Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Profitable Ground ... what does it look like?

Eddie Yokley To Host Foraging Workshop

The Four Seasons Grazing Club will meet for a Grazing for Profit Pasture Walk titled “Profitable Ground … what does it look like?” at Eddie Yokley’s farm on April 13 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. The farm is located at 1046 Old Kentucky Rd., South, Greeneville, TN. The event is free and a free hamburger dinner will follow the pasture walk.

Yokely is using an innovative rotational grazing and forage management method. Practices include rolling out hay in the fall, using a sacrifice field for winter grazing and moving to grass in February or March, using temporary fencing, and grazing areas on the margins of streams or rivers on dry winter days.

Mike McElroy of the Greene County Soil Conservation District said the method is nontraditional but effective.

“It boils down to grazing management and the landowner being in control,” McElroy said. “A lot of the complaints that we get during winter time are, ‘There's nothing but mud around the hay rings,’ or ‘I lost a calf because of the mud.’  To get away from that, you've got to change your management. You've got to do something different to get around it.”

The pasture walk will include seeing a stream crossing with a water access point, freeze proof waterers, additional quick connects, even manure distribution in the sacrifice field and learning about how farms can qualify for cost sharing opportunities.

One of the keys to successfully implementing this method is unrolling hay on the ground when the weather is dry.

“You put out what they can eat in three to four hours, the next day you unroll the hay again,” said McElroy. “But you pick those days and you do it on dry days. If it's nasty, wet, cold, rainy, snowy, and all that, walk out there and open up the gate handle and turn them into a pasture field that has been sitting there and growing all winter long. We call that stockpiled forages.”

McElroy said the event will bring together people to find new solutions to old problems.

“We'll get ideas from Eddie on things that he's tried that did not work, and things that he tried that did work,” McElroy said. He adds, “In the winter of 2015, Eddie fed 148 rolls of hay. In the winter of 2016, he fed 26. Same number of animals, same number of acres of land, everything was the same except for how it was managed.”

McElroy says proper forage management also improves soil health, reduces water run-off, eliminates the need to spray costly herbicides or bush hog, and increases the amount of protein available to livestock from what are commonly considered weeds.
One thing I’ve told Eddie and everybody else, these land owners are going to have to decide,” McElroy said. “Do you want a pasture field or do you want a golf course?”

To register for this free event, go to ruralresources.net and click on the Four Seasons Grazing Club under the Programs tab, or call Rural Resources at 423-636-8171 or the Greene County Soil Conservation District at 423-638-4771 extension 3.

The Four Seasons Grazing Club is an educational and networking organization dedicated to encouraging better forage production through grazing management. This Grazing for Profit Pasture Walk is sponsored by Rural Resources, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

We Need You!

Rural Resources relies on volunteers to help us do what we do. At times we have lots of volunteers in our data base that we can call on when we need a couple of extra hands. At other times, the pool dwindles down a bit. People’s schedules change. They move. They develop new interests. We understand that and we appreciate the time and energy they have given us. But that means that we need to recruit new volunteers at times to fill their places. It’s that time again!

We need volunteers of all kinds and all abilities. Do you like to work in the garden? Are you experienced with livestock? Are you good with computer hardware or installing and troubleshooting software? Fixing fences? Can you stuff envelopes? Is art or cooking your thing? Would you like to beautify our farm or teach our youth? We always need someone to help our farm manager keep all the maintenance and repairs up to date. If you would like to be a part of our mission, we have a place for you!

We welcome groups, individuals, families, Tennessee Promise Students and those wanting to serve community service hours by helping out a worthy cause.

Volunteer Morgan Jones will graduate
from Tusculum College in May with a
  criminal justice degree and a minor in
In May, Morgan Jones, a volunteer who has been helping me with communications, will be graduating from Tusculum College. With a criminal justice degree and a minor in chemistry under her belt, she will then move on to graduate school for a master’s degree in forensic science. We are very proud of Morgan, who is a Bonner Leader Student and a member of the Criminal Justice Association. We will miss her!

With Morgan moving on to new adventures with chemistry and cadavers, I’m looking for people who might be interested in helping out with our communications. That could be anything from preparing mailouts or helping with photography and graphic design to writing blogs or doing data entry.

