Back in May, I had the opportunity to go on a Culinary Tour of South and Coastal Georgia that was put on by Georgia Grown. The event was held to highlight the wonderful array of produce that comes out of this part of the State and to bring it to the attention of food writers, bloggers, editors and members of the press.
I was honored to be included and it was a wonderful experience to get to tour my own neighborhood, if you will, in this way. The tour included both conventional and organic growers with stops at Service Brewing Company, The Salt Table and Pacci’s Italian Kitchen, as well.
I enjoyed being able to experience our local communities through the eyes of a group of visitors, it really gave me an even greater appreciation for what we have to offer. It was three full days of eating delicious meals prepared by talented chefs and being completely overwhelmed by the bounty of produce that Southeast Georgia has to offer.
From relatively new crops like olives and citrus to old standbys like blueberries and onions, Southeast Georgia is truly a cornucopia of produce.
Of course, it wasn’t all that surprising to me - this is what I do. I’m out there everyday learning about local farms, local foods and the people who grow and prepare them. So, it was awesome to run into some old friends and to make a few new ones too!
It was also somewhat fortuitous that this event happened prior to publication of this particular issue of Southern Soil. In this issue, we will focus on agritourism and ways that our local agriculture and tourism can and do come together.
This is a time when people have a growing curiosity about where their food is coming from and the process through which it is handled. More people are beginning to question the ethics of confined animal operations and the treatment of animals raised for meat in conventional facilities. More people are becoming aware of the dangers to our health and our environment with the overuse of chemicals in conventional agriculture. This shift in mindset and growing awareness of consumers is an important opportunity for our community of mindful producers.
It’s a great time to find ways to invite the public in to the process and create meaningful interactions between consumers and producers and to give people the opportunity to connect with their food sources.
One of the stops on our culinary tour was in Metter. The City of Metter has recently partnered with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to create what they are calling a “Georgia Grown Community”, highlighting the town’s rural nature and strong agricultural ties and promoting that as a reason to visit and as an asset for new businesses.
We have such a fantastic base of agricultural infrastructure right here and such great natural resources, climate and soils to work with. I truly believe that with strong leadership and consumer support, Southeast Georgia can become a leader in sustainable food production. I’m really excited to see what all we can accomplish and where we can go from here!
In this issue, you’ll get to learn about a thriving clam farming operation off the coast. Yes, you read that right. Clams are being farmed off the coast of Georgia. Captain Charlie not only farms clams, but he also runs a number of commercial fishing boats and owns the Fish Dock Bar and Grill, a restaurant located on Pelican Point where diners can enjoy a seriously good sea-to-table experience.
Contributing writer Patrick Holladay will help explain exactly what agritourism is and also tells about the newly formed Hwy 17 Georgia Grown Trail.
Kirsten Breau shares her experience with some of the local craft breweries in Savannah and ways in which they endeavor to support local and embrace sustainability.
And of course, our regular features: Rebekah shares with us her Some Kinda Good recipe for using fresh Georgia shrimp, and the Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society gives us some insight into the palmetto plant.