Thursday, December 29, 2016

Annual Teen Recap

Whew! The year sure is wrapping up fast! Our Farm and Food Teen Training program wrapped up this month with the Teen Dinner on December 6th. The annual celebration of the teens’ accomplishments, held at First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville, gives everyone a reason to pause and reflect on the year’s program. 

This year’s theme was Growing a CEED. The acronym stands for Cultivate, Equip, Empower and Develop. Those principles are at the heart of the FFTT program and Rural Resources’ mission to connect farms, food and families.

Teens prepared and served the dinner with the help of Chef Melissa Rebholz and Severian Simmons, co-owners of River House Farm. The menu for the dinner included a succulent pork pot roast, gourmet salad, corn bread, and a delicious cheese cake. Locally-sourced foods for the event came from Rural Resources, River House Farm, Buffalo Trail Orchard, Ziegenwald Dairy and Rosey Aviaries & Bee Farms.

Each youth received a certificate of completion for their year of learning and service. While some will be moving onto the next step in their program cycle, others have completed the 4-year program and have the option to enter into internships. Volunteers and supporters also received certificates and thank you gifts created by the teens and a former program participant who started a food-based business. Robert Graf, a long-time supporter who passed away last spring and is dearly missed, was also remembered.

FFTT stats for the year include 5,596 square feet of gardens on our Holly Creek Farm and at homes of the teens, and 2,113 total training hours, which includes classes, gardening, fieldtrips, catering and volunteering at the Tabernacle Soup Kitchen and a local retirement home, bringing the program’s cumulative total up to 15,125 since 2008. The teens also made several donations of fresh produce from their garden on the farm to the soup kitchen. One of the benefits of the FFTT program that’s hard to quantify is the impact it has on the families of teens and in their neighborhoods. In addition to the fresh produce they grow for their families, they often become the shoppers and cooks in their homes, saving families money and improving their nutrition. The home gardens sometimes prompt questions from neighbors, which allows the teens to share their knowledge and experience, while inspiring other low-income residents to grow their own food.

Another highlight of the year remembered at the dinner was the Leadership Retreat, an event designed around a ropes course and outdoor adventure activities to build trust and teamwork within the group and help individuals develop leadership skills, compassion and the self-confidence they need to make good decisions, especially when faced with peer pressure.

It’s great to see all these CEEDs taking root and bearing fruit in the lives of the youth we are privileged to work with. Not only do they become more self-sufficient and achieve greater food-security through the programs, the business skills prepare them for employment or starting their own businesses and, through our connection with Grow Appalachia, two of our youth have been accepted into tuition-free degree programs at Berea College in Kentucky.

The truly amazing thing about all of this is that’s it’s been accomplished without a building or indoor plumbing. A tragic fire in 2009 devoured the programming and office space. Since then, every inch of usable space – an old tobacco barn and some outbuildings – has been utilized for programs and a small, two-room construction trailer was donated to house all the staff. An outdoor composting toilette and a pit-style outhouse serves as bathrooms and there are outdoor sinks in the milking shed, produce processing station and Farm Day Camp area.

While the success of the FFTT program is a testament to the determination of the staff to fill a need for the at-risk youth we work with and give them the hope of a better future, we’ve become root-bound and are in need of more – and more efficient – space. Construction began on a new building over the summer, but we need more funds to complete it. Through a generous opportunity from the Appalachian Regional Commission, we have an opportunity to receive a $200,000 grant if we can raise $200,000 on our own. This would be enough funds to complete the construction of the Farm & Food Learning Center. The center will house classrooms, a commercial kitchen and office space … with indoor plumbing!

Rural Resources Executive Director Sally Causey launched a capital campaign this month to raise the $200,000 by Jamuary 31st.

“There is no doubt that this facility will be a game-changer for hands-on learning opportunities for years to come,” says Causey.

Please consider being a part of connecting farms, food and families through community education, programs to empower at-risk youth and building a vibrant local-foods economy by donating to our capital campaign. Donations can be made at, on our website or by mailing a check to our office at 2870 Holly Creek Rd, Greeneville, TN 37745. Have questions? Visit our website, email us at or call our office at 423-636-8171.

Help with Classes:
Kitty Earl
Mary Goldman
Melissa Rebholz
Coralynn McKelvy
Janice Graf
Connie & Lynn McCamey

Garden Volunteers:
Connie McCamey
Ruth McCamey
Deb Cook
Joan Ruch
Tanasi Rice
Lauren Boles

Teen Chopped Cook-Off:
Beth Foster
Catie Snelson
Sheena Julian
Julie Ibanez
Barbara Hodges
Mary Goldman

Program Volunteers:
Hannah Lowe
Sheena Julian
Catie Snelson
Austin Julian
Sharon Luttrell
Faelyn Campbell
Bobby Strickland

