South East Tennessee Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (SETN CRAFT)

Project Overview

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2024: $49,144.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipients: Crabtree Farms; Southeast Tennessee Young Farmers Coalition; City Farm Growers Coalition
Region: Southern
State: Tennessee
Principal Investigator:
Melonie Lusk
Crabtree Farms
Emily Heid
Southeast Tennessee Young Farmers Coalition


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    South East Tennessee Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (SETN CRAFT)

    The purpose of this project is to create and implement a Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) chapter in the Southeastern Tennessee region. The goal of establishing a CRAFT chapter is to support and promote the growth of sustainable agriculture, thriving local food systems, responsible land stewardship, and resilience in the agricultural community.

    The need for this project was made clear in a series of brainstorming sessions and strategic planning
    sessions hosted by SeTNYF which included both young and established farmers in the greater Chattanooga area. One
    model that was explored was the well established CRAFT network model. This seemed like an ideal option for this area
    because it allows for farmer-to-farmer training and was very close in structure to the monthly events that SeTNYF was already hosting. Crabtree Farms of Chattanooga, City Farms Grower Coalition, and SeTNYF together serve a diversity of farmers and consumers in both urban Chattanooga and the surrounding rural areas. SeTNYF’s network includes 450 area farmers and supporters, with 30 dues-paying members. Crabtree Farms' programs and services reach over 5,000 community members and producers each year. By creating an advisory board that includes members of each of these organizations we hope to ensure a strong organizational structure for continuing this project into the future. 

    The working mission of the SETN CRAFT chapter will be to serve as a cooperative network of farmers, apprentices, and emerging farmers to be a source of education, connection, and diverse approaches to sustainable agriculture and regional food systems. 

    The project outcomes for year one will be:

    1) The creation of a SETN CRAFT advisory committee that includes representatives from Crabtree Farms, City Farms Grower Coalition, and SeTNYF.;

    2) A determination of program components, responsibilities, communications, evaluations, and
    administrative functions based on member interest/needs; 

     3) The creation of a farmer training schedule with commitments  and lesson plans from participating farms and educators; 

    4) Determine measurable program metrics, design evaluation tools, and develop an implementation/reporting protocol; and

    5) Create new member and emerging farmer outreach strategies 

    The project outcomes for year two will be more specifically determined by participating farmers in year one, but generally:

    1) Farmers/apprentices/emerging farmers will benefit from attendance at (12) once-monthly potlucks and (9) yearly
    farmer-led training days on established sustainable farms in the region; 

    2) Increased and expanded accessible trainings and resources reaching more underserved and underrepresented farmers in the region; 

    3) Communicate resources, information, and opportunities to CRAFT members via quarterly newsletters; 

    4) Implement new member and emerging farmer outreach strategies; 

    5) Conduct program and participant assessments ; 

    6) Create and publish an annual report; and

    7) Create a chapter specific logic model based on two year findings.

    8) Develop and adopt a sustainable funding strategy and budgetary oversight measures 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    SETN CRAFT Objectives: 

    • To strengthen small farms and model a resilient short-chain food system through a cooperative network of
      farmers/apprentices/emerging farmers providing practical education, peer-to-peer connection, and diverse approaches to sustainable agriculture in the Southeastern Tennessee region
    •  To promote effective stewardship of natural resources by adopting/sharing agricultural methods that protect the
      environment, minimize soil degradation/erosion, decrease pollution, and support biological productivity and healthy
    • To improve quality of life for producers, consumers, and communities by fostering cooperative connection and beneficial partnerships
    • To address the needs of underserved/underrepresented farmers/apprentices/emerging farmers in the region by creating spaces and strategies that prioritize representation, inclusion, and diversity of membership and knowledge
    • To address the needs of farmer education and training by facilitating farmer "field-day" trainings and knowledge sharing opportunities 
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.