Local Food Hero – Steele Plant Farms

Steele Plant Farms is a 68-year family-owned sweet potato plant operation in Gleason, Tennessee. The farm produces sweet potato plants and sends them by mail order across the United States. The farm was started by Kay Hudson’s grandfather and has been passed through the family that is currently operated by her family – even the grandkids know the sweet potato plant business.

“We had a really good year this year since we were deemed an essential business and our customer base increased because of the virus because a lot of people were home and able to do some gardening; things they weren’t able to do in the past,” says Kay.

Kay Hudson and her family focus their life to service – with their customers, in their church, and serving their community. Kay was born and raised in Gleason, TN where she is now a retired teacher from Gleason Schools. Steele Plant Farms has supported the development and growth of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network since 2016.

As the featured November Taste of Tennessee Tuesday product, the family farm has provided 11 varieties of Steele Plant Farm sweet potatoes to over 500 children in Gibson and Weakley County schools through various Farm to School programming efforts. Additionally, though the LFN’s Nourishing Connection program, 12 early childcare centers, educators and over 400 parents received information about sweet potato plants and sweet potato grow kits. Every year, Steele Plant Farms donates several thousand pounds of sweet potatoes to the Society of St. Andrews, food pantries, local churches and the Gleason Fire Department.

Steele Plant Farms hopes to continue to provide good quality sweet potato plants to growers across the entire United States in the future. They want to grow their outreach in order to support the local food movement because, “Helping the local economy in our region is very important. It is important for our communities to be able to locally source anything that we possibly can,” shares Kay.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is proud to call the Steele Plant Family Farm this month’s #LocalFoodHero!

-Amber Graves

LFN Team Blogger

Local Food Guide Internship Opportunity

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide Intern will work closely with the NWTN LFN staff to complete the 2021 Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide Magazine. This position will begin in January 2021. The Local Food Guide internship is an unpaid position. The required length of this internship can vary depending upon availability. However, it is expected that the selected intern will serve in this capacity for at least one full semester and have the ability to work online remotely.

nwtnlfn.org/food-resources

Purpose of Internship

This internship will assess the production and availability of locally grown foods; identify assets, needs and gaps within the procurement process; verify producer listing information; and support the writing of informational reports and blog posts, as needed. This position will foster a deeper understanding of how local food systems work, and development of skills in community-based research, writing and interviewing skills.

The Local Food Guide intern will support programs and initiatives within the following areas:

Local Food Guide: assist in verifying participant information who have registered their entity to be in the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide 2021. Help with data management, making calls to local farms and businesses to verify listings, and identifying food guide distribution channels throughout the 9-county region.

Weakley County/Gibson County Farm to School Farmer Assessment: assist in evaluating local farmers and local food procurement activities, possibilities and barriers by interviewing farmers.

General program support: responsibilities may include administrative tasks, data collection, assisting with general organizational operations, and attending Local Food Network virtual meetings when possible.

Qualifications of Applicant:

Self-Motivated

Detail Oriented, Organized

Ability to work remotely

Effective written and oral communication skills

Proficiency in using Microsoft Programs, Google Drive, Facebook

Interest in and dedication to promoting local food and agriculture

Please submit cover letter and resume to nwtnfoodguide@gmail.com by January 2, 2021.