Monthly Archives: May 2022

Recipes for Success


Three local food producers – including the grand prize winner – got a taste of victory at this year’s Hart Dairy Grand PrizeFlavor of Georgia contest.

The local area earned considerable bragging rights at this year’s Flavor of Georgia, an annual food product contest for established or market-ready foods and beverages made in the state.

Hart Dairy in Waynesboro won the dairy products category with its chocolate whole milk – and the overall grand prize – in its first year as a contest participant.

“We’re proud to be the only national brand to sell milk that comes from cows that are pasture-raised and grass-fed 365 days a year – and it all starts right here in Georgia,” says Mandy Schulz, marketing manager. “We wanted to compete and meet other companies that are also thriving.”

Another Waynesboro agribusiness, Byne Blueberry Farms, collaborated with Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge to take first place in the beverages category with their blueberry cider. The blueberry farm became the first six-time winner in contest history this year.

“I like the competition because you’re up against the best marketers in the state. These are the most progressive, competitive people in Georgia,” says Dick Byne, owner of the blueberry farm. “Every time I go, I learn something. It makes you a better business person.”

In addition, Cassava Breads, based in Evans, was a finalist in the snack foods category for its garlic and herb cheese bread.

“It’s a great contest. It puts a spotlight on Georgia brands, value-added producers and entrepreneurs,” says Chef and CEO Solomon Cohen. “It helps put us on the map. It helps bring exposure to our brand.”

During the first round of judging, 32 finalists were chosen from 148 entries in 11 categories, and the Flavor of Georgia finals were held in Athens in April.

Hart DairyNatural Choice
For Hart Dairy, entering the farm’s chocolate whole milk in the contest was a natural choice.

“It’s delicious. People rave about it,” Schulz says. “Also, we want to bring awareness to doing dairy the right way. We know – because it’s how we operate – that farming can be done responsibly by treating animals humanely, providing highly nutritious food, and working with the earth – not against it.”

She says Hart Dairy, founded in 2017 by Tim Connell and Richard Watson, is the only national brand to sell milk from cows that are pasture-raised and grass-fed 365 days a year.

“Our cows are never confined. They’re always outside grazing on fresh grass,” Schulz says. “We’re the first grass-fed pasteurized dairy cow milk sold in America that’s certified humane.”

The dairy calls the milk a great post-workout drink, due to its protein and carbohydrate content, as well as a drink that the entire family can enjoy.

Byne Blueberry FarmsWinning Combination
According to Byne, who also teaches marketing at Augusta Tech in Grovetown, 92% of the public likes fresh blueberries. However, he says, “I started going after the 8% that doesn’t like fresh blueberries and put them in another form.”

Byne Blueberry Farms, the oldest organic blueberry farm in the Southeast, and Mercier Orchards, a fourth generation family-owned apple orchard founded in 1943, started collaborating on the cider in 2012. Development of the product really started to gel in August 2020.

“It’s the first time two farms in Georgia have come together to make a product,” says Byne, who started the blueberry farm in 1980. “Apples and blueberries are super fruits, and I don’t know if anybody has ever put two super fruits together. There are a lot of health benefits to it.”

Byne has entered Flavor of Georgia eight times, and in past years, the farm also has won in the barbecue sauces, beverages, condiments and salsas, confections and snack foods categories.

“I’ve always wanted to be creative and continue to come up with new ideas,” says Byne. “You have to come up with something that people will like and keep buying. You can have a great product, but you haven’t done anything if it’s not in a vehicle that’s marketable.”

Cassava BreadsRoot of the Matter
Cassava Breads was another first-time Flavor of Georgia entrant. For the initial round of judging, Cohen submitted all four of his cheese breads – classic, garlic and herb, sweet potato herb and chili lime – and the judges selected the garlic and herb to advance to the finals.

“We made a lot of connections with UGA food scientists,” Cohen says. “It was a great opportunity for exposure.”

The entrepreneur named his company, which he founded in 2017, after cassava, a mineral-rich, ancient root that is a centuries-old sustainable food source. Calling the root the ideal foundation for his artisanal breads, Cohen says the naturally gluten-free, grain-free and vegan cassava flour naturally highlights the flavors of the breads.

He imports cassava starch flour from the Minas region of Brazil and hand-selects aged cheeses to complement his artisan recipes.

“We cater to people that love bread and cheese and to people with dietary criteria for food products,” Cohen says.

Cassava BreadsPrized Products
To evaluate the entries, the Flavor of Georgia judges considered technical aspects of the products such as flavor, texture and ingredient profile. The judges also take into account consumer appeal including packaging, innovation and how well the product represents the state.

Each entry is featured in the Flavor of Georgia print and digital product directory, which is seen by leading food industry buyers. Finalists are granted the right to use the Flavor of Georgia logo on their label and promotional materials, a one-year membership in Georgia Grown and the opportunity to present their product to a panel of food industry experts.

As the grand prize winner, Hart Dairy also was awarded exhibit space at the Georgia Food Industry Association Annual Convention and three consultation sessions from the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center.

Since the beginning of Flavor of Georgia in 2007, more than 1,600 products have been entered in the contest.

Flying High


Photos courtesy of Lamar Garrard

Lots of local talent helped the 1962 Georgia Southern Eagles soar to the NAIA baseball title.

John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. Marilyn Monroe sang a breathy rendition of “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Spider-Man first appeared in a comic book, and the Cuban Missile Crisis led to fears of a full-scale nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

These events were on the world stage in 1962, but the baseball team at Georgia Southern College (now Georgia Southern University) in Statesboro, Georgia was making its own dramatic headlines as well. Overcoming adversity to post a 13 – 7 regular season record, the Eagles advanced to the regional National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics district finals and ultimately claimed a national title 60 years ago this month.

Driven to Excel
The roster featured a number of players from Columbia and Richmond counties including Harlem High School graduates Pierce Blanchard and E.G. Meybohm. The Academy of Richmond County also was represented by Tommy Howland, Charles Tarpley, Buzzy McMillan, Bill Griffin, Miller Finley and Larry Crouch.

When Blanchard, Meybohm or Crouch was pitching, six players in the starting lineup were from the Augusta area.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the team’s national championship, but with many underclassmen on the roster, there were few expectations for the Eagles to excel. However, the players’ determination and resolve, coupled with their talent, paved the road to Georgia Southern’s first sports national championship. In fact, it is reported by some to be the first national championship by any college team in the state.

“We had a team that believed in teamwork, no super-stars, a lot of camaraderie, and we played hard with a great desire to win,” says Meybohm.

At one point, however, the Eagles’ post-season hopes appeared to be grounded before they ever took flight. In mid-May, after finishing a two-game road trip at Florida State University, the team bus was in a serious collision with a tractor trailer just outside of Tallahassee. Several team members were badly hurt, and a few required hospitalization.

Coach J.I. Clements called a team meeting to find out if his players wished to continue with the season after so many of their teammates had been injured. The team vote was a resounding “yes,” which was the beginning of turning a mishap into a major success.

Playoff Time
Hosting the NAIA District 7 Tournament, the Eagles lost their first game to Pfeiffer College of North Carolina. Having to win three games in one day seemed an impossibility. The boys from the “Boro,” as the town was known, started in the early morning and finished at dusk in a stadium with no lights.

GSC defeated Carson Newman in the first game and went on to topple Pfeiffer in the next two games to capture the District 7 title. Winning three games and playing 27 innings of baseball in one day was a major stepping stone for this championship-bound team.

Advancing to the NAIA National Championship playoffs in St. Joseph, Missouri, June 5 – 9, GSC handily defeated Minot State, 9 – 3, when Blanchard took the mound and allowed only three hits. David Bell was the winning pitcher in Game 2 as the Eagles handed Winona a 1 – 0 loss. Game 3 saw Meybohm hurl a six-hitter while besting Portland State, 5 – 2.

Allowing just five hits, Blanchard picked up his second tourney win in Game 4 when Georgia Southern beat Portland State again in a 2 – 0 victory that earned the Eagles the championship.

When their bus returned to the Georgia Southern campus, the players were greeted by a large contingent of well-wishers including students, faculty and community.

“Playing on this team was a true life lesson in what can be accomplished through hard work and teamwork,” Blanchard says.

By Lamar Garrard

Low & Slow Pulled Pork

  • 4-pound bone-in pork butt (Boston butt)
  • Dry Rub:
  • 1/2 cup smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili pepper (chipotle)
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard

Combine rub ingredients; set aside. Rinse pork and pat dry with paper towels. Set on baking sheet and sprinkle all over with rub. Using hands, massage rub into meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-8 hours or overnight (overnight is best). Remove from fridge and let sit (still wrapped) at room temperature for 1 hour.

To Grill:
Heat all grill burners on high for 10 minutes. Turn off all burners except far left. Reduce far left burner to low (to maintain 275 degrees). Remove plastic wrap and place pork on far right side of grill, fat cap up. Close grill and maintain 275 degrees about 8-10 hours or until internal temperature of pork reaches 200 degrees. Remove and place in pan. Cover with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes. Shred with forks and serve with sauce. Makes 12 servings.

To Bake:
Place oven rack in lower half of oven so pork will be in the middle of oven. Set oven to 250 degrees (no need to preheat). Place a cooking rack in a large-rimmed pan lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place meat on rack fat cap up and cook about 8-9 hours or until internal temp is 200 degrees. Remove and place in pan. Cover with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes. Shred with forks and serve with sauce. Makes 12 servings.

Makes 8-12 servings.