Tottys Bend Soap Farm: Stop #8 on the Arts & Ag Tour of Hickman County

Friendly Goat at Tottys Bend Soap Farm

Friendly Goat at Tottys Bend Soap Farm

Tottys Bend Soap Farm will be joining the the Arts and Ag Tour on Friday and Saturday, for the fifth year in a row, as stop number 8 on the tour map. There you can see firsthand how owners Nate and Vanessa Davis raise their goats and make a variety of skin care products from their goat milk. The Davis’ moved to Hickman County from Atlanta, GA in the summer of 2006. The couple was immediately drawn to the idea of raising dairy goats for milk and cheese. Soon they had a small, productive herd of registered Nubian goats. Neither Nate nor Vanessa had any experience with goats or farming of any kind. They relied on advice from experienced goat farmers and did much of their early learning through trial and error.

Tottys Bend Soap Bar

Tottys Bend Goat Milk Soap

In 2010, with a few years of goat farming under their belts, the couple decided to experiment with making goat milk soap. At first they gave their handmade soap to friends and family but soon they began selling their goat milk soaps at the Centerville Marketplace, a shop on the square in Historic Downtown Centerville, just a few miles from their farm. This was the perfect place for the Davis’ to try out different styles and scents of soap on local shoppers. Within the year, the Davis’ created what has become their signature goat milk soap, a four ounce rectangular bar embellished with a decorative Celtic pattern. It was in the fall of 2010 that Nate and Vanessa Davis founded Tottys Bend Soap Farm.

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Goat Milk Soaps hand made by Nate and Vanessa.

The following year, Tottys Bend Soaps hit the shelves in several Tennessee Whole Foods stores. While the exposure at Whole Foods has been a blessing to the small company, the Davis’ agree their favorite venue is still Centerville Marketplace for its local charm and loyal customers. They also enjoy setting up a booth and selling their products directly to their customers during the Arts & Ag Tour. “There is nothing more rewarding than to talk to our customers in person. At the Arts & Ag Tour we can share our story and talk about our handmade goat milk soaps. People love to meet our goats, and learn about the nourishing benefits of goat milk, and the natural ingredients that go into our products,” says Nate. In addition to their goat milk soap bars, Tottys Bend Soap Farm also offers handmade goat milk lotions, shaving soaps, talc-free body powder and all natural lip balm. “We make over 25 different scents from recipes that are gentle on sensitive skin,” says Vanessa.

Goat Milking Demo at Tottys Bend Soap Farm

Goat Milking Demonstration

Goat expert Pam Hethcote from Possum Hollow Farm and owner of Star Brite Goat milk Soaps and Lotions will also be there with her handmade items. She and the Davis’ longtime friendship developed from their mutual love of raising dairy goats. “We goat people stick together!” says Hethcote. Brenda Estes, another fellow goat farmer, will also be onsite doing milking demonstrations. Early visitors are invited to milk one of Brenda’s dairy goats. Goat cheese and fresh goat milk samples will also be available to visitors of Tottys Bend Soap Farm during the Arts & Ag Tour.

JoAnne’s Creations will be set up with her beautiful handcrafted jewelry and fabric creations as well as homemade jams and sweets.

See www.TottysBendSoaps.com  or go to Tottys Bend Farm on Facebook for more information about Tottys Bend Soap Farm.

Come See our Tree at the Festival of Trees This Weekend!

Arts & Ag is very excited to invite you to come see our tree at the inaugural event, “Festival of Trees” coming up December 6th, 7th and 8th, hosted by the Hickman Co. Ag Pavilion! Plenty of details about the event are described below, but for now, we can’t wait to share some of the many things we’ve been working on in preparation to display a tree suitable to the Arts & Ag mission.

Arts & Ag Tree

The Arts & Ag tree is selected and going home!

