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Nashville Scene: Tennessee Local Food Summit Plans Most Ambitious Program Yet
Three-day conference moves to Montgomery Bell Academy for its seventh iteration
The seventh annual Tennessee Local Food Summit will take place this year Dec.1-3 at Montgomery Bell Academy’s campus at 4001 Harding Road. Organized by Jeff Poppen, best known as The Barefoot Farmer, this year’s summit makes the bold assertion the “Middle Tennessee farmland once fed Nashville; it will again.”
To reach this vision, Poppen has gathered multiple panels of local, regional and national food and farm advocates for educational workshops and networking opportunities. Some of Nashville’s best and most forward-thinking chefs will also participate in the panels and prepare meals for attendees.
Poppen has been an advocate for local food for more than four decades, growing his own food and selling his wares from one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Tennessee, Long Hungry Creek Farm in Red Boiling Springs. But don’t get the impression that this summit is just a meeting of old tie-died hippies advocating some sort of return to agrarianism.
The Tennessee Local Food Summit is dead serious about improving the economics of local food production and consumption and has invited one of the most respected food systems analysts in the country to address the conference. Ken Meter is known for his work that integrates the technical sides of business development and marketing analysis with the fuzzier concepts of social concerns and development of successful systems. He has undertaken an analysis of the Nashville food system and will be talking about his findings as part of the summit.
Other local and regional experts who will participate in educational sessions include Tradd Cotter from Mushroom Mountain; Ian McSweeney, executive director of Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation; Mac Wilson of Community Garden; Susana Lein of Salamander Springs Farm; Robin Fazio of the Baylor School; Paul Bela of Hill & Hollow Farm; Jay Williams of Williams Honey Farm; Loran Shallenberger of Bells Bend Farms; Alfred Farris of Windy Acres Farm; Bill Kenner of Sequatchie Cove Farm; and Tasha Kennard of the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Go to the official event website for a full schedule of seminars.
Nashville chefs participating in cooking demonstrations include Tandy Wilson from City House, Julia Sullivan from Henrietta Red, Eric Zizka of Oak Steakhouse and Tony Galzin from Nicky’s Coal Fired, and meals will be provided by local partners Husk Nashville and Lockeland Table.
The Tennessee Local Food Summit will take advantage of many of the facilities at the host venue, Montgomery Bell Academy’s campus. Events will take place in the school’s Hogwarts-like dining hall, also utilizing MBA’s kitchens, classrooms, and lecture halls. Students from MBA’s entrepreneurship, health and wellness, and conservation societies will take part in the conference sessions, as well as providing volunteer manpower for the weekend. Free parking will be available in the MBA parking garage off Wilson Boulevard.
“MBA is thrilled to serve as host for Tennessee Local Food Summit,” said MBA Headmaster Brad Gioia. “The event and its mission provides a great opportunity for our boys to see the impact that the local food movement can have on our community,” he continued. “Last year, our students provided more than 4,800 hours of volunteer service to 26 organizations in the area, and we see MBA’s involvement in the Local Food Summit as a continuation of the school’s commitment to serving Middle Tennessee..”
Other workshops will be offered in topics ranging from backyard and community gardening, online marketing, the effects of agriculture on the environment, and more. Tickets for conference, which include all workshops, meals and free parking, are $75 each and can be purchased at Eventbrite in advance. This is an incredibly affordable admission for the chance to take part in this vitally important discussion for our community while learning and networking from some amazing experts in the field and enjoying food prepared by local heroes. Don’t dawdle on this one. Sign up for your tickets today!
Contact: Paul Lindsley
TENNESSEE LOCAL FOOD SUMMIT RETURNS DEC. 1-3
“Middle Tennessee Farmland Once Fed Nashville, It Will Again”
NASHVILLE, TN – (Nov. 7, 2017)—The Barefoot Farmer Jeff Poppen announced today the
The event features local, regional and national food and farm advocates including Nashville’s best chefs showcasing delicious, locally grown organic meals, educational workshops, networking and the celebration of Nashville’s growing local food movement.
Event Organizer Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer, is the owner and operator of one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Tennessee, Long Hungry Creek Farm in Red Boiling Springs. Poppen has spent the last 40 years growing his own food and wants to share his vision that “Middle Tennessee farmland once fed all of Nashville, and it will again.”
This year’s event features Ken Meter, one of the most experienced food system analysts in the United States. His work integrates market analysis, business development, systems thinking, and social concerns. Ken will be reviewing and discussing the Nashville Food System Analysis Report.
