By TNFP’s Culinary Community Liaison, Jennifer Justus
As construction cranes loom over Nashville and development creeps into the countryside, we’re thankful for a growing number of farmers who make the best use of our fertile land and do the hard work of tending it for produce that nourishes our community.
The Nashville Food Project wants to support this work. We’re committed to a vision of vibrant community food security, in which all members of our community have the food they want and need through a just and sustainable food system. With this vision in mind, we’ve committed to deepening our relationship to local farms by purchasing and supporting local food.
In fact, our commitment to purchasing local food is a growing portion of how our meals happen. We entered 2019 knowing this would be a year of transitions for our own gardens, moving all production to the newly opened Community Farm at Mill Ridge Park (read more about the grand opening of that farm here). With less produce coming from our gardens this season, we sought farm partners we can support with our dollars whose produce can help supplement the food we grow and meals we make and share. Currently, the majority of food for our meals comes from donated and recovered food. The slice of pie for ‘local food’ represents our food purchases from local farms.
What’s going into a TNFP MEAL?
With a dedicated local farm purchasing budget, we put out the word early this year that we’re seeking to purchase locally-grown produce from area farmers on a weekly, seasonal basis for use in our meals program. This resulted in new relationships with four farms: Rally House Farms, Bloomsbury Farms, West Glow Farm, and SE Daugherty & Sons.
Here’s a bit about each farm:
Rally House Farms recycles shipping containers for growing hydroponically and providing healthy, fresh produce year round. The operation needs 90 percent less water, no harmful pesticides or herbicides and a fraction of the physical space of traditional farms, which means they’ve turned a paved corner of Murfreesboro Pike and Fesslers Lane into a thriving, sustainable food source. Though Rally House Farms operates as its own for-profit business, it’s connected with Rally House Recovery Homes, which aims to provide temporary structure and employment to those in recovery and transition.
Bloomsbury Farms is located over 400 acres in Smyrna, Tennessee. Owner and farmer Lauren Palmer has farming in her family. Her father grew up on a dairy farm, though his parents were forced off the land by the Army Corps of Engineers and eminent domain. A love of the land continued with his motto: “bloom where you were planted.”
West Glow Farm is a small-scale, Kingston Springs farm with naturally grown vegetables, fruits and flowers. Farmer Booth Jewett (a Nashville Food Project alum) works to grow food in a way that honors and regenerates the land and all who live on it.
SE Daugherty & Sons launched in 2016 with Shaun Daugherty at the helm. As lead cultivator (and former personal trainer), he’s made it his life’s mission to make “good-tasting, good-for-you foods accessible to everyone.”
In one of our first farm partner deliveries to our kitchen from Rally House, we received lettuces. Here’s a go-to recipe we often use when whipping up dressings for our salads. It’s a simple set of directions for committing to memory that allows the gifts of the earth to shine.
Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette
(courtesy of Christa Bentley)
Yields 2 cups
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey (or until desired sweetness)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, combine shallots, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. Whisk in olive oil and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle on local greens, toss and serve.