A Testament of Farm-To-Table Benefits

The farm-to-table movement in Tennessee is feeding families. Regular, everyday people are reaping the financial gain and health benefits that come from owning their own garden. People with their own personal farms in East Tennessee are doing what they can to get the word out about the ins and outs of farming, and what their own produce can do for themselves and their community.


Karen Coutant is a local farmer in Greeneville, Tennessee. Karen is a perfect example about how gardening benefits a family. She mainly farms for her family of four, but readily gives anything she has extra to anyone who shows interest in her produce. One thing Karen says about owning your own garden is that you can tailor the produce to your own likes, “You pick the seeds of the plants that work best for you. Once you start planting seeds you can’t stop.”


Karen says that the hardest part about gardening is the start up and maintenance throughout the farming months, but the benefits are overwhelming. Purchasing a plow and tractor are big expenses, but pay off year after year. During the winter months, contents of the garden can be kept and stored to use while the garden is out of service. Karen depends on canning and freezing contents left over in her garden.

Karen Coutant cans the leftover food she grows in her garden to store for winter months. The photo above is a can of homemade applesauce.
Karen Coutant cans the leftover food she grows in her garden to store for winter months. The photo above is a can of her homemade applesauce.

The thing about farmers in local communities is that they are excited to share their farming hacks and secrets with people around them. Yes, starting a garden, getting the right utensils, and understanding soil and water consumption for plants may be the most anxiety ridden start to the process, but once those hurtles are conquered it is obvious that anyone can start and maintain their own garden.


When asked about how Karen would influence someone to start his or her own garden she responded, “I would give you food from my garden. You would see how fresh it tastes, no chemicals, and then you’re going to get the bug and you’re going to start farming.”


Open Your Heart and Home for Sgt Pepper’s Friends

Sgt Pepper’s Friends is an organization established by Rachel Brathen that is designed to find homes for homeless dogs and cats in Aruba. This rescue mission makes it possible for people who live in Aruba, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden who are interested in opening their homes to a furry friend.

Rachel Brathen holding her dog, Ringo, while he smiles for the camera.                  Source:     

The dogs and cats that are up for adoption have been rescued from euthanization and starvation. Their lives have been difficult and testing. Choosing to adopt a pet through Sgt Pepper’s Friends is an outstanding and selfless way to give back to the world by creating a space to give love to a precious animal that has only known a life of neglect.


Rachel Brathen (left) and her husband Dennis Shovenfield (right) are holding a puppy that was a part of Sgt Pepper’s Friends.                                                   Source:

If a donation is all that can be done in this moment, Sgt Pepper’s Friends will use the proceeds to continue to fund the organization by providing resources to animals that are waiting for adoption. By stepping up and contributing to the cause shows a sense of responsibility to the animals with which we share this world. The compassion of giving sends the message that all animals in the world deserve an appreciated existence.

Contact Sgt Pepper’s Friends website for further information on how to take home a loving dog or cat!


Feed Tennessee

Residents in Tennessee are working together to create solutions that will bring an end to childhood hunger. There are resources geared towards helping Tennesseans find ways to put food on the table. With programs like No Kid Hungry, Cooking Matters, and local fundraisers children are being fed one meal at a time. By working together, communities in Tennessee can continue to raise awareness and generate results in the battle against hunger.

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The No Kid Hungry campaign has created over 34 million meals for children throughout the state of Tennessee. Last year alone, No Kid Hungry generated 3.8 million meals to children. Their outreach is continuing to grow thanks to social media. Donations are always welcome, especially during the summer months when children are more likely to go without food since they do not have access to meals provided by school. Partnerships are also created in order to get children excited about stepping into the kitchen to make healthy meals.
Luckily, Tennesseans have multiple opportunities when it comes to finding ways to use money wiser when making grocery lists. Cooking Matters is a website dedicated to teaching families how to shop smart and how to cook healthy meals. All of the information located on the website provides amble knowledge about preparing nutritious meals. The tips provided aim to take the financial stress away from grocery shopping. Cooking Matters aims to provide families with the tools they need in order to make wise decisions at the grocery store and healthy decisions for their children.


There is an event coming up that will help to promote Second Harvest Food Bank and show what kinds of food can be cooked by using produce from local farms. On August 4, 2016 The Farmer and The Chef is teaming up with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee to host a dinner for the annual food bank fundraiser in Jonesborough, Tennessee from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Local chefs and farmers will be coming together to create dishes that are prepared by locally grown produce. The proceeds will be used to help feed people who are without food in the communities surrounding East Tennessee.


Step by step Tennesseans will close the gap on childhood hunger. By making connections, promoting events, and generating donations there will be strides taken to raise awareness and put food on the table for those who are in need. It is good news to know that there are ways to create a healthy generation in Tennessee.






The Woman Who Works to Keep Her Community Fed

Carmen Ricker_Greeneville Community Ministry from Ashley Coffey on Vimeo.