Additionally, local and regional experts will participate in sessions, including, Tradd Cotter from Mushroom Mountain, Ian McSweeney, Executive Director of Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation, Mac Wilson of Community Garden, Susana Lein of Salamander Springs Farm, Robin Fazio of the Baylor School, Paul Bela of Hill & Hollow Farm, Jay Williams of Williams Honey Farm, Loran Shallenberger of Bells Bend Farms, Alfred Farris of Windy Acres Farm, Bill Kenner of Sequatchie Cove Farm and Tasha Kennard of the Nashville Farmer’s Market. A complete schedule can be found on our website, http://www.tnlocalfood.com.
Nashville Chefs Tandy Wilson from City House, Julia Sullivan from Henrietta Red, Eric Zizka of Oak Steakhouse and Tony Galzin from Nicky’s Coal Fired will be participating in cooking demonstrations, along with featured meals provided by local partners Husk Nashville and Lockeland Table.
The Tennessee Local Food Summit will make use of several areas of the Montgomery Bell Academy campus, including the school’s Dining Hall, kitchens, classrooms, and lecture halls. Students from the MBA Entrepreneurship, Health and Wellness, and Conservation Societies will take part in the conference sessions as well as provide manpower for the event. Parking will be available in the MBA parking garage off Wilson Boulevard.
“MBA is thrilled to serve as host for Tennessee Local Food Summit. The event and its mission provides a great opportunity for our boys to see the impact that the local food movement can have on our community.
Last year, our students provided more than 4,800 hours of volunteer service to 26 organizations in the area, and we see MBA’s involvement in the Local Food Summit as a continuation of the school’s commitment to serving Middle Tennessee,” said MBA Headmaster Brad Gioia.
During the three-day event, workshops will be offered in backyard and community gardening, online marketing, the effects of agriculture on the environment and more. Tickets for conference which include all workshops, meals and free parking are $75 each and can be purchased at Eventbrite in advance.
About Tennessee Local Food Summit
As a peak year-end event fostering this change, the Tennessee Local Food Summit is December 1-3, 2017 and will be held at Montgomery Bell Academy, sponsored by Barefoot Farmer, LLC and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Food Project, Nashville Grown and Vanderbilt Rooted Community Health. For more information, visit: www.tnlocalfood.com.
Montgomery Bell Academy is the oldest independent school for boys in Tennessee. Since 1867, the school has been dedicated to the ideal of helping young men reach their potential as gentlemen, scholars, and athletes. MBA is home to 15 National Merit Semifinalists, the top-ranked debate team in the country, the 2017 One-Act Play State Champions, and 16 varsity sports competing at the highest level.
“Barefoot Farmer” Jeff Poppen, host of Nashville Public Television’s long-running programVolunteer Gardener and one of the nation’s leading authorities on organic farming, will join a host of national experts on organic farming and nutrition, including award-winning local chefs, for a series of workshops and cooking demonstrations at the 2014 Tennessee Local Food Summit Dec. 5, 6 and 7 at Vanderbilt University.
The three-day event kicks off with dinner and music on the grounds of Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory, followed by workshops at the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center, a concert and dinner at The University Club of Nashville, and on-site workshops at Bells Bend Neighborhood Farms.
The community event is being hosted by Health Plus, a division of Vanderbilt Health and Wellness, which houses three nationally recognized programs that provide support for the health and productivity of university employees as well as people throughout the Middle Tennessee region.
Registration for the summit and more information about this year’s speakers and workshops is available online at TNLocalFoodSummit. Space is limited, so early registration is strongly encouraged.
Poppen operates one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Tennessee, writes a local column about his organic farming musings for the Macon County Chronicle, hosts a popular public television program on WNPT and is the author of two books.
The Farm to Table movement has received growing national attention in recent decades as consumers have become more aware of the health, nutritional and local economic benefits of buying direct from local farms. Even larger, more established food service companies and grocery store chains are now offering their customers more fresh, locally grown produce and farm products.
In addition to Poppen, this year’s event will feature experts and chefs speaking on a wide range of topics from backyard gardening, organic agriculture, rural economies, and nutrition to cooking and climate change.
The speakers include:
- Ken Meter, president of the Crossroads Research Center in Minneapolis. Meter is one of the foremost foods systems analysts in the nation, serving as a consultant to the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and several universities.
- Steve M. Johnson, medical director of Evergreen Medical Centre in Louisville, Kentucky. Johnson is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine with a special focus on the connection of rational spiritual medicine to health.
