Tennessee ‘Barefoot Farmer’ shutting down organic farm
Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 8:00 pm
RED BOILING SPRINGS (AP) — The man known as the “Barefoot Farmer” says he is shutting down one of the state’s largest and oldest organic farms.
Jeff Poppen told The Tennessean he is closing Long Hungry Creek Farm in Red Boiling Springs because he has concerns about possible contamination from a neighboring farm that has begun raising 40,000 chickens for Tyson Foods subsidiary Cobb-Vantress Inc.
“I can’t guarantee organic production here anymore,” Poppen said.
The neighbor, Lundy Russell, has denied Poppen’s contention that the chicks will pollute his land with excessive waste. The animals are being kept in two long houses on a steep hill that overlook’s Poppen’s land.
“Because of how close they built it, there will be no more gardens here, no more T.V. shows filmed here, no more church and school tours here and my family and I are moving,” Poppen posted on his Facebook page.
Every year, his farm draws visitors by the hundreds, and he supplies more than 200 regular customers with organic produce grown on the farm. Some of his customers have included top restaurants in Nashville like Capitol Grille and Tayst.
Meanwhile, Tyson Foods contends the operation fully complies with state laws and is safe.
“We at Cobb-Vantress are serious about our responsibility to operate with integrity. In fact, we have been working with other family farmers in the area who have already built and are operating chickens houses and they have received no complaints from their neighbors,” said Worth Sparkman, manager of public relations for Tyson Foods Inc. “We want to assure you we intend to continue to work with our contract family farmers in a responsible way.”
For Poppen, that’s not good enough. He said he plans to move, and wants to start up a similar organic farm nearby.
“I can’t imagine he will give up farming because it’s what he likes to do,” Alan Powell, who has worked with Poppen, said in a statement. “Ultimately, I don’t think he knows how this will all pan out in the end. He doesn’t trust the land he has lived on and farmed for over 20 years, and will stop producing food there so as not to risk his customers’ health.”
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
Published in The Messenger 1.1.13