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RIVER FRIENDLY FARM PROFILE

Caney Fork Farms

Farm Facts

Location
Carthage

Farm Usage
multi-species livestock, vegetables, agroforestry

Year certified
2024

A Living Laboratory of Regenerative Agriculture

Caney Fork Farms is a 400 acre multi-species livestock, vegetable, and agroforestry farm nestled in the rolling hills just west of the Cumberland Plateau. Located on both the Caney Fork River and the Cumberland River, the farm is a key player in Cumberland River basin water conservation. They call themselves a “living laboratory” dedicated to research and development of regenerative agriculture practices. 

Founded in ___ and located on the family farm property of former Vice President Al Gore, Caney Fork Farms employs both farmers and academic professionals who facilitate a unique environment where best practices in business and land management coincide. 

They pride themselves on holistic and regenerative grazing, conscious stewardship of the riparian zones on their property, organic vegetable farming, and a unique agro-forestry approach that has fostered a steadily maturing tree canopy. The overall Caney Fork Farms method is referred to as “Carbon Farming,” an agricultural framework designed to remove carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the soil, rather than emitting carbon, as is common with tillage-based and conventional forms of agriculture.

River Friendly Farm Certified

In 2023, Caney Fork Farms was certified as a River Friendly Farm by the Cumberland River Compact.

The River Friendly Farm certification program with the Cumberland River Compact recognizes farmers who are good stewards of water and land resources, connecting them with consumers who value a healthy environment. As a River Friendly Farm, Caney Fork Farms is ensuring cleaner water, healthier soil, and a more resilient climate for the people and creatures living in the surrounding environment.

River-Friendly Best Management Practices (BMPs) at Caney Fork Farms

The team at Caney Fork Farms believes in active management of the woodlands, riparian zones, and other wildlife habitat on their property. Through careful farm planning and monitoring, they maintain optimal water usage levels, combat erosion, avoid the use of pesticides, and prioritize soil health in their planting and grazing practices.

River-Friendly Livestock Management 

Caney Fork Farms is the first Compact-certified River Friendly Farm that produces meat. They prioritize keeping animals out of streams and rivers, which keeps manure in the fields where it can fertilize soil, rather than in the water where it can introduce E-coli. This management practice also prevents animal hooves from sending sediment into creeks when they trample banksides and deep-rooted riparian plants. In a state where 50% of stream impairments are due to livestock, Caney Fork Farms is doing their part to improve water quality.

A rotational grazing plan lets their fields recover for 45-90 days between grazing sessions, allowing grasses and clovers to establish deep root structures. This makes for better rainwater absorption, reduced erosion, and nutrient-dense forage. 

The livestock are moved from paddock to paddock in a “flerd” (flock/herd), a diverse mix of animals including cows, sheep, and chickens. The “flerd” model mimics nature, where migratory animal species are naturally codependent. It helps to incorporate manure, discourage pests, and generally improve herd and soil health.

Organic Vegetable Farming

To improve soil health and provide a safe habitat for insects and wildlife, Caney Fork Farms fertilizes with compost and other organic soil amendments. Frequent soil testing informs fertilizer application, and strategies like crop rotation and intercropping (also known as companion planting) allow them to naturally maintain the health of their soil. These management practices build healthy soil and help prevent pests from attacking crops.

Agroforestry

The Caney Fork Farms team has planted 10,000 trees on their property to help sequester carbon, provide shade, mitigate erosion, and create wildlife habitat. 1,500 of these are American/Chinese chestnut trees. They hope to reintroduce chestnuts as a staple crop in the Southeast, where one in four trees used to be a native American chestnut tree until a non-native chesnut parasite, Cryphonectria parasitica, devastated the population, killing three to four billion trees. Caney Fork Farms aims to show consumers and other farmers how this unique crop can be an asset to both a business and an ecosystem.

The “flerd” is occasionally rotated through the edible forest. This holistic management approach provides free fertilizer in the form of manure, keeps grasses down, and provides a tasty treat for the animals, who eat dropped fruits and nuts that might have otherwise bred pests and disease.

Support Caney Fork Farms

Shop

Caney Fork Farms is a vendor at the Richland Park Farmers’ Market in Nashville.

You can also find their products at the following small grocery stores:

  • The Turnip Truck, Nashville, TN
  • Demeter’s Common Lifestyle Grocery, Lebanon, TN
  • Breeden’s Orchard, Mt. Juliet, TN
  • Newroz Market, Nashville, TN
  • Westside Grocery, Cookeville, TN
  • Walnut Street Market, Cookeville, TN

CSA

Caney Fork Farms offers a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Sign up to receive a variety box of seasonal organic vegetables or 100% grass-fed meats, delivered to weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly to convenient locations around Middle Tennessee.

Sign up for a Caney Fork Farms meat or vegetable CSA

PICKUP LOCATIONS:

  • Nashville, TN – East Nashville Farmers Market
  • Nashville, TN – Richland Park Farmers Market
  • Carthage, TN – RoKaBilly Coffee
  • Granville, TN – Wildwood Resort & Marina
  • Lebanon, TN – The Mill at Lebanon

Dine

These Nashville restaurants support regenerative agriculture in Middle Tennessee by purchasing Caney Fork Farms products:

Dozen Bakery, Henrietta Red, Butcher & Bee, Geist, Marsh House, Treehouse, Santo, Red Pony, Gray and Dudley, Hathorne, Margot, Lyra, 404 Kitchen, Tailor, AVO

Follow

Keep up with Caney Fork Farms online here:

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