Can you Dig it?

Steele Plant Company Sweet Potato Farm Tour

Join the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network on Tuesday, September 26th from 10am – 12 noon at the Steele Plant Company’s Sweet Potato farm out of Gleason, TN. Participants will meet at the Steele Plant Company’s main office at 10am on 202 Collins Street, Gleason, TN 38229. From there, participants will travel out to the fields to see how sweet potatoes are harvested from the field to the warehouse (digging is optional). Can you dig it?

This is a FREE meet-up event hosted by the NWTN Local Food Network and Steele Plant Company. Minors are welcome and encouraged to attend, but must be accompanied by an adult.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a non-profit 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 our region.

Join our 10-day Pampered Chef Party!

You’re invited to the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s 10-day Pampered Chef party! Mark your calendars  from August 28 – September 6, 2023. Invite a friend or two to participate by supporting the NWTN Local Food Network!

Get ready to learn recipes and tips to make meals that fuel your lifestyle with some of Pampered Chef’s best products. Don’t miss out on the fun!

Join this Fundraising Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/649815287121744 

Directly order from this link: https://www.pamperedchef.com/party/nwtnlocalfoodnetwork

Depending on how much we purchase collectively, 20-30% of proceeds support the mission of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network: to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to all in Northwest Tennessee.

NWTN Farm to School Partnerships win $1 Million through Action for Healthy Kids & Local Foods in Schools Grants

As part of a cooperative agreement to develop and implement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative, Action for Healthy Kids today announced that it is awarding nearly $30 million in subgrants to 264 school districts across 44 states and the District of Columbia, reaching students in some of our nation’s highest need schools. These funds are being provided by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Out of nine (9) grants awarded throughout the state of Tennessee, four (4) of these grants were awarded to the following Northwest Tennessee Schools: Bradford Special School District – $144,086; Milan Special School District – $144,086; Trenton Special School District – $144, 086; and Weakley County School District – $150,000 totaling $582,258 for Northwest Tennessee School Districts.

“We are so grateful to be a recipient of the Healthy Meals Incentive Grant.  This $150,000 grant will be a tremendous asset and will enable us to replace some antiquated equipment,” stated Trista Snider, Director of Weakley County Schools Nutrition Department.  “We will also consult with a chef that specializes in K-12 operations to assist us in learning how to prepare even more delicious, scratch meals, incorporate efficiency hacks, and assist in learning how to incorporate more locally grown produce and locally raised meat.”

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, a local nonprofit based out of Martin, TN, was a fundamental partner in helping facilitate the formation of the Healthy Meals Incentive projects. 

“Our mission is to catalyze actions that are increasing access to a thriving and equitable local food system for all in our region,” stated Caroline Ideus, Outreach Director and Farm to School Consultant of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN). “Access to healthy food is vital for our growing children. Our school nutrition programs have proven to be a vital asset and the largest classroom in every school. Through our established Farm to School partnerships in Bradford, Milan, Trenton and Weakley School Districts, we are helping advance their farm to school initiatives through increased access to healthy and nutritious meals, nutrition education, and fortifying school nutrition programs across our region.”

Earlier this year, the LFN facilitated additional grant applications with four additional school districts (Crockett County Schools, Trenton Special Schools, Weakley County Schools and Cheatham County Schools) to receive a grant for TN school districts called “Local Foods for Schools” grant through the TN Department of Education. This grant aims to help offset costs for local food  purchasing, storing and distributing local foods from local farms.

Each small and/or rural school district will receive up to $150,000 to support them in improving the nutritional quality of their meals and modernizing their operations, through efforts which could include:

  • Innovative staff training programs;
  • Redesigning food preparation and service spaces;
  • Kitchen updates and renovations;
  • Other school-district led efforts to support school meals and school nutrition professionals.

“When we strengthen school meal quality, we strengthen child health,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “These grants are the largest targeted investment USDA has ever made for school meal programs in small and rural communities. We want to ensure every child in America has the opportunity to attend a school with high quality, nutritious meals, and this support is a step in that direction.”

An online map features the selected school districts and their grant amounts. The map will be updated on a rolling basis as schools formalize their grant agreements.

“Offering healthier school meals is key to helping our nation’s kids get the nutrients they need today and for their long-term development,” said Action for Healthy Kids CEO Rob Bisceglie. “Through this historic investment in school nutrition, we will help school districts across the country overcome challenges and develop solutions to provide nutritious foods for the children they serve.”

