Jan 24, 2018
Georgia melon grower, Extension agent honored at event

An awards breakfast Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Georgia, honored local leaders in specialty agriculture.

The awards were presented by Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association President Mike Bruorton and Georgia Peach Council President Duke Lane III.

U.S. Rep. Rick W. Allen

U.S. Rep. Rick W. Allen, R-Georgia, also spoke at the event. Allen, who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture as well as the Committee on Education and the Workforce, said the public often underappreciates the agriculture industry.

“Folk walk into a grocery store, and I think, I know — My own grandkids, I teach them — they take for granted what they see there,” Allen said.

From the left are Lawton Pearson, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association President Mike Bruorton, and Will McGehee.

Mr. Peach award

Will McGehee received the 2018 Mr. Peach Award from the Georgia Peach Council for his work changing the way peaches are marketed in the industry. McGehee said he used marketing strategies learned from working for California fruit growers.

He and his partners united different family farms and peach varieties under the premium brand of Georgia Genuine. McGehee was introduced by his cousin, Lawton Pearson, current owner and fifth-generation farmer of Pearson Farm, which has existed since 1885.

“He came back to the farm after college, and he and his partners have changed how we market peaches,” Pearson said. “This man eats, breathes and sleeps Georgia peaches.”

Justin Shealey

Extension agent award

The 2017 Donnie H. Morris Award for Excellence in Extension was presented to Justin Shealey of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

In nearly 10 years of working for Extension in Echols County, Georgia, Shealey has introduced changes and new technologies such as the fumigant meter to the county, and vegetable growers across Georgia.

“Mr. Shealey has on numerous occasions saved me thousands of dollars by informing me of unsafe planting conditions, which would have caused a loss of plants and other resources,” Lake Park, Georgia’s Dee Ritter told GFVA. “At the same time, I have seen higher revenue through earlier plantings and longer seasons because of Shealey’s use of the fumigant meter.”

Bruorton, left, and Sam Watson

Distinguished Alumni

Sam Watson, a managing partner of Chill C. Farms and Moultrie Melon, was also recognized at the breakfast for an earlier award he had received, being mentioned in the University of Georgia’s annual 40 under 40 list. Moultrie, a 2002 graduate of the University of Georgia, is also a state representative.

Photo, top of page: Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Board of Directors and officers. 

Stephen Kloosterman, Assistant Editor

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