CSA Model Review – Community Supported Agriculture

Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on…

A recent Nature and Environment blog from Mother Earth News noted, “CSA is not about competition, it’s about cooperation, and that arises from community.”

Community-supported agriculture (CSA model) is a system that connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms. It is an alternative model of agriculture and food distribution that allows the producer and consumer to share the risks of farming.[1] The CSA model has an overarching goal of strengthening a sense of community through local markets.[2]

Advantages for farmers:
• Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before the 16 hour days in the field begin
• Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
• Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:
• Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
• Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
• Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

Traditional CSA – Hidden Hill Farm

Hidden Hill Farm’s CSA Boxes. Learn more about their CSA share program HERE.

Hidden Hill Farm, out of Dresden, TN has been one of the few operating CSA farms in Northwest Tennessee for 9 years. Operated by owners Richard and Nicolle Gallagher, they have been providing locally grown fresh produce at the Martin Farmers Market for 15 years.

Richard Gallagher, owner of Hidden Hill Farm and Manager of the Martin Farmers Market noted, “Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a business model that provides a dependable market for a farmer’s harvest by pre-selling the best produce before it is even in the ground. In exchange Harvest Partners are guaranteed a share of an ever-changing harvest each week.”

Learn more about their CSA share program HERE.

Follow Hidden Hill Farm on Facebook @HiddenHillFarm

CSA Your Way – Turtle Hollow Farm

Turtle Hollow Farm out of Milan, TN owners Seth Lee and Corie Burris-Lee’s dream has been to create a self-sustainable farm that they could share with their community. They offer fresh produce, pasture raised meats, goats milk products, farm fresh eggs and homemade baked goods; as well as day old chicks, hatching eggs, and farm day visits/classes. Custom woodworking is also a big part of their farm life. If it’s made of wood, they can fix it or make it!

Right now, save 10% when you load your card with the code LOCALFOOD through this link.

“We want to make it easier for customers to order what they need and have it ready for pick up at the Milan Farmers Market or delivery through our Online Farm Stand,” noted Seth Lee, owner of Turtle Hollow Farm and Manager of the Milan Farmers Market. “Our CSA model is a great way for people to be in control of their weekly food purchases while still helping support the start-up cost small farmers make each season.”

The best way to get the best price for your fresh farm favorites is with our CSA Your Way program. Right now, save 10% when you load your card with the code LOCALFOOD through this link.

Follow Turtle Hollow Farm on Facebook @TurtleHollowFarm

Online Farm Store – Dixie Chile Ranch

Dixie Chile Ranch has a mix of weekly delivery options and CSA shares. Visit their website.

Dixie Chile Ranch of out Kenton, TN is a small farm started in 2010 by Tim Brady and Terri Jenkins-Brady who wanted fresh green and red Anaheim Chiles along with fresh fruit and vegetables on the dinner table. They grow Dixie Chile Ranch Anaheim Chiles (red and green) along with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, herbs, tomatoes, apples, squash, and pumpkins for the local NW Tennessee market.

“We want to make our fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables readily available to all our current customers and others seeking food transparency: where it comes from, how it’s handled and who has handled it,” stated Tim Brady, owner of Dixie Chile Ranch. “Residents living in Kenton, Union City or Martin can sign up for our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Membership over the summer saving you $160 with a discounted price and free delivery.”

Ordering Dixie Chile Ranch’s CSA Box deliveries are available from June 3 – September 19, 2020

“We’ll provide a CSA Box Contents List in each email we send out. You will have two choices: one WITH Hot Chiles or one WITHOUT Hot Chiles. It will be a variety pack of our fruits and vegetables that are ready to harvest that week. Price is $30 per week, with free delivery. You’ll save $80 over the 16 weeks or $5 per week in Delivery Fees for each week you order the CSA Box,” noted Tim Brady.

Become an Annual CSA Member by paying for an entire 16 weeks by May 24, 2020 and SAVE an additional $80 over the summer for a total of $160 in savings with our Annual CSA Membership. Price is $400 for the summer.
Roadside Stand Pick-up: You can also place an order online or through email for Pick-up at our Roadside Stand at 3159 E. Union Grove, Kenton TN 38233 open 9-sunset Monday-Friday, or call 731-225-0456.

Dixie Chile Ranch 2020 Grow List and Price List

Visit their website and sign-up to receive weekly email announcements.

