191 Carpenter Road, has taken root in the Rosedale community north of Rome.
The concept of community supported agriculture and organic farming is not widespread across the Southeast. Lawson told members of the Kiwanis Club of Rome on Monday that his operation started out as a modest two-acre farm nine years ago but has now grown to 20 acres, in the outskirts of Armuchee, with more than 40 different types of vegetables being grown, some of them year-round.
Lawson, who defines organic farming as not using any petroleum-based pesticides or fertilizers in his operation, also offers customers eggs, pasture raise pork and grass-fed beef.
“I have a long waiting list of people wanting eggs,” Lawson told the civic group, adding that he has doubled the number of egg-laying hens he has in a bid to meet the growing interest.
The former director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative is also an advocate for saving as much water as possible.
“We use drip irrigation (from the Oostanaula River) to save water,” Lawson said. “When you use sprinklers in the hot summer, a lot of it goes up in the air.”
Customers can “buy” into the farm and pick up a box of vegetables every week or every other week. All customers get essentially the same items, though Lawson said his drop off points typically offer swap boxes where someone who doesn’t like cauliflower could leave it behind and pick up the broccoli another customer might not have wanted.
“You have to be willing to try a lot of different thing,” Lawson said. “A box one week could include beets, bok choy, kale, Swiss chard, strawberries, snow peas and turnips. The next week it might contain arugula, broccoli, cabbage, radishes, collards and lettuce. It helps force them (customers) to eat a little healthier.”
Rise ’n Shine has grown to the point where Lawson has five full-time employees, and some customers also will work a half-day a week at the farm for their produce.
In addition to the typical spring, summer and fall fare, the addition of a quarter of an acre of greenhouses on the farm has also made Lawson’s operation a year-round farm.
“The greenhouses help get tomatoes earlier,” Lawson said.
Additional information about Rise ’n Shine can be found online at www.risenshineorganicfarm.com. Lawson said people are welcome to visit the farm any time but should call 706-676-0825 to let owners know they’re coming.