My name is Torrie Rae and I am Brown County’s biggest local food Cheerleader! I am also happy to report that I am the new Market Manager for the 2018 season at the Farmer’s Market in Nashville!
A little bit about me:
I founded SEED Brown County in early 2016 when I saw a need for a focus on food access and food security here in Brown County. SEED uses actual seeds and their stories to engage the community in regards to food. The mission is simple, and it’s to plant seeds both literally and figuratively in our community to bring local food access to this unique and rural community in Indiana.
I am quite new to Brown County, have only lived here a few years. When I first moved here, I was enrolled in a local leadership program where I was introduced to the “who’s who” in the county, and a lot of the incredible service organizations who fill in niche’s in our county’s resources and systems. (It’s been made apparent that community service leaders are a HUGE and integral piece to getting things done in this county! It’s incredible! Go Team!)
There were a few organizations whose mission included food security. I found that St. Davids Episcopal church in Bean Blossom had food security as one of their three tiers in their mission. They even host a Friday Farmer’s Market through out the summer, in which I visit often but found that the time for the market didn’t meet the needs of the county.
Food banks like St. Vincent’s, and Salvation Army are providing access to some food. I must mention Mother’s Cupboard who feeds something like a couple hundred people a day. These organizations are the backbone to filling the niche with food access here in Brown County. Really incredible, actually.
I still saw a niche for connecting people with whole systems thinking, regenerative agriculture concepts, and FRESH WHOLE FOOD. Not only was there not much fresh whole local food availability here, there is also a lack of understanding and culture regarding a food community. People grow gardens, and most of the time they all feature the same types of tomatoes and beans. SEED wants to help culture the thought of what local food could mean or could taste like. There are truly a lot of food opportunities here even in the woods, eating and irradicating ‘invasive’ species as an example. We can harvest and forage food and teach others the importance of being able to access nutrient dense foods, too!
One thing missing from a lot of the food being served in hotel restaurants, food banks, schools, etc is: LOCAL, whole foods. This is NOT an agricultural county. In fact, we are primary conserved woodlands and State Forest/ State Park land. Resources on how to build soil and cycle nutrients and energy on site (composting, rain water harvesting, etc.) is just not readily available, AND most people live in a shady wooded area! Access to resources on building this kind of awareness and culture is one of my passions and I hit the ground running with programs to run under the 501C3, SEED BROWN COUNTY in which I incorporated.
Our annual Seed Swaps bring a few hundred people to share seeds and stories. This event is highly attended and enjoyable. The next swap will be March 16th, 2019 at the Brown County Historical Society.
My background includes learning to farm in Hawaii in my early 20’s. I worked on a lettuce and vegetable farm for a couple of years. I started just like anyone else - identifying “weeds” in the lettuce fields and weeding. From weeding, I eventually made my way to seeding and harvesting. I was selling the products at the Farmer’s Markets on Kauai, Hawaii 4 days a week. Eventually, I learned how to farm ginger and worked closely with a ginger farmer.
Following the “boots on the ground” farming training, I ended up back in Arizona where I was working with an urban farmer. I helped her organize her CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group. A CSA is a model in which the customer pays the farmer upfront and then each week, for a certain amount of time, they receive a weekly veggie/fruit bag.
I worked the markets in Arizona and helped to develop an urban farming program for a private college in which did not have an urban farm. Because they did not have a farm, I was able to utilize my skill set of networking and talking with people and we decided to host classes at many different sites where many different types of food growing systems were involved. Growing food in cities can be innovative and interesting, and along with field trips and in class-room curriculum it gave me the next experience I needed to run my own farm and organization.
Flash forward to moving to Brown County in 2015. The first year + that I lived here, it was the first time I hadn’t worked at a Farmer’s market of some kind in about 11 years. With this county’s momentum on local foods - I figured I would give it a chance to help build it.
I hope you join us and visit our market and I hope that you enjoyed getting to know a little bit about me!
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