Follow Dixie Chile Ranch on Facebook @DixieChileRanch

~ Samantha Goyret
@NWTNLFN Team Blogger

Local Food Network’s Farm to Pre-School Program

Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network launched its new Farm-to-Preschool program, Nourishing Connection, in Weakley County this month. The goal of the program is to nourish the connections children have with healthy produce, gardens and farms by providing hands-on agricultural and nutrition education experiences through hanging and onsite gardens.

Nourishing Connection programming includes:
~ training teachers to access and implement Farm to Preschool curricula,
~ conducting educational outreach to parents and educators,
~ planting different crops three times per year.

All of the materials and programming are provided at no cost to the programs involved thanks to funding from Tennessee Ag in the Classroom and support from the Weakley County Farm Bureau Women’s group and Weakley County Coop.

(From left to right) The LFN Nourishing Connection Farm-to-Preschool Program got a jumpstart with generous resources, time and donations from the following partners: Paul Wilson: Weakley Farmers Co-Op Manager, Keith Fowler: Vice-Chairman of Tennessee Farmers Cooperative State Board, Linda Fowler: Weakley County Farm Bureau Women’s President, Terri Brundige: Weakley County Farm Bureau Women, and Ben Moore: President of the Weakley Country Farm Bureau Board

“Weakley County Farm Bureau Women are excited about our new partnership with the Northwest Tennessee Food Network,” stated Linda Fowler, Weakley County Farm Bureau Women President. “Ag-in-the-Classroom is an important program for our grass roots organization. Today less that than 2 percent of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture, and our farm families across the country realize how important it is for children to know where their food and fiber comes from. Last year our county’s Farm Bureau Woman’s group, through the leadership of board member Terri Brundige, placed 7 Hanging Gardens in child care centers throughout Weakley County. It was a wonderful way to teach young children that food comes from the farm and not the grocery store. Weakley County Farm Bureau Woman appreciate the opportunity to assist the NWTN Local Food Network as they enlarge the Hanging Garden Project. I know the young children in our community will enjoy planting and harvesting their gardens as they learn how food grows.”

This year 12 Weakley County child care centers have hanging gardens and 8 were provided with additional bunk feeders donated by the Weakley County Coop. These bunk feeders will provide space to grow more food and introduce children to additional plants.

“Now more than ever these kids need this type of program, and it is a privilege for Weakley Farmers Coop to be involved,” stated Paul Wilson, Weakley County Farmers Coop Manager. “This is what we do in the community – we help make things grow, so hopefully this is just the start of something much bigger.”

Participating Weakley County Early Childhood programs include: Christian Wee Learn (Martin), Gingerbread Junction (Dresden), Main Street Munchkins (Dresden), Pierce’s Pooh Bears (Gleason), Stepping Stones & Ben’s Club House (Martin), Early Head Start (Martin), Weakley County Head Start (Dresden), Sharon School (Sharon), Meme’s Day Care (Martin), Margaret Perry Children’s Center Rooms 3 and 4 (Martin), Cuddles and Crayons (Dresden) and the Pumpkin Patch 3 (Martin).

Additional community support was provided by Ashley Thomas, a rising senior and Graphic Design & Marketing major at UTM who helped design the program’s logo. “I took on this project I thought this would help me to give back to the Martin community that has been so welcoming to me while I have been attending school.”

Logo designed by Ashley Thomas, rising senior at the University of Tennessee at Martin

The mission of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL. The LFN envisions a sustainable regional food system that utilizes locally grown and produced foods to promote healthy individuals, equitable communities and thriving local economies. For more information, please visit: nwtnlfn.org/nourishing-connection/ or Facebook@NWTNLFN.

DIY Hand-washing Stations

There are some great portable hand-washing station models springing out of Covid-19 needs for clean hands. Below are a few ideas….

“The link above are some of our favorite homemade handwashing stations in our food safety resource library. These can be very inexpensive and quick to build from readily available materials, so you could have them located in community gardens, markets, around farms, anywhere useful!”- Cara Fraver cara@youngfarmers.org

There is a handwashing handout from NC State University has been helpful for rural farmers and farmers markets.

