GFB News Magazine

Vineyard picnic benefits ag awareness

Posted on November 7, 2022 12:00 AM

Nearly 300 guests attended the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture’s Picnic on the Farm Eventure Sept. 17 at Engelheim Vineyards in Ellijay. This unique culinary and educational event raised $47,000 through ticket sales, a silent auction, sponsorships and donations to fund the foundation’s many programs that raise agricultural awareness and prepare Georgia’s next generation of agricultural leaders.

Picnic volunteers greeted arriving guests inside the vineyard’s “Venue in the Vines” event center with baskets packed with cuisine from North Georgia chefs and Ellijay apple farms. 

After gathering their baskets and award-winning Engelheim Vineyards wine, guests enjoyed the afternoon relaxing and exploring the vineyard while listening to local band Jack and the Bean Sprouts perform classic songs from the 1960s and ‘70s. Guests also enjoyed watching members of the North Georgia Plein-Air Artists group capture the scenery and spirit of the event with their paint brushes. 

The picturesque, 15-acre vineyard in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains introduced guests to Georgia’s growing wine and grape sector.

Engelheim Vineyards owner Gary Engel hosted three small-group, one-hour tours of his vineyards along with Engelheim winemaker Billy Branch, UGA Extension Fruit Disease Specialist Plant Pathologist Phillip M. Brannen and Gilmer County UGA Extension Agent Ashely Hoppers. 

“Gary Engel is clearly very connected to the earth. I could see his passion behind why he farms and cares for his land,” one guest was overheard saying after touring the farm. “The farm tour was inspirational.” 

Event attendees also had the chance to tour the foundation’s Georgia Ag Experience (GAE) mobile classroom, which travels approximately 200 days a year to visit third through fifth-grade elementary school students and public events. The mobile classroom brings the farm to the students using interactive computer games and simulation stations that educate students using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. 

In 2021, the GAE classroom educated 16,861 students in 63 counties statewide. The mobile classroom is one of the many programs the Picnic on the Farm and other fundraising efforts led by GFA Executive Director Lily Baucom will fund. 

“There is a serious disconnect between those inside and outside of agriculture. The gap between farmers who grow food and fiber, and those who consume it, is getting wider,” Baucom said. “In fact, most students are three to four generations removed from the farm. It is our job to find innovative approaches to address these issues which impact food security in Georgia, our nation and worldwide.”

The foundation appreciates the many sponsors who made this event a success. Please visit for a complete list of our supporters.

Georgia Foundation for Agriculture Executive Director Lily Baucom may be reached at or 478.405.3461. Visit to learn more about the foundation or to make a tax-deductible donation. 

Photos by Logan Thomas