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Rural Routes

In This Issue

Commissioner's Message

Burn Permits Required

Christmas Tree Farm Contest

New Faces, Assignment at TDA

EAB Found in Davidson Co.

State Forester Receives Award

Ag Crime Investigators' Achievement

Water Quality Grant Proposals

Music & Molasses Recap


Oct 29-Nov 1

National FFA Convention, Louisville

Nov 13-14

Governor's Economic Development Conference, Nashville

Nov 30-Dec 1

Tennessee Farmers Co-op Annual Meeting, Nashville

Dec 1

TAEP Livestock Equipment and Livestock Feed Storage Reimbursement Deadline

Dec 7-9

Tennessee Farm Bureau Annual Convention, Franklin



From Commissioner Julius Johnson:

Recently, Market Development hosted "A Tennessee Table" Farm-to-Table Dinner and Wine Tasting at Smiley Hollow, using this dining trend as a marketing tool to place farmers, artisan processors, chefs and food companies together in a social setting. Some of Middle Tennessee's top chefs were featured, allowing them to promote their own restaurants and the Tennessee products they use. Additionally, media representatives were invited so they, too, had the opportunity to meet producers and discover their stories. Finally, other key leaders were invited, including legislators and partner agency representatives with related interests.

The extended Smiley family represents a diverse farming operation which includes agritourism. It was important to have this event on a real working farm as another way to keep the focus of the event on our constituents.

WCTE-TV Upper Cumberland Public Television taped the event and interviewed the Pick Tennessee Products farmers and chefs who attended. Next month, we'll get to see, along with the rest of the state, a Thanksgiving special featuring these farmers, chefs and others who demonstrate every day the abundance of our state, and the gratitude we feel for having access to the very best growing around us. Look for its premiere on Monday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. central time on WCTE.

Burn Permits Required

The official start of wildfire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15. That means landowners needing to burn leaves and twigs that have accumulated around the yard, or that garden spot, wildlife food plot, or fallow field, must obtain a free burn permit to do so from now through May 15.

"Burning vegetative material that has accumulated around the yard or using fire to clear an old field can be an efficient way to get rid of debris," State Forester Jere Jeter said. "It's important for citizens to know when, where and how to conduct a debris burn. The division's burn permit system focuses attention on safety. Getting a permit is free, and takes only two minutes using our online system."

The online burn permit system is fast and simple. If you are burning a leaf or brush pile that is smaller than 8 feet by 8 feet in size, log on to for approval. More than 300,000 burn permits were issued last wildfire season; nearly 50,000 of them were issued online.

For a larger burn, apply for a free permit by calling your local Division of Forestry burn permit phone number Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Phone numbers can be found by visiting

Burn permits are only issued when conditions are conducive to safe burning. If you live inside city limits, there may be additional restrictions. Check with your municipality before you burn.

Permits are generally good for 24 hours but you can get a permit by phone on Fridays for weekend burning. You may also obtain a permit online on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Permits will be issued only if weather conditions are considered safe for debris burning activity. Debris burning should always be done in a safe manner. Remember--your fire is your responsibility!

Contest Shows Christmas Tree Farms Have More Than Just Trees

Beginning about November 1st, Tennesseans will be reminded that there’s a lot more than just a perfect tree waiting for them at a local Christmas tree farm. Through magazine ads, Facebook ads, Pinterest pages, mobile app tips and tweets, Pick Tennessee will share lots of reasons to visit to a tree farm--even if you don’t get a tree! Depending on the farm, visitors can enjoy wagon rides, a visit with Santa, decoration and craft making classes, and of course lush, fresh natural outdoor décor like wreaths and garland. Additionally, strategically selected television stations across the state will conduct a Tennessee Christmas tree farm contest. Via that station's website, entrants can have a chance to win Tennessee Christmas Tree Farm natural décor items: a tree, wreaths, garland, or any combination worth up to a $200 value.

All viewers have to do to enter is to click through our PTP ads to provide their contact info and to identify which area Tennessee Christmas Tree Farm they want to go to for their prize should they win. This means they’ll have to visit to learn about nearby Tennessee Christmas trees farms!

