By: Jessica Winski
I’ve spent almost my entire life a short, 30-minute drive north of Atlanta in the suburbs, some distance from the heart of peanut country. While I did grow up riding horses and spent nearly every weekend and all my free time at the barn, the inner workings of a peanut farm were somewhat foreign to me. The 2017 Georgia Peanut Tour hosted by the Georgia Peanut Commission allowed me the opportunity to visit a peanut farm for the first time, to see and learn even more about peanuts and the industry as a whole.
The Georgia Peanut Tour brings people with varying roles in the peanut industry – from the farmers, to the buyers, researchers and those in sales or marketing like myself– to peanut country to spend a few days together. While the focus of the tour is on the peanuts themselves, I found that the tour provided the opportunity to meet and interact with people in positions within in the industry that you otherwise may not cross paths with.
This year, the tour included field stops, a visit to a Georgia experiment station, a seed peanut facility, a peanut buying point, the USDA National Peanut Lab, and a food safety company. Additionally, the tour made a stop at the childhood home of former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, who spoke with the group about growing up on a peanut farm and his love for peanuts. The field stops were two of my favorites, as they allowed a firsthand look at peanuts being dug and inverted, and later picked once they were dried.
In addition to hearing Jimmy Carter speak, tour attendees heard from farmers and county agents directly about the challenges they face – and the solutions to those challenges – in order to produce peanuts. Partnerships with researchers and Extension faculty at the University of Georgia (UGA) were highlighted when they shared their efforts to find innovative ways to aid farmers with the challenges they face and help improve peanut production.
From connecting with others to learning about the varying phases of peanut growth and production, The Georgia Peanut Tour provides a unique opportunity to those with a hand in the peanut industry. The tour helps grow appreciation and understanding of the hard work and dedication of everyone in the industry – and makes your favorite handful of peanuts taste even better when you have a deeper understanding of where they came from and the people involved in their production.
Jessica Winski is a Digital Associate at Golin, where she has worked on National Peanut Board for more than two years.