If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity, please contact Sharon, our volunteer coordinator, at Sharon@ruralresources.net. If you specifically want to help out with communications, please contact me at lorelei@ruralresources.net. You can also reach both of us at 423-636-8171.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Looking Back at Growing the Future

I found this short film by Anthony Frazier about the Farm and Food Teen Training program here at Rural Resources. Growing the Future was made in 2014, and features our own Miss Debbie with some of our teens. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Capital Campaign Deadline Extended!

Illustration of the Farm & Food Learning Center

 You may have heard our exciting news. If you didn't, here it is:

Our deadline for the $200,000 matching grant has been extended to May 1st!

This is great news for us! The last update from our bookkeeper shows that the total of the donations that have come in from the website, generosity.com and checks mailed in to our office amounts to less than one-quarter of our goal and we urgently need to raise the rest.

This link will take you to a video on our generosity.com page that tells our story and shows pictures of the fire that destroyed our previous building, but here's a synopsis:

Fire devoured our building in 2009.
In 2009, a lightening strike sparked a fire that devoured our previous building. It was devastating but also showed us the love and generosity of our community. From the volunteer firefighters who responded to battle the blaze, preserve other structures on the property and protect our animals, to volunteers who helped with clean-up, from C&C Millwright's donation of a small construction office trailer to give us a roof over our heads to the local churches who lend us their facilities for cooking classes and events, we have felt the kindness, concern and support from our community for our youth and our mission.

The office trailer donated by C & C Millwright
Since the fire, staff has worked out of the trailer and programs have been conducted in the farm's tobacco barn, outbuildings and a Pavilion donated earlier this year by the Rotary Club. There is no indoor plumbing on the property.

The staff persevered, continuing to conduct and develop programs, and then we received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to build the Farm & Food Learning Center. The center will house classrooms, a commercial kitchen and office space. The kitchen space will also be available to residents of Greene County and surrounding areas to help them establish food-based businesses. Construction on the building began last July.

“The teens in our Farm & Food Teen Training program will be able to prepare and preserve the food they grow on-site and be able to build sustainable farm- and food-related businesses,” says Sally Causey, Rural Resources' executive director. “Farm Day Campers won't have to use the outhouse anymore and students coming for field trips will have expanded offerings. There is no doubt that this facility will be a game-changer for hands-on learning opportunities for years to come.”

Progress on the
 Farm & Food Learning Center.
VWCA  Construction
 Funding for the current phase of construction was raised in 2014 but final costs were greater than originally estimated and additional funding is needed to finish construction and purchase the equipment for the commercial kitchen.

Fast forward to a second generous opportunity from the ARC.

In 2016 we received an offer of a second grant in the amount of $200,000. In order to qualify for the grant, Rural Resources must raise $200,000 to show that the building can be fully completed. We launched a capital campaign in December to raise the $200,000 we need by January 31st. That deadline has been extended and we now have just under three months to raise the remainder of the $200,000.

“Cash and pledges will count towards the match for the ARC funding for which we were recommended by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development,” says Causey. “We have a list of needed items and a variety of naming opportunities that can be found on our website for anyone who would like to make a specific element of building or a piece of equipment possible. We have learned from our previous fundraising efforts that every penny counts and we welcome all sizes of donations and the ability to speak to any individual or group. All who give will receive permanent recognition inside the building.”

Why are we asking people to give toward completing this project? Because we believe the children, the youth and our community are worth it and will benefit from the Farm & Food Learning Center for years to come.

Food Demo at the Greene County Fair
 “Since we began this program in 2008, at-risk and food-insecure teens have been learning how to fish, not just so they can feed themselves, but so they can share their 'fish' with others,” says Causey. “ It's built into the program that the kids give back to the community in a number of ways. They donate fresh produce from their garden to the local soup kitchen and do cooking and gardening demonstrations at the local farmer's markets and county fair.”

Teens in the Farm & Food Teen Training Program
The teens also cater a thanksgiving meal for the elderly, share their knowledge of growing food in their neighborhoods and some become the cooks and shoppers for their own families.

“Teens have gone on to do some impressive things and most importantly the vast majority have gone on to further their education or go directly into the workplace – in some cases immediately qualifying for management positions” says Sally. “The Farm & Food Learning Center will be key to beginning their own business ventures right on the farm. It will also provide much needed facilities for Farm Day Camp, our long running summer program for children along with a whole host of new learning opportunities for the entire community.”

