G&R Farms announces partnership with national FFA

G&R Farms in Tattnall County, GA has finalized an agreement with the National FFA Organization to support scholarships for students in Production Agriculture. Under the agreement, G&R will contribute a percentage of sales from its 2017 Vidalia onion®; crop to enhance educational opportunities for young people who are committed to future farming careers.

The new initiative, “Growing America’s Farmers™,” was the brainchild of Walt Dasher, a third generation southeast Georgia farmer who is a strong advocate of FFA. As a partner in G&R Farms, he found it was difficult to hire young people to work on the family farm. In fact, it was becoming a growing problem, no pun intended.

“Over the years, we found that 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,” said Dasher. “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 that the average age of an American farmer is 57 and trending older with each passing year. Determined to do his part to combat the problem and increase awareness across the country, Dasher formulated a program in conjunction with the National FFA Organization to support the scholarship initiative for future farmers.

“Without the land being plowed and the crops being planted, nurtured and harvested, our country would be devastated. At G&R, we’re committed to helping America’s future farmers. We are very excited about partnering with FFA nationally to provide scholarship opportunities for aspiring farmers,” said Dasher.

Molly Ball, president of the National FFA Foundation, commented, “Supporters such as G&R Farms and their customers help sustain the future of agriculture and help achieve the FFA vision of growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture.”

G&R Farms and the Dasher family have built a reputation as leaders in the Vidalia onion® industry since a few acres of the crop were harvested 72 years ago by Walter L. Dasher near his home in Glennville, GA.

Today’s operation has grown to include over 5,000 acres of southeast Georgia farmland operated by Robert, Pam and Walt Dasher. G&R Farms is recognized as Georgia’s oldest grower, packer, marketer and shipper of world famous Vidalia onions®.

In 2017, G&R grew 1,300 acres of Vidalia onions®, representing nearly 12 percent of the 11,000 total acres planted in Georgia’s onion belt. Harvest projections are expected to reach nearly six million pounds, according to Walt Dasher, grandson of the farm’s founder.

G&R Farms new FFA onion bins featured in select Kroger Stores

(L-R) Pictured with G&R Farms' new FFA onions bins in Kroger are Gary Black, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture; Katrina Jones, executive director of the Georgia FFA Foundation; Bruce Lucia, Atlanta division president of Kroger Co.; and Walt Dasher, co-owner of G&R Farms.

G&R Farms introduces new bin display in conjunction with national partnership with FFA

The new bin display, featured in leading supermarket retailers, features a family collection of farming photos and information about G&R’s new “Growing America’s Farmers” program which supports educational opportunities for young people who are committed to future farming careers.

Dasher Family is committed to helping FFA at national level

(L-R) Robert and Walt Dasher of G&R Farms display their new Vidalia Onion bin that is now available for retailers. The southeast Georgia farmers are donating a percentage of sales from their 2017 onion crop to support FFA nationally.

About National FFA Organization:

The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 649,355 student members as part of 7,859 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 local FFA Alumni chapters throughout the U.S. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog.

About National FFA Foundation:

The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees composed of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA Alumni, the foundation is a separately registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of every dollar received by the foundation supports FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.

About Georgia’s Vidalia Onions®:

What makes Vidalia Onions® unique compared to other sweet onions?

Vidalia onions® happened by chance when a farmer in Toombs County, Georgia planted a F1 hybrid yellow granex seed in the sandy, loamy soil of the region during the 1930s. The field produced a crop of onions with a surprisingly sweet and flavorful taste.

What separates Vidalia onions® from other varieties can be traced to the region’s mild climate and low-sulfur soil content. Onion flavor is determined by the sweetness and pungency, or what is referred to as “hotness.” The best sweet onions are mild with a low pungency and reasonably high sugar levels in the bulb.

Additional info on Georgia’s Vidalia onions®

The soil in Georgia’s Vidalia onion® region does not retain sulfur and the crop can be made less pungent by carefully applying the proper balance of fertilizer and water when needed. Sulfur is an important nutrient in onion growth and farmers must apply enough to meet the needs for maturing the onions while not applying too much to increase pungency, or make the onions hot.

Pyruvic acid in sulfur causes tears, harshness and indigestion. Vidalia onions® are high in water content, which helps dilute the effect of sulfur while contributing to the mild taste.

There are other onions with sugar levels as high or higher than Vidalia onions®, however, their pungency is usually higher. The mild flavor of Vidalia onions® is a unique combination of low pungency levels and sufficient sugars in the onion to make it taste sweet.