USDA and Action for Healthy Kids also recently opened applications for the Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards, which celebrate school districts that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their school meals. All school districts in the United States are invited to apply. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through June 30, 2025.

School districts that meet Recognition Award criteria will receive benefits such as national and local recognition; travel stipends to attend a national Healthy Meals Summit; access to diverse best practices, training activities; and more.

Action for Healthy Kids will manage the grants to school districts, Recognition Awards, and Healthy Meals Summits with the support of The Chef Ann Foundation and Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education.

FNS works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the National School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs, the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022, highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.

Action for Healthy Kids is dedicated to improving children’s health and well-being by bringing together and mobilizing educators, families, and other key stakeholders to help children lead healthy lives. Through its core programming and family-school partnerships, AFHK has impacted more than 20 million children in 55,000 schools nationwide to address systemic challenges in underserved communities. To learn more about its growing network of volunteers and champions, visit www.actionforhealthykids.org.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network envisions a sustainable regional food system that utilizes locally grown and produced foods to promote healthy individuals, equitable communities and thriving local economies. The LFN serves as a consulting partner to growing Farm to School initiatives throughout Northwest Tennessee. Learn more at nwtnlfn.org/programs/farm-to-school.

The Tennessee Department of Education’s School Nutrition program is responsible for providing nutritious meals and snacks for students in public and private schools, as well as residential and child care institutions. TN School Nutrition administers the USDA’s National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Afterschool Snack Program across the state. All public schools in Tennessee are on the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. Learn more at www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/school-nutrition.html

Source: Weakley County School Nutrition Department
This is a snapshot of a school meal provided by Weakley County School District in March 2023, sourcing strawberries from Bell Family Farms out of Gleason, TN, local milk from Prairie Farms, and FFA school grown hydroponic lettuce. The Weakley County Farm to School Initiative plants the seeds for students to learn where their food comes from by growing, observing, and experiencing hands-on opportunities. The growth of the initiative occurs as educators, farmers, and local ag-based entities work together to create a nationally recognized sustainable model. Learn more about NWTN Farm to School Action Plan visions and goals at nwtnlfn.org/programs/farm-to-school

Join Our Team – Paid Internship Positions Open

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is HIRING! We have two openings for the following paid internship position to start this May – Marketing & Communications, and starting this August 2023- Local Food Procurement.

Summer – Marketing and Communications Internship has been filled.


Fall – Local Food Procurement Internship

Intern Job Description

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network Local Food Procurement Intern, starts August 2023 – December 2023, and will serve in this capacity to complete at least 135 hours of service. The intern will receive a $500 stipend upon completion of this internship. This is a grant funded position paid for through the USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant.

Purpose of Internship

This position will foster a deeper understanding of how local food systems work, hone the following skill sets: organizing, research, & writing skills, team building, and project management. The intern will report to the LFN Executive Director while supporting the following programs and initiatives within the following areas:

  • Harvest of the Month: Share HOTM Calendar with Farmers to start connecting their products with local schools, early childcare centers and hunger relief organizations
  • Local Food Procurement Education & Access: Continual support virtual local food procurement training and sourcing opportunities related to #FarmtoSchool activities, promote the Local Food Procurement Manual Publication, connect schools with local foods
    • Encouraging increased consumption of local grown foods through promotional activities, taste tests, and other activities featuring local products in collaboration with the Harvest of the Month Program, School Nutrition Programs and local farms.
  • Press Releases: draft press releases and support monthly e-newsletter content creation
  • Nourishing Connection: support Fall Nourishing Connection Grow Kit assemblies and distribution
  • General program support: responsibilities may include administrative tasks, survey dissemination, assisting with general organizational operations, and attending Local Food Network team, Board meetings and tabling events.

Qualifications of Applicant:

  • Remote capable – have access to the internet from your place of residence
  • Self-Motivated, Detail oriented, organized, dependable
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Proficiency in using Microsoft Programs, Google Drive, and WordPress
  • Interest in and dedication to promoting local food and agriculture

STEPS TO APPLY FOR INTERNSHIP POSITIONS
This position is open until filled.

Send a cover letter and your resume to Samantha Goyret, Executive Director, Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network at nwtnfoodguide at gmail.com.

Applications are due by Tuesday, August 8, 2023.

Interviews conducted the second week of August.

Internship positions begins on Monday, August 14, 2023 through December 15, 2023.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network serves as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network does not discriminate against any qualified applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, physical or mental disability.

