LOGANVILLE — Haley Bryant graduated from the University of Georgia with two business degrees and a minor in Spanish. She spends her post-collegiate days on the farm.
Bryant and Seth Hancock, another recent UGA grad, run Dillwood Farms. With a combined age of 47, they live together in an aging house — one that might be easily mistaken for a small, aging frat house — near the corner of Brushy Fork and Old Loganville roads.
They use the 60 acres of surrounding land to produce organically grown vegetables, which, in addition to providing the majority of their own meals, are sold to some of Atlanta's top-notch restaurants.
"I guess you could call us tenant farmers," said Hancock, 24, who graduated in December with a degree in agricultural studies. "Luckily, we both have very little debt, so we're just trying to see what we can make of this. I don't know if we'll be retiring after this year, but we're doing really well."
Dillwood Farms has been around for decades. By the late 1960s, the farm essentially begun as a hobby by Decatur attorney George Dillard had reached about 150 acres at its current site. As years wore on and Gwinnett grew increasingly urbanized, Dillard stopped raising cattle and hogs and focused on produce.
The elder Dillard died in 2006 and passed the farm down to son Doug and his wife Rosetta. When old management "fizzled out" in January, Bryant and Hancock took over.
Bryant, 23, began volunteering at the farm last summer after she spotted it during a bike ride from her parents' house, just a few miles away. She fills the role of "director of operations," handling everything from accounting and marketing to filling orders and writing a newsletter.
Hancock, farm manager, is the master of the fields, but calls Bryant "the boss."
"We love doing it more than the people who were here," Bryant said. "We have the passion to work for it, to work hard for it. It's been a lot better. We've increased the sales, and he's made the garden look absolutely beautiful."
Though Dillwood isn't certified organic (that process is expensive), its naturally grown vegetables are used at Atlanta-area restaurants like Aria, Holeman and Finch, Empire State South, Restaurant Eugene, Canoe and Kevin Rathbun Steak.
If the names don't ring a bell, here's a short explainer: They're all upscale and highly rated by Zagat. Their chefs have won many awards.
Dillwood Farms also sells at markets in Snellville, Tucker and Brookhaven. They're trying to get the general public more involved, too.
One way the farm is attempting to get Gwinnett County and the rest of metro Atlanta going in the "eat local" movement is through its community supported agriculture program. CSA participants get a bag full of Dillwood produce for $30 each week.