Larder, based out of Brunswick. She has a growing product line of jams, teas and more. She also offers classes to teach about fermentation, making your own kombucha, She also has custom blends of teas as part of the Peach Dish array of local products. Follow her Facebook page to find out when the next class might be! Jovan is passionate about local foods and has a great deal of experience with food activism and community organization. Along with her own business, Jovan also owns The Farmer and the Larder along with life and business partner Matthew Raiford. Located in downtown Brunswick, The Farmer and Larder is woven into the fabric of the local community.
Rebekah Lingenfelser and her brand Some Kinda Good have been making a splash lately. Rebekah is one of the top 10 competitors on Food Network Star. Though she was eliminated in the third episode, we are incredibly proud of her for chasing down her dream of hosting her own cooking show. All hope is not lost as there are always twists and turns throughout the competition. And you can still vote for her as a fan favorite, voting can be done daily!
Jon Jackson is always up to something new with his nonprofit StagVets and Comfort Farms, stay up to date by following his Facebook page. One of his current projects involves a documentary about Comfort Farms. You can learn more about this film and how you can help make it a reality on their Facebook page.
Comfort Farms: The Movie is a documentary film about one of the most interesting transformational veteran run therapy programs in the country where veterans serve self, family and community. Interviews with veterans, people in the community, therapists, volunteers, farmers, and chefs will show how far Comfort Farms has come in just over 2 years of existence. By helping fund this film, it will be shown at film festivals and possibly distributed for broadcast. Expect an exciting, suspenseful dramatic documentary that really puts the audience in the shoes of its subject.
In the process of researching and writing many of the stories included in Southern Soil, it is my privilege to meet people who don't just follow their dreams, they pursue them relentlessly with dedication and perseverance.
Nothing beats hands-on learning, especially in the garden.
I'm an avid researcher and I like to think that I can learn a lot about plants and how to grow them by reading a million blog posts from homesteaders, a couple articles by professionals and watching a Youtube video or two.
Also, as a writer, I'd like to think that the written word has the power to teach me what I need to know.
But when it comes to gardening, there's just nothing quite like seeing and experiencing things first-hand and by just getting in there and doing.
Case in point, I planted blackberries a few years ago, a semi-upright variety and I have read and researched everything out there on how to properly prune the vines. And it completely stressed me out because everyone threw terms out there like "second year" canes and fruiting canes and having never seen the cycles for myself, I had no idea what I was supposed to prune and what I was supposed to leave behind.
Not knowing what to cut and what to leave, I just left everything.
This year, my vines produced fruit amazingly well.
And miracle of miracles, new canes emerged! Almost as if overnight these massive upright canes presented themselves just in front of the older canes that were currently bearing fruit.
And that's when all those hours of reading and watching videos and trying to figure out what the heck everyone was talking about suddenly made sense!
Of course, I still think books are great, blogs are wonderful (can anyone doubt it?), and magazines are fabulous! But nothing compares to real-world application!
If you're like me and you like to research and know a little of what you're getting into before you dive right in, that's great ... I highly encourage you to continue! But at some point, dive in there. Make mistakes. Learn from nature. Get your hands dirty. Make those cuts, don't make those cuts, learn from the consequences. Gardening is hands on and you'll never learn more than you will through experience.
As many of you know, starting a new business from scratch isn't easy and there are lots of ups and downs along the way.
Southern Soil, unbeknownst to me, has been in the works for the past 11 years. From those early days of making changes in my own shopping habits, to the launching of my first blog, Facing Your Food, which was read only by myself and a few friends, to an unexpected job in newspaper writing and forays into marketing and social media management.
I rarely take the direct route.
If you've ever started your own business or have ventured into the realm of the self-employed, then you understand that one has to expect the unexpected, learn new skills on a daily basis, learn to fly high without a safety net, and rely on a select few to help you through it all.
I am so grateful for the friends and family who have helped me throughout this process as the dream is becoming a reality.
And as the exhilaration of completing our first issue moves into the realization that the hard work has just begun, I look forward to this journey and the places it will take me and the people I will meet.
Whenever it can all feel a bit overwhelming, I remind myself why this work matters.
It matters because the animals raised to be our food need to be treated with dignity, respect and in a humane fashion.
It matters because the people who dedicate their lives to growing and raising our food ethically need to be supported.
It matters because the very earth that feeds, clothes and homes us is suffering and we need to heed its cries for help.
It matters because the path to better health is found through nutritious, wholesome, responsibly grown food that is available here in our own communities.
It matters because here in Southeast Georgia we need to support the businesses that keep our money close to home and improve our local economies.
It matters because all these things need a voice and a platform from which to be heard.
It matters because 11 years ago, I realized that I was meant to be one of those voices and that I would not be able to be silent.
My name is LeeAnna Tatum and I’m the editor and publisher of Southern Soil. This magazine is born not only out of my passion for sustainably produced food, but also to fill a void that I found frustrating from a consumer standpoint.
I love to read articles about homesteading, permaculture, farm-to-table restaurants and inspiring stories about people who were on a similar path as my own. What I found frustrating was that these people and most of the businesses and restaurants that I would read about were located miles from where I live… and eat.