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Consciousness Raising is the Goal of Tennessee Local Food Summit Organizer Jeff Poppen

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

Trevecca’s Jason Adkins Hopes to Inspire Urban Farming in Food Deserts

Tennessee Local Food Summit participants who attend speaker Jason Adkins’ workshop or tour Trevecca Urban Farm, will learn how Trevecca Nazarene University students are nurturing seedlings to replant in area low-income neighborhoods and community and school gardens, raising chickens for eggs and growing tilapia fish using aquaponic methods, just a few of the programs that are part of the school’s Center for Social Justice program whose mission is to help all people have access to healthy, affordable food.

Adkins, the university’s Environmental Projects Coordinator will speak at the summit’s December 7 10:45 a.m. workshop, “Exploring Environmental Justice Through Urban Farming in a Food Desert,” and the next day at 10 a.m. summit attendees will get to take a tour of Trevecca Urban Farm. The workshop will talk specifically about the farm’s practices and how it was incorporated in to a whole educational farm, the relationships they have with the community and farmers as well as how they are teaching the farm’s programs to locals and as to students as far away as to their sister university in Asia.
“I am happy to connect with local growers and people interested in eating, buying and growing good food,” said Adkins of speaking at the summit. “I want to share what part of that (local food) movement we are trying to inhabit in Nashville and hopefully inspire people to look at adopting some of the practices we found really rewarding.”

Other programs at Trevecca Urban Farm include students composting food scraps from the university’s food service to create mulch for their farm projects, a worm depository that creates fertilizers to nourish farm plants, helping to restore Brown’s Creek, planting fruit trees and bushes on campus and in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood, beekeeping, creating community and school gardens, and growing and deploying cleansing plants at local schools to increase better air quality.

“I hope people will go away from it inspired to participate in creating together a food system that works for the local landscape,” said Adkins. “This type of food shed, where people draw food, helps to recreate the local food culture.” He sees that in the last 70 years, a great amount of money and labor has been spent “building an extraordinary (food) system that has failed the people.” Some people have gotten wealthy from this type of system that in general has caused people’s health to fail and failed farmers, said Adkins. “The farming system has failed and needs to be repaired.”

The Center for Social Justice tries to advocate for people to become more interested in farming. “We need more farmers, more people on the land,” said Adkins. He said they want people, especially students, to equate farmers as having “honorable and viable vocations. We need to support it all the way up to the higher education so we get the kind of students who seek it in higher education who feel inspired to take up the vocation and make it so it’s economically sustainable.” The workshop will also talk about farm-to-school programs and the importance of people taking to young people about eating right and challenging them to grow their own food.

He is encouraged to see that more people are supporting local agriculture with the popularity of farmers’ markets, people creating backyard gardens, as well as restaurants using local food and more farm to school programs. “Supporting local farmers who grow great food for us, I really think is a critical piece in rebuilding middle Tennessee’s food culture,” said Adkins. He explains that when we are more involved in knowing about where our food comes from, we want to support one another and buy local. “We need to understand this is an important practice to cherish and spread. People have begun to make the connection and are putting their energy and money where their convictions have led them.”

Adkins reimagines a whole new farming system where we do not rely on prodigious amounts of petroleum that requires wars and ecological destruction. Rather he sees a “tastier, healthier future where we know and support people who grow our food with a future that is more transparent of how food is grown. Food that is environmentally sound and made with food justice. We have a lot to look forward to as we build this (the local food economy).”

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. To learn more about Jason Adkins and the Trevecca Urban Farm go to tnurbanfarm.org.

by Heather Foust

Nashville Chefs Wilson, Davis, Spinelli on Why Local Food

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

2013 Food Summit Posters

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2013 Food Summit Poster – Web Quality JPG

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2013 Food Summit Poster – High Quality JPG

 

Measuring the Local Food Economy with Ken Meter

Food system analyst Ken Meter has seen various U.S. communities take his research and incorporate creative ways to make a thriving local food economy from connecting food buyers to local farmers, building better package and storing facilities cutting down on food transportation costs to helping farmers market themselves better. His studies and community initiatives will be part of his talk, “Building a Local Food Economy” at the Tennessee Local Food Summit December 7 at Trevecca Nazarene University. 

“I am happy to be coming,” said Meter whose work integrates market analysis, business development, systems thinking, and social concerns. “I want to learn more about food issues emerging in Nashville.” His keynote address is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and his workshop begins at 1:30 p.m. Other topics to be discussed at the summit by over a dozen speakers include permaculture, water conservation, fermenting vegetables, gardening and the effects of local food on health, the environment, spirituality and social justice issues.

Meter plans to speak with local people about what they are doing and achieving and what obstacles they are up against. He is excited to learn more about Tennessee’s potential to create a local food economy as he has only worked in a few counties in Tennessee as part of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. Meter is very interested in the state’s ability to have an extended growing season for produce – “there is a lot of potential for some interesting production early and longer in the year.”

