On Tuesday Feb 12th Rhodes was a partner and host of the Farm to Table Conference. Emily and I were able to squeeze a couple of the talks into our academic schedule. The conference was sponsored by with local organizations and companies whose missions are sustainable food practices and hosted by the Rhodes Environmental Studies/Sciences and anthropology departments. We were really excited to participate in the conference given out interests in both sustainable living and investment in the greater Memphis community. At the lunch time panel focused on “Sustainable Food and the Future of Memphis” we were introduced to local professionals and farmers committed to furthering the green movement in Memphis. More specifically, the panelists included representatives from Ghost River Brewing, Grow Memphis, South Memphis Farmer’s Market and Green Girl Produce. Each person shared their company’s/organization’s contribution to the future self-reliant food culture in Memphis. Each panelist discussed the importance of local investment, the rich resources available in Memphis, as well as the value of collaboration and solidarity within this food network. The panelists also shared the specific goals of their organization and the role they have each played in the movement. They also briefly touched on how others can get involved.
Additionally, Emily attended a session where current research on the South Memphis farmer’s market was shared. Students from the University of Memphis had surveyed shoppers and presented their findings informing the community about who was using the market as well as suggestions/possibilities on how to reach a broader group, and how to expand the market to more efficiently meet community needs. Other sessions of the day included talks on growing practices in the Mid-South geared toward urban farming on both large and small scales. These included the titles “Top 10 Fruit Varieties that Work in the Mid-South” and “Best Practices: Farming in the Mid-South.” Other sessions focused on the business side of farming and included topics such as “High Value Markets for Maximizing Farm Profits” and “Establishing a Food Hub in Memphis to Increase Market Opportunities for Local Producers.” Additional topics included fun interest sessions on “ The Bee-ginners guide to Bee Keeping” and “Experiences Eating Local: Food Writing in the South.”
We were really glad to have gotten to participate, despite being unable to attend all the sessions (having to be students can really be a drag). It was particularly encouraging to hear how widespread the green movement is in Memphis, exciting to learn about further opportunities to become involved, interesting to discover new places/businesses to explore and support as part of this locally driven movement. We even took away a few tips as we begin thinking about our spring garden here at the Ruka.
On that note, Lucy and Ethel have begun laying eggs again! They may have attempted an escape (and by that Lucy definitely took a field trip out of the coop), but all is back to normal (whatever that means) this week. Last Thursday was also the first spring semester production by the Peacemakers. We were glad to support them on stage and we are looking forward to our spring events with them. In other Ruka news, we are currently conducting interviews for our individual research projects. Check back in soon for more updates!