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UGA Extension and Athens Land Trust looking for farmers' input By Merritt Melancon

The University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development and the Athens Land Trust will host a series of town hall meetings to determine farmers’ interest in the creation of a regional vegetable and fruit processing facility for Northeast Georgia.

The meetings will be held in Monroe on July 17, in Hull on July 29 and in Jefferson on Aug. 4.

“We’re still early in the planning stages, and right now, we’re just trying to find out what the farmers want, what they need and what they would use,” said Kent Wolfe, director of thecenter which is part of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The Athens Land Trust, a non-profit organization that supports farmland preservation and local agriculture across northeast Georgia, maintains Athens-Clarke County’s only urban farms. The trust and is trying to decide whether or not to open a community proccessing facility in conjunction with the farms.

The facility would be open to farmers from around the northeast Georgia region as well as local cooks, professional chefs and anyone who would like to produce sauces, salsas, jams and other preserved goods for sale.

The first stage of planning this proposed facility is finding out if there is enough interest to make it feasible and what part of their harvest farmers are looking to preserve, Wolfe said.

For information about the Athens Land Trust, its projects and mission, visit www.athenslandtrust.org.

For more information about the UGA Center of Agribusiness and Economic Development, its research and marketing and economic development projects, visit 001E www.caes.uga.edu/center/caed/ 01F9 .

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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