Red Sand Project: Human Trafficking and Agriculture

On Wednesday, July 26th at 3pm via Facebook live stream, the Martin Farmer’s Market will shine a light on human trafficking in the agriculture industry. This year, the Tennessee Department of Health and communities around the state are bringing awareness to the issue by participating in Human Trafficking Awareness Week and the Red Sand Project, July 24 through July 29.

According to the U.S. Department of State, at any given time, there are an estimated 24.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The agricultural industry, unfortunately, is an industry that predisposes certain worker demographics to becoming victims of human trafficking.

Agriculture in the United States is defined largely by its seasonal nature, irregular income, and locations in rural or isolated areas. Farms are not highly-regulated workplaces, and farm labor is typically a low-income job. Many farm workers are undocumented immigrants or hold H-2A visas, which allow foreign-born persons to work seasonally and temporarily on an American farm for up to 10 months. On its website, the National Human Trafficking Hotline explains that the line between agricultural employment and trafficking is often blurred in the United States. When an employer uses force, fraud, or coercion to maintain control over workers, employees become victims. 

The Red Sand Project aims to raise awareness about human trafficking through public art installments. Red Sand activists most commonly spread natural red sand into public sidewalk cracks to represent trafficking survivors who have “fallen through the cracks of society.” A large portion of the world has already fallen victim to human trafficking, and many people are in industries and areas predisposed to becoming victims. By highlighting the Red Sand Project and the issue of human trafficking, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network hopes to raise awareness and promote safety and health in the agriculture industry. 

To report suspected human trafficking activity, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security encourages the public to contact federal law enforcement. You may call their hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or submit a tip online at www.ice.gov/tips

Additional Resources: 

Red Sand Project

TDH, Communities Participating In Red Sand Project to Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

Farm Labor Report by USDA Economic Research Service

About Human Trafficking by U.S. Department of State 

Human Trafficking in Agriculture by National Human Trafficking Hotline 

NPR: A Human-Trafficking Case Exposed Farmworker Abuses. The Government is Promising Change. 

~ Written by Laura Myhan
~Infographic design by Sydney Grant
Marketing and Communications Interns 2022
Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network

Grow Food Challenge Winner Announced and Hunger Relief Guide Published

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. 

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.

Doubling the amount last year, this year 105 participants registered, impacting a total of 609 individuals, families, and childcare centers, including 338 children from five (9) Northwest Tennessee Counties: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion, and Weakley, TN. 

#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.

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. 

“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

These gifts keep on giving because, as a collective decision, the McKenzie Senior Citizens Center will be donating their freezer full of beef to United Neighbors, a local food pantry 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 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.

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.

Kailyn Bates out of Huntington, TN won the #GrowfoodChallenge gift basket!

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.

Owen Wenz, is the #GrowFoodChallenge winner of a family pass for four from Discovery Park of America! Owen is very knowledgeable about plants and loves to grow food! It’s little guys like him that inspire big kids like us to grow more food and reduce food waste!

Margaret Perry Childcare Center inWeakley County, Tennessee won theBamboozle compost pail prize from this year’s#GrowFoodChallenge. The staff and children not only grow healthy food, they serve healthy food in their daycare meals, too!#farmtoECE

Bethany Overington from Carroll County won the START prize for the #GrowFoodChallenge donated by Tractor Supply out of Milan, TN.

“Bringing the Farm to School” Producer and School Nutrition Gathering

Join us on Friday, July 28, 2023, 8:30am -2:30pm at Cowen Blackberry Pond Farm Special Event Barn on 17 Skyler Lane, Bradford, TN 38316 for a day filled with farm-to-school education and fun!

This in-person event will bring together farmers, school nutrition staff, coordinated school health advocates, and community members to learn about the benefits of bringing fresh, local produce into school meals. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with local farmers, participate in hands-on workshops, work with Chef Cale Meador from the Four Seasons out of Atlanta, GA, and enjoy delicious farm-fresh food.

Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to connect with your community and learn about the importance of supporting local agriculture. Register today!

Who is invited?

We are seeking farmers interested in selling their products to schools along with District School Nutrition Directors and 1 School Cafeteria Manager from each school working in Northwest Tennessee are encouraged to attend. We are also extending the invitation to Coordinated School Health Directors and Community Advocates to join the fun!

8:30 – 2:30pm – NWTN School Nutrition Staff

12 – 2:30pm – Farmers

Training Goals:

  1. To connect school nutrition directors with agricultural producers through training and tools to build capacity through the “Bringing the Farm to School” training.
  2. Plan Local Food Taste Tests for the upcoming school year.
  3. Connect local products to schools and how to prepare them.
  4. Increase the sales to schools for farmers while expanding farm to school local food taste test activities for students in schools and communities across the Northwest Tennessee Region.

