Plan Now for a Local Christmas Tree This Holiday Season

Friday, November 08, 2013 | 11:57 am

NASHVILLE - It’s only November, but all across the state, Christmas tree farmers are getting ready for the folks who make choosing natural Christmas trees a treasured part of the holiday season. 

Christmas tree farmers know that choosing the tree is a memory-making experience and an anticipated holiday project, so they make the experience as much fun as possible. Many offer hot cider or other refreshments at their farms and sell natural wreaths, roping and garland in addition to trees. Some farms feature wagon rides, educational tours for groups, petting zoos or gift shops on site with all sorts of holiday décor inside. Some growers even conduct on-farm holiday craft classes or host special events which might even include a visit from Santa.

Aside from sentimental reasons, a couple of pretty practical reasons for choosing local trees include cost and quality. The cost of transportation is not included in the price of a tree that’s never left the farm, and there’s no tree fresher than the one you just cut yourself.

Media Days at Christmas Tree Farms Show Local Trees Are Smart Choice for Home - and Home Planet

Thursday, November 07, 2013 | 12:23 pm

NASHVILLE -- Christmas tree farms grow a completely renewable and recyclable resource which contains no petroleum products and leaves a very small carbon footprint.  Buying a natural tree from a nearby farm is a great holiday gift to the environment and to local farmers.

Artificial trees are made with plastic, which is made with petroleum products. That includes lead—an ingredient in PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic and other metals. Fake trees don’t biodegrade, and chances are they’ve traveled a long way, leaving a huge carbon footprint to get to the store. About 85 percent of them start in China, but they end up sitting in local landfills for centuries.

Natural Christmas trees are close to home, leaving a negligible carbon footprint. While they grow, natural Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases and emit fresh oxygen. Christmas trees are often grown on soil that doesn't support other crops, and their root systems serve to stabilize soil, protect area water quality and provide refuge for wildlife. Grown on farms like any other crop, one to three new seedlings are planted for every tree harvested to ensure a constant supply.

Walnut Tree Quarantine in Morgan and Rhea Counties Due to Thousand Cankers Disease

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 | 11:41 am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced the discovery of a walnut tree killing disease, Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), in Morgan and Rhea Counties. Walnut Twig Beetles, which transmit the disease causing fungus and the disease itself, have been found in both counties. The counties are now under quarantine. Citizens in these counties cannot move walnut tree products and hardwood firewood outside the quarantined counties.

Bledsoe, Cumberland, Fentress, Hamilton, and Meigs Counties are now considered buffer regulated counties because they are adjacent to a quarantined county. Polk and Sequatchie Counties are being placed in the buffer regulated category because of the finding of Walnut Twig Beetles in those counties. Bradley County is also being placed in the buffer regulated category because it is surrounded on the Tennessee side by other buffer regulated counties. Citizens in buffer counties can move walnut tree products and hardwood firewood within buffer counties, but not outside. Product can also be moved into a quarantine county, but not taken back out.

“We will continue to survey for the Walnut Twig Beetle and Thousand Cankers Disease   to help slow the spread of the disease,” said TDA Plant Certification Administrator Gray Haun. “We are working with stakeholders to help educate citizens on the symptoms of TCD and how they can help.”

Tennessee Forestry Commission to Meet Nov. 13

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 | 11:16 am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Forestry Commission will meet Nov. 13 at 9 a.m. CST at Ellington Agricultural Center in the Bruer Building conference room, located at 406 Hogan Road in Nashville, Tenn.

The agenda includes approval of previous meeting minutes, a review of old business, recognition of the Division of Forestry’s Forester and Employee of the Year, and reports on the proposed FY 2015 division budget, division administrative changes, urban forestry conference, impact of the Courtland, Ala. paper mill closing, fire season preparedness, dozer winch pilot program and log scale standards.

The meeting is open to the public. Individuals interested in addressing the commission should plan to arrive prior to the start of the meeting in order to be placed on the agenda.

Outbreak from Raw Milk Underscores Importance of Pasteurization

Monday, November 04, 2013 | 04:57 pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Health experts say at least eight cases of illness among children in East Tennessee are likely related to drinking “raw” or unpasteurized milk. The investigation has identified a specific type of Escherichia coli O157 as the cause of at least three of the illnesses.

TDA Now Accepting Water Quality Grant Proposals

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | 12:57 pm

-Funds support projects aimed at improving water quality and reducing pollution-

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting grant proposals for projects that will help improve water quality and reduce or eliminate nonpoint source pollution. The deadline for submitting grant proposals is Dec. 1. Proposals will be evaluated based on program goals and objectives, performance evaluation criteria and applicable EPA nonpoint source grant guidelines.  

“We’re able to make measurable improvements in water quality in watersheds across the state through the Nonpoint Source Pollution Program,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “This is a great opportunity for local governments and other organizations to partner with us in addressing water quality issues in both our urban and rural communities.”

Local governments, regional agencies, public institutions, private nonprofit organizations and other state agencies are eligible to apply for federal dollars administered by TDA’s Water Resources office. Priority is given to projects that seek to make measurable improvements to waters known to be impaired by nonpoint source pollution.

Tennessee Viticulture Advisory Board to Meet

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | 10:17 am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Viticulture Advisory Board will meet Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. CST at DelMonaco Winery, located at 600 Lance Dr. in Baxter, Tenn. The agenda includes planning for the 2014 VAB report, CSA grape crop reporting and listing grapes in Tennessee ag statistics. 

The meeting is open to the public. Individuals interested in addressing the board should plan to arrive prior to the start of the meeting in order to be placed on the agenda. 

The Tennessee Viticulture Advisory Board advises the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on matters pertaining to grape growing and wine production in Tennessee. For more information, contact Tammy Algood, marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at 615-837-5160, or e-mail

Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission to Meet Nov. 7

Monday, October 21, 2013 | 03:27 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission will meet Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. CST in the Ed Jones Auditorium at Ellington Agricultural Center, located at 416 Hogan Road in Nashville. 

The commission will review and approve previous meeting minutes; hear reports on the 2013 Tennessee State Fair, Metro Fair Board activities and the Kentucky State Fair; discuss commission goals and objectives; and, consider approval of a request for proposal for selecting future state fair operators. The meeting is open to the public.

Music and Molasses Festival Offers a Weekend of Family Fun

Thursday, October 17, 2013 | 12:54 pm
Music & Molasses Festival
Music & Molasses Festival

NASHVILLE -- The annual Music & Molasses Arts & Crafts Festival will feature an array of events including authentic molasses-making, live music, square dancing, specialty foods and arts and crafts. The festival also includes free horse-drawn wagon rides. 

Festival exhibits will include a rare private collection of more than 10,000 butterflies and moths dating back to the 1800s, on public display for the first time ever. Children’s activities include pony rides, goat milking, meeting Smokey Bear, touring Smokey’s log cabin, climbing a fire tower and farmer-for-a-day. 

Admission is $5. Children 4 and under are free and parking is free. All proceeds go the benefit the Tennessee Agricultural Museum, which provides educational programming for adults and children on agriculture’s past, present and future.

State and Local Agencies Announce Nashville Urban Runoff 5K and Water Festival

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 | 02:27 pm

Inaugural Event to Be Held October 26 at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

Nashville – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry’s Urban Riparian Buffer Program, Nashville’s Metro Water Services and the Tennessee Stormwater Association are teaming up to host the inaugural Nashville Urban Runoff 5K and Water Festival on Saturday, October 26.