I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.
Blackberry Farm

Bob and I took a 4 day trip to Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN last week.  It was wonderful!  The weather was perfect with crisp air and blue skies.  The air smelled of falling leaves with a hint of woodsmoke.  The Smokey Mountains were a riot of color and just magnificent.  It was a magical trip.

I first learned of Blackberry Farm years ago.  I don't even remember when or where but I did live in Knoxville, TN for a year with my aunt while I was in high school and perhaps I heard about it back then.  Anyway, I've always wanted to visit as the service was supposed to be excellent, the food out of this world (it was) and just a relaxing place to stay.  The place has a very genteel southern feel and it is peaceful and quiet.

Sometime in early spring I was reading my favorite magazine, Southern Living, and they had a best places to stay in the South article.  In it was featured Blackberry Farm.  I decided that this was the year we would make the trip.  I began doing more research about the place and I discovered that their farm/garden to table program is pretty top-notch.  I was curious about how the garden was run on property and what is supplemented in the way of produce and supplies.

I chose to take a tour of the garden with the gardening manager.  He was very nice and informative.  Most people are hearing now about heirloom seeds and organic gardening.    I am particularly interested in heirloom seeds and the work of some specific seed companies because I am concerned about companies like Monsanto compromising the integrity of agriculture as a whole.  Patents  on seeds, seeds then cross-pollinating onto small farms and farmers, who never intentionally "stole" that genetic material being sued by huge, monstrous companies for damages is just outrageous.   I buy products that contain GMO crops - but I try to make informed choices, especially when I choose to plant veggie seeds in my own garden.  It is tough to find the right balance, but I don't think perfecting avoidance is the goal, I think balance and awareness is key.

Anyway, I discovered that Blackberry Farm, like the Gettles of Baker Creek Seed, Seed Savers Exchange, FedCo and other farmers and seed suppliers is working hard to find and preserve heirloom seeds from extinction.  I respect that Blackberry Farm sends out their gardeners on seed finding trips, supports seed trials in their gardens and then outsources that seed to local farmers to help grow produce to support their resort's restaurants.

I was very surprised to learn that Blackberry Farm is attempting to grow truffles - in East Tennessee!  How neat is that?!  The gardener I spent time with was especially proud of their truffle experiment.  Apparently they are on year 6 and should know within a couple years if it worked or not.  Several years ago a UT PhD student successfully grew truffles for his dissertation work, researched local places to sell them to and found Blackberry Farm.  BF then in turn decided if the student made it work then maybe they could too.  The truffle industry in France is about as corrupt as the tulip trade was in the 16th and 17th centuries.  It will be interesting to see if Blackberry Farm and their gardeners are successful with this experiment.

I'm happy to financially support via my patronage a company that chooses to fund work that I think is important for our collective good.    I had a great time there, felt very relaxed and loved every minute of our fall trip and even better I felt like in some teeny-tiny way I was helping support work that is meaningful and important.  Bravo, Blackberry Farm for supporting small, local, organic farms and striving to save heirlooms varieties from extinction.




Stephanie said...

Neat post. Full of great info I've never even thought of before. (Yes, I'm a bit ashamed to admit that.) On a side note, your hair is getting so long! Loved the pic. : )

Leti said...

Hello Jess. Lovely post! We would like to feature you and your story in Lille Magazine. Please email me as soon as you get this: editor @ lilliemag dot com

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