Hope grows in Nashville: LFPA Plus update and April gardening tips

May both go splendidly well for us all.

Hope grows in Nashville: LFPA Plus update and April gardening tips
Chattanooga Area Food Bank, Chattanooga, Tenn.

For all of you closely following the LFPA Plus funding story, here's the latest: we're just waiting. Waiting, hoping, praying, well-wishing.

Hope continues to grow in Nashville, where noble, bipartisan efforts are underway to refund the missing LFPA Plus money. Our last post described the stand-up efforts of Chattanooga's Bo Watson and Yusuf Hakeem, a Republican and Democrat, respectively, and so many others who are working the midnight shift to clean up the mistakes made by Tennessee Department of Agriculture, or TDA.

I'll tell it in a haiku.

Seven million gone ...

TDA missed emails. Lots.

Can Nashville solve this?

For a bit more extensive prose, you can read our past reporting.

Empathy, Nashville leadership and the growing chance of restoring $7.2 million for farmers and food banks.
It’s actually possible.
The state lost $7.2 million for farmers and food banks. Will it fix the problem it created?
The USDA says it sent six separate funding notifications. Tennessee missed them all.

We're also deeply proud to share this Civil Eats report; if you aren't subscribed, please do. Civil Eats publishes top-shelf, critically-intelligent food journalism. It's thoughtful and beautiful. Sarah and I are honored to work with them.

Daily news and commentary about the American food system.

Now, back to LFPA Plus funding updates: on March 18, Hakeem introduced a $500,000 appropriations request. A House subcommittee received it. A vote is forthcoming.

In the Senate, Watson has been stalwart, trying to pin down TDA on what happened while restoring funding for Tennessee farmers.

"The Appropriations Committee there will receive a similar $500,000 request as well as a budget amendment for the entire $7.2 million to be restored," said Jeannine Carpenter, director of advocacy for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. "Appropriations will make recommendations to [Finance, Ways and Means] who will then work to propose an amended final budget. That budget will then be up for a vote on the Floor."

Nobody's quite sure from where $7.2 million will come. Surplus TDA funds? A reallocation of the governor's budget? Or TDA's budget?

All of this will unfold within the next week or two. As soon as we know, you'll know.

Food as a Verb thanks Little Coyote, our sustaining partner, for its generous support.

Now open in St. Elmo, Little Coyote blends together Texas barbeque, Cuban, Caribbean and Southwestern influences – smoked meats, stunningly original tortillas, 100 varieties of tequilas, sotols and mezcals – for a family-style restaurant experience unlike any other in Chattanooga.

We are glad to announce an upcoming Tour of Local Buyers event designed to help farmers and producers sell products and produce to wholesale buyers. Often, this can be one of the most difficult aspects of farming – finding large-scale buyers – so this event, organized by the Center for Profitable Agriculture and University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and its extension agents, should help.

“This tour offers producers a chance to network with wholesale buyers and form valuable connections in their local communities," said Alaina Boyd, an Extension assistant with the Center.

The Chattanooga MarketReady Buyer Tour will take place on Thursday, April 25. Participants meet at a designated location, then carpool or solo-drive to pre-scheduled locations where they meet and discuss with actual buyers.

"We will explore marketing to grocery stores, restaurants, institutions and other wholesale markets," said Center for Profitable Agriculture's Megan Bruch Leffew.

The event is free, but registration is required. For more info on dates, times and logistics, visit https://tiny.utk.edu/CPAEvents. Contact Boyd with questions at acboyd@utk.edu.

And speaking of UT's county Ag Extension agents ...

Crabtree Farms, Clifton Hills, Tenn.

They are regional treasures, these personable, outgoing, servant-hearted repositories of knowledge and wisdom. Food as a Verb will profile two local Ag Extension agents soon, but it never hurts to say what needs to be said: thank you for your commitment to this region and its agricultural wellbeing.

Hamilton County's Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent is Haley Richardson Treadway, who's about as wonderful as they come. Immensely helpful and brilliantly sharp, she's given me tons of advice, including a monthly calendar that gives detailed instructions on planting dates, soil prep and more. (Many of you have asked for more how-to's and practical instruction in our Wednesday posts.)

Here's the Ag Extension advice for April:

  • Prepare mulched beds. If using plastic mulch, prepare irrigation systems.
  • Early April is a good time to plant beets and peas.
  • Remove nearby wild brambles, which prevents pest-and-disease influences.
  • When you transplant – and the Crabtree Farms plant sale is next weekend – double-check soil temps. Warm enough for good root growth?
  • For late spring fruit planting, make sure to water well, as the stresses are higher the warmer it gets.

Thanks, Haley. Thanks UT Ag Extension.

Finally, some wonderful news from our friends at Niedlov's.

Pizza Night, Niedlov's Bakery & Cafe, Main St., Tenn.

All photography by Sarah Unger (sarah@foodasaverb.com)

All design by Alex DeHart

All words by David Cook (david@foodasaverb.com)

Story ideas, questions, feedback? Interested in sponsorship or advertising opportunities? Email us: david@foodasaverb.com and sarah@foodasaverb.com.

This story is 100% human generated; no AI chatbot was used in the creation of this content.

Food as a Verb thanks our sustaining partners for their generous support.

Regional Farmers' Markets

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

  • Fresh Mess Market

Harton Park, Monteagle, TN. (Rain location: Monteagle Fire Hall.) 

Every Thursday, 3pm - 6pm, beg. June 6 - Oct. 3

  • Ooltewah Farmers' Market

The Ooltewah Nursery, Thursday, 3 - 6pm 

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

  • South Cumberland Farmers’ Market

Sewanee Community Center (behind the Sewanee Market on Ball Park Rd.) Tuesdays from 4:15 to 6:00 p.m. (central.) Order online by Monday 10 am (central.) 

  • 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 david@foodasaverb.com

Dig in. (It's free)