Agriculture

Tennessee Forestry Commission to Meet May 29

Monday, May 19, 2014 | 01:28 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Forestry Commission will meet May 29 at 1 p.m. CDT at Agricenter International,  located at 7777 Walnut Grove Road in Memphis, Tenn. The meeting will take place in the main office board room. 

The agenda includes approval of previous meeting minutes, consideration of proposed tree seedling production and prices for 2014-2015, a report on recent industry visits, and updates on the Tennessee Residence tree project, state forest timber sales and proposed federal legislation to support and encourage careers in logging.

Farms and Markets Fill Up With Fresh, Local Fare - Now What?

Friday, May 16, 2014 | 09:25 am

NASHVILLE - Tennessee’s growing season is here. It starts with hanging pots of flowers, baskets of turnip greens and flats of tomato plants, and it ends with bushels of sweet potatoes, apples and mountains of pumpkins. Soon, farms and farmers markets across the state will be filled with fresh, beautiful fruits and vegetables. All you have to do is go and get it—but once you have it, then what? 

The idea of buying local is popular, but many shoppers have never thought beyond pounds and ounces when purchasing produce. Most farm-direct fresh products are still presented the way they were a hundred years ago, measured in amounts like bushels and pecks, which no longer have meaning for many consumers. Further, a bushel of apples is heavier than a bushel of green beans, which weighs less than a bushel of potatoes, and so forth.

To help shoppers use farm-direct produce, a farm measures conversion chart is available online at www.picktnproducts.org. From the home page, choose “Farmers Markets” to find links to the farm measures conversion chart plus tips for choosing produce and a Tennessee growing seasons chart. The measures chart goes all the way from bushels down to a “pinch,” starting with an approximate weight for a bushel of a particular fruit or vegetable.

West Tennessee Strawberry Media Day on May 6

Friday, May 02, 2014 | 10:59 am

--Tennessee Strawberries Easy to Find With New Mobile App--

NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is hosting a Pick Tennessee Products strawberry media day on Tuesday, May 6 at Green Acres Farm near Milan. Media will have the opportunity to interview farmers and area officials in attendance, get footage and photographs of visitors, tour the farm, and receive a “goody bag” including digital images and information about local foods and farms.

A new way to find local strawberry patches is now available through a Pick Tennessee mobile app. With the free app, downloadable on both iTunes and Google Play, berry hunters can identify farms and markets with local berries within a designated radius of the user. The user can see that farm’s contact information and website and then get point to point directions to that location with GPS mapping.

“Strawberry season is only in full swing for a month or so,” Pamela Bartholomew, TDA marketing specialist said. “The Pick Tennessee mobile app will be a big time saver, and also take the anxiety out of getting to farms you’ve never visited.”

2014 Ag Enhancement Program Application Period Set

Thursday, May 01, 2014 | 06:36 am

- Livestock Working Facility Covers and Used Equipment Added -

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has set June 1 – 7 as the application period for the 2014 Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program.

“Governor Haslam recognizes the importance of the Ag Enhancement program to farmers and has once again fully funded the program, with the support of the Tennessee General Assembly,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “As we enter the 10th year of the program, we are utilizing online services and broadening our project offerings to reach more farmers than ever before.”

Farmers will have the opportunity to apply online again this year, or they can submit paper applications, which must be postmarked between June 1 and June 7. Through TAEP, farmers can qualify for 35 or 50 percent cost share, ranging from a maximum of $1,200 to $15,000 depending on the project. Funding in 2014 will continue to be approved based on applicant determined priorities.

Tennessee’s Strawberry Crop Late, But Still Great, For Most of State

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 12:28 pm

NASHVILLE - Despite the recent threat of a hard freeze across Tennessee, the state’s strawberry crop remains unscathed - mostly. The 2014 strawberry season is still on track to begin around the first week of May in West Tennessee, where temperatures are milder, and as late as June 1 for upper East Tennessee where temperatures are cooler and the majority of freeze damage occurred.

Tennessee strawberry growers tend to have loyal customers who make a trip to the strawberry patch an annual tradition. Since strawberry season is relatively brief, lasting just a month or so, strawberry lovers should locate local growers and markets that sell local berries ahead of the season, if possible, to get a shot at this coveted crop.

Call local growers to find out when a particular patch is ready to pick, hours of operation, and how the farm’s berries are sold. Some growers provide their own containers, and others expect pickers to bring their own. Some sell pre-picked berries, and will set aside containers berries for those who call ahead. Others may take a certain amount of berries to a local farmers market in a location which might be more convenient for customers than a trip out to a farm.

