Creating a Buzz for Beekeeping in Northwest Tennessee

The Northwest Tennessee Beekeepers Association (NWTBA) has been buzzing for ten straight years. NWTBA is a non-profit organization made up of sixty members diverse in age and ranging from beginning hobbyist to experienced beekeeper. Not only do NWTBA members care for honeybee colonies, the club also dedicates its time to promoting beekeeping in the local area by informing, educating, mentoring and demonstrating the various aspects of keeping honeybees to new beekeepers, schools and community organizations. They also educate children and the community about the importance of honey bees and other pollinators to our food system.

Like the NWTBA Facebook page

NWTBA member beekeepers keep bees for many reasons: to collect honey and other products produced in the hive such as beeswax and pollen; to promote pollination; and to produce bees to sell to other beekeepers. Many members sell honey and other products from the hive from their homesteads and at local farmers markets.

The club holds monthly meetings at the UT Martin Ag Complex in Martin, TN (Moody Street side door). These meetings give club members and any visitors the opportunity to learn from other beekeepers’ experiences and connection to the broader beekeeping community. This connection allows everyone to stay up to date on any modern beekeeping techniques, laws and solutions to challenges.

Since the Northwest Tennessee Beekeepers Association began in 2010, they have inspired the formation of two other bee clubs, the Kentucky Lake and Reelfoot Beekeepers Associations. The club also sparked the beginning of the beekeeping project on the UT Martin campus where students are able to get hands-on experience with keeping bees and collecting honey. Through their many efforts, the NWTBA plays a valuable role in our Northwest Tennessee local food system.

~Amber Graves, LFN Team Blogger
Published in the NWTN Local Food Guide 2020

Making a difference in Crockett County

With approximately 149,000 acres in farmland, Crockett County is ranked 2nd for cotton production in the state of Tennessee. Other than cotton, the county’s primary crops are soybeans and corn. The combined market value of the production of these crops is over $81 million in Crockett County alone. In addition to these extensive agricultural operations, agricultural education is an important part of community life. This is evident by the Farm Bureau Women of Crockett County’s efforts to educate children about agriculture, growing food and sustaining the local economy. The nine-member Farm Bureau Women’s group focuses on two inter-related projects each year that seek to provide children with hands-on agricultural education experiences.

“So many of my students have never been in a cotton field, picked cotton, and felt the soft boll, we truly appreciate all that Farm Day adds to our classroom lessons,” says Elizabeth Conley, Fourth grade teacher at Alamo City School, about her love for Farm Day.
(Picture courtesy of Crockett County Farm Bureau Women’s Group)

Farm Day is held each October for an average of 300 fourth grade students from five different elementary schools. This annual event consists of many activities that teach students about the importance of agriculture in relation to food, clothing and many other aspects of life. The students get to participate in interactive activities that help them understand their food comes from a farm and not just the grocery store, and that numerous by-products are made from their own county’s crops: cotton, corn and soybeans.

For instance, tires are made from corn and t-shirts from cotton. The most unique experience the students get to take part in is learning how cotton is processed from boll to fiber via a working mini cotton gin. The students are even provided the chance to experience picking cotton from the field.

“Allowing my students to participate in the Farm Day has exposed students to so many life experiences. From growing an appreciation of the farmer to picking and touching cotton, all of my students gain a new life experience from that day. Living in a farming community, we assume that all children have been exposed to farm life, have seen a cotton field, have picked and touched cotton, and have ridden on a tractor. This is not the case. So many of my students have never been in a cotton field, picked cotton, and felt the soft boll, we truly appreciate all that Farm Day adds to our classroom lessons,” says Elizabeth Conley, Fourth grade teacher at Alamo City School, about her love for Farm Day.

The other annual activity of the Farm Bureau Women centered around education is the offering of Ag in the Classroom (AITC) workshops each June. These workshops provide teachers with resources that facilitate the inclusion of agricultural education within their curriculum throughout the school year. These workshops provide approximately $300 worth of grade level activities that incorporate AITC while still meeting state standards and STEM principles.

The Crockett County Farm Bureau Women are enhancing classroom education through their educational initiatives focused upon hands-on experiences related to food, fiber, health and agriculture. This group is not only making a difference in the lives of Crockett County children, but also the wider community.

~Amber Graves, LFN Intern 2020
Published in the NWTN Local Food Guide 2020

The Ray Smith Family Distribution Center, Camden, TN

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee helped celebrate its newest distribution center’s first anniversary last November 15th, and to say the facility ‘hit the ground running’ during that time is quite an understatement.

It’s an understatement because The Ray Smith Family Distribution Center has been helping more than 48,000 food insecure people within their fourteen-county service area.

The modern, well-lighted facility itself, at just under 26,000 square feet, has made use of every foot, with its warehouse area including refrigerated and freezer space to hold frozen or perishable foods, fresh produce, and rows of shelves storing non-perishable foods like peanut butter, macaroni and canned vegetables until distribution. It’s a big job, accepting, inventorying, storing and then getting that food into the hands of hungry families all across West Tennessee.

That big job doesn’t faze people at the center. Volunteers, age 12 and up, meet in their own area to sort and carefully pack food for families in cardboard cartons. In just their one year of full operation, almost 750 volunteers have contributed nearly 3500 hours of hard work, sorting more than half a million pounds of food.

