Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coweta County Board Meeting Last Night.....

Finally, my chance to speak to the Coweta County board of commissioners. The Planning and Zoning department presented their recommendation for "sustainable organic" farming first and gave a little speech about the actual recommendation. It took a little over an hour to get to this point.
The commissioner then asked me to come up front to present my case. I stated my name and address and then my speech:

"Good evening. Thanks for allowing me time to speak with you all. I thought about several avenues to speak about today, like the problems with the food industry and how our food travels sometimes over 1500 miles to our table, or the health problems facing America today, brought on by nutrient deprived food filled with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and so on. But I think it would be more effective to tell you about the farm we want to bring to Sharpsburg and the reasons behind it.

My wife and I purchased property on Emory Phillips Road nearly three years ago. We had envisioned building a house, growing fruits and vegetables and maybe having a few chickens. But right after the purchase my son Mason was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a childhood form of cancer. Our dreams were on hold while we fought this cancer.

Well, the more and more I read about his cancer, the more I found out about its link to pesticides. This troubled my wife and me as we knew we didn’t use pesticides on the foods we grew. What is staggering is, over 90% of the fruits and vegetables we buy at the grocery stores have pesticides. This is not something that can just be washed off. It gets consumed and processed through our bodies.

So as Mason began to get in a non-progressive state with his cancer, we wanted to do more than just grow good food for ourselves. We wanted to produce healthy, organic foods that contained no pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics, which the community would have access to. Well, the problem was now, how can they get it? The laws prevent us from selling these foods on our property because it is smaller than the required amount to be zoned commercial agricultural land. Not only that but, finding 20 acres in a location convenient to bigger, diverse populations is simply not affordable.

For a farmer to succeed, he must to be able to sell retail on the farm. This saves time and fuel not having to pack everything up and drive to a market three our four times a week. It also enables customers to see where their food comes from, how it’s grown and see healthy animals. This also enables us to market forms of Agritourism. Agritourism creates green jobs, brings in revenue from other counties to Coweta and stimulates the local economy."

Approving an ordinance for 'sustainable organic farming' and allowing for smaller tracks of land to be considered for commercial agriculture will not save the world. It however will, over time, lessen our dependence on these conventionally grown foods, covered with pesticides that are flown in from all over the world. It will also open the door for farmers to purchase land which is smaller, more affordable and in much better locations.

Sustainable, organic farming benefits consumers, the environment and the animals. It develops healthy soils through which healthy plants and animals are produced. Whether it is from the chickens producing eggs, or chickens and turkeys grown for meat, they will live out their lives in the sun eating green grass and bugs encouraged to act like chickens and turkeys.

Lastly, the health benefits that come from eating pasture raised poultry, eggs and organically grown fruits and vegetables are pretty substantial. Just some bullet points of the benefits obtained from The Organic Center:
· Vitamins and antioxidant levels in organically grown vegetables is 25% higher on average (Dr. Charles Benbrook)
· Pastured chicken eggs have: (Mother Earth News)
o 6 times more vitamin D
o 7 times more Beta Carotene
o 2/3 more vitamin A
o 3 times more vitamin E
o 4 times more Omega-3 fatty acids
o 1/3 less cholesterol
o and ¼ less saturated fat than a factory feed chicken egg
· Pasture raise chicken meat, and I could give many examples but I will just stick to three: (from SARE)
o 21% less fat
o 30% less saturated fat
o 50% more vitamin A

Thank you for you time and please consider passing this ordinance so that we can start benefiting our community. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you all may have at this time."

After the speech, they voted and unanimously approved the start of an ordinance. Still not out of the woods yet, but a huge hurdle we just passed. I may have to speak and/or answer questions in a few weeks when the board convenes, but seeing their excitement and approval about what we are doing, I'm not as worried.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
Albert Schweitzer


  1. Man we are proud for you guys. I bet you are extremely releived this is passed you. Well, please keep us informed. I wish I lived in that county, i'd write them a letter telling them how important it is that it be approved. People need good healthy food!

    Darrel (Ohio Darrel)

  2. Dude, you need to be a speech writer! Very nice. Made me tear up and I'm a MAN. (Keep that between us, OK)

    Don and family

  3. Glad it went well. We live in north GA and would like to do this one day. Thanks for pioneering this. Hopefully I can take something from this when we do it.