The blog of Hope Grows

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

You asked for more eggs... here they come...

Somehow we were so busy that we haven't posted about our new layer chicks. They are now 1 month old and very healthy. In a few weeks they will be out of the brooder and into the orchard. We have 450 and this will double our laying flock for next year. Look for their eggs in late April!


The Potting Shed in all its Glory!

We figured it was time to spruce up the potting shed... next stop, HGTV!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our 10th WWOOFER Andy and his Opus.

We needed a greenhouse to start plants for the spring - luckily our 10th WWOOFER of the year, Andy, (applause!) was just the man for the job. From design to completion Andy constructed a greenhouse out of reused 2x4s and plastic he wove out of recycled grocery bags (ok... maybe he didn't do that.)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Turkey Retrospective 2010

Here's a look back at the adventures of raising our first 65ish turkeys this year...caution: may depress vegetarians.

A Salute to Service Learners!

We had over 250 student service learners from Georgia Southern this year who were an enormous help. Here is a video tribute we put together for them -


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GROW! The Movie Trailer

We recently visited filmmakers Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson in Atlanta for a tour of their post-production cave, where they'll be padding around in socked feet and headphones, tweaking this film tirelessly until March of 2011, when it will premiere at the Georgia Organics conference in Savannah. The resemblance of some of the farmers in the film to Elliott and I is purely coincidental.

Lessons learned from Terra Madre...

So a while back I went to Italy. And then I came home to process turkeys and the whirlwind at the end of the season--let's just say reflection at that point was not a priority. But while I was away I did keep a journal and take lots of pictures as promised. Here's a few of the lessons learned from talking to farmers from all over the world, in no particular order:

A. Italy, though often romanticized as being culturally ideal when it comes to food, suffers just as much from the encroachment of a globalized, industrailized food system as we do: fast food, confinement operations, strip malls--they got 'em, too. The fight is on at home and abroad.

B. Traveling out into the world is mostly a journey into one's self. You may go many places but ultimately what you find

C. I'm definitely not crazy. There are plenty madly passionate people out there working in their communities for an honest living in exchange for honest work. I'm not alone, and the further I continue, the more potential I have for liberating others to pursue farm dreams.

D. Visit farmers you admire on a regular basis--it will do wonders for strengthening your march.

E. Keep up a discerning vision--it's a strength. We have a right to high expectations for our communities.

F. Next to keeping our hands dirty--actually farming--education is our best and most important function. Find a way to turn education into sales.

G. A business makes money when it profits from all products and byproducts of its production. Find a way to turn a profit on waste or unwanted items.

H. BUY YOUR OWN LAND. There are a multitude of different ways to make it happen, but it is your best option for farming long term.

I. No model is too "out there" for financing your business. Don't be afraid to dream big or different.

J. While I'm thankful for Slow Food (International, USA, & Atlanta), what I'm doing is good and strong with or without the above affiliations--that is, whether or not I'm officially recognized by an organization.

K. Ask and ye shall receive! Don't be afraid to tell the people in your community you're working hard for them, and that you need their help. You have to start the conversation by asking--they will help.

L. A woman farmer is rare and beautiful.

M. Smoking is a waste. I don't care if you're European and "it's just what you do." My culture tells me to do plenty of things that are wasteful and destructive, but I take responsibility for myself and my actions at the end of the day. Quit smoking, Europe! It's not cool anymore.

N. There's nothing like a little turbulence over the Swiss Alps to get the blood pumping. I decided I definitely don't like planes--and in the future will trust my land-dweller instincts and avoid them.

O. Italian friends are extremely helpful when you don't speak the language. They're also great at making pizza.

P. Be intentional about community-building. Your job is irresistible--everybody wins when they join you.

Thanks again to Slow Food USA, Coastal Organic Growers, and Slow Food Atlanta for sponsoring my trip. I wouldn't have been able to go without your assistance.


Great News: We WON the Eli J. Segal Award

The following is an article from the AmeriCorps Alums website outlining a grant we were recently awarded from the Eli J. Segal Foundation. We'll use the funds to build an on-farm poultry processing facility that will be ready to go once our first broilers are ready in the spring of 2011. Currently Elliott and I are focused on reconnaissance--checking out facilities on other farms, scouring the internet for do-it-yourself resources. Look forward to posts about how we put the whole thing together this winter--we'll most likely be building the plucker and scalder ourselves. Elliott's new training in simple electric design will definitely come in handy--thank you Ogeechee Technical College. Here's a picture of us gratuitously basking in the glory of cash to fuel a better local food system. Thanks to everyone who graciously sent in enthusiastic letters of support--we'll build a better tomorrow together.

The recipients of the 2010 Eli Segal Award are Arianne McGinnis and Elliott McGann of Hope Grows. Hope Grows is a modest organic farm located in Sylvania, Georgia. Hope Grows places value on the transparency of farming methods and philosophy, and having the community involved in their sustainability and growth. The relationships that Arianne and Elliott have not only helped the farm grow, but have also brought a new perspective to the community. Unlike many large farms in the area, Hope Grows does not use chemicals, antibiotics, or heavy machinery.

“We produce pasture raised poultry, pork, and organic vegetables, but our business is healing: the land, the food, the economy, the community”

The farmers at Hope Grows sell the products of their hard work at their farm store and local farmers’ markets. Oftentimes these outlets are used as an opportunity to spread the word on ecologically conscious farming. The farm is also open to visits throughout the year, and holds two large on-farm events in the spring and fall. Pictures, commentary, and video of their work is displayed at Here you can learn how to clip a chicken’s wings, start a garden, or even process your own Thanksgiving turkey! Recently a group of students from Georgia Southern University were dubbed the “Pasture Clearing Brigade” by the Fresh Farming blog. A group of students lent a helping hand to the Hope Grows farm by weeding the overgrown pasture. To answer the question “Why not use a tractor and do it in five minutes?”, it is explained that those at Hope Grows are “too averse to debt and mechanically challenged to invest in a tractor.” It also inhibits pasture growth and diversity. Instead the Hope Grows farm made some new friends, and encouraged individuals in the community to participate.

“We view farming as activism for restoring healthy communities, and find it spiritually and economically rewarding to establish direct relationships with our eaters as often as possible”

With their $5,000 grant, Hope Grows hopes to build upon their mission to provide “local food access, education, skills training, and rural community development” through a small-scale poultry processing facility. Off-site processing currently adds considerably to the cost of Hope Grows' products. Therefore, by having their own processing facility, Hope Grows will provide more families access to the healthy products they have to offer.