On Nov. 24, the Monday before Thanksgiving, the winners will be announced by the TV stations.

This should have a real impact on traffic to our Christmas tree web pages and mobile app downloads--and Tennessee Christmas tree farmers should see the benefit in extra foot traffic and income.

New Faces and a New Assignment at TDA

We are happy to welcome and congratulate employees who have recently joined or been promoted to key staff positions at TDA. Corinne Gould has been named deputy director of Public Affairs; Greg Phillipy is the new director of the Tennessee Agricultural Museum and Darren Bailey was promoted in September to district forester for East Tennessee.

Cori Gould joins longtime department spokesman and public affairs director Tom Womack, and will be responsible for helping to coordinate media relations, social media as well as internal and external outreach for the agency. She assumes responsibilities previously performed by Heather Orne, who will continue to support the department’s communications efforts on a part-time basis.

Cori has more than 10 years of experience in the broadcast industry, most recently as the 10 o'clock news producer for WSMV-TV in Nashville. She is a native of Rhea County where she was active in the 4-H horse program and served as the 2001 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen. Cori still maintains her passion for horses and is a professional horse show announcer, and currently serves as executive secretary / treasurer of the Tennessee Quarter Horse Association.

Greg Phillipy comes to TDA with outstanding credentials in the field of museum management, historic preservation and education that will no doubt help build upon the great foundation laid by retired director Anne Dale, the current staff and many others.

For the past two years, Greg has served as the public program director and curator of education for the Texas A&M University Art Galleries in College Station, Texas. In that position, he was responsible for developing policy and education programming, coordinating events and managing facility operations for the University's museums and art galleries.

A native of Nashville, Greg grew up in the Crieve Hall area and attended John Overton High School. He did both undergraduate and graduate work at MTSU, where he obtained a master's degree in Public History / Historic Preservation. He also holds a master's degree in Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Darren Bailey, a 1995 UT graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in forest resource management, started with TDF in 1999 as a forest inventory and analysis forester in Knoxville where he served for two years collecting forest resource data over a large area of northeast Tennessee. He then moved to Chuck Swan State Forest as a state forest forester and quickly rose to fill the forester supervisor position where he remained until he moved into an area forester position in 2006. As an area forester, Darren had responsibilities in Knox, Anderson and Sevier counties including forest landowner assistance, fire control, water quality inspections and forest health protection.

Darren's new role as district forester in East Tennessee includes the responsibility of managing all district resources and activities. This large district encompasses 24 counties, four state forests and 76 employees.

Darren replaces Ted Dailey who retired in June after 39 years of service with the division.

Emerald Ash Borer Found in Davidson County

A quarantine for Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that destroys ash trees has been expanded to include Davidson County. The insect was found in a USDA-APHIS trap in a residential area of Old Hickory. This brings the total number of Tennessee counties under a state and federal EAB quarantine to 39.

"EAB continues to spread across the state," Gray Haun, TDA's Plant Certification administrator said. "Finding it initially in a residential area instead of along a waterway or in a campsite is a bit unusual and inspectors are continuing to search Davidson County for more signs of EAB."

The EAB detection program deployed by TDA and USDA-APHIS uses purple box traps placed in trees to determine if EAB is in the area. The traps are coated with an adhesive that captures insects when they land. The color is attractive to EAB, and is relatively easy for people to spot among the foliage.

EAB is a destructive forest pest that was introduced from Asia into the United States in the 1990's. Over the past decade, EAB has spread to 24 states and parts of Canada. This pest was first detected in Tennessee in 2010 in Knox County. Since that time, it has spread to 30 counties throughout East and Middle Tennessee. Several other Tennessee counties have been quarantined for EAB even though EAB hasn’t been confirmed because the likelihood of the insect being there is high.

The EAB quarantine prohibits the movement of firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber and other material that can spread EAB. Citizens should report any symptomatic ash trees to TDA and follow these simple rules:

For more information about EAB and other destructive forest pests in Tennessee, visit the new website: The site is a multi-agency effort to inform and educate Tennesseans on the harmful impacts insects and diseases have on our trees, where the problem spots are, and what landowners can do to help protect their trees.

