What is the primary purpose of your business? To make a living at growing high quality, organically raised food.
What is your business background? I was executive director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative for a couple of years. After that, I did an apprenticeship on a farm in North Carolina where I learned enough to start my own farm operation.
Why did you start this particular business? I love to watch and help plants grow and I love the farm lifestyle of working outside and raising my own food. I also enjoy sharing good food with good people. Additionally, I enjoy the greater connection I feel to the natural world and the understanding that farming provides of the natural world and all of its amazing intricacies.
What makes your business unique? My business is one of only a few certified organic farm operations in Northwest Georgia. A certified organic farm does not use harmful pesticides, petroleum based fertilizers or genetically modified crops. An organic farm is focused on building up the organic matter in soil to make the most healthy, productive soil possible which in turn leads to healthier, more productive plants which are less prone to disease and pests. An organic farm uses irrigation methods which conserve water and it uses practices to reduce runoff into rivers and streams. It also provides habitat for beneficial insects and works to preserve or enhance wildlife habitats in it's borders.
Another aspect of my business that is unique is the way I sell my produce. People sign up at the beginning of the season and receive fresh, seasonal produce throughout the season for 30 weeks. I grow 40 different types of fruits and vegetables so there is a lot of variety each week.
What do you enjoy most about your chosen profession? I enjoy having a job so fully connected to nature. It really teaches just how fascinating life is and it also teaches humility and patience. You also learn a lot about coping with loss when the weather turns bad or a pest or disease wipes out a crop you have put so much time and energy into. The joy I feel when a crop overcomes all of the things that can threaten it and produces a beautiful, bountiful harvest is worth it.
What has been the biggest or most interesting challenge to overcome as a small business owner? The biggest challenge has been to secure a long-term location for the farm. In the four-and-a-half year life of the farm, it has been at three different locations. Starting a farm is an odd notion for these times when so many farms are going under today so I was opposed to borrowing much money to get started. As a result, I had to start very small on leased land. Now we own the property we are on (some of it) and hope to be here a long time and establish the necessary roots for a farm to thrive.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Our farm is currently accepting new members for its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Members pay at the beginning of the season and receive fresh produce for 30 weeks of the growing season. For more information visit www.localharvest.org/farms/M12512 or call Mitch at 706-676-0825.
Business name: Rise N Shine Organic Farm
Business age: four-and-a-half years
Owners: Mitch Lawson, farmer
How long have you owned it? four-and-a-half years
Location: 191 Carpenter Road, Calhoun
Web site: www.localharvest.org/farms/M12512
Employees: one full time, four seasonal