Sep 29, 2022
G&R Farms, retailers and vegetable companies partner to support FAA students

G&R Farms, retailers and vegetable companies partner to support FAA students

Vidalia onion grower G&R Farms, Glennville, Georgia, in partnership with Virginia Produce and Bushman’s Inc., raised nearly $113,000 for scholarships and grants to Future Farmers of America students.

The campaign in May and June included 12 regional and national retailers selling products from Virginia Produce, Hillsville, Virginia, and Bushman’s, Rosholt, Wisconsin, for the Growing America’s Farmers (GAF) program, which raises funds for FFA students in 22 states.

GAF is the brainchild of Walt Dasher, a third-generation southeast Georgia farmer at G&R Farms, where he is vice president, Now more than ever, production agriculture is at a crossroads that requires all areas of the supply chain to be engaged and support future agriculture leaders that will grow the food needed to support a population that will need 70% more food by 2050, according to a news release.

“The incredible growth we’ve seen in support for the Growing America’s Farmers program highlights the importance of business partnerships at all levels and retailers’ willingness to foster and create opportunities for students by supporting endeavors that could ultimately have a significant impact on our local, state, national, and global economy,” Georgia Agriculture Commission Gary Black said in the release. “The security of our food systems is central to this program so the more we can highlight and encourage these types of partnerships, the more likely we are to maintain that security.”

That food security in production agriculture is what Dasher is so passionate about when he talks about the next generation of farmers.

Walt, Blake, Pam & Robert Dasher
Click to enlarge

“The average age of today’s American farmer is close to retirement,” Dasher said in the release. “If we don’t invest in future farmers, who will we turn to, to grow our food in 20 years? We continue to attract, support and train tomorrow’s agriculture leaders to fill this void and the FFA is one of the best resources to do this effectively.”

Across the country, FFA is attracting and training those leaders. The National FFA organization announced a record-high student membership of 850,823, an increase of 15% from last year. In addition, chapter numbers increased by 178, with 8,995 chapters in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Our Team at Harris Teeter is proud to support local growers such as G&R Farms and Virginia Produce Co. to help further our mutual mission of advancing produce consumption, agriculture development and the success of future generations of leaders,” Karen Humanik, director of produce for Harris Teeter, said in the release. “Harris Teeter is pleased to assist in providing access to our stores to enable and develop our FFA students into successful young adults, and to partner to provide resources to encourage the future generation of leaders to study agriculture locally.”

Dasher said the growth in donations is motivating.

“I’m humbled by our 2022 results and know that my family who started this farm generations ago, would be proud of our efforts and accomplishments as well.” He said in the release. “The fact that other suppliers like Bushman’s, Virginia Produce – and soon to come, a national poultry brand – also support this mission, proves we can change the course of food production and be part of the solution.”

Planning for the 2023 GAF program will begin in October and will include a promotion with a national retail poultry brand with events leading into National Farmers Day on Oct. 12.  Any retailer or grower-shippers interested in participating in the 2023 program should contact the G&R sales team at (912) 654-2100.

PHOTO: From left are Walt, Blake, Pam and Robert Dasher. Photo: G&R Farms.

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