Photo 1: Linda Tozer (left) joins Andy and Ellie Holt during a March 24 bagging of 19,000 pounds of sweet potatoes near the Tennessee state capitol.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––For 15 years the Tennessee state legislators have celebrated “Ag Day on the Hill,” a day to shuck corn, visit farm animals and celebrate all things agricultural.
This year, the day included bagging and distributing 19,000 pounds of sweet potatoes to area churches and food kitchens.
State Senator Andy Holt, vice chair of the Tennessee Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, has chaired the annual event for the past five years.
Married to Ellie Holt, Society of Saint Andrew satellite gleaning coordinator for west Tennessee, it seemed logical for Andy to invite the society to sponsor a potato drop as a part of Ag Day.
Linda Tozer, regional director for the society, contacted Mack Rogers, a third generation farmer in Lincoln County who has donated many times to the society.
Early the morning of March 24, Mack, wife Jena, and sons, Elijah and Knox, arrived at a site near the state capitol with 19,000 pounds of sweet potatoes. Noting the five-acre farm first owned by his grandfather, Mack said, “The Lord blessed us and we just keep the blessings flowing.”
Future farmers from Glencliff High School, members of Total Quality Logistics, youth members of Hillcrest United Methodist Church, and volunteers from Hospital Corporation of America were ready to bag the potatoes for hungry residents of middle Tennessee.
Andy said he and Ellie first became acquainted with the Society of Saint Andrew when he wanted to find a way to harvest pumpkins that he was afraid might rot in his West Tennessee farm. “I hate to see any food go to waste,” he said.
It wasn’t long before Ellie moved from being a donor of farm products to being a staff member of the society who helps coordinate the gleaning, delivery and bagging of excess food from other farmers.
The Society of Saint Andrew is an affiliate organization of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, and Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the agency, is president of the Big Island, Va., organization.