Georgia is home to more than 50,000 refugees who bring strong agricultural skills, expertise, and their crops to the state’s diverse food economy. But when it comes to agriculture distribution, it has been difficult for this community to take their farmed food and successfully distribute them to local markets and restaurants.
Faced with this challenge, Susan Pavlin, a former international lawyer in Atlanta, decided to help bridge this gap by founding the Global Growers Network in 2009. Their mission is to train farmers, offer essential resources and provide economic opportunity for Atlanta’s refugees.
As her organization grew, Pavlin needed to understand more of the agribusiness landscape and build a sustainable supply chain with farmers. This is when she approached our Center of Innovation for Agribusiness for assistance.
Roderick Gilbert, Senior Agribusiness Manager for the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness and agri-technology expert, worked directly with her to accomplish her goals. Key connections were made with the University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and Pavlin was able to obtain licensing, explore pricing, meet food safety requirements and procure needed funding.
“Without the help of the Centers of Innovation, we wouldn’t have been able to build a viable business model that had the ability to attract investors and supporters,” Pavlin said.
The Center has given Pavlin the industry connections she needed to make Global Growers a successful enterprise and continues to be a bridge for maintaining relationships and solving problems.
Most recently, Pavlin has created a spin-off organization called The Local Source as a way to pool produce from many farmers in an area in order to better transport them to markets and restaurants. This organization has found a lot of success, and she hopes to eventually partner The Local Source with a food aggregation company outside Georgia’s borders as part of a larger national network of local hubs.
In 2012, more than 230 international families in Atlanta grew approximately 100,000 pounds of produce through Global Growers. And in 2014, the organization sold about $70,000 worth of food – double what they sold in 2013 – and continues to be an invaluable resource for Georgia’s refugees.
For more information on the Global Growers Network and the work they do, click here.
For more information on The Center of Innovation for Agribusiness and how it can help your agribusiness endeavors, visit Agribusiness.GeorgiaInnovation.org.