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Volunteers carry boxes of Georgia-grown fruits and vegetables to a car at a Georgia Grown to Go event in Cobb County in June. The Georgia Grown marketing staff teamed up with Georgia farmers and local governments in the metro Atlanta area to distribute produce, dairy and protein boxes in a series of drive-thru events. (GDA File Photo)

Produce grows new markets during pandemic

By Jay Jones
jay.jones@agr.georgia.gov

Fruits and vegetable growers in Georgia think good timing helped them see a better than expected harvest following market uncertainty from effects of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Growers and market observers cited timing, good weather and federal food programs addressing food shortages as factors in making it a good year for most produce farmers in the state. Stories of farms in Florida harrowing vegetables into the fields in March was sobering news for Bill Brim of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton.

Looking back, Brim said he was less fearful as markets opened following the shutdown and as Georgia crops were harvested in late April and May.

"I think people stayed at home, cooking more fresh vegetables. It didn't take up all of the slack from the restaurants and foodservice industry, but they bought a lot more than what we felt they would because of the virus and not being able to get out," Brim said.

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