Something Takes Root: all that we know, all that we don't.

Something Takes Root: all that we know, all that we don't.
Sequatchie Cove Farm, Sequatchie, Tennessee

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023

Welcome to Food as a Verb.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve teased out some invitations on social media and email. And what a response we've received in return. From Instagram and Facebook to email subscriptions, letters, texts, phone calls and generous support, you have responded in such encouraging ways.

I am humbled and heartened.

As I publish this first, formal post, I think about all of you, already in our corner. From the bottom of my heart: thank you. 

Let me set the table for you.

Consider us a different form of media. Food as a Verb is meant to be savored. We aren’t trying to frighten you. There’s no chaos, no pop-up ads, no request for credit cards. We’re offering you an elegant and beautiful look at some really wise, instructive and encouraging people and places. 

Every Wednesday, your inbox will receive a column from me – some reflection, stories, local farmers market info, maybe a quote or two. 

Every Sunday, we’ll send you our centerpiece of the week: a profile, feature, essay or interview complete with gorgeous, original images all focusing on an integral part of our local food community. 


Some 15, maybe 20, years ago, I planted my first row of spinach seeds in raised beds in a backyard garden.

A friend was helping, giving instruction and advice. So was his daughter.

As I worked – literally, doing something I’d never done before – she was there alongside me, teaching me as her little fingers planted little seeds. 

I was 35. She was probably 6.

It hit me: all the things I didn’t know. All the types of knowledge and education I’d overlooked, bypassed or ignored. 

At the time, I had two degrees with decades of accumulated, formal education. Yet I’d never planted a seed in the ground? 

Food as a Verb thanks Whitney Drayer, senior vice-president at Morgan Stanley, for his generous support of local food and storytelling.

Contact Whitney at or 423-752-4736.

Something took root. That row of spinach grew, as did my own garden. Soon, we bought our first flock of pullets. Then, goats. Then, along with a best friend, 30 acres of nearby farmland, where we’re building a barn, orchard, garden. 

This isn’t just a story of education. It’s a story of attention. And who often directs our attention today?


Think of all the stories that mass media plants within American culture. How many involve farmers? Chefs? Brewers and servers and millers? People and places growing, cultivating and faithfully serving food within 50 miles of your front door? 

How many stories are wholesome? Relevant to the heart, mind and body? How many focus on the core aspects of our human experience? 

Food as a Verb steps into that gap. 

This Sunday, we’ll publish a profile of Rebecca Barron, culinary director at Alleia and James Beard-nominated chef who, amazingly, has never taken one single cooking class in her life. She talks about being a single mom, creativity, forgiveness and also shares a fifth-generation recipe for buttermilk pancakes. 

She also talks about knowing all the things she doesn’t know. That being a chef is really about being a student. It was a powerfully endearing and humbling statement from one of our nation’s top chefs who continues to delight in her work.

Rebecca Barron, Alleia

“The more I learn," Barron says, "the more I don’t know."

Other local food news ...

  • On Sept. 16, immeasurably talented local chef Kenyatta Ashford will join Sequatchie Cove Farm for a very special evening. The farm meal-feast will include Ashford's own menu – with all ingredients sourced from Sequatchie Cove Farm – cooked over open flame. The event will be held outside on the beautiful farm grounds. Tickets can be purchased here.
  • On Aug. 31, Ashford launches his own fundraiser to re-open Neutral Ground, the restaurant concept he created during the pandemic. The winner of Food Network's 2021 Chopped competition, Ashford has made Chattanooga his home; we are so fortunate to have him here. Support his Neutral Ground fundraiser here.
  • Finally, last week was National Farmers Market Week. If you’ve never been to a local market, August is the perfect time. Our friend, Brian McDonald of Mac’s Kitchen & Bar, said it best:

“There’s nothing more grounding to me than going to farmer’s markets.” (A feature on Mac’s is coming soon.)

Each Wednesday, we’ll publish a list of ongoing farmers markets. (See below.) To include your farmers market, email

Wishing you all a wonderful week. See you Sunday …


All photography by Sarah Unger. Visit

Story ideas? Interested in sponsorship opportunities + supporting our work? Feedback or questions? Email David Cook at This story is 100% human generated; no AI chatbot was used in the creation of this content.

Food as a Verb would like to thank its founding sponsors for their generous, immeasurable support of local food and storytelling.

Regional Farmers Markets

Main St. Farmers Market

Corner of W. 20th and Chestnut St., near Finley Stadium

Wednesday, 4 - 6pm

Brainerd Farmers Market

Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave, Chattanooga, TN 

Saturday, 10am - noon

Chattanooga Market

1820 Carter Street, Sunday, 11am - 4pm

Ooltewah Farmers Market

The Ooltewah Nursery, Thursday, 3 - 6pm 

Signal Mountain Farmers Market

Pre-order online for Thursday pick-up between 4 - 6pm at Bachman Community Center

St. Albans Farmers Market

7514 Hixson Pike, Saturday, 9.30am - 12.30pm with a free pancake breakfast every third Saturday  

Walker County Farmers Market

Wednesday, 2 - 5 pm, Rock Spring Ag. Center 

Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm, downtown Lafayette, Georgia

To include your farmers market, email

Dig in. (It's free)