Grow Food Challenge Winner Donates Prize 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. 

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.

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.

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.

Left to right: A #GrowFoodChallenge collaboration with Samantha Goyret – NWTN Local Food Network, Cody Nanney – NB Beef Company, Saudia Aiken – United Neighbors, Karen Ibarra – McKenzie Senior Citizens Center

“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.

Celebrate Applesauce Day!!

The Martin Farmers Market in partnership with the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) and Weakley County Extension is celebrating the changing of the seasons the weekend of September 16, 2023, by encouraging individuals, families, students, and seniors to make, try and eat applesauce.

Join us for an Applesauce Day Celebration on Saturday, September 16th from 8am – 12 noon at the Martin Farmers Market featuring applesauce cooking demonstrations and taste tests from the Weakley County Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, McKenzie Hurst. You can also purchase a variety of apple themed products from a variety of Martin Farmers Market vendors.

“We wanted to create a Tennessee tradition to celebrate the beginning of fall, broaden people’s knowledge about local apple varieties, encourage families to cook together, and to embolden culinary skills.”

-Caroline Ideus, Outreach Director of the Local Food Network and co-manager of the Martin Farmers Market.

Apples are the featured Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month product during the month of September. Any day can be applesauce day! Source your local apples from: The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide 2022 Magazine at nwtnlfn.org/food-resources or the Pick TN Website: www.picktnproducts.org/listview/apples

Applesauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 medium local apples (2-3/4″ diameter) – peeled, cored and chopped (Visit Pick TN Website)
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
Peel and core the apples. Slice apples in quarters or sixths. In a saucepan, combine apples, water, and cinnamon (You can add other spices like ginger or cardamom if you like). Cover the pan and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the apples soften fully. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher. Add sugar to taste, but often none is needed.

Share your applesauce stories with us on facebook by tagging @NWTNLFN #APPLESAUCEDAY!!

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.  Happy Applesauce Day!

Celebrate #National Farmers Market Week!

August is peak produce time in Tennessee for many of your favorite fruits and vegetables. Farmers markets in Northwest Tennessee are packed with fresh produce. Aug 7-13, 2022 is #National Farmers Market Week and is the perfect time to stock up and support local farmers.

“Farmers markets play an essential role in communities by creating space for connection and actively fostering more resilient local food systems,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Making the local connection and developing a relationship with the farmers producing your food is the perfect way to support your local community and economy.”

As students go back to school, filling lunchboxes with quality, healthy food is easy to do after a visit to a farmers market. The one-stop location provides options for diverse and tasty selections that family members of all ages will love.

“Shopping at a farmers market is important for many reasons,” Martin Farmers Market Co-Manager Samantha Goyret said. “Farmers Markets fuel rural economies and support healthy communities. As of the 2022 season, Martin Farmers Market vendors have collectively earned $44,620 – all of which stays in our community.”

In addition to traditional produce, many Tennessee farmers markets offer meats, artisan products, flowers, live music, and food trucks. Several markets in our region accept SNAP, EBT and WIC benefits. Check with your local Northwest Tennessee market by visiting nwtnlfn.org/markets.

“What makes the farmers’ market such a special place,” states Bryant Terry, echo-chef, food justice activist and author, “is that you’re actually creating community around food.”

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network and Pick Tennessee Products is the connection to a farmers market near you. There are currently 163 farmers markets listed on the Pick Tennessee Products website and mobile app, of which 10 of our Northwest Tennessee Markets are listed on the NWTNLFN.ORG/Markets webpage. Markets and Producers are encouraged to apply for their free listings at www.pickTNproducts.org and nwtnlfn.org/food-resources. Follow @NWTNLFN on facebook and @PickTNProducts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for seasonal updates and information about farm-related events, activities, and products. #GetitLocal

Samantha Goyret

Co-Manager, Martin Farmers Market

Executive Director, Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network

nwtnfoodguide@gmail.com

(731) 332-9071

Free Snacks at Farmers Market Back to School Event

This Saturday, July 30th from 8am – 12 Noon at the Martin Farmers Market, the Northwest Local Food Network will be providing FREE snack taste tests along with farmers market vendors offering their favorite snack recipes. Kids activities include a table hosted by the Kiwanis Kids Club who will be making bookmarks. Blackberry Pond Farm will offer a hands-on hydroponic tower and microgreens growing demonstration. 

To support the Weakley County Schools Food Pantry, donate your non-perishable food items (examples: Mac-n-cheese, instant mashed potatoes, family pasta meals, canned vegetables, canned fruit, kid friendly snacks). 

Register for Free & Reduced Lunch Applications through the Weakley County Schools Nutrition Department. Get ready for school with healthy snacks!

Pick up a Weakley County Fair Agenda, get your copy of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide, and #Get It Local! Invite your friends to this event: https://fb.me/e/3AAnYh8YN

Blackberry Pond Farm will be offering a demonstration of hydroponic equipment that will be utilized in Weakley County Schools through various growing food projects led by teachers and their students. #FarmtoSchool

~Written by Samantha Goyret, Co-Manager of Martin Farmers Market
Executive Director, LFN Team

Taste the Harvest Celebration on Saturday, June 18th!

Invite others to join you in celebration via our Facebook Event

Harvest Celebration and Beef Prize Drawing 

At 10am on Saturday, June 18th at Martin Farmers Market, #GrowFoodChallenge will celebrate the HARVEST portion of the contest and draw for the grand prize – a Rural King chest freezer and quarter processed beef from Giffin Farms! Entries must be submitted by Thursday, June 16th at midnight to be eligible to win.  Entries can be submitted at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GrowFoodChallenge-HARVEST2022 .   

The Martin Farmers Market will be open on Saturday, June 18th from 8am – 12pm. The special event will feature live music from Tennessee Bob, children’s activities surrounding “National Eat Your Vegetables Day”, 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, FFA Student Plant Sale Groups, City of Martin, Martin Farmers Market and the Tennessee Environmental Council. 

We are thankful to our generous sponsors and donors who support this year’s #GrowFoodChallenge: Giffin Farms & Rural King, Bamboozle, Society of St. Andrews, Cooperative Gardens, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Tennessee Environmental Council, Vowel & Sons, University of Tennessee at Martin, Walmart – Martin.