Welcome, new friends. Thank you, old ones.

Our table keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Welcome, new friends. Thank you, old ones.
Our Food as a Verb team welcomes you. Main Street Farmers' Market, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Are neighborhood farmers' markets among our most shared experiences as humans?

Welcome to all our new readers and friends. Thanks to Kristen Templeton's marvelous headliner story in Tuesday's NOOGAToday, our community at Food as a Verb grew a lot bigger overnight.

(NOOGAToday has become a daily gift to Chattanooga inboxes, a Goldilocks-just-right balance of hard hitting headlines, lighthearted fun and unifying civic news. Kristen and fellow editor Haley Bartlett are doing fabulous work. If you haven't subscribed, it's completely free.)

And, if you're new to Food as a Verb, we're really glad you're here. We're telling stories intended to cultivate and strengthen our food community.

After all, food is news, too.

Food as a Verb is our version of Slow Food Media, an antidote to chaotic, drive-by media. Every Wednesday, we'll send your inbox a mid-week column followed by a beautiful feature or profile – a regional farmer or chef, perhaps – on Sunday.

"I sit with my coffee every Sunday and just slowly read Food as a Verb," one reader said.

That's exactly what we want. Media doesn't have to be damaging.

You can exhale and enjoy it.

And boy, you've joined a really fine group of local folks. We have dirt under our nails, full drinks, sharp kitchen knives and a deep interest in food as a healing and liberating force in our lives.

Like Chattanoogan Julian Kaufman and his son-in-law Darian Sylvester, who are repping Food as a Verb all the way from Florence, Italy.

Julian's daughter, Darian and their new son moved to Italy in January. On his visit, Julian – owner of North Shore's Forte Fitness – texted photos of Italian farmers' markets.

"Fresh new harvest olive oil, artichokes ... jarred borlotti beans, verza cabbage, broccoli, bread, apple, pecorino cheese," he texted, then adding: "21 Euros, all organic."

He sent photos of a new friend: Italian farmer, Francesco. Talking with Julian, seeing these photos, I'm left wondering:

Are neighborhood farmers' markets among our most shared experiences as humans?

Last week, we were guest vendors at the Main St. Farmers' Market, selling t-shirts and hats. (If you're new to Food as a Verb, you'll find a list of regional markets with each Wednesday column.)

How many other farmers' markets happened around the world on that same day? How many other human beings – out of 8 billion – bought market food from a farmer?

It may be among our most shared experiences as a human family.

At the market, we loved seeing so many of you. Our friends Kelsey and Michael stopped by, bought a hat and offered a suggestion.

"We want to learn more about homesteading," they said. "Will you write about how to do that?"


Food as a Verb thanks Tucker Build, our sustaining partner, for its generous support.

Tucker Build offers Chattanooga a commercial construction firm made up of design-build experts specializing in the planning, building and managing process.

Hmm, where to start?

I don't always know what to do.

But I sure as hell know what not to do.

Here at What the $@#$ Farms – my own plot of land not far from Chattanooga, where anything that can go wrong often will – I'm often left scratching my head: what the $@% did I do wrong?

Deer get through my fence like knives through cake.

Seeds sown in the ground don't emerge. Or, when they do, soon disappear like rabbits out of a hat.

First suggestion?

Ask for help. Befriend farmers. Talk to them. Ask every dumb question under the sun. (I have.)

Second tip? Don't till. I tried this. At first, it was alluringly helpful, the tiller turning un-plantable ground into soft soil by the afternoon. Little did I know I'd awakened a giant.

Weeks later, a galaxy of sleeper cells of dormant weeds emerged, all unleashed by the tiller.

"Put down some black plastic or cardboard," one friend suggested. "Or haul in some good compost and soil."

I didn't listen. Man, I wish I had.

Third tip?

Get to know the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County. For more than three decades, the volunteer-based MGHC has served our community with garden expos, tours and festivals, as well as master gardener programs and classes.

Each month, they publish a newsletter. In February's issue, master gardener Ann Bartlett discusses spring planting. Subscribe for the whole issue, which is outstandingly helpful.

Friends newsletter, Master Gardeners of Hamilton County.

Kelsey and Michael, we promise to devote more Wednesday space to practical and specific how-to's.

You ask, we provide.

Before we say goodbye, we need some help from you all. For a future story, we're researching the ways food policy can become integrated into local government.

For example: in Knoxville, the city has a dedicated food policy council.

It was started in 1981. Yes, 1981! Can you imagine the difference 60 years of intentional, government-based food policy work would have made in Hamilton County?

Our question: would you as regional voters and citizens support a designated food policy council within the realm of city or county government?

If so, why?

If not, why not?

Coming soon: a profile on New Orleans-to-Chattanooga chef Kenyatta Ashford who's part of a pop-up barbeque on Feb. 28.

This coming Sunday, though, we're offering a quiet reflection on, well, a few things: seeds, planting, loss and freedom.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

See you, Sunday, old friends and new.

David Cook, What the $@#$ Farms, Sequatchie County, Tenn. (Photo not by Sarah Unger.)

Unless noted, 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: david@foodasaverb.com and sarah@foodasaverb.com.

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 david@foodasaverb.com

Dig in. (It's free)