State Forester Jere Jeter Receives Forest Resources Award

Jere Jeter, TDA assistant commissioner and state forester, was recenlty honored by the Tennessee Forestry Association (TFA) with a Forest Resource Award at their annual meeting in Oak Ridge. The award is given annually to an individual who has shown considerable contributions towards the promotion of good forest practices and sustainable management.

"All of us at TFA admire the job that Jere has done as our state forester, but we also know he has put in those important background years of learning how to work with people, balance the budget and keep vital and important programs successful," TFA's President Michael Morris said in presenting the award. "He is a TFA supporter and a partner and we are so pleased to thank Jere for his years of commitment to forestry in Tennessee."

Mr. Morris also presented Jeter with a plaque in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Tennessee Division of Forestry and stated, "Our forests are healthy and support thousands of families across the state, as well as provide the beauty that Tennesseans and those from outside our state admire and enjoy, thanks to the hardworking folks at TDF. Thanks for the successful partnership down through the years. TFA looks forward to working with the Division of Forestry for many years to come."

"One of the great benefits of being a part of the forestry community in Tennessee is that the whole is greater and better than the sum of its parts," Jeter said upon receiving the awards. "Tennessee Forestry Association is and has been an integral part of the face of forestry in our state for a long time, and I am very fortunate to count not only the organization but the individuals who make up TFA as my friends. We are a stronger state agency because of the great working relationship we have with them."

Ag Crime Unit Investigators Complete National Accreditation

Shane Ratliff and Greg Whitehead, investigators with TDA's Agricultural Crime Unit, have graduated from the National Fire Academy in Fire Arson Origin/Cause and Forensic Evidence Collection.

This achievement, along with other past courses and experiences, will now qualify them to be recognized by the International Association of Arson Investigators as Fire Investigation Technicians (FIT) and Evidence Collection Technicians (ECT). Both Ratliff and Whitehead are now pursuing recognition by the International Association of Arson Investigators as Certified Fire Investigators. They hope to gain this accreditation within the next year.

The experience and training they are both receiving follows the rules and guidelines of National Fire Protection Association under NFPA 1033 and NFPA 921, which all fire investigators in the United States must follow and will help them to better serve the citizens of Tennessee who become victims of arson.

TDA Now Accepting Water Quality Grant Proposals

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is now accepting grant proposals for projects that will help improve water quality and reduce or eliminate nonpoint source pollution. The deadline for submitting grant proposals is Dec. 1. Proposals will be evaluated based on program goals and objectives, performance evaluation criteria and applicable EPA nonpoint source grant guidelines.

"This is a great opportunity for local governments and other organizations to join us in making measurable improvements in the quality of watersheds across the state," Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. "The Nonpoint Source Pollution Program addresses water quality issues in both our urban and rural communities."

Local governments, regional agencies, public institutions, private nonprofit organizations and other state agencies are eligible to apply for federal dollars administered by TDA's Water Resources office. Highest priority is given to projects that seek to make measurable improvements to waters known to be impaired by nonpoint source pollution.

Nonpoint source pollution is soil, urban runoff, fertilizers, chemicals and other contaminants that come from many different sources and degrades surface and groundwater quality. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation assesses water quality and compiles a list of impaired waters. The list can be found online at

Other priorities for funding include water quality related educational projects, projects that reduce/mitigate urban runoff, and projects that aim to protect unimpaired waters that may be threatened.

The FY 2015 Request for Proposals can be found online at, or for more information contact TDA’s Nonpoint Pollution Program at 615-837-5306 or

Music and Molasses Festival Provides Lots of Fun

Thank you to all of our Music and Molasses volunteers, sponsors, vendors and visitors for another successful festival. It was a beautiful weekend in Nashville that brought out more than 7,000 visitors to the Tennessee Agricultural Museum.

We were proud to have First Lady Crissy Haslam join us to read to children gathered for a special exhibit in the Ed Jones Auditorium celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Tennessee Division of Forestry. As always, the festival also featured molasses, arts and crafts, wonderful music, farm animals and pony rides.

This year, for the first time, the historic Brentwood House was opened for guided tours. We hope you'll join us next year!


Ellington Agricultural Center | 440 Hogan Road | Nashville, TN 37220