By Tiffany Howard
Do you like rhubarb? My first time trying this plant was at Seven Springs Farm in Maynardville, Tennessee, and it was sweet, tart and delicious. This vegetable that is often used more like a fruit – strawberry rhubarb pie, anyone? – can be hard to find locally, but you can get it fresh from Union County farmers Donna and Rick Riddle.
These high school sweethearts went to college and both graduated from the University of Tennessee with agricultural degrees, though their areas of study were quite different – Donna studied ornamental horticulture and landscape design, while Rick took the animal science route. He followed college with service in the Air Force, during which he, Donna, and their two children lived overseas and across the United States.
But in 2005, they returned to their old East Tennessee stomping grounds and bought a farm, which quickly diversified with more than 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as cattle.
Today, the Riddles grow specialty green bean varieties, peppers, tomatoes, melons, corn and too many more to list. They also offer in-season pick-your-own blueberries, raspberries and muscadine grapes, but the bulk of their produce can be purchased at several area farmers markets.
“I really enjoy the customers,” Donna says. “I like being able to provide local produce for our community, and it’s always nice to teach the children about where food comes from.” Rick notes the benefits of farm life include setting your own schedule, working for yourself and never getting bored.
Seven Springs sells its fruits and vegetables at the Union County Farmers Market, New Harvest Farmers Market, and the FARM Markets in Knoxville and Oak Ridge.
For more information on seasonal availability of rhubarb and the farm’s other produce, visit www.facebook.com/sevenspringsfarm or call (865) 803-0281.