When we first said, “Yes, Arts & Ag should be a part of the Festival of Trees!,” we didn’t actually have a tree with which to work. We looked around for an artificial tree to acquire inexpensively, but as we sought, we began to think how wonderful it would it be to showcase a live tree. “How wonderfully green,” we thought — a live tree, acquired locally, could be planted and live on after the event, and grow! We inquired to GroWild of Fairview where they graciously gave us a tour of their grounds and where we fell in love with a Juniperus virginiana ‘Brodie’. Although not a traditional Christmas tree, ‘Brodie’ is an evergreen indigenous to Tennessee and carries a conical shape. It currently stands about 10 feet tall in its pot and will get as tall as 25 feet with a spread of 6-8 feet, once mature. We purchased our tree and brought it home to Hickman County – it’s pictured here ready to be tied and loaded up. GroWild is an impressive place, we recommend a visit, but an appointment is needed. Visit their website here: http://www.growildinc.com

Of course, the Arts & Ag tree would have to feature handmade ornaments so what better reason to have an Ornament Party? We pulled out boxes, bags and bins from our craft artilleries; we glued, trimmed, glittered, wrapped, strung and crafted bunches of wonderful ornaments while drinking homemade eggnog and listening to Christmas carols. We made a huge mess and had huge fun doing so! Some ornaments to be featured on our tree have been created and donated by local artists and participants of Arts & Ag events.

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‘T’was late November and all through the house were visions of glitter, glue and ornaments scattered throughout…”

There are still some odds and ends being pulled together, but we wanted to share a sneak preview. This is just a sampling – we can’t reveal everything – you’ll have to come see for yourself how it looks once it’s all together. Come visit the Festival of Trees—it’s going to be magical! Keep scrolling down for event details.

Festival of Trees:“Where the Treetops Glisten and Children Listen…”
December 6th, 7th, and 8th from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. each evening
Hickman County Ag Pavilion & Fairgrounds
979 Grinder’s Switch Road, Centerville TN 37033

Wander through a winter wonderland of more than fifteen theme trees exquisitely decorated by local organizations, groups and businesses of Hickman County, displayed under the pavilion of Ms. Mable’s Back Porch. Visitors can “vote” for their favorite tree by making a small donation to the tree. Inside the Wash Shouse building will be the Unique Boutique featuring about a dozen vendors with freshly baked goodies, specialty food, crafts and gift items such as holiday ornaments, wreaths, jewelry, scarves, quilted items and more.

Each evening at 8 p.m., Mary Beth Pruett will read from “Christmas at Grinder’s Switch” and tell stories about her great aunt, Minnie Pearl. Also featured each evening will be a live nativity, carolers, and pictures with Santa!

Admission is $5 per carload. So, load up the kiddos, grandparents and your neighbors, too – this will be a wonderfully fun and festive family event!

2013 Harvest Market was a Topnotch Affair!

The view from the front porch of Grinder’s Switch Winery at last Saturday’s Harvest Market was just what we hoped it would be. Folks of all ages, from near and far, strolled in small clusters down the gravel drive lined on both sides with cars, bumper to bumper. Autumn was in the air and the pale grey sky, which caused a bit of anxiety when it rained, but provided the perfect backdrop for a gorgeous pallet of multicolored leaves on the overhanging branches and surrounding shrubbery. Nestled among the natural features of our county’s award winning winery was a joyful patchwork of festively decorated booths representing the talents of our local artisan and farming community.

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Trish Lingo of Beaverdam Creek Farm greeting two young customers

The quality, craftsmanship, variety, creativity and bounty of handcrafted, homegrown items on display at the Harvest Market was topnotch, and not just, “for around here,” either. In fact, that’s a phrase Arts & Ag is on a mission to see eliminated from the thinking and speech of our county’s citizenry! This region, which has long been a haven for farmers, artists and musicians, is on the cutting edge of the sustainable farming movement and has simultaneously created a niche for other cottage industries and crafts such as soap making, quilting, blacksmithing, pottery, woodworking and many others that were on display at the Harvest Market and that often go hand in hand with agriculture. ALL of this (the arts, crafts and abundance of small, sustainable farms) is fast becoming a source of pride for our locals and we at Arts & Ag couldn’t be happier about it!

