What will Americans do in 15 years when there are not enough farmers to feed our massive country, let alone the growing global population? This is question keeps Walt Dasher, a third generation Georgia farmer at G&R Farms, up at night, and it’s driving him to find solutions.
It started in 2015 when Dasher hiring young adults to work on the farm during the busy Vidalia® onion season.
“Over the years, we found people under the age of 30 in rural areas, like ours, expressed very little interest in farm work. This caused me great concern because we all know that a lack of farmers could create a myriad of problems for our country,” Dasher said. “Can you imagine if we experienced a food supply shortage in the United States and had to depend on foreign countries to feed our families?”
Dasher noted the average age of an American farmer is 58 (source), which continues to trend older each year. Determined to do his part to combat the problem and increase awareness across the country, he created a plan.
He launched a fundraiser where all proceeds were donated to the Georgia FFA Foundation. While the monetary results were small at first, they were the key to opening a door to a much larger program.
Soon, National FFA joined the movement and Growing America’s Farmers was established as a non-profit foundation providing college scholarships for future agriculturalists through the National FFA Organization. Since launch, the program has expanded into a multi-tier effort to involve retailers that support educational opportunities for young people aspiring to become America’s future farmers.
A history of innovation
G&R Farms is recognized as Georgia's oldest grower, packer, shipper and marketer of Vidalia Onions. Founded in 1945, as a farm of two acres, the operation has greatly expanded, with the Dasher Family now planting approximately 1,300 acres of the world-famous crop annually.
This company was the first to sell sweet onions to a major retail chain back in 1970 and also one of the first in the industry to utilize Controlled Atmosphere Storage. Headquartered in Glennville, Georgia, the company also expands to Florida, Peru, and Colombia as well.
“As a 100 percent family-owned and operated company and one of the oldest active fully-integrated growers, packers, shippers in the industry, we offer a history of quality and premier product that is a testament to our business,” Walt says.
Why do we love Walt and the Dasher family?
Not only does G&R Farms work to empower tomorrow’s agriculturalists to provide the food supply for our country, they also partner in the community in many ways, supporting numerous events and activities.
Like when Walt’s dad, Robert Dasher, was honored as the 2010 Georgia Farmer of the Year, followed by the elite recognition as the Southeastern Farmer of the Year. He donated his winnings of $17,500 to the Friends of the Glennwanis Hotel for the hotel’s restoration fund.
The work they’re doing is going to leave a legacy far beyond G&R Farms — they’re investing in the future of America’s farmers and inspiring our future Ruralists in the making.