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Learning the farming ropes
Cane Creek hosts state workshop
Farmers in the Dell 6 es
Michele Gillman talks with Bill Mills, father of Cane Creek Farm owner Lynn Pugh. - photo by Emily Saunders
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To learn more about ways the Georgia Natural Resources Conservation Service can help small farmers and gardeners, visit

Robin Chanin and Tiffany Chu said they learned the most about soil management and farm marketing.

The pair were two of about 100 who attended a fresh fruit and vegetable production field day hosted by the Georgia Natural Resources Conservation Service on Thursday at Cane Creek Farm in west Forsyth.

While the service holds a field day of some sort each year to help those interested learn more about farming, this was the first year the event was held in Forsyth County.

Chris Groskreutz, a conservation service coordinator, said the main goal of the day was to promote an increase in local food supply among small and beginning farmers.

The service received a $100,000 federal grant to promote the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables to needy families through organizations like local farmers’ markets, he said. Thursday was the second of the fresh foods workshops sponsored through the funding.

“We have some future farmers here, we have some folks just interested in organic farming,” Groskreutz said. “We’ve got people from all over north Georgia here today.”

Chanin and Chu work together in Decatur at a refugee resettlement group that helps some 20 families who are refugees from Africa.

“They’re very experienced farmers, but they’re not familiar with the soil, climate and what plants grow well in Georgia,” said Chanin. “Anything we can learn here today, we’ll pass on to them.”

Chu, a rising sophomore at Emory University who is working this summer with the program, said she’ll also take some of the field day knowledge with her when she returns to school this fall.

“I want to start a student-led garden at Emory,” she said. “It’s good to hear some of the things I can do once we get started to make the garden sustainable, something that other people can continue on after I’m finished [with school].”

Besides soil management and marketing, some of the other topics discussed during the free workshop were ways to control pests and wildlife, farm equipment and irrigation practices.

Matthew Zabarovskis, a native of Lativa in eastern Europe who has lived in Woodstock for the past six years, said he most enjoyed learning about pest control and farm equipment.

“I learned it’s important to rotate your crops each year and you don’t need to plant too many sunflowers to manage pests,” said the 20-year-old, who wants to be a farmer after he finishes college. “I saw some new tools I’ve never looked at before too.”

Leaders of the day said it was a successful event.

“Today, especially in metro Atlanta, people don’t have a lot of traditional farmers to learn from,” said Groskreutz. “It’s good for people to know where they can go when they hit a roadblock.”