Get your cameras out! We’re kicking off the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation’s annual photo contest. More than 1,700 photos were entered in last year’s contest, and this year we have three brand new categories to inspire our readers to get behind the lens.
For the 17th annual contest, the categories are (1) Tennessee, (2) Home and (3) Farm. Category winners each receive $100, and the grand-prize winner receives $200.
Tennessee Farm Bureau members can enter one photo in each of the three categories in our Tennessee Farm Bureau Photo Contest entry form or through our print entry form in the magazine. Entries will be accepted through Aug. 1.
Our readers’ choice winners for the 16th annual TFBF Photo Contest (2011) are now posted online here. Stay tuned for the announcement of our overall prize winners in November with the publication of our winter 2011-12 issue.
Tennessee’s own delicious combination candy now has its own official retail store.
Goo Goo Cluster has just opened a location on the grounds at Fontanel in Nashville, called the Goo Goo Outpost. The store is selling all Goo Goo products, a few other nostalgic candies and Bravo Gelato, including two new flavors inspired by the Goo Goo Cluster.
Fontanel is the mansion formerly home to country star Barbara Mandrell, now a tourist destination that features an outdoor amphitheater, zip lines, a disc golf course and now, the Goo Goo Outpost.
Take some sweet adventures this spring and summer for garden-fresh produce that you can pick straight from the source. All across the state, local farms offer seasonal goodies such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and more. Find where you can fill your basket below, but make sure to call before traveling long distances.
Jones Orchard – Jones Orchard, located just north of Memphis in Millington, is now open for pick-your-own strawberries. They also offer plums, nectarines and blackberries beginning in June, and their star fruit, peaches, are available from June through August.
Culbertson Farms– Culbertson Farms, just outside of Savannah in Hardin County, offers pick-your-own strawberries beginning at the end of April, as well as potatoes at the end of May, and blueberries and tomatoes in June.
Bottom View Farms – Located in Portland, Bottom View Farms offers an abundance of pick-your-own fruits, including strawberries starting in May, blackberries, apples and blueberries in June, and peaches and raspberries in August.
Stoney Creek Farm– Stoney Creek Farm, located in Franklin, has a community vegetable garden where visitors can pick their own broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, green beans and more. They also offer over 14 varieties of herbs, apples and muscadine grapes.
The Fruit and Berry Patch – The Fruit and Berry Patch in Knoxville offers small fruits and berries as pick-your-own produce. Visitors can enjoy strawberries in early May, blueberries, blackberries and apples starting in late June, and grapes in late July.
Blueberry Hill Farm– Pick fresh-from-the-bush blueberries from June through August at Blueberry Hill Farm in Norris, Tennessee.
For more pick-your-own locations and regular farmers markets and roadside stands, visit picktnproducts.org.
This annual event features perennials, too. Visitors can also learn about trends in landscaping, lawn management and garden design at the Blooms Days 2013, which takes place May 11-12.
This event features the latest in information about one of the top hobbies in the nation – gardening. Blooms Day, a weekend-long event conducted by the Friends of the UT Gardens and UT’s East Tennessee Research and Education Center, is set in the UT Gardens in Knoxville on Neyland Drive. It will host workshops on topics such as rain barrels, backyard butterflies, irrigation, growing mushrooms, shade gardens, heirloom plants, free daylilies for all moms in attendance (while supplies last) and much more. Tours offered include the UT Kitchen Gardens as well as a solar house.
The Blooms Days Marketplace will sell plants, pottery, furniture, garden tools and art, while the Kids Corner features an insect zoo, story time and various make-and-take projects. The event, which also has live music and Knoxville food trucks, runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Grab some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, because it’s time to head to the ball game – 1860s style.
This summer, the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball is spearing their inaugural season of vintage base ball between their two current teams, the Franklin Farriers and the Nashville Maroons. The Association aims to transport spectators to an earlier era, where the game was played without gloves and pitchers were required to throw underhand.
The goal for the organization is to bring back traditional values that are lacking in modern-day athletics and encourage a sense of belonging for both children and adults.
The games for this summer will be played from 12-3 p.m. on May 5, June 2, June 30, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29 at Carnton Plantation. The games are free and open to the public. For more information, visit tennesseevintagebaseball.com.
Farmers markets, U-Pick farms, bed-and-breakfasts and choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms are just a few of the Tennessee agritourism attractions highlighted in this useful guide from Paul and Angela Knipple. Farm Fresh Tennessee does an excellent job at showcasing the state’s farm-related destinations, with informative descriptions of each. Enter below throughout the month of May for your chance to win.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner! This year’s holiday falls on Sunday, May 12, and we’ve got just the menu to show mom how much you appreciate her. Dazzle her with your cooking skills by making any of these easy and delicious springtime recipes. She’s sure to love them!