That’s not the most astonishing figure, though – they’ve distributed enough pounds of food to make over three and a half million meals for those struggling with hunger.

So the city of Camden is rightfully proud of its new distribution center – and of the philanthropic folks who’ve helped fund and foresee the next steps in fighting hunger throughout their portion of Tennessee. The Center is named for Mr. Ray Smith, a man truly partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to halt hunger in its tracks. “Mr. Smith has been a champion fighting hunger with Second Harvest Food Bank since June of 2012. A resident and business leader in Carroll and Benton Counties (until January of 2019, he owned the local Chevrolet Buick dealership – for over 58 years), Mr. Smith was instrumental in the efforts to build the SHFB western branch to feed so many in our area. Mr. Ray Smith and his wife, Ms. Wilma, often stop by the food bank to see and hear about the lives changed,” said Donna Vick, Donor Relationships Manager – West.

People interested in volunteering may call Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, (615) 329-3491, or for help in getting food:

Once on site, click GET HELP and put in your county. The partner agencies closest to your location will be shown, with addresses, hours open, and phone numbers.

Or if you have no internet access, call Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee (615) 329-3491.

~ Terri-Jenkins Brady
LFN Team Blogger
Article published in the 2020 NWTN Local Food Guide

Local Food Guide Gets Fresh New Look

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s Local Food Guide is the definitive resource for finding local food in Northwest Tennessee. Find area farmers markets, family farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s), u-pick farms, agri-tourism, animal goods, artisan foods, local food trucks, processors, beekeepers, locally-owned plant vendors and additional food resources.

Eating local is one of the best ways to stay healthy, nourish the people you love, and support your community,” said NWTN Local Food Network Director Samantha Goyret. “As our farmers and local food businesses are working hard to bring us the best quality food — the food guide is an effort to celebrate homegrown pride, local foods, and bring communities together around healthy eating,” she added.

Pick up the guide at the following
distribution sites

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide is a magazine that not only features stories about our bountiful region, but is produced 100% locally in collaboration with the staff and volunteers of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, designed and published by the Weakley County Press, and printed at The Messenger.

“The staff of the Weakley County Press is dedicated to partnerships with communities across our region who make a positive impact for our area. We were honored to be a part of the Local Food Network’s first food guide and we are proud to support and promote our farmers and small, local businesses,” Weakley County Press General Manager Lynette Wagster said.

The LFN is so thankful to have partnered with the fabulous people at Weakley County Press in producing this year’s NWTN Local Food Guide! Community newspapers are so important, and we are so lucky to have one housed right here in the City of Martin.

We picked up 7,000 printed copies of the NWTN Local Food Guide that will be distributed throughout the region. Our hope is that this guide will help folks connect with regional farmers and markets to source food locally and highlight the great things going on in our region. — with Weakley County Press staff: Lynette Calhoun Wagster, Beth Cravens and Laura Lathrop.

Pick up a free copy at one of any of the NWTN Farmers Markets, including: Dresden Farmers Market, Farm Market Trenton, Henry County Farmers Market, Humboldt Farmers Market, Mainstreet Dyersburg Farmers Market, Martin Farmers Market, McKenzie Farmers Market, Milan Farmers Market, and Obion County Farmers and Artisan Market.

A full listing of places to pick up the guide, and the businesses that helped pay for the printing of the guide is available at The Guide is made possible by support and contributions from advertisement sales. Anyone interested in carrying the guide at your farm or business, contact, or message the group via its Facebook page @NWTNLFN.

The Local Food Guide will be published every spring.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Martin, whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to all.

Blueberries – All you need to know

June’s Harvest of the Month featured item is BLUEBERRIES!


When you’re ready to plant your blueberries, select a sunny location with well-drained soil that is weed-free and well-worked. It’s best to grow blueberries in an area where water is readily available so you can keep their roots moist throughout the growing season. Raised beds or patio containers are good options for areas where the soil is not ideal. Learn more HERE.

Many Blueberry growers sell at our local Northwest Tennessee Farmers Markets.

Pick up or harvest your own blueberries at the following local farms:

Crockett County
Green Frog Farm
John Freeman
U-pick: Blueberries, Blackberries
554 Johnson Grove Road, Bells, TN 38006
(731) 663-3319
Farmers Market at Memphis, on farm sales

Dyer County
Bud’s Blueberries
Brad Smith
U-Pick: Blueberries Call ahead
2000 Hurricane Hill Road, Dyersburg, TN 38024
(731) 676-8116
Dyersburg Farmers Market, Onsite, Pick your own, Seasonal, On Farm Sales, Call Ahead

Lenox Apple Orchard
Chris Wilcox
U-pick: Apples, Blueberries, Blackberries
475 Richard Hill Road, Dyer, TN 38024
(731) 694-8942
Pick Your Own, On Farm Sales, Mainstreet Dyersburg Farmers Market

Henry County
Blueberry Acres
Loretta & Tom Kenny
U-pick: Blueberries
2060 Herrondale West Road, Henry, TN 38231
(731) 243-3190
Open Monday through Saturday sun-up till sundown in June/July. Closed Sundays. Call for availability.

Obion County
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

Weakley County
Vine & Branch Farm
Richard & Linda McIntosh
U-Pick Blueberries (June) and Blackberries (July)
1623 Chestnut Glade Road, Martin, TN 38237
(731) 799-3124
Seasonal June-July, check facebook for times, call ahead for pre-pick orders

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