Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG), is a non-profit organization that partners with hundreds of farmers, environmental organizations, consumer advocates, and other food advocates throughout 13 states in the south to build a farming and food system that is ecologically sustainable and socially just.
These 13 states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
“Southern SAWG’s Mission is to empower and inspire farmers, individuals, and communities in the South to create an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Because sustainable solutions depend on the involvement of the entire community, Southern SAWG is committed to including all persons in the South without bias.”
Southern SAWG strengthens regional farm and food system by strengthening local partnerships, providing educational policy and marketing resources, and sharing best practices and innovative solutions throughout its network. The organization is known for hosting one of the biggest organic and sustainable agriculture conferences in the South, which in 2014 served as a forum for over 1,200 food producers, researchers, and advocates to gather and share ideas.
Type of Organization
Steve Muntz, Executive Director3301 Spencer Pike Road, Mt. Sterling, KY 40353
Issues of Focus
- Sustainable farming
- Ecological Farming
- Economic Empowerment
- Social Justice
- Humane treatment of Livestock
History of Organization
Founded in 1991
Programs and Projects
Conference: Each January, Southern Swag hosts its annual “Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms” conference. Over 1,200 attendees gather to learn about sustainable farming techniques, federal farm and food policy, and community food systems. The next conference is scheduled for Janurary 27-30, 2016 in Lexington, KY. Additional details can be found at: http://www.ssawg.org/january-2016-conference/
- Information about the January 2015 conference, including presentation slideshows, audio, and photographs, can be found at http://www.ssawg.org/january-2015-conference
Growing Farm Profits: Southern SAWG designed this free, online course and toolkit to help farmers become develop more ecologically and economically sustainable farming enterprises. Components of the lesson module include:
- “Veggie Compass”: a video series to assist small and mid-scale horticultural farmers understand often overlooked variables in the growing process that affect profitability
- A variety of recordkeeping spreadsheets to suit farms of varying sizes and crops
- “Documents of Interest”: A collection of user-provided resources on topics such as using Microsoft Excel, breakeven pricing, and harvest tips.
- Refresher Powerpoint presentations for those already familiar with business and marketing concepts such as individual crop budgets, setting competitive prices, and managing labor costs.
- Food Hubs: After working with fifty agricultural professionals and farmers over the course of two years, Southern SAWG created a “Food Hub Starter Kit” containing an annotated list of resources, including videos and recorded webinars, to assist agriculture and business professionals, farmers, and/or consumer advocates with starting their own food hub. More information can be found: http://www.ssawg.org/foodhubs/
- Choosing Your Markets: Online course to help farmers self-assess, conduct cost-benefit analyses, and navigate different available market channels such as farmers markets, CSAs, on-farm markets, grocery store sales, and internet marking https://ssawg.squarespace.com/choosing-your-markets
- Ag Policy Education: Resources to educate network members about federal sustainable agriculture policies and encourage grassroots advocacy campaigns
- Virtual Farm Tours: Through a partnership with the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, Southern SAWG developed a series of DVDs, Natural Farming Systems, to spotlight individual farms and walk viewers through their farming systems from production to marking. Bios of featured farmers, accompaniment teaching guides, and additional information about purchasing the videos can be found at https://ssawg.squarespace.com/virtual-farm-tours/
Partners and Frequent Collaborators
- United States Department of Agriculture
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
- Southern Rise Management Education Center