Fair Volunteers:
Janice Graf
Melissa Rebholz
Sharon Luttrell
Faelyn Campbell
Austin Julian
Jerry Anderson
Donna Yelton and niece
Marina Church
Joy and Eddie Dailey
Suzie Suchman
Bobby Strickland
James Belt

Donations of time & labor or materials:
Roy Darnell
Chris Hahne
Hugh & Barbara Belt
James Belt
Dollar General – Austin Julian
Garry Renfro
Robert Graf
Rural Support Partners
Coralynn McKelvy

First Presbyterian Church
Greeneville Farmers Market
Depot Street Farmers Market
Fox Park
Jonesborough Farmers Market

Berea Funders:
Alice Loftin & Don Miller
Anonymous Donor
David Hendricksen
Nickola Kuhn
Gail Beach
Norma George
Westside Garden Club
Julia Anderson
Sally Causey
Edward & Joan Ruch
Kirsten Davis

Teen Chopped Cook-Off Sponsors:
Ingles #70
Sav Mor Foods
Broyles Feed Store
Food City #606
Food City #663
Food City #608
Big Lots
Ace Hardware
Grand Rental Station
Angel Waddell State Farm
Kyker’s Extreme Automotive
Bob’s Factory Outlet

Program Funders:
East Tennessee Foundation
Presbyterian Hunger Group
Grow Appalachia

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What is Winter Solstice?

Did you know that yesterday marked the winter solstice for the northern hemisphere? The winter solstice, so named because it designates the beginning of astronomical winter, marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. This happens because our planet rotates on a tilted axis as it orbits the Sun. The axial tilt causes the days to lengthen or shorten, depending on which hemisphere you’re in, and the seasons to change.

Astronomical winter, or solstice, usually falls around the 21st of December and lasts until the spring equinox in March. Meteorological winter, the one the weather forecasters  pay the most attention to, is different. It begins on December 1st and lasts until the end of February. Though the solstice marks the true astronomical beginning of winter, weather forecasters consider December 1st the beginning of winter because December, January and February have historically been the coldest months of the year in the northern hemisphere. As the days shorten,  the Earth loses some of its stored thermal energy from the Sun. By the time December arrives, the portion of the planet tilted away from the Sun is noticeably cooler. When the days begin to grow longer and more thermal energy is absorbed, temperatures begin to rise again.

In agricultural societies, winter solstice has traditionally been an important event marked with celebrations that usually include something that we here at Rural Resources can relate to: food. Depending on the culture, feasts lasted from days to weeks and brought together families and communities. After months of short, dark days, they looked forward to the return of the Sun, craving it's light and warmth. As the days grew longer and brighter, the cycle of planting, cultivating and harvest would continue. The land would again bear fruit, providing for their needs of  food, shelter, heat, fiber and medicine. It was a time of reflection and rejoicing but also an act of faith that spring, summer and autumn would return again, with provision for another year.

As we enter into winter, we here at Rural Resources are marking the season with an act of faith also. We are moving forward in the construction of a building, the Farm & Food Learning Center, that will provide space for our programs, community education and offices, to replace the one that was tragically lost to a fire in 2009. Since that time, we’ve persevered using the old tobacco barn, some outbuildings and a small, loaned trailer for office space. One of the things we’re most looking forward to with the new building is indoor plumbing.

The faith part comes in with a capital campaign we’ve kicked off this month to help us qualify for grant money to finish the construction. Through a generous opportunity from the Appalachian Regional Commission, we will receive $200,000 if we can raise $200,000 ourselves. We’ve seen the seeds  planted in our youth programs and community outreach bear fruit. With this building, we’re preparing for an even bigger harvest. Your help can make our faith a reality. Please consider joining our effort to change lives and strengthen our community through connecting farms, food and families by making a donation at here. Donations can also be made on our website  or by mail to: Rural Resources, 2870 Holly Creek Rd, Greeneville, TN 37745..

Thank You!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Excitement is in the air – and on the ground – here at Rural Resources' Holly Creek Farm! We have an opportunity to receive a $200,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to complete the new Farm & Food Learning Center! Construction began on the project in July and, as many of you know, site grading, septic, the slab for the foundation, roughed in plumbing and the tap to the county water line are finished, and super-insulated wall panels are on the way.

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“Once the walls arrive, the building will take shape very quickly,” says Executive Director Sally Causey. “We will have a sustainably built, energy efficient Learning Center.”

In order to qualify for the grant money to finish the building, we have to raise $200,000. We are launching a capital campaign this month to reach our goal by Jan. 31st
“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,” said Causey. “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.”

The learning center will house classrooms, a commercial kitchen and office space to replace buildings lost in a devastating fire in 2009. The kitchen space will also be available to residents of Greene County and surrounding areas.

Since the fire, staff has worked out of a donated two-room 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.
Thank you for getting us this far! Can you help us take advantage of this generous opportunity from the Appalachian Regional Commission? Donations to the capital campaign to complete construction can be made through, by visiting or by mailing a check to:
Rural Resources
2870 Holly Creek Rd
Greeneville, TN 37745