TOGA Celebrates 10 Years of Local Food with 10 Events

The Tennessee Organic Growers Association (TOGA) is ten years old this year, and they are celebrating by offering “The TOGA 10 in 2014”—ten informative and fun events for farmers, gardeners, and “food citizens” from March through December. These events include tours, exhibits, workshops and seminars, and lots of local food!

The first event, held in March, was a mushroom cultivation workshop with Tradd Cotter from Mushroom Mountain in South Carolina. A Friday-evening lecture and a full-day, hands-on workshop on Saturday provided the basic concepts and techniques for raising mushrooms in ways that are ecologically friendly and fulfill the National Organic Standards (NOS).

April featured a Backyard Poultry Intensive presented by the nationwide Sustainable Poultry Network (http://www.sustainablepoultrynetwork.com), and was held at the Old School Farm in Bellâ€TMs Bend. “Intensive” was the word for this information-packed day, which included six hour- to hour-and-a-half-long sessions on: (1) identifying poultry breeds (two sessions); (2) facilities, feed, and forage; (3) selecting birds for production; (4) health management and disease control; and (5) breeding, preserving, exhibiting, and marketing opportunities.

The day of the intensive was cool and clear, and the twenty or so chicken enthusiasts gathered in the sunny Old School Farm conference room were engaged and focused. The Sustainable Poultry Networkâ€TMs presenter, Jim Adkins, reviewed lots of information in a thorough and understandable way, and he encouraged a lively exchange of concerns, ideas, and questions.

The presentations, discussion, and “digestion” of the morning sessions were complemented by a lunch of (what else?) chicken sandwiches and salad with ingredients donated by local contributors and prepared by Sloco sandwich shop (https://slocolocal.com). After lunch, there was a tour of Old School Farm, which is a not-for-profit corporation located on the grounds of a thoroughly renovated, abandoned school and dedicated to serving the community and providing vocational opportunities for adults with special needs.

These two offerings are just the beginning of a great season, as TOGA celebrates its tenth birthday. For its May offering, TOGA will attend the opening day of farmersâ€TM markets in the Metro area. Look for their table, and stop by to say “hello” and “thank you” for ten productive years!

Upcoming events this summer and fall include: June Attend a backyard gardening workshop, featuring local experts. July TOGA hosts a canning class featuring seasonal canning and preservation techniques.

August                  Aquaponics Workshop with local expert Jason Adkins
September               TOGA 10-Year Celebration – Check website for details.
October Join TOGA and other local food and farming organizations to celebrate National Food Day on October 24.
November        Agritourism tour to Readyville Mill and Woodbury with lunch at The Blue Porch
December                Pruning workshop at Delvin Farms!       

For more info, check the TOGA website (http://www.tnorganics.org).

By Karen Davis-Brown