A 6-YEAR-OLD GIRL REACHES FOR THE SKIES AS GEORGIA'S YOUNGEST CERTIFIED FARMER
By: April Carson
Kendall Rae Johnson, a 6-year-old trained farmer in Georgia, is already the state's youngest certified farmer. Born to a farming family, Kendall Rae Johnson was born into agriculture.
"You could say it's in my blood," said the 6-year-old farmer who lives on her family's hog farm. "I'm used to being around animals."
She spends hours every day engaged in animal care tasks that are just above her head. She shows pigs, goats and cows at local animal shows and takes the title on average once a month.
In order to become a certified farmer, Kendall obtained her business entity at both the state and federal levels under the name "aGROWKulture." She also joined several farming organizations, such as Georgia Grown, a division of Georgia's Department of Agriculture, and the Georgia Farm Bureau. She can apply for grants, scholarships, and buy land as a limited liability company, similar to a corporation.
From her great-grandmother Laura "Kate" Williams, Kendall learned to love gardening. She then developed an interest in growing a wide range of plants, ranging from carrots to okra, squash, zucchini, and strawberries.
"She started out in a patio garden and her patio garden grew from a little tiny thing to, by the time she was four years old, we had a full-fledged backyard garden," Ursula Johnson said of Kendall. "And then we moved, and now she has a farm."
Kendall has taken a leadership role in educating her peers about farming. She began with a monthly gardening club, where families assisted her in harvesting, planting, and producing subscription food boxes. Her goal is to help other youngsters understand where their meals are sourced.
Georgia state Rep. Mandisha Thomas found Kendall online and has made media appearances at press conferences in support of youth farmers in South Fulton as part of her work to increase agricultural tourism. She contributed $85,000 for them.
She is presently attempting to gather $10,000 for an outdoor agricultural laboratory where students may compost.
"Ursula's daughter is the perfect example of a young entrepreneur," her mother added. "She isn't only Georgia's youngest farmer, but also the state's youngest Black farmer."
Rep. Thomas's enthusiasm for youth farming led her to introduce House Bill 246, which increases the state's individual tax credit for contributions made to the Georgia Agricultural Education Foundation by $100. The tax credit was capped at $20 million per year until 2016 when it jumped to $40 million.
According to the USDA, black farmers account for less than 2% of all farmers in the United States. Agriculture is by far one of Georgia's most significant industries. As she attends numerous Georgia Agriculture summits, Kendall's enthusiasm will no doubt motivate and draw more attention to the field in her neighborhood.
"When you attend these gatherings and conferences, nine times out of ten, you won't see anyone as young as Kendall there," Ursula added.
"It was critical and inspiring for them to invite her to simply come, sit in, and listen even if she didn't understand what was going on," she continued. Finally, after I spoke with her, Kendall told me that she just wanted to "make new friends, make new things, and inspire other children."
As she continues to inspire Mrs. Hamilton and the program's leader, Ben Hill County Extension Agent Bobby Corbin, the hope is for Kendall and other children to better understand agriculture and its importance in their community.
"Most of our county's population is between 50 and 70 years old, so it's going to be a challenge for us to get the younger people involved," Corbin said.
But young Kendall is already moving mountains as she works towards her goal of changing the world by becoming a farmer.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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