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The green life
Local grower expands organic footprint
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Green Livin' Farms kicked off the summer season on June 26 by celebrating the grand opening of a second store at 5177 Floyd Street. The second location joins Green Livin's first store at the U.S. Highway 278 and Ga. Highway 142 location known as "The Hub."

Both establishments offer locally-grown, daily-picked produce at prices competitive with, if not below, produce at the supermarket.

With the summer season at its peak, Green Livin' offers a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, like yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, berries and peaches. Eggs are collected from open-range chickens, as opposed to caged chickens, that are never aided by hormones and antibiotics. The stores also carry organic produce from local conventional farms like Alcovy Berry Farms and Phoenix Farms, as well as non-homogenized milk from Johnson Family Farms.

Darrell Head, owner of Green Livin' Farms, said the business started as a result of his own concerns about the safety of food for his family.

Head said that after extensively researching the impact of pesticides on health, particularly for children, he decided the only way he would be certain of safe and healthy food would be to grow it himself.

"The problem with organic is that it may be certified organic, but you still don't know where it came from," Head said. "It could come from another country. It has to be picked before it's ripe and has to travel so far. The processing of the fruit and vegetables were a big concern for me."

Green Livin's produce is not USDA Certified Organic, because the complicated and expensive process would raise the prices substantially. Instead, Green Livin' is marketed as ‘responsibly farmed, reasonably priced.'

"By calling ourselves responsibly farmed, it means we use the same organic practices but the difference is, once the product is ripe, it's harvested and placed on the shelf that very day," explained Head. "That's a vision you don't get anywhere else. It's as fresh as you can get. To us, it's a grade above organic. If you look at our cost, then you look at regular fruits and vegetables and organic, we're somewhere in between. That's why we call ourselves responsibly farmed, reasonably priced."

Because of the varying nature of fruit and vegetable farming, Green Livin' offers additional products from local farmer's markets. However, the produce from the farmer's markets are not organic; customers are given the option between regular produce and Green Livin's product. Head says his customers generally wait for Green Livin's crops to come in.

"I want to know what I'm getting, I want to know the people and I want to know about the farms," Head said. "And people know we've done our homework and talk to the farmers and get what we consider to be good local stuff. They see the effort we put in for the people around here."

Green Livin' operates as a high-density farm on 15 acres of land. Using plastic cultures, the crops are on a raised bed with a drip system underneath, allowing the small tract of land to be fully irrigated. The farm uses all-natural fertilization that is fed through the drip system. Using this method of farming, the farm is able to maximize its crops efficiently and control any safety issues.

Organic pesticide is occasionally used, though the amount used is less than on most farms. The main strategy against pests is using a vacuum - literally vacuuming the insects from the plant. Physically pinching the insects from the crops is another method employed by the farm.

One of the more interesting facets of Green Livin's operation (and one of its primary goals) is that the farm is connected to Cross Pointe Church through a special ministry. The ministry is called Harvest Pointe and is financed through Green Livin'.

Currently, Harvest Pointe teaches high-density farming techniques all over the world, including places like India and Ethiopia.

According to Head, land is at a premium in third world countries, particularly in the cities. As a result, high density farming is really effective in such locales - even necessary. Head hopes to start a model farm in Ethiopia within the year that will serve to set the standard for farming all over the country.

"Cross Pointe, as it becomes more solvent - it is still in its infancy - then Harvest Pointe grows. It's the primary objective of Green Livin'," Head said. "I didn't start Green Livin' to supplement my income; its primary objective is to spread this technique. Down the road, Harvest Pointe will become needs-based. If people need food, we'll provide. It's not just the training of the technique to third world countries; it's also to support our community on a needs-based perspective."

For more information, visit Green Livin' farms Facebook page.