Carmen Ricker is the director at the food bank offered by Greeneville Community Ministry in Greeneville, Tennessee where families who are without food can receive food donations. The food bank opened in 1984. Carmen started working at the Greeneville Community Ministry in 1988 where she has continued to serve her community throughout the years. Today the organization offers 9 different services to families that include financial and medical benefits for those who are not able to provide for their financial responsibilities.


Carmen has helped to expand the organization into what it is today. There are now five fulltime paid staff with forty-four volunteers. With all of the years she has spent working in the organization, she has made connections that help keep food in the warehouse and money available for those in need. Carmen organizes community outreach programs and promotes food drives to get the word out about the services provided by the ministry. She works together with community members to construct ways to better service people who cannot afford living necessities.


Carmen holds a high standard for the food that the organization distributes. She says that she makes sure that the volunteer’s look for rust on the cans (if there is rust or if the cans are damaged they are to be thrown out) and that the food is something that she would eat herself.


The Greeneville Community Ministry works together with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee and Feeding America. These organizations provide donated food to the ministry to distribute to community members in need of food. The local Food City also contributes by giving portions of the food that they receive to the ministry. Vegetables and fruits are donated by Rural Resources, which provides classes and information on how to prepare the produce for meals. Multiple churches throughout the community collect donations and bring them to Greeneville Community Ministry each month.


The community of Greeneville, Tennessee is working towards creating more solutions to making sure that each family does not have to go without food. Greeneville Community Ministry continues to grow and garner more avenues to receive food for families in need. Carmen Ricker is the woman with the connections and persistence to keep Greene County fed. She has the experience and expertise to distinguish how to work her way around the community to get what she knows families need in her community.


In order to make donations to Greeneville Community Ministry or contact Carmen Ricker, visit the organization’s Facebook page.






Connecting Through Social Media Provides Solutions to Hunger in Tennessee

Tennessee has an ongoing hunger crisis that is connecting people throughout the state for the purpose of finding ways to provide communities with food solutions. In East Tennessee there are farmers, volunteers, and government workers that are working hard to keep families from going hungry. Anyone who is interested in finding more information about how they can help provide food for their communities can find information about these organizations and who to contact through designated social media accounts.


Sally Causey is the executive director of Rural Resources in Greeneville, Tennessee. Causey is familiar with the ins and outs of farming. She is knowledgeable about the efforts needed in order to teach people within her community about the benefits of homegrown produce. As the director, she hosts many events that create revenue for Rural Resources so that they are able to continue to provide garden grown food to the community. These events bring the community together to share the importance of health and the happiness that farm-to-table food brings to the people who work hard to provide the produce. The awareness that Sally promotes through her work reaches people who are capable of financially supporting the efforts of Rural Resources.


Another woman who stands out in the farming community in Greeneville, Tennessee is Melissa Reboltz. Reboltz has been a farmer for 8 years and is well versed when it comes to discussing the importance of farming for her community. She hosts events at her house where her farm is located. These events include dinners made by Melissa from her home grown produce. Melissa is aware that bringing people together to show them what they can create, a sense of community, through farming generates the motivation to share successful farming with people who can help put an end to hunger in Tennessee. On Saturdays, Melissa has a booth at the Jonesborough Farmers Market where she sells what she grows in her garden.


Additionally, Greeneville County Ministries is a food pantry where families located in Greene County can go and apply to acquire food. Carmen Ricker is the director of the program, which includes housing and funding for health procedures. Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee is a leading provider for the organization. They provide food especially for children during the months that school is not in session. Second Harvest holds events in East Tennessee to bring awareness to families on how to prepare the produce and food that is designated to them.


Utilizing social media is an effective way to spread the word about avenues that can be taken to keep a child or a family from going without food. Connecting and communicating with farmers and people who are in these providing organizations is one step in closing the gap between hunger and a sound solution to resources for the families in Tennessee.


Using Social Media to Spread Hunger Awareness in Tennessee

The fight against hunger is an every day challenge for 1 in 6 people who live in Tennessee. Luckily, people are pulling together with the assistance of social media to help spread People are using social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram which has allowed individuals to connect with one another and share ways of collecting and distributing food to families who cannot afford to buy groceries.
Rural Resources is a company that offers children, teenagers, and adults the chance to learn how to grow and make their own food. All of the information regarding Rural Resources can be found on their Facebook page. Social media has allowed the company to expand and reach people who would otherwise not know that there is a community garden where they can learn to be self sufficient when it comes to growing their own food. With 1,764 likes and a 5 out of 5 star rating the company stands well on social media. While school is in session, students are brought out to the farm to learn about animals and how they are utilized for the land and for food while also learning about how to accurately grow vegetables and fruits. For those who are interested in learning more during the summer people can take classes and be taught by the staff at Rural Resources how to maintain a garden and make the most out of the produce.