State Introduces New Mobile App for Farms, Farmers Markets

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 02:47 pm

NASHVILLE - A “Pick Tennessee” mobile app is now available which can find and then map the way to locally grown farm products, farms and farmers markets. The free app, downloadable from both iTunes for Apple products and from Google Play for Android devices, is the latest advancement of Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee Products promotion.

“I’m proud to introduce this new face of an old friend,” Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “Pick Tennessee Products has thrived for 28 years not only by providing real and valuable services, but also by having the flexibility to adapt to change—changing cultures, consumer demands, and technology."

“Our government services must anticipate needs not just for the current year, but for 15 years down the road. With the new Pick Tennessee mobile app, we now reach consumers where they already expect to find us—on their phones and other digital devices.”

Impending Cold Snap, Freeze Risk May Threaten State’s Strawberry Crop, Fruit Trees

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 02:02 pm

NASHVILLE - Tennessee’s highly anticipated strawberry crop has survived a roller coaster weather ride until now, but low temperatures, wind chill and moisture has area strawberry growers working overtime to protect the valuable berries. Generally, this year’s crop has been on schedule to be ready for first picking around the first of May.

Other fruit-bearing trees may also be affected by a hard freeze. A little frost can actually be a good thing, naturally weeding out enough blooms that the remaining blossoms can produce bigger, better fruits, but depending on how much the warm, sunny days of the past week have prompted tender shoots and buds to expose themselves to the elements, it could also spell disaster.

Contact Dr. David Lockwood, UT Institute of Agriculture, (865) 414-2412, for details about how particular crops, from strawberries to grapes and fruit trees, may be affected by approaching weather conditions. Additional contacts are available through Patricia McDaniels, UT Institute of Agriculture Marketing and Communications, (615) 835-4570.

TDA Announces Dairy Product Recall for East Tennessee

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 | 11:35 am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture in cooperation with Jersey Ridge Dairy of Knoxville, Tenn., is announcing a recall of Cruze Farm Girl Vanilla Ice Cream.

As a precaution, the company is voluntarily recalling the product because of improper pasteurization. The problem was discovered through TDA’s routine review of records at the dairy. The product is believed to have been produced on March 7 and distributed to several stores in the Knoxville area, but all product has since been removed from shelves.

Product Description

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 pint (16oz.) plastic containers
Red Label with “Cruze Farm Girl” printed on it
Flavor “Vanilla” handwritten on product
"PRODUCED AT PLANT 47-245" printed on product
No code date

A Bushel Full of Good Reasons to Join a CSA

Monday, April 07, 2014 | 09:50 am

NASHVILLE - There’s a whole bushel of good reasons to participate in “community supported agriculture,” a business model through which customers purchase a “share” or “half-share” of a farmer’s harvest, often before crops are even planted. The phrase may be awkward, but choosing local, homegrown foods is a national trend, and CSAs are gaining ground.

Paying the farmer before the growing season begins allows the farmer to buy seed, fuel, and other inputs necessary to grow crops for the year. As crops ripen, fresh, local food is already bought and paid for. This direct growing and purchasing relationship gives producers a stable income and the fairest return on their products. That’s a great benefit for the farmers, but the concept benefits CSA members at least as much.

First, locally grown fruits and vegetables have an unbeatable edge in nutritional value and flavor. When a fruit or vegetable is harvested, it immediately begins losing vitamin content. Getting veggies picked from their plants only hours before delivery ensures the consumer gets the best quality possible. CSA memberships can also be cost efficient, with no middleman taking a cut of the profits, and foods cooked at home are also less costly than pre-prepared foods. Those home cooked meals come without the preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings prevalent in processed foods, along with sugars and fats that detract from the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.

Tree Planting Event Aims to Protect Whites Creek

Friday, April 04, 2014 | 09:32 am

- Volunteers needed to plant 500 trees -

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is partnering with the Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC) and the Whites Creek Watershed Alliance to plant trees in the Whites Creek Watershed this Saturday, April 5. The effort is a part of the Division’s Riparian Buffer Program and TEC’s Tennessee Tree Project.

“Healthy creeks, streams and rivers are dependent on healthy forested stream banks” State Forester Jere Jeter said. “Tree planting events such as this one help to improve the quality of water and life downstream.”

Volunteers are needed to help plant 500 trees along the beautiful Whites Creek from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday. The event will take place at 2102 Ingram Road, Nashville (intersection of Ingram Road and Lickton Pike). No prior tree planting experience is needed. In fact, this is a great way to learn how to plant trees, meet some new friends and get some exercise. The event is also ideal for families with kids 6 years and older. Interested volunteers are encouraged to register with TEC prior to the event by sending an email to tec@tectn.org. Information about the event can be found on TEC website at http://tectn.org/more-upcoming-tree-planting-opps-please-volunteer/ .