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, decided that they wanted to try to do something to preserve farmland, and Rural Resources was born. Rural Resources is still located on the Dobson Farm and pays tribute to Lizzie Brown Dobson’s beautiful “grandmother’s flower garden” quilt with the quilt square on the old tobacco barn. Lizzie Brown Dobson is the great grandmother of Rural Resources’ founders.
From the beginning, Rural Resources has had the honor and pleasure of community partnerships. 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, even before non-profit status was approved by the IRS, Farm Day Camp was born in 1997 to continue involving young people in learning where their food comes from and helping them connect to the streams, fields, and forests of the farm in a deeper way. Farm Day Camp continues to be held each summer.
In 1994, Rural Resources, Main Street:
Greeneville, and concerned citizen, Fred Smith, began 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 became famous locally for 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 ViewElementary’s Backyard Learning Center after-school program to involve students in gardening. Relationships with those students and their families led inspired the Mobile Farmers’ Market and Farm & Food Training Program. A garden at Tusculum View along with gardens begun with support from Rural Resources at other local schools continue to present.
In 2001, the Four Seasons Grazing Club was born. The Grazing Club continues to 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 that historically and currently are associated with farm and rural life. This event inspired the current Seasonal Suppers that continue the celebration of local arts and food.
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 it’s primary building that housed its office and programming space. The fire was a shock yet the community support that came in the aftermath was the most 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 funders 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!