Farmers are, by nature, busy people. There are rows of squash to weed, tomatoes to water, chickens to feed, and weather to worry about.

Few of them have time to market themselves, or build relationships with people who buy their products, or a lot of the work required to create a successful business.

With a new program focused on local food, Walton Wellness, the lifetime health focused arm of the Walton County Healthcare Foundation, wants to make it easier for farmers and anyone interested in their products to connect the dots. Dede Harris, the director of Walton Wellness, said the name of the program is the Walton Local Food Alliance.

She said she hopes to connect the dots between everyone needed to create a thriving local food economy. The primary tool for doing this will be a website. Once completed, it will contain information about all 19 farms in Walton County, plus those in surrounding counties. The idea is that restaurants, schools, hospitals or just ordinary people who want to eat local food can find options on the site. It will also host information about restaurants that have local offerings and education materials on the benefits of local food.

However, the site is not up just yet. Harris said Walton Wellness will be hosting a pig roast event on October 25 to gather interest. Her hope is bring local food stakeholders together for an evening to allow them to connect with each other, and then launch the website after that.

That something like this is even conceivable speaks to how much the local food movement has grown in Walton County in recent years. Not only are farmers growing more and more local produce, but the new restaurants coming to the area are keen to use them. Early members of the Alliance include Wes Kent of Silver Queen and Adam Bailey of South on Broad.

“Generating access to local food to our community members, stimulating the Walton County agricultural economy, and educating people on the bounty around them are the main reasons I’m dedicated to the WFLA and our mission,” Kent said.

Anyone interested in joining can contact Harris at waltonwellness@gmail.com

Andrew Kenneson was a staff writer for The Walton Tribune from 2018-20.

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