In the late 1950s, a lawyer and former FBI special agent returned to Georgia, his home state, and purchased a fifty-acre parcel in East DeKalb County.
George P. Dillard had graduated from law school and spent twelve years with the FBI in Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. But he had grown up on a tenant farm in Lithonia, Georgia, and had put himself through school by growing vegetables and farm products on property located on Covington Highway. Farming was in his blood. So when he returned to Decatur to practice law, he invested his savings to create Dillwood Farms, a primarily hobby farm where he raised Polled Hereford cattle, sheep, and Shetland ponies. And he also always had a vegetable garden.
The farm quickly grew. By the early 1960s, Dillard had a little over 150 acres—most of it on Brushy Fork Road in Loganville, in Gwinnett County—in addition to his East DeKalb land. There he raised cattle and hogs and produced hay.
As the area developed, Dillard sold roughly ninety acres of his Gwinnett land. One of his sons, James Randall, began a landscape and nursery company on about ten acres in the late 1970s. Ultimately, Billy Ray Allen purchased the business, which operates today as Brushy Fork Nursery.
The years wore on, and the area became more urban. George Dillard ended his cattle and hog operation and focused solely on nursery products, fruits, and vegetables. While he used commercial practices for his gardening, he always sought to produce fruits and vegetables of the highest quality.
George Dillard died on November 30, 2006, and his son and daughter-in-law, Doug and Rosetta, took over operations of the farm.
In 2008, Doug and Rosetta and the rest of the Dillwood staff decided to make the switch from conventional growing methods to natural growing methods, with the same goal in mind George had always had: to produce the finest fruits and vegetables in the Southeast.
At the start of 2012, Seth Hancock and Haley Bryant began managing operations of the farm. Seth, a UGA Ag-Business graduate with a certificate in organic agriculture, oversees the management of the fields while Haley, a UGA Marketing and International Business graduate, runs the business side of the farm. Their crew of two, Paty and David, help with the day to day duties on the farm.
The Dillards, Seth, Haley and the staff at Dillwood are passionate about the benefits and value of locally grown produce, and because many Atlanta restaurateurs are as well, it has led to a natural partnership. Dillwood supplies produce to Atlanta-area restaurants and also runs a successful community-supported agriculture (CSA) program for a number of Atlanta neighborhoods and businesses, allowing Atlantans to buy local, seasonal food directly from a Georgia farm. As a result of these partnerships and efforts, Dillwood Farms is becoming a leader in the local farming movement.
Dillwood’s latest partnership is with specialty grocery Savi Urban Market, in Atlanta’s Inman Park. Their goal is to facilitate the growth and distribution of local, chemical-free foods for the community in gourmet markets across the Southeast, one neighborhood at a time.