Not a Farmer? Be a Phone-er!

“Phoning it in” is not necessarily a bad thing, at least when it comes to putting local foods on the table. 

“Not everybody can be a farmer, but everybody can find farms, farmers markets and pick-your-own patches nearby,” says Pamela Bartholomew, agritourism coordinator with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “Smart phone scanners make finding fresh, local foods so easy, you can literally phone it in!”

Savvy cell phone users can now point their phone cameras at a “QR,” or “quick response” code, and launch an application that takes them straight to the Pick Tennessee Products website. Once the code has done its job, shoppers can instantly access directories for local farmers markets, CSA (community supported agriculture) farms, and pick your own patches and orchards. The website features fruits, vegetables and other local and artisan products during the seasons they’re available in Tennessee.

“The key to eating local is being aware that every fruit and vegetable has its own right time for growth and harvest,” says Bartholomew. “The modern grocery store creates the illusion that all foods are available all the time, all year round. If you want to eat local, you need to know there’s no point looking for fresh Tennessee green beans in January.

“Green beans are typically available just about everywhere in Tennessee in July. Watermelons? July, if you’re lucky, but August, for sure. Sweet potatoes? October. Some crops, called ‘cool weather’ crops, actually get two seasons in Tennessee, which are spring and fall. Right now, all sorts of cool weather crops like cabbage, lettuces, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, onions and potatoes are becoming plentiful.”

“The website’s new ‘growing seasons’ chart is our most comprehensive ever,” says Bartholomew. To see the chart, visitwww.picktnproducts.org, click on “Food,” and then go to “Fruits and Vegetables.” From there, click on “Growing Seasons.” 

The Pick Tennessee Products site also offers a collection of seasonal recipes made with Tennessee grown and processed foods. The latest recipe, “Blue Cheese and Bacon Coleslaw,” features fresh local cabbage, which is available now.

Pick Tennessee Products is the statewide campaign developed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help consumers find Tennessee farms, farm products and foods processed in Tennessee. More than 1,600 farmers and about 7,000 products, services and events are currently listed at the site.

Visit www.picktnproducts.org to find local farms, farmers markets, farm-direct products, recipes and other artisan and processed foods. Follow Pick Tennessee Products on Facebook and Twitter.

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