Market today! Sixty degrees, squirrel sex and a "growing army" of good people.

Is February the new March?

Market today! Sixty degrees, squirrel sex and a "growing army" of good people.
Food as a Verb swag.

We're guest vending at the Main Street Farmers' Market this afternoon, 4 to 5.30 pm. Stop by and say hello; we'd love to see you and show off our new merchandise.

Beautiful, one-of-a-kind t-shirts.

And our new hats!

Original, one-of-a-kind Food as a Verb merch.

We're selling both today, with portions helping the Hernandez Family Farm recover from storm damage.

Forecast for today? Sunny and low 60s, perfect market weather.

Perfect spring weather.

Yet, strangely imperfect February weather, which begs the question:

Does it feel like spring to anyone else?

Last week, I was at home recovering from Covid. My third time. (Four? Anyone with four? Do I hear four?) Trying to isolate from my family, I spent hours just sitting outside in the sunshine, which felt so good after the ice-bath storms from last month.

Plus, Covid drains me into feeling five quarts low. Quietly sitting is good medicine.

Out in the yard, there was so much music in the trees. Birds, everywhere. And another sound I just couldn't ... quite ... identify.

"Squirrels are having sex," my friend, a naturalist, told me. Invigorated by the warm weather – and, really, who can blame them? – they're procreating like it's April, she said.

This may pose a problem.

I'd sent her a photo of a dead snake I'd seen just several days ago, in the warm up-tick that followed the ice-bath-storm. A snake! In February!

"Climate change can really confuse these animals," she said, circling back to squirrel sex. "We'll have all these frozen pink babies when it freezes again."

In our backyard, these gentle tiny white flowers that normally bloom in March are blooming now. The tips on our honeysuckles are greening.

Is February becoming the new March?

Food as a Verb thanks Lupi's, our sustaining partner, for its generous support.

For more than 25 years, Lupi's has served locally-sourced, creatively made and award-winningly delicious pizza pies from five nearby locations.

Last week, Sequatchie Cove Farm's Kelsey Keener wrote a powerful essay on farming in a time of changing, unpredictable and often disastrous climate. Keener's post is straight-on, clarifying and honest.

Here's an excerpted version. Subscribe to Sequatchie Cove Farm's blog to read the full post.

Kelsey Keener, Sequatchie Cove Farm, Marion Co., Tenn.

The past six months, we have experienced three severe weather events.  We had almost no rain August – October.  Then, the rains came bringing flooding.

Most recently, a winter storm blew in, coating everything with several inches of ice. The ice stayed for 10 days because temperatures rarely got above freezing and dropped as low as 2 degrees.

Growing crops, raising livestock, maintaining infrastructure, and just plain living life on the land has become increasingly challenging.

The new norm is to expect the unexpected and to be prepared for the worst.

In drought, the crops wither and the grass stops growing, so we must plan ahead and have lots of organic matter in the soil and deep mulch in the garden. This holds the moisture in the soil.

In the pastures, we rotate the animals often and plan ahead, always leaving more then we need, never overgrazing with the goal of always having a stockpile of extra forage for the drought.

In heavy rain and flood, which can come unexpectedly any time of year, we are always prepared to move animals to high ground. We have plenty of feed and supplies to last and we just make do the best we can and watch the force of nature flow by. In winter storms and freezing temps, we have plans for draining pipes and hauling water.

We have generators to help power the most important infrastructure. We have plenty of firewood to heat our houses and hay bales to feed and shelter our animals. We have experienced power outages and wildfires as well and we know that in order to survive and thrive we must be prepared and have a store in reserve for hard times.

No matter how prepared we are, there is nothing easy about being out in the elements seven days a week in the rain, the heat, and the freezing cold. But we know it is part of the job and we love being outdoors even when the elements make it tough.

But are we prepared enough?

Bill Keener, Sequatchie Cove Farm, Marion County, Tenn.

Can we withstand what is to come? ... Will we make it out unscathed?

No, but we will try our best. We will learn and adapt like we always have, and we will do whatever it takes to survive and continue on or path.

We know now more than ever is a time to commune with Mother Nature and tell her we care; we want to give back more then we take. This is a time to restore balance where much of the chaos we live in is man-made.

We must assure the earth that, yes, we humans have been very greedy, mindlessly taking, mining all of the resources for our pleasure and profit and it seems there is no end… but all humans are not that way. We have hope because there is a growing army of those who want to do good and help give back to the land.

Now, more than ever, we must think of how we can restore communities of people who are responsible for each other and the land that supports them.

Every aspect of our lives must be carefully thought out.

How do we get food, shelter, clothing? How do we educate the young and instill hope and passion to continue on this path?

We have taken many steps in the right direction, but we need to take many more steps and we need many more folks to join us on this journey.

Who knows where we will end up?

Sequatchie Cove Farms, Marion County, Tenn.

This Sunday, we take you to Meigs County, where good friends – Tara and Brad Smith – are farming in a most ingenuous, problem-solving and joyful way. Their farm is a response to many things: overworked careers, loss of farmland, the changing climate Keener mourned.

We've never seen a farm like theirs.

It is a delight to witness.

It's also missing one big thing.


Happy big-hearted Valentine's Day, everyone.

Fresh Tech Growers, Meigs County, Tenn.

All photography by Sarah Unger.

All design by Alex DeHart.

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

Story ideas, questions, feedback? Interested in sponsorship or advertising opportunities? Email us: and

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

Regional Farmers Markets

  • Main St. Farmers Market, Corner of W. 20th and Chestnut St., near Finley Stadium

Wednesday, 4 - 6pm (Note: the Thanksgiving week market was held on Tuesday.)

  • Brainerd Farmers Market, Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave,

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)