Our Trip With The Georgia Peanut Commission
Being invited to The Georgia Peanut Harvest Tour by the Georgia Peanut Commission & Southern Peanut Growers was truly a life-changing experience. We didn’t know what to expect when we landed in Atlanta from Chicago on that Sunday morning in late September, 2022. What we experienced was far beyond what we expected. We were greeted with open arms by Leslie Wagner and Joy Crosby, two employees at the commission. We were left with unforgettable memories and lessons that we will gladly share with our friends, family and community.
We were fortunate enough to see the entire process that goes into manufacturing a peanut. Beyond that, we learned about the sheer volume that it takes to feed people across the US. That was truly incredible to see. But it wasn’t as incredible as the people who are behind the entire operation. We were inspired beyond words seeing the technological advances and the passion that the people have in this industry.
In this post I am going to highlight some of these people and tell you about the incredible things that we learned on The Georgia Peanut Harvest Tour. I urge you to use this as a springboard to open your mind to the value that the peanut industry has on so many lives across Georgia, this country, and even the world. At the end of this post, I will include links for you to learn more if you so chose.
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA – GRIFFIN CAMPUS
Jim Gratzek led the first part of the tour. We were able to get a look inside the Food Product Innovation Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) and the USDA ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit. The FoodPIC is an amazing resource for people who are looking to launch a new product to market. The researchers have the knowledge and equipment necessary to properly test products and be sure that all laws and food safety practices are being met. Next, we were able to learn more about the genetics of a peanut and other agricultural crops. In this USDA seed bank that we visited they have over 100,000 different species of seeds that are being chilled and preserved for later use and research. They have shipped over 50,000 seeds around the world for other researchers to also continue to help us learn to harvest them most-efficiently, as the world population continues to grow.
ROSS KENRDICK – BOARD MEMBER OF GEORGIA PEANUT COMMISSION
Ross was as gracious and friendly as they come. We really appreciate his hospitality during such a busy time of his year. He invited us to his farm to show us peanuts being harvested right in the field. It was an amazing experience seeing that first hand. But what made this experience so special was he then invited us to his beautiful cabin where he and his wife graciously put on a delicious fish fry meal for the entire group. Our fabulous dinner also included other members of the Georgia Peanut Commission, and their spouses, and it was a truly unforgettable night.
Other things that we learned on the farm included crop rotation strategy and learning how farmers decide when the correct time to harvest their crops. We were able to see them sort through a sample of the field to see how close to maturity the peanuts were. With this information they are able to most efficiently decide when to pull the peanuts. It was special just getting to hear stories from Ross. We were also able to get a better understanding of the difficulties a farmer faces with rising costs of fuel, labor, and equipment. Farmers face many challenges. They are a resilient and proud bunch and it was a pleasure to witness.
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA – TIFTON CAMPUS
The next stop on our tour took place on campus at the University of Georgia – Tifton campus. University of Georgia and USDA ARS did presentations on precision agriculture, peanut breeding and the overall scope of the peanut industry in Georgia. This was a very interesting portion of our tour. We got to see cutting edge technologies that are being founded right there in Tifton. These findings will help change the peanut industry all over the world. With the use of drones and very high-tech farming machines, farmers can get an advantage in knowing exactly where seed is being planted in the field. From there, pesticides and watering are done in only specific areas of need. By doing so, the least amount of money can be spent to get the maximum yield. It is truly amazing to see the huge steps that are being made across all facets of peanut farming. These new practices and others will allow for the growing population to continue to enjoy peanuts for generations to come.
MANA NUTRITION TOUR
The MANA Nutrition Tour will forever hold a special place in our hearts. This was the last stop on the tour for us, and it made the entire trip come full cycle. MANA Nutrition makes a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) composed of peanut paste, milk, and a special mix of vitamins and minerals. This product is then shipped around the world to third world countries, specifically for children suffering from the most serious cases of malnutrition. This product has already saved 5.5 million children’s lives and they will be expanding their operation to be even larger. Once completed, they will be able to help 3-4 times as many children in need than they are now. They have found that if they are able to get this food to children before turning 2 years old, they are able to grow up to near normal size and health. The nutritional value of peanuts can change the world for the better. These visionaries are taking the steps to making that dream a reality.
This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the organization and direction of Joy Crosby and Leslie Wagner of the Georgia Peanut Commission/Southern PeanutGrowers. Emma and I were able to share meals and drive around the state of Georgia together with them for 3 days, and we feel like we made friends for life. Their passion for the peanut industry burns as bright as the sun and their desire to teach others made the entire trip worth it. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your hospitality, Joy and Leslie.
To learn more about Peanuts and the Georgia Peanut Commission, click here.