- Hugh Williams, an organic and biodynamic farmer for more than 40 years. Williams is an expert orchardist who is widely respected for his experience running successful fruit businesses and a self-contained farm.
- John Ikerd, professor of agriculture and applied economics at the University of Missouri. Ikerd is an expert on sustainability, agriculture and economics and how the three are related.
- Mark Bader, owner of Free Choice Enterprises. With expertise in ruminants and grazing concerns, Bader travels the world advising livestock owners on pasture-performance issues.
- Richard McDonald, also known as “Dr. Bug,” is a leading expert in organic pest management. He works as the biological control administrator and state apiarist for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
- Hugh Lovell, an author and expert on the origins and developments of biodynamic farming, soil health and sustainable agriculture.
- Susana Lein speaking on Permaculture.
This year’s summit also will feature live cooking demonstrations by these local award- winning chefs:
- Tyler Brown, executive chef of Nashville’s Capitol Grille;
- Sean Brock, executive chef of Husk restaurant; and
- Sandor Katz, author of Art of Fermentation.
For more information on the 2014 Tennessee Local Food Summit and to register, visitTNLocalFoodSummit.
By: Holly Meyer
Chef Sean Brock welcomes the winter challenge of turning the abundance of seasonal root vegetables and greens into something exciting to eat day after day.
“Everybody always complains about cooking in the winter,” Brock said. “It pushes us to be creative. It pushes us to come up with new techniques.”
Brock, the chef at Husk restaurant in Nashville, explained and demonstrated his philosophy on eating foods that are in season Saturday during the Tennessee Local Food Summit.
“The idea of cooking by the season or buying by the season, to me it’s a way of looking at things. It’s a way of operating,” Brock said. “There’s an enormous amount of thinking involved, but the reward is amazing.”
Brock grew up eating with the seasons out of necessity, and it continues to impact how he thinks about and handles food. He was raised in rural Virginia far from any restaurants.
“You had to cook at home every single day. We grew everything, and I thought everyone did that. I was so far back in the mountains that I just assumed that’s how people lived,” Brock said.
Incorporating seasonal foods into daily dishes was one of many topics discussed at this year’s Tennessee Local Food Summit. In addition to the kitchen, the summit’s workshops focuses on science, gardening, economics and spirituality.
The Tennessee Local Food Summit was started by farmer Jeff Poppen in an effort to promote local, organic farming as a solution to climate change.
“It’s sort of networking of all these different fields in an effort for Middle Tennessee to once again get its food from Middle Tennessee,” Poppen said. “This event is just a byproduct of a large movement that is going on throughout the nation.”
Vanderbilt University’s staff and faculty wellness program, Health Plus, hosted this year’s program at the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center because it matched well with the organization’s mission, said Brad Awalt, manager of Health Plus.
“Our mission at Health Plus is to provide programs and services that are designed kind of to help people lead healthier lives,” Awalt said. “We thought it was a great fit kind of parallel with some of the programing that we do, and so we were able to make it happen.”
The summit continues Sunday with more workshops and a farm tour. Visittnlocalfood.com for more information.
Reach Holly Meyer at 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.
By Jen Todd | Dec 5, 2014
The Tennessee Local Food Summit invites food-lovers to celebrate farming and agriculture, kicking off with a chef-prepared dinner 6 p.m. Friday at the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory, 1000 Oman Drive.
Saturday is filled with chef demos in workshops from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center, 2700 Children’s Way, followed by dinner at the University Club of Nashville, 2402 Garland Ave.
The conference concludes with a tour of Bells Bend Farms at 10 a.m. Tickets range from $25-$125. Register at www.tnlocalfood.com or 615-322-6384.
Middle Tennessee has long been known for providing excellent produce and proteins, but so many local residents still don’t take advantage of our fertile farmland. The upcoming Tennessee Local Food Summitaims to shine a spotlight on these issues during their upcoming series of events Dec. 5-7. The summit, sponsored this year by Vanderbilt Health and Wellness, will offer opportunities to hear local chefs and farmers discuss strategies to better utilize indigenous products in our daily food preparation and will feature chefs preparing delicious meals using locally grown ingredients.The event will kick off on Friday, Dec. 5, with a chefs’ dinner at Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory, with a reception and a meal, plus musical entertainment by Beth Nielsen Chapman and Will Kimbrough. The participating chefs include: Andy Manchester, executive pastry chef at the Omni Hotel; Guerry McComas, executive chef of Nashville Restaurant Group; Jeremy Barlow, owner of Sloco and author of Chefs Can Save the World; Kristin Beringson, executive chef at City Winery Nashville; Laura Wilson, executive chef of the Grow Local Kitchen in the Nashville Farmers’ Market; and Richard Jones, executive chef at Green Door Gourmet.
