Mother and son, Veronica and Jordan, share an entrepreneurial spirit and a love for baking. The duo is behind the Nashville-based SoberDough, which was founded in 2013 and creates artisan brew bread mixes – dry bread mixes that only require beer to bake.
“I’ve been baking for many years. My mom taught me when I was young,” says Veronica Hawbaker, president of SoberDough. “We don’t want to be just another food product, that’s why we handcraft each of our bread mixes in small batches with all natural ingredients, lots of care and a huge dose of fun. It’s fun to share the ability to make brag-worthy bread with others whether they can or can’t bake.”
But starting a company from scratch isn’t easy, and connecting with consumers can prove to be a challenge without the right resources and connections.
Helping Local Producers
Pick Tennessee Products has helped consumers identify locally grown, processed and crafted products since 1986, and currently utilizes its website, mobile app and social media including Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to reach a wide audience. Last year, there were more than 315,000 visits to the program’s website.
“The demand is growing all the time,” says Cynthia Kent, creative resources coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “The Pick Tennessee Products campaign connects Tennesseans who farm, grow and make food all across the state – farmers, artisans, processors and manufacturers – to Tennessee consumers looking for farms, farm products and foods produced locally. Access to fresh and local products allows consumers to enjoy the nutritional, environmental and economic benefits of foods they choose, use and preserve themselves.”
Listing products on Pick Tennessee Products is free for producers.
“We are a part of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which means that we are a not-for-profit service dedicated to connecting people everywhere to Tennessee farms, farmers, farmers markets, and all the great things that come from our farms and food businesses,” Kent says. “We do not charge anyone for our services or generate income for any agency.”
To be included, they must be in compliance with all permits, licenses and inspections administered by the TDA Consumer and Industry Services Division, and go through an application process. The program offers exposure and marketing opportunities to producers who are just starting out or who have been in the business for a while but do not have access to the proper business resources.
“For many Pick Tennessee producers, this is their only Web presence,” says Debbie Ball, director of marketing for the TDA’s Market Development Division. “The increasing number of farms, food businesses and items listed on the site tell us loyal customers are supporting our participants.”
A Wide Variety of Products
The Pick Tennessee Products program lists about 2,200 participating farms, processors, and other agriculture and farm businesses featuring more than 10,000 products. Listings on picktnproducts.org range from the beer bread mother-son team (soberdough.com) to Christmas tree farms to fresh meats, local dairies, farmers markets, wineries and artisan chocolates. This diverse list also includes a Nashville-based organic baby food producer.
Jemina Boyd founded Chubby Bunny in 2012 after many of her friends had children and wanted to feed fresh, healthy foods to their babies. Because making baby food can be time consuming, Jem wanted to help out young families. Growing up in a family of six where her mother made baby food, Jem was used to experimenting with new fruit and vegetable combinations. Today, her product is taste-tested by young, picky eaters, and she sells at local farmers markets. Learn more at chubbybunnyfoods.com.
Jim and Bonita Lacey are the duo behind B’s Cheesecakes just outside of Clarksville, which started after years of the couple getting constant requests from co-workers, family and friends for their delicious homemade cheesecakes. Proudly displaying the Pick Tennessee Products logo, their wide variety of gourmet cheesecakes are sold locally and featured in local restaurants.
“We’re a work in progress,” Bonita Lacey says. “We’re new to the program, but we’re so proud to display that logo. We’re hoping it helps us market our cheesecakes, reach more consumers and helps us break into the grocery store market. We are so excited about where this business can take us in the future.”
She and her husband currently bake about 30 flavors – including blackberry and maple candied bacon cheesecakes – using local products like fruits and honey, and a variety of wines from a local Clarksville winery, Beachaven Winery.
Kent says this program will remain an essential tool for the state in the future. “Ultimately, Pick Tennessee is important for consumers because of its continuing contributions to building healthier rural economies and healthier Tennesseans.”
The Pick Tennessee Products app brings fresh food, farms and fun to your fingertips. This user-friendly app allows you to search by keyword, region or season, while GPS mapping guides you on your quest.
Local fruits and vegetables, wine, greenhouses and nursery plants, Christmas trees, and local honey are just a few of the exciting products available from Pick Tennessee Products’ 2,200 featured farmers and producers. The app makes these products easy to find, both directly from the farm and the markets where they’re sold.
Use the app to save favorites and discover seasonal recipes, tips and facts.
To learn more about the Pick Tennessee Products app, visit picktnproducts.org.