Activities Include:

  • Northwest Tennessee School Nutrition Directors, Cafeteria Managers and Advocates to train with Four Seasons Chef, Cale Meador. (9:30 – 11:45am)
  • Local Food Taste test training and sampling for all attendees 12 – 1pm
  • Networking with farmers and school nutrition staff (12 – 2:30pm)
  • “Bringing the Farm to School” training overview and resources for farmers & school nutrition staff (1 – 2:30pm)

REGISTRATION IS FREE.

SEATING IS LIMITED.

RESERVE YOUR SPOT AT THE TABLE TODAY!

More about “Bringing the Farm to School Training”

The goal of the “Bringing the Farm to School” program is to provide agricultural producers training and tools to build capacity to launch or grow efforts to market to schools. The training will last from 8:30 – 2:30 pm with a complimentary Local Food Taste Test Menu Lunch.

More about Chef Cale Meador

While catering to NBA teams, such as the Memphis grizzlies, Chef Cale began to understand the importance of accessing all-inclusive nutrition, from the picky eaters, to differences in taste and serving the best food to fuel these athletes.

Spending his summers on the family farm in Gleason, Tennessee and growing up in his Nana’s kitchen, taught him the most about putting care and love into the food one creates.

Chef Cale comes to us from the Four Seasons out of Atlanta, GA. He is excited to be a part this opportunity to teach others how to cultivate a thriving farm to school to plate initiative to benefit the children eating in Northwest Tennessee public schools.

Resources to be provided to participants:

Bringing the Farm to School Producer Training Manual

Local Food Procurement Resources

New School Cuisine: Nutritious seasonal recipes for school cooks by school cooks

This Training is paid for through a USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant and funding provided by the National Farm to School Network.

Win a Chest Freezer with Local Beef

On 10am Saturday, July 1st at the Martin Farmers Market, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network will announce the #GrowFoodChallenge HARVEST grand prize winner both in person and through their live Facebook feed @NWTNLFN.

The #GrowFoodChallenge is a call to action for individuals, families, schools, early childcare centers, & community groups in Northwest Tennessee to grow food & build soil.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is encouraging ALL residents living in Northwest Tennessee to join this year’s #GrowFoodChallenge now through June 29th. Participants must try to grow their own food (whether in the ground or in a pot), and show ways how they are reducing food waste (composting or other means). 

Participants must be residents residing in the following Northwest Tennessee counties: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion, & Weakley Counties. One photo entry per household per challenge theme is allowed. The Photo themes are START. GROW. HARVEST. 

HARVEST photo entries must be submitted by Thursday, June 29th by midnight to be eligible to win the grand prize – a Rural King chest freezer and quarter processed beef from NB Beef Company! Photo entries must be submitted by 11:59 pm by  6/29/23  at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GFC_Harvest23  

“We are excited to see how many people are engaging in our local food system by growing their own food and composting,” stated Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the NWTN Local Food Network. “We would like to connect local food sources to all, especially our most vulnerable populations. We will be announcing our new Food Relief Guide at the Martin Farmers Market on Saturday, July 1st.”

The Martin Farmers Market will be open on Saturday, July 1st from 8am – 12pm. The special event will feature live music from Alex Sadler from 9-11, a “People’s Choice” Farmers Market Vendor Table Decoration contest, a children’s independence day activity, and a variety of vendors selling locally grown and produced vegetables, fruits, baked goods, jams, honey, and more! 

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network serves as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL. Learn more at nwtnlfn.org/grow-food-challenge.

The Grow Food Challenge is a collaborative project organized by the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network with support from Regional Seed Hub Distribution Partners, the Martin Farmers Market and the Tennessee Environmental Council’s #ComePostYourCompost Program. 

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.

Fork Farms Virtual Training

This summer, the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) has partnered with Flex Farms to offer an online virtual training for one hour on Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 9am (Central).

Watch this 1-hour virtual training here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfurJW2UtA0

Additional Resources Shared:

Guest speaker, Kit Collins from Fork Farms offers the following:

1) An overview of Flex Farm resources – curriculum, videos, and more through their learning portal

2) Best practices – cleaning, maintenance, how to get funding

3) How to get the most use out of your flex farm during the school year

4) Ideas to utilize the Flex Farms to integrate Agriculture and Nutrition education in the classroom and cafeteria – what are others doing? How are you using your harvest in the cafeteria, classroom, taste tests, etc…

5) Photo journal 📓 keeping track of progress, results, and sharing your story (we want to feature Farm to School partners in our next NWTN Local Food Guide. 

