Summer Guide 2009: Farm's Way 

For those without the patience (or patio) to cultivate a garden of urban delights, one of the most encouraging trends in farming is the rise of community-supported agriculture, which promotes direct interaction between producers and consumers while keeping food, travel and money close to home. Participants can buy "shares" of a farm's harvest and be assured drop-offs all season long of everything from heirloom tomatoes and exotic greens to grassfed meats and homemade jams.

Cindy Delvin has been at the forefront of the local effort, both with 94-acre Delvin Farms (395-4566, delvinfarms.com) in College Grove—where the photos in this week's issue were snapped—and as head of the Tennessee Organic Growers Association. That effort appears to be paying off. The Nashville publication Local Table has a handy Farm Guide (localtable.net/farm_guide) that lists some 31 CSAs throughout Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky.

Another welcoming sign is the proliferation of farmers' markets throughout the area. Many farms that sponsor CSAs (including Delvin Farms) maintain a regular presence on weekends at the refurbished Nashville Farmers' Market (900 Rosa Parks Blvd., 880-2001). Got a hankering for lamb or that other new white meat, New Zealand rabbit? Charlotte's Chigger Ridge Ranch hears your bleats and hops to attention, and some 25 other vendors share their seasonal bounty in the market's booths.

Across the river, the year-old East Nashville Farmers' Market just kicked off its summer-long residency on Wednesdays at the beloved Turnip Truck grocery (970 Woodland St., 650-3600). There, buyers can find organic meats and poultry from Morgan County's West Wind Farms, farm-fresh milk from College Grove's Hatcher Family Dairy, and other local staples. Live bluegrass music is one of the enticements on bustling Saturdays at the Franklin Farmers' Market, located behind The Factory at Franklin (230 Franklin Road, franklinfarmersmarket.org)—especially when the rains hold off.

For an introduction to some of the issues behind the CSA and organic movements, make note of the documentary Food, Inc. (foodincmovie.com), which begins a week's run at The Belcourt June 26. Several local farmers and food organizations will be on hand throughout the week to discuss their methods and share their goods. Where the debate over local vs. shipped veggies is concerned, we've found, a vine-ripened tomato is worth a thousand words.

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