For the past several years Loretta Adderson and her husband, Sam, have been providing residents of Augusta and surrounding areas with fresh organic produce.
After a forum sponsored by Augusta Food Oasis and Georgia Organics last fall, the couple were nominated as overseers of a hands-on program that teaches exempt organic growers – growers who do not make more than $5,000 for their produce – how to maintain and grow crops of their own.
To fulfill the vision, they rented 11 acres on Boggs Farm in Keysville in hopes of increasing the number of growers and access to organic produce throughout the region.
“We came over and asked if we can rent this land, and here we are,” said Loretta Adderson, a retired nutritionist. “I was just so happy that they are able to now farm it and do something here.”
Tianna Rose, 21, travels once a week from her home in Grovetown to work on the Addersons’ farm in Keysville to grow produce at the couple’s training site.
As an Augusta Tech business student, Rose, who is the youngest of the five growers that the Addersons mentor, said the hands-on training not only expands her knowledge of farming, but also gives an insightful look into the business.
“I’ve learned how to sell crops effectively and how to make the most of it, but also sustainable, which isn’t easy,” Rose said.
She has learned that maintaining organic crops takes a considerable amount of time and manual labor.
“Now I’m seeing why a lot of farmers take the routes they take with the pesticides because the weeds, they get a little crazy,” Rose said.
Also under the Addersons’ supervision is Nekia McDonald and his wife, Aisha Ralph McDonald. They travel daily from their home in Augusta and spend up to four hours maintaining crops at Adderson’s Fresh Produce and planting new crops at Boggs Farm.
Aisha, a beginner in the trade, compares the planting process to an emotional attachment between parent and child.
“I have a developing love for the things we planted in different ways,” she said. “It’s almost like a parent relationship – we put something that is very young or a seed in the ground and you have to literally nurture it to get it to grow and produce life and so you really give out that emotional attachment to whatever it is you’re doing.”
Together, the five students grow a variety of vegetables, including five types of kale, three types of cabbage and two types of sweet potatoes, and sell their crops in downtown Augusta at the Farmers Market and surrounding areas.
Once the yearlong training concludes, Adderson said, the students will be left to continue their farming at the training site and pass on what they’ve learned.
“I feel like right now I am able to get on the porch and sit on the rocking chair,” she said. “The dedication that I see now it’s really great. The next step is for them to own their own farm.”