Niels Nielsen has made the plans for his portable hand-washing stations available for free on the internet and is encouraging others to build the inexpensive units and set them up wherever they can be useful in stopping the spread of coronavirus. He will update the plans and instructions periodically as he continues to refine his design. Find the plans online at https://app.box.com/s/tfi2ebzg843kkvd72hx4b3kat6iuzfy8.

John Wang, from the Food Project “partnered with a maker space in MA to help put together some rather cheap (around $50 to $70 per station) and light weight foot pedal activated hand washing stations that we’re using on our farms and farmers markets. It does require a 3D printer for the accessory to attach to the bucket and a little work, but luckily for us, they’ve had the ability to take that on (UT has one!). Here are the plans – http://thebrickyard.org/2020/04/25/the-bucket-list/. Let me know if you have any questions: ” – jwang@thefoodproject.org

Angela TenBroeck‘s packhouse hand washing station

Where to find local strawberries

Strawberries are in season and they are our featured Harvest of the Month local product. Find information about how to grow, harvest and eat with recipes HERE.

Don’t see your farm on the list? Let us know! Register for free to be in the Local Food Guide.

These NWTN local strawberry growers are on our upcoming 2020 Local Food Guide. Please call ahead before you visit.

Dixie Chile Ranch
Timothy D. Brady & Terri Jenkins-Brady
Freshly locally grown strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, chile peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and local raw honey from our beehives sold on the  farm,  local restaurants and businesses, and at area Farmers’ Markets.
3159 E. Union Grove Road, Kenton, TN, 38233
(731) 225-0456
Martin Farmers Market, on Farm Sales, wholesale on large quantities

Future Visions Farms 
Tyler Smith
Strawberries, Farm fresh produce
3830 Whitlock Road, Paris, TN 38242
(731) 336-4892

Green Acres Farm
Denton Parkins
U-Pick: Strawberries and Pumpkin Patch
158 Medina Highway, Milan, TN 38358
(731) 686-1403

Mike’s Produce
Mike Katrutsa
U-Pick Strawberries and Seasonal Vegetables
1050 Hargis Road, Camden, TN 38320
(731) 220-2927
West TN Farmers Market in Jackson every Saturday, Huntingdon Flea Market every Tuesday, as well as from the farm 6 days a week.

Sequoyah Farms 
Danny Jowers
Seasonal Vegetables and Fruit
Kenton, TN 38233
(731) 225-0456

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Charities Chocolates
Charity Riley
Handmade Gourmet Chocolate
Martin, TN 38237
(731) 571-3743
Seasonally or by special order

Weakley County Schools to Serve Local Strawberries from Future Visions Farms

In Weakley County School lunches this week – they will have locally grown, fresh strawberries.

Research shows that the most effective way to get kids excited about eating more fruits and vegetables is to engage them in the growing, cooking, and tasting of delicious, fresh produce. This engagement is where the Weakley County Farm to School Program is playing a large role.

Artwork by Harvest of the Month Calendar Contest Winner 2019-2020 Abigail Owens, Dresden Elementary School, 2nd Grade

By working with local farmers and distributors to purchase local foods for school meals, holding seasonal tastings, developing school gardens, and bringing in local farmers and chefs to talk about their work, the Weakley County Farm to School Program is providing fun and engaging experiences for kids which can make them far more apt to try and enjoy fresh produce again when they appear on school cafeteria menus or on their plates at home.
Using the Harvest of the Month food as a focal point, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) has partnered with Weakley County Schools Nutrition staff to overcome challenges faced in purchasing local foods.

“As a result of connections made through the LFN, we will be serving a pint of locally grown strawberries to each child who picks up meals this Friday. We can’t wait to see their smiles as they realize they get to take home delicious, fresh berries with them,” stated Trista Snider, Weakley County Schools Nutrition Director.

The Weakley County School Nutrition Department ordered 2,000 pints of strawberries from Tyler Smith at Future Visions Farms located in Henry County, TN.

Connect with Tyler Smith, owner of Future Visions Farms on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/futurevisionsfarmstn

“Supplying local schools has been a goal of ours for a couple of years;” said Tyler Smith, owner of Future Vision Farms, “However, we just haven’t had the capacity. As we have grown to meet the production of our larger customers we have been able to begin servicing local school systems with our produce. We look forward to working with Weakley County Schools throughout our season from now until Thanksgiving.”