9th Annual Clinch River Spring Antique Fair – May 3-4, Clinton
Over 90 exhibitors from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio offer a wide range of antiques and collectibles to suit every taste. CONTACT: 865-457-5250
Memphis in May Music Festival – May 3-5, Memphis
This spirited music festival, held on famous Beale Street, attracts enthusiasts from all 50 states and foreign countries. CONTACT: 901-525-4611
Moonshine Daze – May 3-5, Celina
With something for everyone, this three-day event features a bike-a-thon, a 5k run, wagon ride shuttles, a petting zoo and more. CONTACT: 931-243-3338
Old Stone Fort Knapp In – May 3-5, Manchester
Discover Native American life at this three-day event that features flint kanpping, spear throwing, basket weaving and other native crafts. CONTACT: 931-723-5073
Motorcycle Ride & Classic Car Cruise Fundraiser – May 4, Celina
This benefit for the East 52 Fire Department kicks off with a 6 a.m. pancake breakfast. Registration starts at 10 a.m., and the ride and cruise begins at 11 a.m. CONTACT: 931-243-5352
Quilters Road Show – May 4, Townsend
See historic quilts, evaluations, demonstrations and more for all levels of quilters. CONTACT: 865-448-0044
West Tennessee Strawberry Festival – May 5-11 (pictured)
This year’s celebration marks the 76th anniversary of this fruity festival, which is always held the first week of May. Enjoy concerts, parades, recipe contests and more. CONTACT: 731-784-1842
Sam Davis Home’s 42nd Annual Days on the Farm – May 9-10, Smyrna
Where can you find pigs in a pen, a blacksmith making tools, and a spinner who shows how wool is transformed into yarn? Days on the Farm will feature more than 20 demonstrations including how to make candles from hot wax and how soap was made from pig fat and lye. Find out what life was like as a Civil War soldier during the event, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations recommended. CONTACT: 615-459-2341, samdavishome.org
Second Saturdays Cruise in the Square – May 11, Lewisburg
See unbelievable classic, vintage and antique cars and motorcycles, listen to great music, enjoy good food and admire local arts and crafts. Begins May 11 and continues on the second Saturday of each month through Sept. 14. CONTACT: 931-205-3476
Jr. Trout Tournament – May 12, Roan Mountain
Children ages 6-15 are encouraged to participate in this fun fishing contest sponsored by the Elizabethton Elk Lodge #1847 and Roan Mountain State Park. CONTACT: 423-772-0190
Annual Smoky Mountain Classic Chevy Roundup – May 17-19, Pigeon Forge
See a blast from the past at this Classic Chevy Show, which features hundreds of vehicles on display, including iconic ’55, ’56 and ’57 Chevys. CONTACT: 888-465-9644
International Biscuit Festival – May 18, Knoxville
Celebrate the heritage of home cooking through the most perfect of foods – the biscuit. CONTACT: 865-384-7290
Sam Davis Home: Rutherford County Free Day – May 18, Smyrna
The Sam Davis Home joins other tourist sites of Rutherford County for a day of free admission. The Sam Davis Home will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. for visitors interested in walking through the Middle Tennessee Civil War History Museum and the historic Sam Davis Home. Guides throughout the home will be dressed in period clothing. CONTACT: 615-459-2341, samdavishome.org
Greeneville’s Annual Iris Festival – May 18-19, Greeneville
Created in 1955, the annual Iris Festival features craftsmen, merchants, food vendors and entertainers from across the country. CONTACT: 423-638-4111
Middle Tennessee Fiber Festival– May 24-25, Dickson
Don’t miss the 7th annual Fiber Festival, showcasing wool, yarn and fiber products in Tennessee. CONTACT: 615-789-5943
15th Annual Granville Heritage Day– May 25, Rochester
Bring the family to celebrate this annual event which features antique cars, Civil War living history demonstrations, a bluegrass festival, a parade, tractor and engine shows and more. CONTACT: 615-443-6637
Exit 56 Blues Fest – May 25, Brownsville
Brownsville celebrates the blues with a day-long festival featuring live music, arts and crafts and more at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. CONTACT: 731-779-9000
Love Lavender Farm Festival – May 25-26, Johnson City
Experience the aromatherapy and beautiful view of a lavender growing farm and the products of the lavender plants. These Farm Bureau members open their farm for the two-day festival, giving attendees a chance to meet local lavender producers and enjoy plants, beauty and bath products, lavender food, relaxing essential oil massages and entertainment by live bands. Lavender Manor Farm is located at 1407 Lone Oak Road in Johnson City. CONTACT: 423-753-2351
Tennessee campers can now plan their trips well in advance, thanks to the Tennessee State Parks’ new consumer-friendly reservation system. Visitors can reserve campsites at 35 state parks up to a year in advance, and reservations can be made online, at the park’s office or by calling.
Before the new system, campers reserved campsites on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Parks hope this new transition will make planning trips easier for consumers.
By using the new service, campers can select which park they want to visit, the arrival and departure times they’re estimating, and their preferred campsite. The online tool even offers a campground map, with photos and prices for each individual campsite.
From the Hatcher family’s small country store on Arno Road in Williamson County, Tennessee, visitors can see the rolling forest and pastureland that make up the 400-acre Hatcher Family Dairy Farm.
Directly across the street is a churned-up swath of earth that will soon become The Grove, an 18-hole golf course with 800 homes, a clubhouse, spa and fitness center.
