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The Quest for Local Food

UT Extension OfficeClarksville, TN – According to the Organic Consumers Association, a 1,000 acre U.S. corporate farm growing genetically engineered crops nets an average of $39.00 an acre. In contrast, a 4-acre family farm nets, on average, $1400 per acre. Small organic farms are proving to be even more profitable. Why? Because they are meeting the needs of a niche market and can charge a little more, they aren’t as reliant on oil, because they use fewer large machines, less pesticides and fertilizer.

It’s no longer efficient to transport food 1,500 miles from where it’s grown. With oil prices on the rise, growing food without petroleum-based pesticides/fertilizers, and delivering that food to local markets will quickly prove to be the most affordable food available.

Through Extension programs, we work with many producers, small to large, and they are all pursuing a common goal…sustainability. Now, the word sustainability may mean different things to different people.

One definition given by the Brundtland Commission states that sustainability is defined as, “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

‘Sustainability’ to another person may mean growing enough produce on their own land to sustain them through the winter and off-set grocery costs. It is the farms that take advantage of the sun’s free energy and use the waste of one species as food for another.

Sustainability and self-reliance are a big part of Extension programs and these days more and more people strive to live greener and use less of the Earth’s natural resources.

So, what can you do to be a part of the local foods movement? One way is to shop local!

Clarksville’s Downtown Market

Clarksville Downtown MarketThe Clarksville Downtown Market will kick off its season on Saturday, May 19th from 8:00am – 1:00 pm.

The products you purchase at the market MUST be handmade, homegrown or gathered (natural materials) by the seller or family member.

Produce grown within 100-mile radius of Clarksville, Tennessee will be given preference to sell at market.It is important for you, as the consumer, to ask, “Where does my food come from?”

These guidelines were put in place by a group of producers and consumers to ensure the market provide safe, local products that Clarksvillians are looking for! We cannot grow everything you like to eat in Tennessee but we can grow a lot in our region as a whole!

Editor’s Note: The above video was shot at the Clarksville Downtown Market  on June 26th, 2011.

Winter/Spring Market at the Smith-Trahern Mansion

Smith-Trahern MansionThe Winter/Spring Market at the Smith-Trahern Mansion developed as a continuation of the Downtown Market and has been open on Fridays, 9:30am – 1:30pm since last October. That market will continue to host vendors and patrons until May 11th.

You will find a variety of vendors selling breads, home-made clothing and craft items, strawberries, local honey & sorghum, jams, herbs and much more.

Last week I was in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and got into a conversation with some folks about the fact that many products we import, including foods, contain lead or other contaminants. One problem is that many countries we import food from do not have to follow the same food safety guidelines as what we have in the US.

I could go on and on but the bottom line is that we could save a lot of time and money by growing more local produce and not shipping it from one end of the country to the other.

According to research by the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Austin (Tex.) consulting firm Civic Economics, for every $100 spent at a locally owned store, $45.00 remains in the local economy, compared with about $13.00 per $100.00 spent at a big box. That’s because independents tend to do their purchasing locally, while chains usually centralize it from a head office.

The Farm to School Program

Farm to SchoolAlso, be aware of a new program coming to fruition in Clarksville Montgomery County Schools-The Farm to School Program. Broadly defined, the Farm to School movement is one that seeks to connect schools, kindergarten through 12th grade, with local farms.

The object is to serve healthy school meals while introducing health and nutrition education opportunities. One hope is that in understanding where their food comes from, and in learning why healthy food is important, children will be more educated about nutrition choices. Small-scale local farms are integral to the movement. Again, we cannot provide all the foods needed for the entire school system, but we start with one or two products and see how it grows!

Community Supported Agriculture

Many people also find that having a home garden or joining a community garden is a wonderful experience. Talk to your neighbors and see if there is a vacant lot or other area where you can grow a few crops.

Another option is to join a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

This method of selling farm produce relies on customers who support the farm by purchasing a “share” and in return get a generous portion of veggies.

To join a CSA you typically complete an application and pay up front for several months of food delivered once a week.

Many CSA’s have “drop-off” points where you pick up your box from the grower. Many small farmers have online ordering ability, that way you can order what you want rather than getting a box full of produce that you have no idea what to do with! What they heck do you do with beet greens and arugula? Hmmm? Well, that is where my other Extension colleagues come into play…I know how to grow it; they know how to fix it up for good eatin’.

