History

Rural Resources originated in 1993. It was formed by four family members, Watt and Jennifer Childress and Larry and Karen Childress, who were returning to their Grandfather Dobson’s farm to learn about and practice sustainable agriculture. Shortly after they arrived, they saw that farmland in the area was being sold for development at an alarming rate. They formed Rural Resources after deciding that that they wanted to work to preserve farmland. Rural Resources is still located on the Dobson Farm, and values the heritage of its founders. Lizzie Brown Dobson, the great-grandmother of the Childress's, created a beautiful “grandmother’s flower garden” quilt,  which is commemorated in the quilt square on the old tobacco barn.

From the beginning, Rural Resources has had the honor and pleasure of partnering with other organizations and individuals in the community. Partnerships that have continued from the early days of the organization to present include Tusculum College, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the East Tennessee Foundation, and the Greeneville Women’s Club. Click here for a list of current partners.

After hosting numerous field trips for students beginning in 1992, Farm Day Camp was born in 1997 to help young people learn where their food comes from, and connect to the streams, fields, and forests of the farm in a deeper way.  Each summer since then, Farm Day Camp has brought groups of elementary age children to the Rural Resources farm for a full week of immersion in planting, harvesting, milking, and preparing fresh, local food!

In 1994, Rural Resources partnered with Main Street: Greeneville, and concerned citizen, Fred Smith to found the local Greeneville Farmers’ Market. The Greeneville Farmers’ Market continues today under farmer leadership: greenevillefarmersmarket.com.

From 1995 to 2000, Rural Resources hosted a Community Supported Agriculture project on the farm and developed a local reputation for our beautiful, tasty, organic produce.  The CSA was revived in a new form in 2005 with many farmers from around the community contributing to weekly installments of local foods. Today you can purchase produce from local growers and the Rural Resources farm by clicking here!

From 1997 to 2000, Rural Resources, in partnership with Appalachian Sustainable Development,involved over 1500 farmers from around the region in a variety of workshops and conferences focused on sustainable vegetable and livestock production.

In 1999 & 2000, a host of local volunteers conducted interviews to preserve the stories and future visions of our landscape. The projects were known as Stories on the Land and Heritage Matters. They are archived in the T. Elmer Cox Library and at East Tennessee State University.

In 2000, Rural Resources began a partnership with Tusculum View Elementary’s Backyard Learning Center after-school program to involve students in gardening. There is still a garden at Tusculum View, as well as gardens at other local schools which began with support from Rural Resources. The relationships we formed with those students and their families inspired the Mobile Farmers’ Market and Farm & Food Training Program.

In 2001, the Four Seasons Grazing Club was born. The Grazing Club provides a network for farmers to discuss sustainable grazing practices. It continues to the present thanks to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Resources Conservation Fund.

From 2004 to 2010 the Farm Arts Festival was held to celebrate the arts which are historically associated with farm and rural life. This event inspired the current Seasonal Suppers that continue the celebration of local arts and food, as well as an annual concert at Dogwood Park's Ginny Kidwell Amphitheater which is sponsored by Rural Resources in partnership with Greeneville Parks & Recreation, thanks to a grant from the East Tennessee Foundation.

In 2005, Rural Resources received its first USDA Community Food Project Grant which began the Mobile Farmers’ Market and Teen Chef Project in 2005. The Teen Chef Project developed into the current Farm & Food Training Program thanks to a partnership with Heifer International in 2008 as well as continued support from the East Tennessee Foundation.

In 2008, the Board of Directors created the first Strategic Plan thanks to funding from Heifer International. And thank goodness this happened because…

In 2009, Rural Resources experienced an unexpected fire when lightning struck a tree which fell on our  primary building, which housed our office and programming space. The fire, which destroyed the building and most of its contents, was a shock, yet the community support that came in the aftermath was an overwhelmingly beautiful experience. With this support, Rural Resources has continued to thrive and has a design for a new building thanks to the East Tennessee Community Design Center and the East Tennessee Foundation.

Of course these are merely highlights and are not all inclusive of the many activities and supporters involved in the making of Rural Resources. Every single person who has participated, volunteered, led, joined, and donated has made Rural Resources what it is today!!!  Join us now and continue the story!

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