Tag Archives: Valdosta Farm Days

Agriculture alive and well in Lowndes: even Kay Harris says so

The VDT went out and did some research and discovered that agriculture is not only still here in Lowndes County, it’s one of the biggest industries here, and by some measures it’s increasing. What if the local elected and appointed and self-appointed boards and authorities helped promote agriculture as a local industry?

Kay Harris wrote for the VDT yesterday, South Georgia agriculture alive and well,

Agriculture and forestry remain among the strongest economic engines in South Georgia, including Lowndes County.

A look at the recent farmgate value for 2011 for Lowndes County shows a $70 million effect on the local economy, making it one of the strongest private-sector industries in the county following South Georgia Medical Center.

The popularity of The Times’ bi-monthly sister publication Ag Scene led this newspaper to look at the ag/forestry industry to see if it has diminished in economic importance over the years.

Actually, the number of farms in Lowndes County has slightly increased in recent some recent years.

The VDT proceeded to do som research, asking Jake Price, Lowndes County Extension Agent, who noted there are actually more farms in Lowndes County than in some surrounding counties, because they tended to be smaller here, with quite a few people farming on the side. That and agriculture-based events have become more popular, such as last week’s Hog Show. (And he didn’t mention the new last year Valdosta Farm Days.) He continued:

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VDT and Chamber feuding about which is the most negative

Image courtesy Fir0002/Flagstaffotos under GFDL v1.2

Break out the popcorn! The VDT and the Chamber of Commerce are feuding. About which one is the most negative! Also, the Chamber hates agriculture. And everything good around here is to the Chamber’s credit, but anything bad is not their fault; just ask them.

The VDT editorialized 18 October 2012, Is Valdosta really one of the poorest? mostly criticizing the recent report that ranked Valdosta MSA as the third poorest in the country. The VDT added:

Now that the world wide web has broadcast this story, what can be done locally to combat this image? And what are the various entities involved in job and business recruitment, i.e. the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Authority primarily, doing to fix the underlying problem — low household income and the high percentage of individuals living below the poverty line.

Valdosta can attract retailers. But can Valdosta step it up and attract larger industries offering high paying jobs? Has the community turned away from what made this a successful, viable up and comer in the state, namely manufacturing and agriculture? These industries sustained Valdosta for many years and provided good, well paying, solid blue collar and middle income jobs. Educational opportunities are far greater today, there are more high school, tech and college graduates in the area than ever, and blaming the quality of the work force is starting to lose its luster as a viable excuse for not bringing in industry. We have the land, we have the workers, we have the infrastructure and we have a great location with a good quality of life.

Perhaps the community leadership should focus on the assets that are already here and less on what’s not. Then maybe the next time a story like this appears on the Internet, Valdosta won’t be cast in such a poor light.

The Chamber fired back a broadside to its members, which I’ve included below here, since I don’t think you can find it online elsewhere. Here’s the most precious part:

Second, while there is still farmland in Lowndes County, it’s shrinking and when it sells, it’s for uses at prices that rule out agricultural use. Agriculture had begun moving to nearby more rural counties even before the cotton field at the end of Baytree Road was paved over for Valdosta Mall. Our largest tractor and farm implement dealers followed.

That’s right, farmland is good for nothing but paving over, so says the Chamber! Nevermind that knowledge-based workers generally like Continue reading

Strategies for Lowndes County? —John S. Quarterman

My op-ed in the VDT today. -jsq

Our high schools and college graduates mostly have to go somewhere else, because jobs here are few and many of them don’t pay enough for a decent living. Should we not care enough about our families and our community to come up with strategies that grow existing businesses and attract new ones that will employ local people?

We need discussions and strategies that involve the whole community, going beyond just the usual planning professionals, to include all groups and individuals with information or opinions, whether they got here generations ago or last week: for fairness and for freedom.

Sometimes we see local strategy. Winn Roberson organized Drive Away CCA. Ashley Paulk verified there was no business case for a biomass plant in Lowndes County after many people successfully opposed it. School “unification” opponents, out-financed 10 to 1, still defeated that referendum 4 to 1.

How do we go beyond opposing things and move on to sustainable strategies that build clean industry?

The Industrial Authority focus group meeting I attended Wednesday was refreshing, because their consultants asked the opinions of people some of whom previously had to picket outside. The previous day, VLCIA Chairman Roy Copeland said this strategic planning process was a long time coming. I agree, and while nobody can say what will come of it at this point, I hope it does produce a real Economic Development Strategy.

Building on the Valdosta City Council’s annual consideration of affordable housing,

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Earth Day and Valdosta Farm Days Saturday 21 April 2012

It’s a food festival Saturday in Valdosta! Before, after, or during stocking up on local food at Valdosta Farm Days at the historic Lowndes County Courthouse, you can mosey up Patterson Street to Drexel Park for lunch, music, fun, and education at Earth Day! Drive, bike, or even walk; it’s only a little more than a mile.

What: Come celebrate the Earth with us, and learn about growing your own food!!
When:10AM-3PM Saturday 21 April 2012
Where:Drexel Park,
across Patterson St from VSU,
E. Brookwood Drive,
Valdosta, GA

Appended is the text of the announcement.


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May 7: Downtown Valdosta Farm Days

Downtown Valdosta Farm Days begin two weeks from tomorrow:
Bringing the best of the country to the heart of the City!

Downtown Valdosta Farm Days is a bi-weekly farmers’ market featuring local farmers and artisans and also serves to educate the community about eating local, nutrition and food choices.

Downtown Farmers Market
First and Third Saturdays from May to September
9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Lowndes County Courthouse Square, Downtown Valdosta

There’s a calendar on their website, along with how to become a vendor. And everybody is purring now. Agriculture, economy, and a festival! And, it costs the county nothing.

More on this story as it develops.


Farm Days: Connecting Lowndes County and the City of Valdosta

Yesterday I wrote that interactions about Valdosta Farm Days between the Lowndes Commmission and the City of Valdosta “could have been smoother if one or both of the parties had been proactive.” The VDT reported that the County Commission wants to know about Valdosta Farm Days, and apparently there was a disconnect between the staff and the Commissioners. Here’s how the Commission came to be informed, through interactions of citizens and staff.

First, an excerpt from the paper paper story by David Rodock, “Farmers market proposal discussed by commission”, Tuesday, April 12, 2011, page 3A (it’s not online): Continue reading