Clarksville’s CSA Options

A Taste of Jewell Farms

3038 Porter Pike
Bowling Green, KY 42103

We are a group of like minded family farms growing fruits, vegetables and sustainably raised beef, chicken, pork and rabbit. Our family farm, Jewell Farms, transitioned from tobacco to growing fruits and vegetables for other families through our CSA and farmers markets in Bowling Green and Middle Tennessee.

Our CSA runs from April through September; sign-ups are January through February; includes products from multiple farms. Payment plans are available. Pick up is at our farm in Bowling Green and pre-determined locations.

We grow everything from tomatoes, eggplants, sweet potatoes, sweet peppers, cabbage, green beans, squash, sweet corn, okra, cucumbers, melons, musk melons, onions and more!

Contact: Teheran Jewell, 270.392.1399

Paradise Produce Farms

2424 Jack Teasley Road
Pleasant View, TN 37146

Paradise ProduceParadise Produce is dedicated to producing the highest quality local food for our discerning customers. We use no chemicals, but instead through mineralization of the soil, balanced nutrition, and careful handling let the natural processes of the earth encourage our crops to yield bountifully.


Nourishing Harvest Farm & CSA: (have drop off in Clarksville)

1342 Russell Creek Road
Lobelville, TN 37097
Contact: David Schimp 615.576.0642

A Family Owned Farm: Family Grown – From Our Hands to Your Table.

Serving Dickson, Lobelville and Clarksville communities.  If you live in one of these areas, avoiding processed foods just got a little bit easier.  Click the “Pick-up Locations” tab to learn more.

Your favorite meal is only as good as your farmer.  Fresh, crisp, tasty and delicious start on the farm.  We combine our premium growing practices with top notch and flexible service.  In addition to season long memberships we offer custom internet ordering on a weekly schedule.  A custom CSA lets you select the foods you want in the amount that your family needs.  It’s a family friendly approach to community supported agriculture.


Broken Point Farm

2951 Chapel Hill Road
Clarksville TN 37040
Contact: Joe Schiller, 931.387.4071

At Broken Point Farm we grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, and and fruits sustainably. We follow organic practices using only organic fertilizers and ORMI pest treatments.

We market on the farm, at the Clarksville downtown farmers market on summer Saturdays, and directly to local restaurants. We also offer produce subscriptions from April-October.

Harvest begins with asparagus in April and picks up throughout the summer. We typically harvest fall brassicas and root crops until at least Halloween and often much later.

Young children love to spend some time down on the farm picking their own vegetables and berries!

For More information

For more information on local food products, go to:

We do not claim all wisdom in doing things, yet our knowledge surpasses our strength to do the many tasks incumbent upon us in farm life. – Anonymous

Karla Kean
Karla Keanhttps://utextension.tennessee.edu/montgomery/Pages/default.aspx
Karla Kean earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture and Minor in Agronomy from Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield Missouri in May of 1997. In March of 1998, Kean came to Tennessee after accepting a position with University of Tennessee Extension in Montgomery County. In this capacity she served in a split position as a 4-H/Agriculture agent with responsibilities mainly in the horticulture area. During this time she attended Winter School at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and earned her Master’s Degree in Agriculture and Extension Education in 2004. Her thesis study included gathering information on the importance of shade trees and natural learning opportunities in childcare centers throughout Montgomery County. In September of 2005 Kean left Extension to pursue a brief career as the City Forester in Clarksville. During this time she earned her accreditation as an International Society of Arboriculture- Certified Arborist and became actively involved as a board member of the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council. By spring of 2007 she realized that her true desire was to work with people by way of Extension programs. In March of 2007, Tennessee State University employed her as a temporary horticulture agent and then she interviewed for and obtained the horticulture/small farms agent position in Montgomery County and she has served in this capacity since August 2007. Karla is a long standing member of Tennessee Association for Agriculture Agents & Specialist’s and the National Association of County Agriculture Agents. She is also a member of the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council [former Executive Board member] and member of the International Society of Arboriculture-Southern Chapter. Karla is married to husband, Willis and they have 3 children [Amber, Christina, and Patrick] and 4 grandchildren. Karla and Willis are active members of Bethlehem United Methodist Church where Willis serves as a trustee and both work together to conduct the children’s church program.

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