Althea Raiford, Gilliard Farms, Quilter (GA)


My first experience at SAWG was unexpected and unplanned, but a complete and total necessity for my eyes to be open what it takes to be a farmer. A quick back story on me; I am a 20 year Navy veteran who after many years and several blessings decided that being a farmer was the direction I needed to grow in….yes grow in. My brother and I are the 6th generation to farm our land and we own a 28 acre organic farm in Southeast Coastal Georgia, Gilliard Farms. We both were raised not on the farm, but with the farming and animal husbandry lessons. Farmer’s Veteran Coalition contacted me in 2011 and told me about scholarships for SSAWG 2012 for military veterans and said I should apply and go. I would meet and learn from farms and farmers in the Southern regions. So when this opportunity came to attend the SSAWG I applied and received a scholarship to attend. When my packet arrived I called my brother and we couldn’t decide which classes I should take and which one we really needed to get a better understanding. We were like a kids in a candy store…we wanted everything. I attended as many courses as humanly possible, met people that would and have changed my life for the better, found information that we needed and some that I didn’t know we needed, and promised to return the following year to continue to grow into a better farmer…I came back in 2013 with my brother. Which is a whole another story…


Editor’s note: Althea made and donated that beautiful quilt in the 2012 silent auction, her first year to attend the conference.

Shari Hawley