Southern Farmers Collaborative Group, Albany, GA
Southern Farmers Collaborative Group is launching a learning lab with support from the Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program. The lab will provide farmers with hands-on trading to learn and have access to equipment that will add value to their products, as well as help them earn their GAP certification. In addition to it serving as an educational facility it will also serve as the headquarters from the Collaborative and will be used a small-scale processing facility for the membership.
The Southern Farmers Collaborative Group (SFCG) was established on September 14, 2018 and comprises of twenty-three (23) farmers which encompasses 12 counties totaling over one thousand (1,000) acres of land. Commodities grown through these 23 farmers are a variety of fruits and vegetables, herbs, pecans, timber, peanuts, hay, beef, pork, poultry and eggs. This collaborative produces a variety of value-added products as well.
The mission of the SFCG is to have farmers working together to develop marketable farms to increase profits, improve their quality of life, and facilitate learning for farmers to be sustainable in agribusiness. Through this mission the SFCG developed three primary goals which are (1.) to build a collaborative with marketing and broker abilities, (2.) to develop good agriculture practices based on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and (3.) to maintain innovative community sustainable farms.
The vision of the SFCG is to have a sustainable collaboration with Fort Valley State University (Georgia’s 1890 Land-Grant institution), University of Georgia (Georgia’s 1862 Land-Grand Institution), non-profits, and Community Based Organizations by improving the economic stability of farms, families, and communities.
The collaborative covers a geographical area that has been impacted by environmental factors, such as natural disasters, excessive rain, and severe drought conditions. Within a year, our region was hit by both Hurricane Irma (September 2017) and Hurricane Michael (October 2018), producing massive devastation, inclusive of severe property damage. It also crippled a concentration of our Southern communities with power outages and extensive flooding that lasted for weeks. The agrarian operations within this region that were able to rebound from the devastation of ‘Irma’ were still struggling to restore their farming operation back to a self-sustaining level after the destruction caused by ‘Michael.’ The State’s agriculture suffered a $2.5 billion economic loss from Hurricane Michael. On July 7, 2020, the USDA designated 10 Georgia counties (mostly in our area) as primary natural disaster areas. Now are region is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which introduced an additional set of challenges to our operations.
Harriet T Malone was born in Waycross, Georgia in a family of 6 children, mother, father and 2 set of grandparents. Educated from Phyllis Wheately Kindergarten through Center High School. She was educated at Albany State College/University and trained as a paralegal, indigent legislative advocate, director of community centers in New England, and Director of Development Leadership Network. She served and worked abroad; one assignment with International Foundation for Education Self Help in Kenya and work with Mandeleo ya Wannawake in Kenya. During her childhood, her grandparent always had family gardens and the family all worked them each year.
In Boston, she worked with The Food Project, Inc. and contributed to the neighborhoods raised bed garden project. Returning to the south, she has had gardens in her back yard and is currently cultivating 1 ½ acres for growing fruit trees that are market worthy. Helping to establish Southern Farmers Collaborative Group (SFCG) with the support of HBCU Fort Valley State University has catapulted her interest in helping to make Black Farmers and Black Families that farm profitable. FVSU has supported local, regional, national farming interests. She is proud to be a part of these doings.
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