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Gabriel New of New Eden Farms selling his famous homemade pickles.

A gigantic THANK YOU to everyone involved with the Harvest Market, including the fine folks at Grinder’s Switch Winery for being such gracious hosts and for supporting our marketing efforts. Over 800 people (according to our closest estimate) came out to shop, to enjoy the tasting room, have a bite to eat and listen to some fantastic local, live music– while spending in the ballpark of $15,000. We couldn’t have been as successful without our dedicated, thoughtful, enthusiastic volunteers!  We are deeply grateful to our Bakery Team for keeping the coffee flowing and selling all the home baked goodies that were donated to the Arts & Ag Bakery. Thanks to you and all who contributed baked items (and those who purchased them), we were able to generate funds to jump start our PR budget for the 2014 Arts & Ag Tour. Our thanks also goes out to our amazing Street Team, all who helped us spread the word about the Harvest Market, emailed their contacts, passed out rack cards and hung posters. We also want to thank our fabulous Loading and Layout Team who staked out booth spaces Friday night and helped load and haul items throughout the Market. Thanks to all the musicians that entertained at the Harvest Market: Gloria McCord, Billie Joe Sawyer, and Mark Meadors with Martin, Trei and Miranda Louise, and many thanks to County Mayor Steve Gregory for doing a very fine job DJing and MCing!

We look forward to many more events like this year’s Harvest Market.

Sincerely the Arts & Ag Trio,

Antonia, Nicole and Vanessa

COUPONS are HERE! Great savings for this Saturday only during the Harvest Market!

TWO pages of coupons from some of our vendors that will be at this Saturday’s Arts & Ag Harvest Market. PRINT these pages and bring with you this Saturday, the 19th for some great deals! Scroll down the home page for previous posts about details regarding the event.

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What will you find at The Arts & Ag Harvest Market? Here is our Vendor List!


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October 19th 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Grinder’s Switch Winery, 2119 Hwy 50 W. Loop, Centerville, TN

‘Tis the season when crisp autumn air rejuvenates the spirit, multi-colored leaves light up the forests, and nature’s waning harvest reminds us to start stocking up for the winter ahead. Did you know there’s only 14 more weekends till Christmas? No need to panic – the Arts & Ag Harvest Market will be the perfect stop to get a head start on your holiday shopping and hostess gifts for this festive time of year! Featuring some of the county’s best homegrown farm goods, artisan crafts, live music, baked goods and award-winning wine the Harvest Market will offer a bountiful cornucopia overflowing with variety and fall fun. You can also munch on some delicious pulled pork and sausages made by Hickman County’s own Jodie Morgan (of Eatin’ on the Cheap!).  Mark your calendars and share the news with friends- you won’t want to miss this family-friendly event!

The 2013 Arts & Ag Harvest Market Vendor List:

Barefoot Farmgirl – raw honey, homemade beauty products, crocheted and sewn textile creations

Bratton Farms – harvest produce

Beaverdam Creek Farm – harvest produce, handmade soaps and more

Belle Springs Farm – information about dairy cow shares; farm-made, family-friendly household cleaners for sale. Also, find creations by Simple Stitches with lovely knitted items and handmade jewelry.

Buffalo River Artisans Cooperative

Centerville Garden Club

Cindy Sarlo Photography

Cheeky Petz – handmade stuffed animals and pet toys

Clay’s Benches and More – handmade wood creations

Clay Harris Theatre – tickets to Hickman County’s talented theatre shows

Dodi Lovett – watercolors and fine art

Fondue Vintage Homewares – vintage wallpapered home décor & more

Good Wool Etc. – felted creations from Jacob’s sheep wool, enameled necklaces, notecards, wooden accessories

Hardwear Merry – Jewelry with lots of texture and unique appeal by hammering, enameling, fold forming, etching, twisting, polishing and use of patina

Heritage Reclaimed Farm – fry bread, preserved food

Hickman County Quilt Guild – fabric and local quilt books

Home-Made-Home – blacksmith, Dustin Morgan’s creations; also, handmade brooms, pillows, stuffed animals and corn husk dolls

Joanne’s Creations – jewelry, jams and more

Leah McIntyre Jewelry – “simple, unique, handcrafted, jewelry”

New Eden Farm – harvest produce & more

Pieceful Worlds Clothing – tie dyed clothing and creations

Pinewood Farms – harvest produce

Ruby-Valentine Designs – jewelry and more

Star Brite Soap – goat milk soaps and real goats to pet!

