Area resident Zach English found a passion for gardening as a child, and he’s recently turned that into a small farming business.
“I can remember my mom growing a small garden … I think that kind of sparked something in me at an early age,” he said.
After high school, English got more serious about it and moved to Maryland, where he did a farming internship.
Recently, he came back to the Chattanooga area, where his family farmland is, and launched Natural Ways Homestead, which offers a vegetable community-supported agriculture program, fresh eggs, whole chickens and locally made sausage.
Natural Ways Homestead also hosts monthly farm-to-table dinners from May to October.
English, a self-taught chef, creates a menu a few weeks in advance based on what he has growing on the Chickamauga farm and what is a good fit for the time of year. English harvests as much as possible from his land and supplements with other food from local farmers markets for the events, he said.
“I try to be very honest with where the food is coming from,” he said.
There’s a suggested $35 donation to attend the farm-to-table dinners, which are for adults only.
Initially, he wanted it to be child-friendly, but it became clear that the nature of it—the pricing and atmosphere—was for adults.
“It’s like going to a fancy restaurant with your wife for a date,” he said.
He hopes to add another monthly event, maybe one that’s in the style of a potluck dinner, that is more family-friendly.
He has a ton of other ideas for potential growth, he said. For example, he’d love to create an outdoor kitchen and bathroom area and have a more developed/centralized location for the dinners.
He’s recently started a blog called The Farmer Chef to share his passion for farming and cooking. Although he’s never had formal training, he spent four years working in the restaurant industry. His passion drives him to spend hours reading, watching videos and doing experiments to learn the craft, he said.
English wants to continue his mission of sharing the farm experience with others.
“You’re bringing someone who is not really [into] farming themselves but likes local food and [you’re] giving them an experience,” he said.
For more information and to keep up with the dinners, click here.