Farmers Markets Popular Even in Rural Areas

Monday, June 10, 2013 | 03:46 pm

Pick Tennessee Products Media Days Planned at Markets Across State

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s farmers markets are popping up everywhere—even in the heart of Tennessee farm lands. You’d think that in areas where many in the community still farm and grow gardens, the farmers market concept wouldn’t get much traction, but in fact, it’s in small towns and rural communities that most new farmers markets are showing up.

Pick Tennessee Products, the state campaign to help people find local food and other farm direct products, plans to host several media day events at farmers markets in rural communities across Tennessee this summer. Visitors who come out to a farmers market media day can also take home free recipe cards and have the chance to win a basket of artisan and other popular foods from Tennessee. 

Fact is, it’s at least as hard for the grocery stores in smaller towns to get access to fresh, local produce. Many smaller chain stores are locked into contracts with food distributors bringing in produce from far-off locations. Local, independently owned stores sometimes can’t purchase enough produce at one time to get a competitive price for their customers.

Late, Great Blackberry Season Worth the Wait

Monday, June 10, 2013 | 12:03 pm

NASHVILLE – If  “blackberry winter” is a chilly spell in April, then the blackberry winter of 2013 lasted all April long. Tennessee’s wet, cool spring certainly gave blackberries plenty of water and time to grow.  

Fortunately, summer’s sun and heat showed up just in time to bring out the sweetness in this year’s crop, and the state’s blackberry growers anticipate a banner year. Some Tennessee berry growers will just have to wait a little longer than others, though, depending on where they live.

West Tennessee crops generally beat East Tennessee to harvest by as much as two to three weeks in any year, so the series of cold snaps that served as spring in East Tennessee this year stalled the crop even further.

Pick TN Products Website Offers Tennessee Equine Trails Virtual Map

Friday, June 07, 2013 | 10:41 am

NASHVILLE -- Nearly two hundred tiny, green, live horses are currently crossing the state of Tennessee.  A map of the state of Tennessee, that is.

The Pick Tennessee Products website,, is now host to a “live” equine resources map that links visitors directly to 196 different equine hot spots from one end of the state to the other.

“This interactive map is taking our Tennessee trail guide to a whole new level,” state equine marketing specialist Wendy Sneed said. “Finding a place to ride is a lot easier now, whether you’re searching around your own county or are visiting another part of the state. Travelers from out of state driving through for shows or other trails can now just click through the map to see if there are facilities near them. That’s a big help if they need to stable somewhere for the night, or would like to do some riding along the way.”

Tennessee Viticulture Advisory Board to Meet

Friday, May 31, 2013 | 04:22 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Viticulture Advisory Board will meet June 11 at 10 a.m. CST at DelMonaco Winery, 600 Lance Dr., Baxter, Tenn. The agenda includes the condition of the 2013 grape and fruit crops, the growth of farm wine sales and local and state zoning issues.

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

Trapping Gets Underway for Tree Pest Across Tennessee

Friday, May 31, 2013 | 11:20 am

- Purple Beetle Traps Going Up in Ash Trees -

NASHVILLE – Purple three-sided insect traps that resemble a box kite can be seen in ash trees across Tennessee in the next few months as part of a surveillance program by state and federal agencies. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) are partnering to survey for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a non-native, wood-boring beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern United States and Canada.

“Trapping is a very important tool for us to know how extensive the infestation is and whether additional control measures are needed to slow it from spreading to new areas,” TDA Plant Certification administrator Gray Haun said. “This year, as last year, traps have been placed across the state as a part of a national survey program.”

Tennessee Forestry Commission to Meet May 28

Friday, May 17, 2013 | 03:24 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Forestry Commission will meet by conference call May 28 at 10 a.m. CST. The meeting is open to the public and individuals may listen to the proceedings at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry’s offices in Nashville. Access to the conference call will be available in the Bruer Building conference room at Ellington Agricultural Center, located at 406 Hogan Road. 

The first item of business for the commission will be to determine a necessity for an electronic meeting in compliance with state law. The commission will meet briefly to approve minutes from the previous meeting, hear a report from the Division of Forestry on tree seedling production and approve tree seedling prices for the 2013 – 2014 growing season. 

The Tennessee Forestry Commission comprises seven members representing the public’s interests as it relates to forest resources in the state. The commission advises the Division of Forestry on forest resource issues. For more information, contact the Division of Forestry at 615-837-5520.

Tennessee Dairy Promotion Committee to Meet May 30

Friday, May 17, 2013 | 03:21 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Dairy Promotion Committee will hold a joint meeting with the American Dairy Association of Tennessee Board of Directors on Thursday, May 30 at 6 p.m. CST at the Hyatt Place, 202 Summit View Drive, Brentwood. 

The committee will review financials, plan the fall advertising campaign, discuss use of the TAEP grant and other business. The meeting is open to the public.

The committee comprises producers directly affected by the assessment. Members are represented in proportion to method of milk marketing either through agricultural dairy cooperatives or by direct sale.

Ball Named TDA Director of Marketing

Friday, May 03, 2013 | 11:55 am
Debbie Ball
Debbie Ball

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson today announced the appointment of Debbie Stepp Ball as director of marketing in the Market Development Division.

“Debbie is uniquely suited for this position at this point in the division’s history,” said Johnson. “I can’t imagine a more qualified person in terms of education, experience and skills to help lead the division into its next phase of service for Tennessee agriculture. In addition to her private sector marketing experience, she has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing farming today and in the future. ”

Ball has been with TDA since 2008 serving as statewide outreach coordinator for the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program. Her marketing and advertising background quickly led her to assume responsibility for the entire division’s producer and consumer web services. She replaces former director of marketing, Dan Strasser, who left after eight years with the department to take a position with the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

Ag Enhancement Program Application Period Almost Here

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 04:37 pm

- Farmers Can Now Apply for TAEP Funding Online -

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has set June 1 – 7 as the application period for the 2013 Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program.

“Governor Haslam recognizes the importance of the Ag Enhancement program to farmers and has once again fully funded the program in his state budget,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Now in its ninth year, we want to reach as many farmers as possible and expect that the new online system will encourage even more participation.”

This is the first year farmers have the opportunity to apply online. “We are very excited about TAEP Online and encourage all producers to take advantage of this new system; however, online participation is not mandatory,” said TAEP administrator Justin Bryant. “Producers can still submit paper applications during the application period, and applications must be postmarked between June 1 and June 7.”

What Could Late Frosts Do to Tennessee’s Strawberry Crop?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | 02:52 pm

Farmers Demonstrate Techniques for Fighting Frost Damage at Media Days April 24th and 25th

NASHVILLE – A drop in nighttime temperatures this week puts at risk some of Tennessee’s much anticipated strawberry crop. With strawberries just ready to pick, how will farmers deal with potential frosts?

Two Tennessee strawberry growers plan to show off just how well their frost prevention techniques work on Wednesday and Thursday during special Pick Tennessee Products media days. Visitors who come to pick strawberries by 11 a.m. both days will get to see how those berries were protected the night before with “frost blankets” or a continuous water spray system. Berry pickers can also take home free recipe cards and have the chance to win a basket of artisan foods from Tennessee. 

Bradley Kountry Acres Strawberries and Greenhouse in Sumner County, owned by Mike and Cathy Bradley, will host a strawberry picking media day on April 24th. The Bradley’s also have a large selection of spring bedding plants, herbs, vegetable plants, ferns and hanging baskets grown in their own farm greenhouses.