Tom the Furniture Guy – barn wood signs

Tottys Bend Soap Farm – goat milk soaps, lotions, laundry powders & candles

True Self Studio – Copper Stainless Aluminum Brass Forged Wire Wrapped Hand Hammered Stamped One Of A Kind Artisan Designed Jewelry Earrings Bracelets Necklaces Pendants Rings

Unique Expressions – watercolor paintings and decorated boxes by Sharon Cude

Vottery – pottery creations by Vicki Imoberstag

Wild Duck Soup Emporium – a variety of all natural and handmade goods

Whippoorwill – fine art felted characters

Woodchips and Sawdust – turned bowls, vases, painted saw blades

Cleaning out the Fridge: Homemade Ranch Dressing and a Roasted Red Pepper Dip

With some extra buttermilk and sour cream in the fridge as well as some other odds and ends, I was looking for ideas to use up these ingredients. The Ranch dressing I’ve made before – and it’s delicious (way better than any store bought you’ve tasted!) — the dip was created using a couple different recipe ideas with what we had to work with. Here’s hoping you might enjoy them, too!

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BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING

By Amy Wisniewski from chow.com

  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley (from Pinewood Farms)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives (from the garden)
  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped (I used some roasted garlic that was leftover in the fridge)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Place all of the ingredients in a 2-cup Mason jar or other container with a tightfitting lid. Seal tightly and shake to evenly distribute all the ingredients. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Refrigerate until chilled and the flavors have melded, about 1 hour. The dressing will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

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ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP

By Nicole Lewis

  • ¾ cup roasted red pepper, (if from jar – drained), finely diced (ours came from Chert Cheap Groceries – a great find!)
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons fresh basil or parsley (or both), finely chopped (from Pinewood Farms and the garden)
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • 10 dashes hot sauce
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

Mix ingredients together thoroughly and chill about an hour. Serve with potato chips, pita chips, sliced veggies, etc. or spread some on a sandwich to make it extra tasty!

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The following is the dip recipe I wanted to make – before realizing we didn’t have any onions in the house (how did THAT happen?!) – but, I used it as an example from which to base some of the proportions into my Roasted Red Pepper Dip (above). I have not tried this recipe yet, but it sounds quite delicious.

ONION DIP FROM SCRATCH

By Alton Brown

  • 2 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cups diced onions (these would have been from Pinewood Farms, had we not used all of them up!)
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt

In a sauté pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. Refrigerate and stir again before serving.

Many Thanks!

homestead blessingsWe think it’s safe to say the Arts & Ag Tour is here to stay! The hundreds of folks that cruised our county’s back roads May 24th and 25th toured 25 Arts & Ag locations and spent thousands of dollars on locally grown food, locally produced wine, lavender plants, honey, goat milk soaps, pottery, wood works, handmade jewelry, furniture, barn wood signs, vintage collectibles and other homegrown, handmade products. Friendships were forged; neighbors met and mingled, leaned on fence posts, listened to live music and enjoyed picture perfect weather under the blue skies of Hickman County. Oh, and some of us learned a thing or two like how to milk a goat, tips on bee keeping, the benefits of grass fed beef, what a CSA is and so much more!

Thanks to all who came out to visit us from near and far. Thanks to all who helped spread the word. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers who generously gave of their time and talent. Thanks to those special folks who opened their gates and hearts to over 500 curious, adventurous souls taking the Arts & Ag Tour. We are overwhelmed with gratitude and can’t wait to do it again next Memorial Day Weekend!

–Vanessa Davis, Nicole Lewis and Antonia Meadors