The LFN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible by all in Northwest Tennessee. We have been partnering with Tennessee school districts to strengthen their farm to school programs.

InClassroom Resources

What do Plants Need to Survive, “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go” — Season 1, Episode 1

Above is a 28-minute long video; however, to learn about “What do Plants Need to Survive” take a moment with your students to watch minute 1:22-3:05.

Create a School Garden Planting Calendar:  Creating a calendar to help us remember to take care of plant needs is a good idea. Which  happens most often on your garden calendar – watering, weeding or feeding?

Jr. Master Gardener Program => Grow. Eat. Go. Student Gardening Journal with Bonus Pages (including taste tests)

Download Weekly/Daily Hydroponics Educational Systems Chart

Indoor Seed Germinating Activity => Rockwool vs. Cotton Balls? – a seed germination experiment

Rockwool has to be ordered and if you don’t have any for your hydroponic systems, you can use the alternative – cotton! Cotton is a commodity crop in Tennessee and is easily attainable. Make sure to get 100% cotton for this experiment.

Taste Test Guide (cabbage, kale, swiss chard, mixed greens): This Taste Test Guide has the information, curriculum, and recipes needed for schools and cafeterias to implement Harvest of the Month taste tests.

Download our FREE Taste of TN Harvest of the Month Posters – Download our Free Printable and Shareable Posters for your Classroom or Cafeteria – designed with love from Tennessee students.

Our top Hydroponic Curriculum Picks

Junior Master Gardeners Program: There are a great list of resources, free printables, activities, questions and more.

We LOVE KidsGardening.Org. The Kids Garden Community is a free online community supporting individuals, families, and organizations with the skills, tools, and connections to gardening with kids and scale transformative programs. Sign-up for FREE and ask questions, get answers and resources.

Hydroponics – Plant Science, Getting Started

Hydroponics, in its simplest form, is growing plants by supplying all necessary nutrients in the plants’ water supply rather than through the soil. Here are some basic hydroponic systems, as well as growing tips.

DIY Hydroponics – GRADE LEVEL: PRESCHOOL, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

The idea of growing plants in nontraditional ways like by using hydroponics techniques can really capture kids’ attention and get them excited about gardening. Prefabricated hydroponic units can be pricy, so this activity provides information about designing DIY options that may be a little more economical.

The Plant Soil Relationship – Grade Level: 3-5

Students will learn: 1) Soil helps anchor plants and provides them essential elements of water and nutrients. 2)Plants prevent soil erosion and provide organic matter.

Grow with the Flow – Grade Level: 5-9

This 10 session project-based curriculum includes simple instructions for constructing 2 different types of hydroponic units, setting plants, observing growth, and harvesting. Entomology, physics, social studies, marketing, math, nutrition and careers in horticulture, are integrated into the basic plant science focus. These projects allow for a balanced approach with group and individual activities. 

Soil vs. Water: Exploring Hydroponics – Grade Level: 6-8th, 9th – 12th

Students will:

  • Review what plants need to grow
  • Explore how traditional soil-based gardening techniques provide for plant needs
  • Explore how hydroponic growing techniques provide for plant needs
  • Conduct an experiment to observe differences between traditional and hydroponic growing techniques

Additional Resources: Food Safety

Good Agriculture Practices for Handling Lettuce

Good Agriculture Practices for Sprouts

Food Safety on the Farm – Water Handling

Guide to Washing Fresh Produce

E. coli prevention control in Fresh Produce

Funding Resources:

Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) competitive grants initiate or expand efforts of farmers, gardeners, citizens, government officials, schools, and other stakeholders in urban areas and suburbs. Projects may target areas of food access; education; business and start-up costs for new farmers; and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.

USDA-NIFA Food Safety Outreach Competitive Grant Program provides funding for food safety training and education for small and mid-sized producers and processors affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program (open October – January)

The Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program‘s purpose is to increase the knowledge of agricultural science and improve the nutritional health of children. The program’s goal is to increase the capacity for food, garden, and nutrition education within host organizations or entities, such as school cafeterias and classrooms, while fostering higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems by bringing together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system. The initiative is part of a broader effort to not only increase access to school meals for low-income children, but also to dramatically improve their quality.