Freshest Gift Idea This Holiday Season? A Whole Year of Local Foods

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 | 02:07 pm

NASHVILLE - Retail aisles, catalogs and cyberspace are stuffed with things to buy. Still, somehow, there often seems to be little of real substance to give. When you want your gift to be a true reflection of how much you care, it can be hard to find a stand-out present, one that really meets a need and will be appreciated all through the year.

For those who like to “live local,” the perfect solution may be a gift certificate for a year of fresh produce and other local foods from a nearby Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Everyone eats, and everyone benefits from eating fresh produce. With a CSA gift certificate, both the person who receives fresh foods and the CSA farmer are better off.

In a CSA, a farmer contracts with other people in the community to provide them with a portion of the year’s harvest. CSA customers pay the farmer before the produce season begins, allowing the farmer to buy necessary seed, fertilizer, fuel and other inputs necessary to farm for the year. When crops start coming in, the customer’s fresh, local food is already bought and paid for. CSA members might go to the farm to pick up their shares or meet the farmer at a drop-off site in the community.

State Analysis Links Cluster of Illnesses to Raw Milk Consumption

Thursday, November 21, 2013 | 11:57 am

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed today the strain of E.coli that caused nine children to become ill after drinking raw milk obtained from McBee Dairy Farm near Knoxville has been matched to animal waste collected at the dairy. Five of the nine children required hospitalization and three developed a severe kidney problem known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. 

Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission Seeking Proposals

Thursday, November 21, 2013 | 08:07 am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission is seeking proposals from any qualified Tennessee not-for-profit corporation for the purpose of operating, managing and conducting a state fair or exhibition annually, under the supervision of the Commission, for a period of five years (2014 through 2018). The deadline for proposals is Dec. 13, 2013.

The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2012 to select and supervise a Tennessee not for profit corporation for the purpose of operating a fair or exposition, and to grant exclusive use of the name “Tennessee State Fair” or “Tennessee State Exposition.” 

The commission comprises nine members including the commissioners of Agriculture, Tourist Development and Economic and Community Development; the University of Tennessee Dean of Extension; the president of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation; an appointee by the mayor of the host county; and, three appointees by the governor.

State Soil Conservation Committee to Meet December 9

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 | 01:23 pm

NASHVILLE - The next meeting of the State Soil Conservation Committee will be held Dec.  9 at 11:30 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel-Cool Springs in Franklin, Tenn., in conjunction with the Tennessee Farm Bureau Convention. The meeting will take place in a meeting/dining room within Lorraine’s Bistro inside the Marriott Hotel.

The agenda includes remarks from Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson, a USDA-NRCS report and remarks from TACD representative Danny Sells.

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

Agriculture Commissioner Recognizes Outstanding Tennessee FFA Students

Monday, November 18, 2013 | 02:20 pm

NASHVILLE – Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson congratulated and praised Tennessee’s outstanding agricultural students on their recent achievements at the 86th Annual National FFA Convention and Expo held earlier this month in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Tennessee’s FFA students have consistently done well over the years, but recently the quality of our students and programs have excelled at the national level,” Johnson said. “I commend and congratulate this year’s national winners. I think their success is a testament to the strength of agriculture education and FFA in Tennessee and to the agriculture teachers who are preparing them for high tech careers in the industry.”

Nearly 63,000 FFA students attended the 2013 national convention. Each year at the convention, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as National FFA officers. Tennessee’s own Mitch Baker was elected to the 2013-14 National FFA Officer team as national secretary.

Living Local, Giving Local for the Holidays is a Piece of Cake—or Bacon, or Cheese

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | 12:57 pm

NASHVILLE - First there was “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, when the holiday shopping season officially begins and retail store ledgers typically go from red ink to black. More recently, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been dubbed “Small Business Saturday” to remind shoppers to include local businesses in their search for perfect presents.

This year, Small Business Saturday is November 30. For those who like to live local, this is a great time to remember that it’s also possible to give local by choosing farm direct and locally made gifts. 

Tennessee’s Pick Tennessee Products website, , is ready for the holiday rush with options for gift baskets, corporate gifts, foods made with local ingredients, and artisan farm products ranging from local cheeses and handmade soaps to smoked bacon or beeswax candles. Holiday recipes featuring seasonal fresh or locally produced ingredients are available not only on the website but through social media like Pinterest, as well.

Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission to Meet Nov. 15

Friday, November 08, 2013 | 03:56 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission will meet Nov. 15 at 10 a.m. CST at the UT Extension Central Region office at Ellington Agricultural Center, located at 5201 Marchant Dr. in Nashville.

The commission will consider approval of previous meeting minutes and a Request for Proposal and schedule for selecting future state fair operators. The meeting will be conducted permitting electronic means of communication by some members of the commission. The meeting is open to the public.

Plan Now for a Local Christmas Tree This Holiday Season

Friday, November 08, 2013 | 12:57 pm

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 | 01:23 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 | 12:41 pm

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.”