Snider additionally commented, “Since the school district is serving multiple days at once, we have more flexibility on serving bulk produce items that don’t require preparation on the food service part. We are seeking local products such as cucumbers, squash, whole tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob, and packaged blueberries, which are great options to serve for school lunches now and throughout the summer feeding program.”

Grow, Harvest, Eat and Strawberry Recipes available online at https://nwtnlfn.org/programs/harvest-of-the-month/

“The NWTN LFN is thrilled to have helped Weakley Schools connect with Future Visions Farm,” noted Ashley Kite-Rowland, LFN Co-Director. “This is especially great because strawberries are our featured local Harvest of the Month product. These strawberries will allow children across the county to get a taste of the season. Projects like this help us achieve our mission to be a catalyst and a connector of local foods in our region.”

The LFN is taking the lead role in partnership with the Weakley County School District to design and implement the Weakley County Farm to School Action Plan involving all 11 schools in the county with funding provided by the USDA. What is learned through this planning process will be utilized to develop a Farm-to-School model that can be replicated in school districts throughout our 9-county region. The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) is a nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN that serves as a catalyst for a thriving local food system that is accessible to ALL. Learn more at nwtnlfn.org/farm-to-school.

Free Essential Garden Kits Available

Start your own Essential Garden with FREE SEEDS provided by the University of Tennessee at Martin through the NWTN LFN. Additional potting materials are donated by Rural King and the Martin Coop while supplies last.

Pick-up your Essential Garden Kit on Saturday, May 9th from 8am – 12 noon at the Martin Farmers Market, and get everything you need to start an Essential Garden. While supplies last, Northwest Tennessee residents can pick up seed packets, garden containers and soil from the Martin Farmers Market which is located in Downtown Martin, TN 38237 in between Lindell and Broadway Streets.

Join our facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/NWTNEssentialGardens

There will also be a plant and garden pots swap set-up at the same time. You can swap as many plants and pots as you bring.

This is a small public event, where we encourage all to practice good personal health habits including wearing face masks, following 6-feet social distancing guidelines, and, if you are feeling ill, please stay at home. All volunteers will be wearing facemasks, gloves, and following the CDC recommendations for safety.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN), a local nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN, is encouraging residents to try out vegetable gardening. You can start with an empty milk jug, a big pot, raised bed, or a patch of dirt in your yard. All you need is a seed, sun, soil, water and air – and we have plenty of that in our region!

Packets may contain a variety of vegetable seeds such as lettuce, kale, turnips, radish, pollinator friendly flowers and a variety of beans. Growing vegetables at home provides not only nutritional benefits, but also financial gains and opportunities. Through the bounty of your own homegrown harvest, an additional plus is improved health and well-being through increased physical activity.

“Even if you have no desire to grow your own food, an easy way to strengthen communities is by eating more of what grows locally, and learning to grow some of these foods ourselves, but also supporting our community by investing in our local food system – namely farmers, home gardeners, the Local Food Network, area farmers markets, restaurants and food pantries,” stated Samantha Goyret, Local Food Network Director.

Links to instructional videos will be provided to those who pick up seeds via our Facebook Group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NWTNEssentialGardens

The Dyersburg Master Gardeners sowed this idea in April 2020, “We wanted to offer families the opportunity to grow their own food during this time. Gardening is the cure for boredom AND hunger. It’s the quarantine solution,” stated Carin Wilson, coordinator of the Dyersburg Essential Gardens project and Facebook group.

UT Extension has a series of fact sheets to inform home gardeners about vegetable production such as ‘The Tennessee Vegetable Garden – garden planning, plant preparation and planting’, by Natalie Bumgarner, UT Extension Residential and Consumer Horticulture Specialist.

The LFN has several programs you can be involved in such as Plant a Row for the Hungry by sharing your harvest with your neighbors to help struggling families and the elderly in need of fresh food. Purchase an ad in the upcoming Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide coming out at the end of May which will help cover the costs of printing. Purchase your vegetables and local products from Northwest Tennessee farmers markets when they start opening in June. Download a copy of the Food Relief Agency Guide at nwtnlfn.org/volunteer/plant-a-row-for-the-hungry/. Start a compost bin and turn your food scraps into soil. Give an essential gift to your mother for Mother’s Day – grow an essential garden for free. Share pictures with us on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/NWTNEssentialGardens