Former Farm Manager wants criminal probe

Former Farm Manager wants criminal probe

Posted: Updated:

It's every restaurant's mission: finding fresh vegetables that not only look sensational.. but taste wonderful.

That's why a Fox 5 I-Team investigation into a troubled organic farm has caused a stir among longtime farm-to-table growers. A farm that admits it broke its promises to popular restaurants all over metro Atlanta.

Our earlier investigation revealed how the CEO of Free Country Farms, Denise "Eve" Morrow, served time in North Carolina for multiple counts of obtaining property under false pretenses.

But now the farm's former manager claims to law enforcement Free Country Farms pulled a scam on some of your favorite restaurants.

"That little section was going to be the okra. And then the squash and zucchini," Matt Gailey said as he walked along his field of dreams in Tallapoosa.

"It's heartbreaking, it really is to know what I put on that hill and what I've done to this field." All that's growing now is a stiff crop of weeds.

Gailey prepped the land for all those organic vegetables promised to metro Atlanta restaurants.

But he says he never got the chance to plant anything outside a few seedlings in some greenhouses because CEO Eve Morrow would not buy the seeds on time.

He told Haralson County sheriff's investigators the farm even used fertilizers "not in line with an organic farm," just one of "several shady things."

Gailey: "You had to know in your mind that it's right and wrong. And they did the wrong thing with the restaurants."

Last year, Free Country Farms put on what it called Chefs Day. A couple dozen Atlanta restaurant owners made the 90 minute drive out here to see the farm for themselves and hear the sales pitch. Many quickly signed up and put down a deposit. But according to former employees, not a single restaurant got a single carrot... cucumber... or kumquat.

And until we called her earlier this month, CEO Denise Eve Morrow did not refund 1000s of dollars in deposit money. Those restaurants told us Morrow offered the same excuse: bad rainy weather.

That was a lie said Gailey. "Nothing was planted."

Morrow referred us to her attorney... who had no comment about the allegations.

Yet plenty of other longtime organic growers say what happened at Free Country Farms is the exception, rather than the rule. BesMaid Garden Essentials owner Bobby Britt sells directly to many top-end metro restaurants. He said he was shocked to see our original investigation.

But that wasn't the case with one of his volunteers. Donata Defilippi remembers meeting Free Country Farms CEO Morrow last year when she spoke at a gathering of eco-friendly business leaders.

"Everything she said sounded phony." said Defilippi. "She didn't sound like a woman who knew farming, knew organic produce, and really anything about it."

Morrow has promised to issue refunds to those restaurants. Some confirm they've received checks. Former farm manager Matt Gailey is pushing for criminal charges against his old boss... with he and others telling authorities she owes thousands in back wages and stolen investment dollars... but so far, authorities in Haralson County consider it a civil matter.

Gailey looks at that weed-filled field and considers it... a huge waste for everyone.

"We had the whole field prepped. And you see what it looks like today."

 

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Whistleblower Seeks Sanctions Against Attorney General's Office

    Whistleblower Seeks Sanctions Against Attorney General's Office

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:59 PM EDT2014-07-26 01:59:29 GMT
    In a letter, obtained exclusively by the Fox 5 I-Team, former Ethics director Stacey Kalberman's plans to seek sanctions against the state Attorney General's office.
    More controversy involving the State Ethics Commission. In a letter, obtained exclusively by the Fox 5 I-Team, former Ethics director Stacey Kalberman's plans to seek sanctions against the state Attorney General's office.
  • FOX 5 I-Team Investigation

    State proposes action for home elevator safety

    State proposes action for home elevator safety

    Friday, July 25 2014 2:12 PM EDT2014-07-25 18:12:46 GMT

    The state is inching closer to closing a gap that should make residential elevators safer for children .It was the I-Team's stories about children nationwide being hurt that prompted the state to propose an emergency amendment to the state code.

    The state is inching closer to closing a gap that should make residential elevators safer for children .It was the I-Team's stories about children nationwide being hurt that prompted the state to propose an emergency amendment to the state code.

  • I-Team Investigation

    Former Douglas Co. D.A. office manager indicted

    Former Douglas Co. D.A. office manager indicted

    Friday, July 25 2014 12:30 PM EDT2014-07-25 16:30:44 GMT
    There are major new developments today in the state investigation of the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Tammy Agan, the former office manager, has been indicted on 58 counts of theft and making false statements.
    There are major new developments today in the state investigation of the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Tammy Agan, the former office manager, has been indicted on 58 counts of theft and making false statements.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices