It’s that Gourd Time of Year Again

During October, Farm-to-School month, make sure to celebrate the gourdgeous season by visiting these local pumpkin patches  throughout the Northwest Tennessee region for gourd deals, and lots of fun for the entire family to enjoy…

Dixie Chile Ranch, Kenton, TN (Obion)
Timothy D. Brady & Terri Jenkins-Brady
Freshly locally grown variety of pumpkins
3159 E. Union Grove Road, Kenton, TN, 38233
(731) 225-0456
dixiechileranch@gmail.com
The Farm Stand operates on an honor system. Open to you when you can come, pay at the stand.
Green Acres Farm, Milan, TN (Gibson)
Denton Parkins
U-Pick: Pumpkin Patch
158 Medina Highway, Milan, TN 38358
(731) 686-1403
greenacresfarmmilantn@gmail.com
Hours: Sun-up ‘til sun-down, September 25 Thanksgiving
Holt Family Farms, Dresden, TN (Weakley)
Andy & Ellie Holt
Agri-tourism: Pumpkins, Mums, Fall décor, jams, eggs, local honey, all natural bath and body products, goat milk soaps, Hay Rides
461 Jewell Store Road, Dresden TN 38225
(731) 364-3459
Ellie Holt (731) 819-2261
email@holtfamilyfarms.com
Fridays 2-7pm, Saturdays 10-7pm, Open Fall Break 2019 – Thursday, October 16th and Friday, October 17th from 12-7pm , Last day: October 26th
Kemp Family Farm and Seed, Dresden, TN (Weakley)
Keith Kemp
Pumpkins, Gourds, Mums, Hay Rides!
4571 Sharon Highway, Dresden, TN
(731) 588-3934
Hours: Friday: 2-7PM, Saturday: 10AM – 7PM
Nanny Pumpkin Patch, Sharon, TN (Weakley)
Cody Nanney
Agri-Tourism: Pumpkins, Mums, Hay Rides
1767 Sharon Road, Sharon, TN 38255
(731) 514-2431
nanneyfarmspumpkinpatch@gmail.com
Hours: 7am – 7 pm, Monday – Sunday; From September 28th – November 3rd
Parham Farm, Dresden, TN (Weakley)
Kurt and Lindsey Parham
Agri-tourism: U-pick Pumpkins
1250 Jewel Store Road, Dresden, TN 38225
(731) 514-1180
kurt.parham@hotmail.com
Hours: We are open daylight – dark 7 days a week until Oct. 31. We operate on the honor system so people can come and go at their convenience.
Todd Family Fun Farm, Yorkville, TN  (Gibson)
James and Martha Todd
Agri-tourism: Corn maze, pig races, gemstone mining and geocaching. A free easter egg hunt is held in the spring
101 Tom Austin Road, Yorkville, TN 38059
(731) 420-6404
susaneaton469@yahoo.com
Hours: Saturday: 10am – 9pm, Sunday: 1:30pm – 5pm from September 28th – November 9th
The Pumpkin Barn, LLC (Obion)
Alan Shirley
Agri-tourism: Hay Bales, Pumpkins, a petting Zoo, a playground, and inflatables
2557 S. Bluff Road, Obion, TN 38240
(731) 442-0644
alanshirley49@yahoo.com
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm

Farm-to-School Kickoff Set for One-of-a-Kind High School Farm

Ned Ray McWherter (October 15, 1930 – April 4, 2011) was an American businessman and politician who served as the 46th Governor of Tennessee, from 1987 to 1995. Prior to that, he served as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1973 to 1987, the longest tenure as Speaker up to that time.

DRESDEN — When former Governor Ned Ray McWherter was a student at Dresden High School, Ag Teacher V.J. Shanklin was tending to his own legacy – a fully functioning farm that would allow high schoolers to experience firsthand the practices and technologies that have made Weakley County a state leader in agriculture. Almost 70 years later, innovation continues to thrive on the 65 acres housing the Weakley County Schools Livestock Program, currently the only high school production facility with swine and cattle in the state.

That intersection of history and futuristic opportunities will be the scene of Weakley County’s Farm-to-School Kick-off, Tuesday, October 1 beginning with an onsite tour, 7150 TN 22, at 4:30 p.m. Following the tour, a farm-to-table forum and breakfast dinner highlighting the farm’s sausage and local farmers’ contributions will be offered free to the public with a reservation. The cost of the meal is covered by a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant through the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) in partnership with the Weakley County School System. 

“October is National Farm to School Month which makes our October 1st event timely,” noted Ashley Kite-Rowland, LFN Director of Research and Community Outreach. “Our goal is to share information about current farm to school programming in our county, identify additional assets and needs, and begin to develop a collaborative vision regarding how we can effectively incorporate farm to school activities into all grades at every school. We are thrilled the meal will showcase the students’ swine production and look forward to what other ideas may be generated.”

The tour, meal and forum are steps leading to the creation of a Weakley County Farm to School Action Plan focused on Farm to School activities throughout the school district. The LFN will coordinate activities in collaboration with the Weakley County School System and stakeholders. The plan is scheduled to be completed by April 2021. LFN received a $49,000 grant to lead in the formulation of the plan.

Nationally, the farm-to-school focus ranges from taste tests in the cafeteria and nutrition education activities in the classroom, to farm visits and school garden harvest parties.

The Dresden High School Livestock Program is one of only three programs across the State of Tennessee.

In Weakley County, organizers can build on the well-established foundation that Shanklin and subsequent farm managers have built as the farm now includes swine and bovine production, row crops and hay. Four barns are devoted to raising hogs, one barn is for storage, one is for horse and cattle and two grain bins hold corn which is the basis for the feed prepared on the farm for the program.  Currently, half and whole hogs are sold to the public and delivered to a local processing plants for custom processing.

The FFA Alumni Association in Dresden purchased 10 heifers and the students are now also raising and finishing beef calves completing the first year of selling freezer beef to the public. Plans are underway to convert existing shop space into a state-of-the-art lab for Veterinary Science and Small Animal Care classes currently taught by Jason Kemp.  In addition to the new vet science lab, plans are to designate a portion of the lab for artificial insemination processing to produce higher fertilization rates and increase production. A meats lab and processing plant is under consideration for the future.

Congressman David Kustoff recently took a brief tour of the Weakley County Schools Livestock Program including the barn housing swine. Jason Kemp, who teaches agriculture and serves as an FFA advisor at Dresden, led the tour which included students, representatives from the FFA Alumni Association and the school board.

Kemp serves as an ag teacher/FFA advisor at the school in addition to serving as the farm manager supervising the fulltime work of teacher assistant/farmhand Jonathan Smartt. Jonathan Holden is a DHS ag teacher who utilizes the hands-on learning opportunities through Ag Science, Ag Mechanics, Greenhouse and Landscape Management with his students and serves as the other school FFA advisor.

“We are more than sows, cows and plows at the Weakley County School Livestock Production facility,” noted Kemp. “As new innovations continue to shape our future in agriculture today, so shall we strive to meet needs of the ever-changing agricultural demand.”

Along with sausage from the onsite farm, the menu for the Farm-to-School event includes biscuits and gravy from Simply Southern; breakfast potatoes prepared with items from Jill Magness Farms; Richard Turnbow, Hidden Hill Farm, and Barefoot Garden; scrambled eggs from Danna Stafford, hydroponically grown mixed greens salad from Blackberry Pond Farm; tomatoes and cucumbers from Turnbow Family Farm; Dixie Chile Ranch apples; homemade jams and local honey; fried pies from Oma’s Country Kitchen.

An RSVP is required to attend the FREE event. Register online at nwtnlfn.org/events or email nwtnfoodguide@gmail.com or call (731) 281-4770 by September 27.

Written by Karen Campbell
Communications Director
Weakley County Schools

Would you buy ‘imperfect’ produce?

Even the small grocers still serving the public in our area of NW Tennessee have said they can’t sell produce that’s lopsided, or speckled or otherwise not cosmetically picture-perfect. “I can’t convince my customers that bananas with brown freckles are still good to eat. Those little dots on the peel are sugar spots. But they don’t like them, and they won’t buy them,” David Hicks said, standing in his Food Rite grocery store in Kenton.

That isn’t just in our area, of course.

Channel WLWT5 in Kansas City, Missouri, ran a brief news feature on Imperfect Produce. The company is an online grocery store that specializes in buying imperfect fruits and vegetables and then selling the produce to consumers at a hefty discount, often up to 30% less than prices for perfect items at the stores.

Check out the station’s video here:

Your local farmers try hard to give buyers a discount when their produce isn’t gorgeous. So, go ahead and buy that tomato that has a few ‘bug bites’ on it, or the squash with skinned spots. Your taste buds will appreciate the flavor. Your budget will appreciate the break. Visit your local NWTN Farmers Market today and see what imperfect treasures you can find.

What seed will you plant today?
~ Terri Jenkins-Brady