Celebrating Women in Ag - Kaneisha Miller

As we wrap up Women’s History Month, we’re excited to feature Kaneisha Miller.

The driving force behind EM Farms in Culloden, GA and a proud member of Georgia Grown, in our final Women in Agriculture Spotlight. Kaneisha epitomizes the farm-values that are the foundation of Georgia’s agricultural community - she’s hard-working, innovative, and always thinking outside the box to get things done on the farm. She dedicates herself daily to propelling her farm to new heights and seizing fresh opportunities. We’re excited to share her advice for women in agriculture, her thoughts on Georgia agriculture, and the Georgia Grown program! Additionally, her commitment to community engagement has earned her recognition both locally, in Monroe County, and on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s ‘A Fork in the Road,’ as a trailblazer in the field. Her invaluable perspective promises to inspire and empower others in the agricultural sector.

GDA: Tell us a little about how EM Farms came to be. 
Kaneisha Miller: EM Farms happened by accident. I wanted to cook soul food and sell it to customers. To keep my input low, I decided to grow the collards, tomatoes, and other vegetables I would be cooking. Once I started growing my garden, I never went back to my original idea. I loved farming so much that I decided to expand it into a farming operation.

GDA: What did you do before starting EM Farms, and how has it shaped your outlook on farming and agribusiness? 
KM: My entire life is surrounded by agriculture. I graduated from Fort Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics. I work for USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service as an Outreach Specialist, and on top of that, both of my grandfathers farmed. Therefore, I am very familiar with seeing various types of agriculture. With that being said, starting your own farm is TOTALLY different than watching others. You really start to appreciate how much hard work, money, & dedication are required in farming and how much your grandparents sacrificed for their offspring. 

GDA: What do your future plans for EM Farms look like? What would you like to change, add, make better?
KM: I constantly look for ways to improve the efficiency and quality of EM in every department, whether it’s our agritourism, value-added goods, pop-up markets, advertising, or farming practices. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head for EM, the most consistent goal that keeps showing up is more farmland. My grandparents left farmland for the family to cultivate and make a living from if they desired. It makes me think, what can I leave for Ace & Ryder (My 2-year-old twins)? Acquiring more farmland is definitely in my plans for expanding EM Farms. 

GDA: As a Georgia Grown member, what does Georgia Grown mean to you? 
KM: It is a sense of community for farmers. Since becoming a member, I have met so many different farmers and networked with them on how they run their operations. The opportunities the organization gives farmers on a regular basis are unmatched. They truly want to see your farming operation grow. The employees of Georgia Grown were handpicked, always available for questions and truly sincere people. I always advise all my farmer friends to join Georgia Grown. 

GDA: Why should Georgia consumers seek Georgia Grown goods at their local grocery store or farmers market? 
KM: Buying Georgia Grown is like buying from a neighbor. It’s a way to support your local farmers and the dedication they put into making products. On top of that, your taste buds will make the decision for you once you try a Georgia Grown product. It’s a clear difference in taste when produce is picked at peak ripeness instead of sitting on a truck for a week before getting to you. Georgia Grown has also made it easy for customers to purchase from farmers by making the products available in well-known grocery stores. 

GDA: What are the top opportunities or ways to further strengthen Georgia’s agribusiness sector? 
KM: Agritourism! People love to interact in nature and see from where their food is derived. The average American works 40 hours a week along with extracurricular activities with their family. Meaning they are looking for a way to relieve the stress of everyday life. Getting out in nature and taking a break from the regular routine can be done by attending an agritourism event such as festivals, U-pick, How-To classes, and, in my case, a Haunted Forest. I host a Haunted Forest annually in October. People of all ages can come to the farm & get scared out of their boots!

GDA: How do you see the role of women in agriculture evolving in the future, and how can we encourage more women to look for opportunities in the ag industry? 
KM: Never look at an industry & think, “I do not belong here” because you do. Most people think all farmers are 60-year-old countrymen with overalls. This is so far from the truth; the industry has changed so much in the last few years. As a woman, think about what you can bring to agriculture that is different from men. Women tend to be more organized, and their creativity is more aesthetically pleasing. Use it to your advantage. Key in on your personal strengths, and never let outside distractions affect your goals. 

GDA: How does agriculture influence people’s lives in Georgia? 
KM: Georgia produces so many agricultural favorites that people do not think of, such as chicken, pecans, peanuts, peaches, and so on. The unique thing about Georgia is that we make events out of agriculture, such as the Georgia National Fair, which brings half a million people to experience livestock, value-added, and retail services related to agriculture.

GDA: What do you enjoy doing in your free time when you’re not working at EM Farms?
KM: I am a certified foodie! I love to try new restaurants; the cultural differences in food are so intriguing to me. When time permits, traveling takes second place…but while I’m traveling, I’m trying new food!