His talk will include some 100 U.S. regional food studies he has done and how to create opportunities for everyone in the network by showing people what has worked in other places. He will discuss how money flows in a region, the economic reality for farmers, ways to make farming more rewarding for farmers, what the local market for food is and how much consumers are buying as well as share how to build connections between local farms with local markets.

As president of Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis, Meter holds 41 years experience in inner-city and rural community capacity building which helps people to understand the obstacles that inhibit themselves, governments and organizations from realizing their developmental goals while enhancing their abilities to help them achieve measurable and sustainable results. The non-profit organization consults other groups, academic partners, foundations and the government about building strong local economies, fostering community-based food systems, planning for and measuring sustainability, working in complex, changing systems, working with ethnic and cultural communities and evaluating community initiatives.

In the last few years, Meter has watched as the local food movement has become a “very strong” social movement with people in every state of the U.S. becoming interested in where their food comes from and the farmers who produce their food. “It is a very interesting movement transforming American society in a pretty profound way,” said Meter.

“The thing that is exciting about the movement is that farmers, consumers and professional people, all in business together, most everyone has something to gain. I hope that we can increase the chance for people to work together to design more effective strategies of where people want to go.”

He hopes those who attend his talk will “take localizing food supplies more seriously both with an awareness of the strengths of the region and its obstacles and learn some practical ideas that people can use in the Greater Nashville area. I want to help them design and build the food system they deserve to have.”

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 tnlocalfood.com. To learn more about Ken Meter go to crcworks.org

by Heather Foust

Make Plans to Join Chefs for This Year’s Tennessee Local Food Summit

Early next month, several organizations concerned with the development of Middle Tennessee produce will hold the third annual Tennessee Local Food Summit. This year’s event spans three days, Dec. 6-8, and includes a day of educational workshops, a tour of Delvin Farms, and meals prepared by some of Nashville’s best chefs. Chefs from Husk Nashville, Perl Catering, Yeast Nashville, City House, and Juice Brothers are scheduled to participate.

The event kicks off the evening of Friday, Dec. 6, with a reception at Sloco, the local-and-sustainable- food oriented sandwich shop owned by chef Jeremy Barlow, author of Chefs Can Save the World. It will include bites made from locally sourced produce and talks from some of the workshop presenters.

The main event on Saturday will be held at Trevecca Nazarene University. The workshops topics include backyard gardening, urban homesteading, permaculture, and the effects of local food on health, the environment, spirituality and social justice issues from notable sources such as Jeff Poppen, “the Barefoot Farmer,” and Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center. Corsair Distillery will host Saturday evening’s dinner, which includes entertainment from Will Kimbrough.

The summit will conclude with a visit to and tour of Delvin Farms on Sunday.

The cost of the summit is $100 per person. If you can’t make it to each event, you can buy tickets for individual portions of the summit. More information on individual event pricing is available on the website. The full schedule and additional workshop information is also available.

Tennessee Local Food Summit
Dec. 6-8
Trevecca Nazarene University and other locations
Full admission: $100 (discounts and single-event tickets also available)

by Lesley Lassiter
Published in Nashville Scene Food Blog Bites
http://www.nashvillescene.com/bites/archives/2013/11/13/make-plans-to-join-chefs-for-this-years-tennessee-local-food-summit

Third Annual Tennessee Local Food Summit Scheduled

Middle Tennessee farmland once fed Nashville, and many farmers, educators, chefs and retailers are working to make this a reality once again. Scheduled for Saturday, December 7, The Tennessee Local Food Summit, is helping to foster this change. In addition to a full-day of educational workshops and networking, many of Nashville’s best chefs will contribute dishes for a delicious, locally grown organic lunch and supper.  This year’s event will be held at Trevecca Nazarene University, 333 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville.

Workshops will begin run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with sessions on backyard gardening, urban homesteading, permaculture, health, school and community gardens, food deserts and political issues. Speakers confirmed to date include: farmers Susana Lein of Salamander Springs Farm and Paul Entwistle of Red Springs Family Farm; Trevecca’s Environmental Projects Coordinator Jason Adkins; auto-immune cooking expert and author Mee Tracy McCormick, and integrative medicine and anthroposophic physician Dr. Steven Johnson. More to be announced later.

In addition to the Saturday workshops, there will be a 12 p.m. tour of Delvin Farms on Sunday, December 8th.

Learn how to grow your own food, how to find local food, how to use it, and why eating local is healthier. Explore how local food can boost our local economy, while at the same time keeping Tennessee’s lands and water healthy. Our mission is to promote the production and consumption of healthy local food.

For registration and additional information, go to http://tnlocalfood.com

For media inquiries, contact Lisa Shively, 615-677-6645, lisa@pressnetwork.com