Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tennessee Local Food Summit Returns to MBA

Eighth edition of the conference and expo will be bigger and better than ever

 NOV 14, 2018 8 AM

Local Food SummitI always feel a little nervous about going on campus at Montgomery Bell Academy, a school where I had a, shall we say, less than auspicious exit midway through my (first) freshman year. But both the private school and I have done a lot of changing during the hrmmty-hrmmph years since my departure, and I’m pretty sure those cannons on the front lawn won’t be aimed at me when I return for the eighth annual Tennessee Local Food Summit.

I attended last year and was very impressed by the scale of the event and the commitment of organizer Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer and his staff of volunteers. This year’s summit will run Nov. 30-Dec. 2 and feature national and local speakers focusing on issues regarding health and wellness, food security and the restoration of local farms. There will also be chef demos and meals prepared by several forward-thinking local favorites.

Panel discussions will be led by local and regional experts in fields ranging from home gardening to fermentation. All of these sessions fit under Poppen’s overarching philosophy of the Local Food Summit: “Middle Tennessee farmland once fed Nashville, and it will again.” Headline speakers include agroecology farmer John Ikerd, author Robert Wolf and author Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain. Local experts will include Leah Larabell from High Garden Woodland Tea House, Alan Powell of Nashville Grown, Bob Woods of The Hamery, Tony Johnston from MTSU Fermentation, Ian McSweeney from the Agrarian Trust, Susana Lein from Permaculture, TSU researcher Paige Thompson, Alan Powell and Farm & Fiddle, Brandon Whitt from Batey Farms and Christian Spears from Tennessee Brew Works, along with chefs Irving Brown, Andrew Coins from Miel Restaurant and Deb Paquette of Etch Restaurant. (Watch this space tomorrow to learn about the cool stuff Whitt and Spears are doing with beer and local barley.)

You can check out the schedule for the entire conference at the event website, and tickets (which include all workshops, meals and free parking) are $100 each and can be purchased at Eventbrite in advance. Day tickets are also available.

MBA headmaster Brad Gioia is proud that students from the school’s Entrepreneurship, Health and Wellness, and Conservation societies will take part in the conference sessions as well as provide manpower for the event, and that the school can host again.

“We are pleased to welcome the Tennessee Local Food Summit back to MBA,” says Gioia. “Last year’s event provided a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about the benefits of the local food movement, as well as to open up our campus to the larger community. The food summit fits perfectly with MBA’s commitment to serving Middle Tennessee. While service hours are not required by the school, our boys have contributed nearly 5,000 hours of community service to more than two dozen organizations in the past year.”

He’s a good man, that one. See, I told you we both had grown!

Tennessee Brew Works and Batey Farms Produce an All-Tennessee Beer

Nashville SCENE

NOV 15, 2018 9 AM


You’d think with all the whiskey that has been produced in Tennessee at distilleries like Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel since Prohibition, there would be a market for local malted barley, since that grain is almost always a component of the mash bill of whiskey recipes. Then add in the rise of Tennessee breweries, where barley is an even larger percentage of the recipe than with spirits, and it seems like a no-brainer that barley should be a big cash crop in the state.

Not so much, it turns out. Brandon Whitt, the owner of Batey Farms, an eighth-generation family-owned farm located in Murfreesboro, explains. “Barley has been something that fell off the radar because we didn’t really have a market to sell it into. Jack and George were set in their ways when it came to their barley sources, and most of the agricultural research was primarily into six-row barley for livestock feed.”

The more preferred variety of barley for brewing and distilling is two-row barley, with its lower protein levels, higher yield per pound and more refined flavors, factors that are apparently unimportant to cattle. Still, Whitt wanted to bring barley back, and the agriculture sciences department at Virginia Tech had been experimenting with strains of German two-row winter barleys like Flavia, Calypso and Videtta, which are hearty enough to survive in Tennessee’s fickle climate.

Batey Farm has now planted more than 150 acres in barley, with the specific intention of using it for beer and whiskey, although the initially limited availability means their target market will be small-batch brewers and craft distilleries. “There’s obviously room for growth,” say Whitt, pun intended. “With the state’s rich history in beverage production, it makes sense to use Tennessee agriculture products.”

The first major announcement coming out of this program is a product from Tennessee Brew Works, called State Park Blonde Ale, which TBW has brewed since 2017 as a fundraiser benefiting the Tennessee State Parks Conservancy and our system of 56 state parks. Starting with this year’s release, State Park Blonde Ale will be brewed using all Tennessee-sourced grains.

“This partnership has produced a truly unique and local Tennessee craft brew that considers the preservation and protection of our state’s natural resources from start to finish,” says Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Conservation. “The State Park Blonde Ale is not only made of 100% Tennessee grain, but sales directly support the care of some of Tennessee’s most beautiful and precious public lands.”

“By utilizing all-Tennessee grains, we are creating beer that is truly indigenous to our home. Using the State Park Blonde Ale to launch the effort provides an opportunity to benefit the Tennessee State Parks as well,” says Christian Spears, Tennessee Brew Works’ founder and president.

Tennessee Brew Works already contracts with Batey Farms to provide the wheat for their Southern Wit Belgian-style white ale, and now with the addition of the barley program, that popular beer will also be able to go 100% Tennessee-sourced grains. Spears says he’s proud to be part of this program. “Our ultimate goal is to entice breweries, distilleries and farms around the state to participate; creating economies of scale that benefit all of us and bring our industries closer to agricultural self-sufficiency within Tennessee. The potential of this initiative is limitless.”

Currently, Batey is targeting homebrewers and smaller breweries with barley under the Volunteer Mission malt brand, which they grow and harvest from their farm, and send to North Carolina to be malted and then packaged into 50-pound bags or 1-ton totes for industrial use. Their goal is to build their own malting facility very soon so they can malt and roast the barley to create custom flavor profiles. Since the malting process is basically soaking a seed until it begins to sprout, releasing the enzymes that help kick off fermentation when combined with yeast and sugar, Whitt is also considering building the facility to be able to handle other sprouted grains for the culinary industry. A graduate of MTSU, Whitt also serves on the advisory board of the new Fermentation Sciences program at the university and plans to establish more opportunities for students to develop skills related to malting, brewing and distilling through his industry connections.

And you thought malt was just about milk balls and Schlitz? There’s a world of malt out there, and hopefully Tennessee can be a part of the future. If you’re interested in learning more about this initiative, Spears and Whitt will be speaking about reinvigorating the state’s malted barley tradition as part of the Tennessee Local Food Summit.

Nashville Scene: Tennessee Local Food Summit Plans Most Ambitious Program Yet

Three-day conference moves to Montgomery Bell Academy for its seventh iteration

 NOV 20, 2017 10 AM

TN Local FoodThe 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!

Press Release 2017

Contact: Paul Lindsley



“Middle Tennessee Farmland Once Fed Nashville, It Will Again”

NASHVILLE, TN – (Nov. 7, 2017)—The Barefoot Farmer Jeff Poppen announced today the

Seventh Annual Tennessee Local Food Summit will be held Dec. 1-3 at Montgomery Bell Academy.

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,

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:

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.

Organic farming, nutrition experts convene at Vanderbilt for TN Local Food Summit


By Vanderbilt News

“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 asDr. 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.

Chef Welcomes Challenge of Winter Cooking

sean brock tennessean

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. for more information.

Reach Holly Meyer at 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.