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 If you specifically want to help out with communications, please contact me at 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, 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 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 page and donate there.

Visit our website,, 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 with a skeleton staff on a small budget comprised mainly of grants. 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 resources available in the community.

What Amanda Combs lacks in stature, she makes up for in heart. The first thing people usually notice about this pint-sized, 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 several years before on the Mobile Farmer's Market route, a community outreach project that brought low-cost, fresh produce to low-income neighborhoods.

“She lived in public housing,” says Hensley. “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 Hensley and Combs grew, it became apparent that Combs had a heart for helping people.

“I finally asked her to help us with the parade one year,” says Hensley. “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.”

Combs 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.

Combs 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 Hensley. “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 Combs gives away.

“She will do anything you ask her to, but what she does best is give out love and hugs,” says Hensley. “Anybody, the homeless, drug addicts, she doesn't care. She just wants to love and feed them.”