Would you like to help us reach our goal to qualify for the ARC grant and touch lives for generations to come? There are several ways you can contribute.

Visit our generosity.com page and donate there.

Visit our website, ruralresources.net, and click on the support tab. From there, click on the Capital Campaign tab. Then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the donate button on the left.

Mail your donation to Rural Resources, 2870 Holly Creek Rd., Greeneville, TN 37745. If you bring it in person you can see the progress on the building.

Call our office at 423-636-8171.

We are grateful for any and all donations!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

She Loves to Give!

Amanda Combs has volunteered with
Rural Resources since 2010.

Rural Resources Volunteer Profile

Amanda Combs: She Loves to Give!

Now that we've told you a little about ourselves in last week's blog, we're going to highlight some of our volunteers from time to time. Rural Resources operates on a very small budget, mainly from grants, and a skeleton staff. We just couldn't do what we do without volunteers. In today's blog, you'll read about a hard working volunteer in our produce distribution program.

The program is a new partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, pioneered by our Outreach Coordinator Rhonda Hensley. The partnership aims to overcome the transportation barrier that often prevents those in need of food assistance from accessing what's available in the community.

What Amanda Combs lacks in stature, she makes up for in heart. The first thing people usually notice about this 40-ish-year-old dynamo is her smile. What they usually remember after they part is her hearty hug.

Amanda first began volunteering with Rural Resources in 2010, but the connection goes back further. Rural Resources' Outreach Coordinator Rhonda Hensley met her on the Mobile Farmer's Market route several years before that.

“She lived in public housing,” says Rhonda. “Her kids were very small then. She would stop me every week. They looked forward to that every week, rain or shine or whatever. I watched her kids grow as we went along.”

As the relationship between Rhonda and Amanda grew, it became apparent that Amanda had a heart for helping people.

“I finally asked her to help us with the parade one year,” says Rhonda. “She helped us from morning until night time and she's been helping out ever since then. When we started doing this produce distribution, she was there from day one.”

Amanda says she loves volunteering.

“Rural Resources is my family,” she says, adding, “I just think it's important that we keep doing (the food distribution) as long as we can, because it helps. People are happy to get that food. That might be the only thing they get that day.”

Amanda helping a food distribution
recipient bring her food home.

Amanda has put in hundreds of hours of volunteer hours at Rural Resources, distributed thousands of pounds of food and often helps the frail and elderly get their food into their homes. She also knows where to find the people who need it.

“She knows where all the homeless people are,” says Rhonda. “At the end of the route, if we have any food left over, I've learned to just listen to her and she'll take me places where that food needs to be.”

But food isn't all that Amanda gives away.

“She will do anything you ask her to, but what she does best is give out love and hugs,” says Rhonda.

“Anybody, the homeless, drug addicts, she doesn't care. She just wants to love and feed them. What a volunteer she's been! Fabulous!”

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Meet the Staff ...

Whew! Time sure flies! It's hard to believe it's already almost February of 2017. Soon we'll be seeing spring flowers around here again. Meanwhile, maybe this pic will help us all think warm thoughts.

In a previous blog post, I gave you a peak at some of what we do here at Rural Resources. This time, I'd like to introduce you to the staff. The first person you're likely to meet when you call or stop by our office is Sharon Tanner. 

Volunteer Coordinator/Office Assistant Sharon Tanner

Sharon Tanner has been with Rural Resources for more than 10 years as a volunteer and part-time employee, and is currently our volunteer coordinator and office assistant through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) of 1st Tennessee Human Resources Agency. Sharon is an invaluable member of the Rural Resources team, infusing our organization with her positive "can-do" attitude and using her diverse employment experience and talents to further our mission. She says her time here has been a positive experience in both learning new skills and for the many opportunities it's given her to help our community.

Rhonda doesn't wait for folks to come to her. She goes to them.

Outreach Coordinator Rhonda Hensley

Rhonda Hensley's love for people has driven Rural Resources' outreach efforts since 2005. She served as the Mobile Farmers' Market Manager and has pioneered the Children's Farmer's Market program and a partnership with Second Harvest to bring fresh produce to low income neighborhoods.  She tirelessly seeks out those who can't get to soup kitchens or food drops because of transportation or health issues, to find ways to bring food to those who need it most. Rhonda received an associates degree in Education from Walters State Community College and attended East Tennessee State  University. Prior to working for Rural REsources, Rhonda operated a restaurant and rural country store. Her passion for nutritional educatio is focused on public and low income housing, where she has been instrumental in leading and teaching folks to grow and prepare some of their own food.

