Tennessee Local Food Summit Educating the Community about Eating Local

Not so long ago, many “city” kids grew up going to “the country” for weekend visits, often to their grandparentsâ€TM house, a magical place where there were unlimited hugs, tire swings, farm animals, and food grown in the ground right on the property, mostly for household use, some as a means of survival. Either way, the first thing you might remember about those warm, golden days is getting right down to business upon arrival—out of the car and straight into open arms and an open table full of homegrown, homemade delights like fried corn, fresh new potatoes, squash casserole, roast chicken straight from the farm, biscuits, and of course, strawberry shortcake for dessert. Sometimes the folks gathered â€TMround would sit at the table â€TMtil time for the next meal—talking, bonding, sharing, and laughing at the ultimate, and ultimately delicious, family table.

Unfortunately, times like those arenâ€TMt nearly as common these days, our lives so far removed from growing our own foods, with houses sitting on as little as a tenth of an acre, lives too busy to tend even the smallest garden, and no knowledge to do so even if space and time permit. Fortunately, there is a trend all over the country, especially in local restaurants, to eat and serve foods that are grown in our own community, by our farmer neighbors.

In an effort to encourage and educate our community about the whyâ€TMs and howâ€TMs of eating local, Jeff Poppen, also known as the Barefoot Farmer and owner of one of the oldest and biggest organic farms in Tennessee, has not only written books (The Best of the Barefoot Farmer Vol. 1 & Vol. 2) and appeared on local TV shows, but goes so far as to run apprenticeship programs and even offer classes on his farm (September 26–28 this year) to teach the public about this local food trend. But perhaps Poppenâ€TMs biggest effort is invested in his annual event, the Tennessee Local Food Summit, to be held this year at Vanderbilt University, December 5–7, sponsored by Vanderbilt Health and Wellness.

The Tennessee Local Food Summit is a peak year-end celebratory, tasting, and educational event that fosters the trending change of eating local by featuring some of the best chefs, and restaurants, in Nashville, offering a full-day event that features locally grown and deliciously prepared organic meals, as well as a full day of educational workshops, networking, and the “celebration of another great growing season.”

“Itâ€TMs almost like a family reunion,” says Tennessee Local Food Summit founder, Barefoot Farmer Jeff Poppen, “with lots of kids, great food, and good music.”

The event begins with a reception Friday, December 5, at Vanderbiltâ€TMs Dyer Observatory and moves on to host a fun and food-filled day from 9 a.m.–5 p.m., including workshops in Backyard and Community Gardening, Soil and Compost, and Economic and Business Models and Opportunities; classes offered by famous local chefs; and demonstrations in Vandyâ€TMs “Demonstration Kitchen.” Also included are a locally grown, chef-created lunch and a farmer/chef auction. This exciting day will end with a chef-made evening meal, from 6–10 p.m., which will include live music (location to be determined).

The Tennessee Local Food Summit continues on Sunday morning with a 10 a.m. tour of a local farm (location to be determined). Itâ€TMs a weekend for learning and exploring the howâ€TMs and whyâ€TMs of growing, eating, buying, and serving locally grown foods, all while tasting, listening to great music, and meeting new friends. Find out more at tnlocalfood.com.