Since 2017, Flint River Fresh has been working to help small farmers in the Albany area sell the food they grow directly to consumers and Dougherty County schools. Many of the non-profit’s customers have limited or no access to fresh produce because they don’t live near stores that sell it.
Fredando Jackson, “Farmer Fredo” runs the 501(c) (3) organization created by the Flint River Soil & Water Conservation District (FRSWCD). A native of Plains, Jackson has worked in agricultural outreach to low-income communities and in food production for a decade.
The FRSWCD recruited Jackson to lead Flint River Fresh (FRF) after receiving a grant to establish an urban agriculture conservation program in Albany.
Jackson has been selling eggs and produce grown in South Georgia for FRF through pop-up farm stands and a farm-to-table box program.
Now he’s looking to expand the roster of farmers who can supply food for the organization’s customers – schools, restaurants, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, institutions and individuals.
Jackson said he needs farmers year-round who produce local, seasonal fruit and vegetables, herbs, meat and artisan goods.
“Flint River Fresh expects to pay participating farmers prices comparable to what they would receive at the Atlanta Farmers Market,” Jackson said.
FRF currently sells collard greens, turnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, sweet corn, green beans, blackberries, satsumas, muscadines and watermelons.
Farmers interested in selling to FRF should have their Good Agricultural Practices certification, follow food safety protocols and must allow Jackson or other FRF representatives to visit the farm to see its growing area and packing facilities.
Jackson is also looking for farms to help FRF teach children how to grow their food.
“We are looking for farms where we can bring kids for farm tours and for farmers we can schedule for school visits to meet students during our Harvest of the Month demonstrations,” Jackson said.
Ideally, farms that supply food to FRF are located within a 75-mile radius of Albany and are in Georgia.
In 2018, FRF sold more than 75,000 pounds of produce from local farmers directly to shoppers in Dougherty, Lee, Mitchell and Sumter counties.
Longleaf Ridge Farm in Mitchell County sold sweet corn to FRF in 2018.
“Though some of our sweet corn may go to local grocery stores, it is really rewarding knowing there were people in our local community who were able to enjoy our fresh sweet corn through Flint River Fresh’s programs,” said Casey Cox, who farms with her dad, Glenn. “It’s so meaningful to know that what we’re producing is nourishing our own local community.
Farmers interested in selling food they grow or hosting school visits should contact Jackson at 229-942-9757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.