November 18, 2022 |Krisztian Varsa

Celebrating the Growth of Our Working Farms Fund

The Conservation Fund’s Working Farms Fund is rebuilding our local food system by protecting farmland and supporting next generation farmers with affordable land access, expanded market access and assistance to grow more sustainably. Since launching in Georgia in 2021, the Working Farms Fund has helped secure nine farms totaling nearly 750 acres of farmland in two major metropolitan areas — Atlanta and Chicago — for next generation producers growing a rich diversity of products and food.

Now that’s something worth celebrating! In November 2022 we held an event on one of the first farms in the program to recognize and thank everyone who has helped us get to where we are today. We never would have made it here without our many supportive partners and the ambitious, diverse, entrepreneurial farmers who care about stewarding the land and growing healthy food for their community.

This memorable event was held 40 miles outside Atlanta at Love Is Love Cooperative Farm in Mansfield, Georgia, which is the first farm the Working Farms Fund program invested in. Photo by Stacy Funderburke.

Every time we come to this incredible farm, we’re amazed at what the Love Is Love team has accomplished. We’re so lucky to have them as a part of the Working Farms Fund program. Photo by Stacy Funderburke.   

The Conservation Fund team preparing for the event. From left to right: Stacy Funderburke, Elizabeth Renfroe, Roberta Moore and Krisztian Varsa. Photo courtesy Stacy Funderburke.

Just as farmers are always dependent on the weather, we had our fingers crossed for clear skies and comfortable temperatures, and we lucked out with an amazing evening to gather outside with nearly 60 guests. Photo by Addison Hill.

In addition to our Love Is Love Cooperative Farm hosts, there were many farmers in attendance from our seven farms in Georgia. Farms and farmers in the program are thriving, with support from The Conservation Fund to establish viable farm businesses through infrastructure investment, partner resources and, eventually, affordable farmland. Photo by Addison Hill.   

Joe Reynolds (left) with Krisztian Varsa, Working Farms Fund Associate. Joe is one-fifth of the team at Love is Love Cooperative Farm, where he, Judith Winfrey, Demetrius Milling, Monica Ponce and Russell Honderd are partners in creating a fiscally sound, environmentally sustainable, certified organic diverse vegetable, fruit and flower farm business. Photo by Addison Hill.

We knew Joe was an excellent farmer and savvy businessman, but now we also know he is a professional hugger, too! Photos by Addison Hill.

Najeeb Muhaimin of Pride Road (left) caught up with Stacy Funderburke, The Conservation Fund’s Georgia and Alabama Associate State Director (right). Pride Road is a farm business operated by three generations of farmers dedicated to natural hibiscus production and pastured poultry. Photo by Addison Hill.

Joe Reynolds (left) and Asa Ysrael of Atlanta Harvest (right), a family owned and operated farm that uses organic production to increase access to healthy, locally grown, farm fresh food for distressed communities, while also to mobilizing collective action, cultivating passion, driving innovation, and creating dignifying work opportunities. Photo by Addison Hill.

Rahul Anand (right) is the owner and operator of Snapfinger Farm, which he started in 2016 growing on 14 acres. After six years of growth, Rahul recognized that the small farm space was not meeting the potential demand of the local wholesale market, and in 2022 The Conservation Fund secured a 197-acre farm in Covington, Georgia, on behalf of Snapfinger Farm. Photo by Addison Hill.


Little Fox Farm owner Lindy Kloepfer (right) and her husband/assistant farm manager Daniel Guzman (left) were able to expand their organic vegetable, fruit and flower farm business thanks to the Working Farms Fund securing a 52-acre farm in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Photo by Addison Hill.

Working Farms Fund supporters and partners were led on a tour of the farm by Joe Reynolds. Two years ago, this land was on the open market — unsold, empty and almost certainly slated for development. Then Demetrius, Joe, Judith, Monica and Russell stepped onto the property and knew this farm was the blank slate they needed for their growing business and to execute a vision for their cooperative’s future. Photo by Addison Hill.

The tour continued with Demetrius Milling leading the way. Since joining the program, the Love Is Love Cooperative Farm team has already tripled their farm production, growing and selling more healthy, local food for rural and urban communities in the Atlanta area. Photo by Addison Hill.

Love is Love Cooperative Farm is forging new pathways in farm ownership models. We’ve coinvested with the farm team to build critical farm infrastructure, and the team is producing food on three times the land they were a year ago. Photo by Addison Hill.

As the sunlight faded and the moon and stars began to shine, we headed back to the tent to conclude the evening with a locally sourced dinner and presentations. Photo by Addison Hill.

The menu showcased locally sourced food, from farms represented at the event and in the greater Atlanta area, and tables were decorated with flowers from the farms in attendance. Photos by Addison Hill.

Through support of partners, funders and farmers, the Working Farms Fund launch has been successful in Georgia. The program is expanding to meet demand in new geographies, including Chicago, with potential to transform land access, capital, and markets through our innovative farmland transition model. Photo by Addison Hill.

The event doubled as the world premiere of our new Working Farms Fund video, which highlights some of the incredible farmers and partners that are making this work a success. See the link at the bottom of the post to watch for yourself! Photo by Addison Hill.

One thing was clear at the end of the night: the Working Farms Fund has a bright future ahead, thanks to our partners, supporters and farmers. Without innovative new tools like the Working Farms Fund to break down the barriers to land access, local and small- to mid-size farms won’t exist in the future. Thanks for your support as we work with so many amazing farmers and partners to rebuild our local food system!

The future is as bright as the tent was that night! Photo by Addison Hill.

While the evening’s attendees were the first to see this movie, now you can also enjoy the newest Working Farms Fund video.

Written by

Krisztian Varsa

In his role as Working Farms Fund Associate, Krisztian Varsa works to acquire and transition farmland for next-generation producers who are scaling their farm businesses to meet the demand of their community for locally grown, healthy food. When he’s not busy shifting the food system, Krisztian enjoys fly fishing and camping with his family.