Sally Causey might be a more familiar name to you. 

Executive Director Sally Causey

Sally Causey, Rural Resources' executive director, has piloted our organization since 1996. Sally brings a great deal of energy and a wide variety of skills to the complex blend of public and private interests that define the nonprofit world. She loves teaching children of all ages how to milk Virginia the cow and takes an active role in field trips to the farm in spite of her busy schedule. Sally holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina and a MAEd. from Tusculum College. In addition to raising two boys with her husband, she's a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, Elder in the Presbyterian Church, a 2004 Greene Co. Partnership Leadership Class graduate, and a 2015 graduate of the University of Tennessee's Consortium of Social Enterprise Effectiveness.

Anyone who is involved with the teen program will recognized Miss Debbie!

Farm and Food Teen Training Program Coordinator Debbie Strickland

Debbie Strickland is  the Farm and Food Teen Training program coordinator at Rural Resources, a post she has held since 2008. She is loved for her tireless efforts to empower and nurture disadvantaged youth and inspire them to reach their fullest potential. She teaches nearly 50 teens gardening, animal husbandry, cooking, business, and leadership skills annually. Prior to working with Rural Resources, she worked for Just for Girls, Manatee County Girls Club in Florida where she helped to develop class curricula. She has a college background in business administration and management, and comes from a family farm in Indiana.

Working closely with Miss Debbie is Taylor Boles.

AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES Member Serving as the Garden and Grazing Manager Taylor Boles

Taylor Boles is an AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES member serving as the garden and grazing manager. She works directly with youth in the Farm and Food Teen Training program, developing curricula and teaching classes, as well as planning and managing the teen garden and greenhouse. She is a full-time student pursuing a degree in biology with a concentration in environmental studies. Her passions include environmental justice and education. She hopes to make a difference in the world one compost bin at a time. 

Teddy Dabbs has been keeping the farm running for years.

Farm Manager Teddy Dabbs

Since 2007, Farm Manager Teddy Dabbs' welcoming smile, watchful eyes and capable hands have guided the farm through its seasonal cycles. He cares for the livestock daily, as well as oversees gardens, repairs, maintenance and supervises volunteers. His wealth of knowledge and experience has earned the respect of all who work with him, as well as the affectionate title of "Cow Whisperer." Teddy grew up on a Greene County farm and enjoys his time working in Rural Resources' country setting.

This guy usually stays in the background, but he loves to teach the kids. He is seen here telling them about vermiculture.

Accounts Manager Paul Scala

Paul Scala is Rural Resources’ accounts manager and works with the treasurer in the finance committee. Paul is a long-time organic grower and has been composting with worms for much of that time, something he shares with visitors of all ages who come to Rural Resources. Before becoming Accounts Manager, Paul’s position was Educator, where he taught gardening to elementary school children in after school programs. Previously, Paul worked in Accounts Payable for a local industry. He holds a B.A. in sociology from Binghamton University.

And that leaves me. I first learned about Rural Resources while conducting interviews for the Greeneville Sun's ATHENA Award nominations as a freelancer in 2014.

AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES Member Serving as the Communications Coordinator Lorelei Goff

Lorelei Goff came to Rural Resources in 2014, enthusiastically volunteering her talents as a blogger and photographer, and working with Farm Day Camp. She became a seasonal program assistant in the Farm and Food Teen Training Program in 2016 and is currently serving as Rural Resources' communications coordinator through AmeriCorps/Appalachia CARES. Lorelei has a bachelor's degree with concentrations in journalism and environmental studies, works as a freelance science and environmental writer, and is a certified naturalist.

So that's all about us. How about telling us a little bit about yourself and how you became interested in Rural Resources? Please comment below!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What Do You Do, Anyway?

Are you wondering what Rural Resources actually does? Check out these videos and blog links to find out!

If you like what you see and want to participate or volunteer, call the office at 423-636-8171.

Would you like to donate to our capital campaign to finish our Farm & Food Learning Center?  Visit our website, ruralresources.net, or https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/rural-resources-farm-food-learning-center--3