The new development is an all-too-tangible sign of what’s happening to many dairies throughout the Southeast, the Hatchers say. But the family has no plans to sell their fifth-generation farm. Instead, in a final effort to save their dairy business and make it profitable for years to come, they have drastically changed the way they operate.
“We knew we had encroaching development, and the costs of fuel and fertilizer are rising,” says Charlie Hatcher, a veterinarian and partner in the dairy business with his brother, Jim. “If we wanted to stay here and make a go of it and be profitable, we had to try something different – some way to add value to our product.”
A Brand of Their Own
For decades the family sold its pasture-derived product to a milk cooperative, which combined the Hatchers’ milk with milk from other farms before sending it to be sold in stores.
But in 2007, the Hatchers branded their own milk and started selling straight to the public, tapping into a growing niche market of consumers who prefer to buy their food directly from the source.
“A lot of people are concerned about where their food comes from and how the animals are treated,” Charlie says. “And they like to know who they’re dealing with.”
Hatcher Dairy sells its milk at Whole Foods Market in Nashville and Cool Springs as well as in several local grocery stores in the Middle Tennessee area. They also opened their own country store – right on the farm – to sell milk directly to area consumers.
All in the Family
The Hatchers – a tight-knit farming family with an unwavering sense of loyalty to their land and heritage – are ideal candidates for this sort of back-to-the-basics venture.
Brothers Charlie and Jim have been partners in the dairy since the early 1990s, and the entire family pitches in to keep things running smoothly.
Jim is the farm manager, and he also takes the lead during processing day and makes some milk deliveries. Charlie’s wife, Sharon, manages the country store, and his daughter, Jennifer, is a veterinarian (like her dad) who fills in where needed. Charlie’s son, Charles, is co-manager of the dairy and manages the milk delivery routes. Lucy Hatcher – sister to Charlie and Jim – is the farm tour director and “chief cleaner and organizer.”
The Milking Process
Part of the farm has been in the Hatcher family since 1831, and they’ve been milking cows continuously since that time – either by hand or by machine.
These days the Hatchers have about 60 adult milk cows, including Holsteins, Jerseys, cross-breeds and two Brown Swiss heifers. The cows graze in pastures year-round, rotating among 11 paddock lots planted with seasonal grasses – a major selling point.
“Our cows get clean, fresh pasture on a daily basis, and that is the huge thing that sets our milk apart,” Jim says. “It’s strictly Hatcher milk, and we’re with it every step of the way – from growing the grasses and milking the cows to processing. It’s ensured quality.”
“We wanted to let milk drinkers know a little bit about the cows that are working so hard,” Charlie says. “We wanted to personalize it. The majority are named, and they’re all part of the Hatcher family.”
The Hatchers’ signature chocolate milk is named “Brownie’s Best” after a beloved Brown Swiss cow that lived on the farm for many years before she died. The farm also produces whole, two percent and skim milk, along with butter, cream, half-and-half and gelato.
“It’s been so rewarding because of the people who drink our milk,” Charlie says. “On a daily basis people say ‘We appreciate what you’re doing, we’re glad it’s local and we’re glad it’s family.’”
The Hatchers are counting on loyal customers like Dawn Redlin of College Grove, who comes in every week to buy three half-gallon jugs of whole milk, and new customers like Sally Lewis of Thompson’s Station.
“I like the idea of local products and supporting local agriculture,” says Lewis, who stopped in recently after hearing from coworkers that she should check out the store.
In addition to milk, the Hatchers sell lots of other all-natural, locally made products, including soap, candles, salsas, jellies, barbecue sauces and cheeses. The store also offers sandwiches on locally baked bread, Hatcher-brand tote bags and T-shirts – and visitors can check email using the free Wi-Fi. Farm tours are available on Thursdays by reservation for $6 per person.
“Some days I’m overwhelmed,” Sharon says of business at the store, “and it’s mostly been word of mouth.”
They’re hoping the momentum continues.
“We all work very hard, and there’s still not a lot of profit involved,” Jim says. “But selling the land is not an option. We feel it’s not really ours to sell. We’re just going to try to pass it on to the next generation.”
More About Hatcher Dairy
Visitors to the Hatcher Family Dairy website learn much more than just where to find the farm. In the “Cow of the Month” section, learn about a featured bovine like Brownie, the namesake cow for the family’s chocolate milk. Or, find links to other great dairy sites for basic milk facts.
Visitors can also reach the Hatchers by phone at 615-368-3405.
Whether you’re a master gardener or just starting out, it’s good to know that adding compost and manure to your soil can significantly help yield better plants.
Worm Works in Etowah is helping gardeners fertilize with their very own organic worm casting mix. According to research, worm castings are a sterile, odorless means to condition the soil and a natural way to give plants the nutrients they need, when they need them.
The casting fertilizer is great for all types of plants, including vegetables and annual flowers, perennials, potted plants, roses, trees and lawns. The company’s helpful website even gives customers specific instructions on how to use the fertilizer for each type of plant.
Want to try Worm Works fertilizer for your own garden? We’re giving it away throughout the month of April! Click this link for your chance to enter and win three bags of the fertilizer.