Beginning on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22 through July 1, 2023, the #GrowFoodChallenge partnered with 14 Seed Distribution Partners in 9 northwest Tennessee counties to distribute 2,700 seed packets donated by the Society of St. Andrews, Sow True Seed, Community Gardens Commission, Barefoot Gardens, and Ferry Morris.
Doubling the amount from last year, in 2023, 105 participants registered, impacting a total of 609 individuals, families, and childcare centers, including 338 children from nine (9) Northwest Tennessee Counties: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion, and Weakley, TN.
The #GrowFoodChallenge is a yearly call to action for individuals, families, schools, & community groups in Northwest Tennessee to grow food (#NWTNEssentialGardens) & build soil (#ComePostYourCompost). Local growers are encouraged to donate their extra produce to food pantries throughout the region by visiting the NWTN LFN’s webpage: nwtnlfn.org/volunteer/plant-a-row-for-the-hungry.
#Grow Food Challenge participants could participate in three themed photo entry opportunities to win prizes: START. GROW. HARVEST. Participants entered up to a total of 6 photos showcasing their growing food and food waste projects. There were several prizes associated with each theme including the grand prize to fill a chest freezer with a quarter processed beef from NB Beef Company.
Bethany Overington from Carroll County won the START prize for the #GrowFoodChallenge donated by Tractor Supply out of Milan, TN.
The NWTN Local Food Network recently published a Hunger Relief Guide. Local growers are encouraged to donate their extra produce to food pantries throughout the region by downloading the guide from NWTN LFN’s webpage: nwtnlfn.org/volunteer/plant-a-row-for-the-hungry.
On Saturday, July 1st, at the Martin Farmer’s Market Celebration Event, Samantha Goyret and Caroline Ideus, Local Food Network Team Members and Co-Managers of the Market, with the help of musician Alex Sadler, announced the winner of this year’s #Grow Food Challenge.
The McKenzie Senior Center from Carroll County, TN was announced as the grand prize winner. They won a chest freezer to include a quarter processed beef from NB Beef Company out of Sharon, TN.
Pictured here, left Samantha Goyret and Right Caroline Ideus present a sign of gratitude to NB Beef Company owners – Cody Nanney and Justin Burlison, who donated a quarter of their locally raised and processed beef to the #GrowFoodChallenge Grand Prize Winner: McKenzie Senior Center who will be donating their prize to United Neighbors, a food pantry in Carroll County.
“We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with NWTN Local Food Network to provide this type of offering. Eat local and Eat beef!”– Justin Burlison, Co-owner of NB Beef Company
These gifts keep on giving because, as a collective decision, the McKenzie Senior Citizens Center has donated their prized freezer full of local beef to United Neighbors, a local thrift store and food pantry located in McKenzie in Carroll County, TN.
“We have been serving our community’s seniors since 1963 with a total 82 active annual members today,” stated Carol Armpriest, President of the McKenzie Senior Citizens Center. “We decided to donate our grand prize to United Neighbors because they could use a freezer full of local beef for their clientele in our community. It aligns with the activities the Local Food Network is promoting in the #GrowFoodChallenge – provide your extra food to others who are in need.”
Photo: (Left to Right) Carol Armpriest, Samantha and Sofia Goyret, and Karen Ibarra pose with the Hunger Relief Guide and their #GrowFoodChallenge Winner Certificate in front of the McKenzie Senior Citizens Center square-foot garden that is located behind their building, near the EW James Grocery Store parking lot in McKenzie, TN. They will be donating their prize to United Neighbors, a local food pantry.
Karen Ibarra, also pictured, partnered with Carol in creating the garden with the goal of benefiting the McKenzie Senior Center members and local community with vegetables and knowledge about growing your own food. As a UT Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, Mrs. Ibarra stated, “sharing the garden experience and the beef also aligns with the mission of the Tennessee Master Gardener Program to improve the lives of Tennesseeans by promoting individual and community health and environmental stewardship.”
“The timing of this gift could not be at a better moment,” stated Saudia Akin, Executive Director of United Neighbors. “We are seeing more families in need of food this year, and we often run out of food by the end of the month. Providing this local source of protein is an incredible gift to our clientele in need.”
United Neighbors, located on 2455 Cedar Avenue in downtown McKenzie, will be offering food boxes to anybody in need on Wednesday, October 4th at 5pm.
The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN with a mission to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL in Northwest Tennessee.
We hope you can join us for next year’s Northwest Tennessee #GrowFoodChallenge. Learn more at nwtnlfn.org/grow-food-challenge.
The #GrowFoodChallenge is paid for through a #SeedMoney Grant with the following generous seed donors; Society of St. Andrews, Sow True Seed, Ferry Morse Company, Cooperative Gardens Commission; and the following prize donors: Discovery Park of America, Greenway Nursery, Tractor Supply Company, Walmart, Bamboozle, the TN Environmental Council, Rural King and NB Beef Company.