On Saturday, the summit will convene at Vanderbilt’s Health and Wellness Center with conference sessions covering topics including the effects of farming on the environment, backyard and community gardening, business models and economic opportunities, personal stories of research, education and outreach programs, land stewardship and the spiritual side of farming and food, along with local chefs offering classes and demos in Vanderbilt’s “demonstration kitchen.”
On Saturday night, the University Club is the site of another chefs’ dinner with live music by Darrell Scott and friends. The summit concludes on Sunday with a tour of Bells Bend Farms. You can purchase tickets to the entire conference or take advantage of à la carte opportunities by visiting the event’s ticketing page.
Promoting the local production and consumption of healthy local food for everyone is why for the last three years organic farmer Jeff Poppen takes time away from tending to his vegetable fields, blueberries, apples, beehives and cattle in Red Boiling Springs to organize the Tennessee Local Food Summit in Nashville, an event that brings in over 200 attendees each year.
“I want people to learn from different perspectives about how to have a healthy food system,” said Poppen who has confirmed a dozen different speakers who will talk about everything from permaculture, food quality and diets, building a local food economy to gardening edible plants. “These are very valuable things for people to hear about and learn about. I am trying to raise the consciousness of people. People will hear personal stories about how a healthy food system can affect bigger issues from human health, economics to the environment. People will be able to network with like-minded people.”
“A local food economy can solve a lot of problems,” said Poppen. “When people eat fresh produce and items fresh from the farm that are raised from wise, traditional methods the food is better for people and people are healthier. The environmental consequences are a lot less than having a few giant agricultural facilities. There are also social impacts on the community.” Small farms bring employment for people to work the land. With this, education and spiritual values are heightened, explains Poppen.
He knows there are obstacles but he believes that people coming together to find pathways to foster a local organic food system is the only way to move forward. Poppen is excited to see local chefs take part and share what can be done with the food.
Also known as “The Barefoot Farmer,” Poppen has hosted events celebrating homegrown food for thirty years at his Red Boiling Springs farms. “People would talk about what was on their hearts and I thought what a good idea to have this kind of thing in Nashville,” said Poppen. So in 2011 he approached Dodd Galbreath of Lipscomb University who hosted the summit the first year. Sylvia Ganier of Green Door Gourmet hosted the summit in 2012, and Jason Adkins of Trevecca Nazarene University will host the Saturday workshops this year. Poppen likes to move the summit to a different venue each year to showcase the local food economy in middle Tennessee. He is honored so many universities and businesses want to take part.
As a boy, Poppen watched his father tend his organic farm in Illinois. When he was 18 he moved to Tennessee to become a farmer himself. Poppen has two tracts of land in Red Boiling Springs. One is about 15 acres which he is considering transitioning to an education and retreat center after he made the decision not to farm there when a confined animal feeding operation for chickens moved near the property last year. His second farm is over 200 acres and is where he raises his cattle and grows a variety of vegetables including greens, corn, potatoes, watermelons, squash and herbs for his 150-member CSA and local restaurants. Poppen has published two books and does consulting for other farmers and gardeners.
The Tennessee Local Food Summit begins Friday December 6 with a 6 p.m. reception at Sloco, 2905 12th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37204. The workshops on Saturday, December 7 begin at 9:00 a.m. December 7 at the Boone Business Building at Trevecca Nazarene University, 333 Murfreesboro Road, Nashville, TN 37210, and include a chef-made lunch. Saturday night at 6 p.m., Corsair Distillery will host summit attendees for a farm-to-table dinner and entertainment by indie rocker Will Kimbrough. Sunday, December 8, at 10 a.m., it’s back to Trevecca for a tour of the aquaponics operation followed by a tour of Delvin Farms greenhouses at noon. The full price of the three-day summit is $100 per person but discounts and single event tickets are also available.
For more information about the Tennessee Local Food Summit, go to tnlocalfood.com. To learn more about Jeff Poppen go to barefootfarmer.com
by Heather Foust
Pumpkin bourbon cake baked with Tennessee grown pumpkins from Gary Swafford Farms and locally-made bourbon, vegetarian lasagna layered with in-season local vegetables and raw organic juices blended together with local fruits and vegetables – these are just a few of the earthy offerings that Tennessee Local Food Summit attendees get to savor December 6-8, 2013.