Melissa Reboltz is a farmer in Greeneville, Tennessee who uses social media as a way to broadcast her efforts as a farmer. Reboltz has created a following of 9,106 on her Instagram account where she posts pictures of her daily life on her farm along with honest captions. Facebook has given Reboltz a platform to be able to share with the people in her community about dinners that she hosts at her farm. There are 463 people who follow her Facebook page, which has been given a 5 star rating. Her posts are articles that she has written that can be found at her Eating Greeneville website. Melissa’s efforts to feed her community and teach them about producing their own food gives people tools to help them feed their families. She offers recipes and classes to go along with the produce that she grows from her own gardens. Empowering the people in her community to take their health and wellbeing into their own hands gives them the power to create a healthier future for their children.


The infographic below demonstrates key concepts in building a community on social media.


Infographic created by Ashley Coffey via

Community Human Interest Lifestyle

Melissa Reboltz Feeds Her Community

Melissa Reboltz Feeds Her Community from Ashley Coffey on Vimeo.

In Tennessee, 1 in 6 people are not able to provide their families with food to eat. Poverty has a big role to play in to the reasons why people in Tennessee are struggling with hunger. Melissa Reboltz, who is originally from New York, knows what it is like to work hard to provide produce for herself and for her community in East Tennessee. For 8 years she has studied and practiced the ins and outs of farming the land in order to cultivate food for herself and the communities that she has worked in.

Front porch of Melissa’s farm house (Photo by Ashley Coffey)
View of Melissa’s garden (Photo by Ashley Coffey)
Melissa watering her garden (Photo by Ashley Coffey)

Melissa lives on a farm in Greeneville, Tennessee that she has worked hard to maintain. She has two gardens on her property. On Saturdays, she has a booth at the Jonesborough Farmers Market where she sells what she grows in her garden to the community. Melissa is also connected with the Airbnb where people can pay to stay in an apartment or home, much like renting a hotel, but better. Reboltz offers to serve her guests meals that are straight from her garden.

Little farm house created by Melissa for Airb&b (Photo by Ashley Coffey)
Bedroom inside of Airb&b farmhouse (Photo by Ashley Coffey)
Community Human Interest Lifestyle

Hensley Airpark Puts on a Show

Hensley Airpark Puts on a Show from Ashley Coffey on Vimeo.

On June 11, 2016 Hensley Airpark located in Chuckey, Tennessee invited locals and anyone interested to come to the private airstrip for an entertaining afternoon. The Wings & Wheels Fly-In event drew in a crowd. Airplanes landed one by one on the airstrip and were parked neatly in the grass fields. Friendly pilots were more than willing to give visitors information regarding their airplanes and their motivations behind such an investment. Mazda Miata’s rolled in on their four wheels and caught the eyes of all those who attended the event.

Hensley Airpark is a flying community that comes complete with a private airstrip and grass landing strip. All homeowners are required to be private pilots.

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Home Built Ultralight To Be Displayed At Wings & Wheels Fly-In

Home Built Ultralight To Be Displayed At Wings & Wheels Fly-In from Ashley Coffey on Vimeo.

On June 11, 2016 Hensley Airpark in Chuckey, Tennessee will be hosting a “Wings & Wheels Fly-In.” The event will be showcasing airplanes, antique cars, and Mazda Miatas. There will be wine tastings, music, and food.


Tom Tschantz will be showcasing his homemade Model 3 Kitfox Tweety Bird ultralight airplane at the event. Tschantz has built three ultralights up to this point. “It’s a joy to fly, I’m telling you. It just jumps off the ground,” says Tschantz.


The event starts at 8:00am and will be open to the public.

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Veteran Volunteers To Defeat ISIS

Veteran Volunteers To Defeat ISIS from Ashley Coffey on Vimeo.

Erwin Stran is an Iraq War veteran who went back to Iraq this past year in 2015, only this time it was on his own dime and on his own terms. He served in the Army National Guard prior to this past year when he decided that he wanted to volunteer to help defeat ISIS. He and a small group of volunteering men joined Peshmerga, which is the Iraqi-Kurdish military. Stran fought in Iraq for six months and in Syria for five months.

Stran was never paid for his efforts, nor did he have the protection of the American military. After he came back from his first deployment and left the military he always wanted to go back. He struggled transitioning back into civilian life. Volunteering gave him the ability to go wherever he was needed in order to keep ISIS from taking innocent lives. There were no orders given to him, he would go wherever ISIS was located.

Now it is not so easy for Americans to do what Erwin Stran did. The people who volunteer do not have the benefits that the military give to those who are enlisted. Any injury would be paid out of pocket. Those who do choose to volunteer have a sense of American pride that is demonstrated through their willingness to put themselves in harms way.

Stran is currently writing a book about his experiences while in Syria and Iraq.