“It’s going to be the coolest potluck in town,” said Laura Wilson who is one of various local chefs representing about a dozen different restaurants or catering places preparing dishes for the three-day event’s meals. Local farmers are supplying the food.
Wilson is the director of the Grow Local Kitchen, a community kitchen space at the Nashville Farmers’ Market that promotes locally grown and sourced foods and offers classes and demonstrations using ingredients from the farmers’ market. The kitchen also helps to foster culinary education and promotional space for up and coming food entrepreneurs.
She knew Summit organizer and farmer Jeff Poppen, from buying his produce, reading his books and she has had a great respect for his work with other farmers. She was happy to rally other area chefs to donate their time and efforts to prepare the summit’s food.
“It (the Summit) speaks totally to what my goals are in terms of my business,” said Carlos Davis, co-owner and chef at Riff’s Fine Street Food and Catering who is making a dessert trio for the Summit which includes the pumpkin bourbon cake. “What I am wanting to do is support local.”
Davis does a Sunday brunch at the Nashville Farmers’ Market making as much of the menu as possible with what local farmers have in-season.
“Farmers need every bit of our encouragement and they need loyalty,” said Davis. “We have to invest in the future of the Nashville economy.”
He tries to upsell to his catering clients to buy a local sustainably-sourced menu. He explains that it usually takes people tasting the locally-sourced food next to the other food to see the difference of how much better local tastes. Having people cater their events with local food is one way to showcase farmers’ goods to bigger crowds, said Davis.
“When people support a long term investment in local food, only then can local food become affordable to the majority of people,” said Davis. He works with various charities and non-profits including the community kitchen of the Conexion Americas called Mesa (which means table in Spanish) Komal (which means community in Kurdish) in Nashville. As a whole, Davis sees that the Summit will really help to draw awareness to the fact that “we have got to try something different” to create a better food economy for everyone.
Using local vegetables, meats and dairy, Robert Spinelli, owner and chef of Perl Cafe and Catering in Nashville believes “supporting local farmers affects the economy by keeping more profit close to home. If small businesses can help each other flourish, then everybody wins.”
Spinelli, who is preparing braised meat for the event, believes it is important for local chefs to be involved with the local food movement “to be able to use the freshest ingredients possible, to be able to forge a relationship with the people who grow the products instead of simply calling an order in to a big company and to really be a part of the community around us.”
It is “a great opportunity,” to hook up farmers and chefs together, said Wilson. Working at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, many times she sees chefs buying from the same farms regularly. The Summit is a meeting place for chefs to meet other farmers out there they may not have known about. “This is a way to make it easier on the farmers to market their goods to different food buyers.”
Bringing various farmers with different viewpoints and perspectives to “one table is one of the most important things you can do,” said Wilson.
The local food movement is people “re-examining an old idea,” said Wilson, as once food was always produced locally prior to the food economy getting so big that food had to be trucked in. Trucking food from far way is “not a viable way to set up an entire food system,” said Wilson. To her Middle Tennessee is a ‘fertile cradle of dirt. The fact we are not reaching to feed ourselves from here is disconcerting.”
Her aspirations for the summit are for people to meet, share their knowledge and open their minds to new ideas and marketing strategies to be able to expand.
“I will be happy when we don’t have to talk about it (a local food economy)” because it will be just assumed that restaurants buy their produce and other food from local farms, said Wilson.
“It is a flavor break,” said Wilson of local food. “It tastes better. It has the terroir earth flavor of this place (Tennessee).”
The third annual summit begins Friday December 6 with a 6 p.m. reception at Sloco, 2905 12th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37204. The workshops on Saturday, December 7 begin at 9:00 a.m. December 7 at the Boone Business Building at Trevecca Nazarene University, 333 Murfreesboro Road, Nashville, TN 37210, and include a chef-made lunch. Saturday night at 6 p.m., Corsair Distillery will host summit attendees for a farm-to-table dinner and entertainment by indie rocker Will Kimbrough. Sunday, December 8, at 10 a.m., it’s back to Trevecca for a tour of the aquaponics operation followed by a tour of Delvin Farms greenhouses at noon. The full price of the three-day summit is $100 per person but discounts and single event tickets are also available. For more information about the Tennessee Local Food Summit, go to tnlocalfood.com.
by Heather Foust