R&C Farm Grainger County, Tennessee Randle Pierce is a 2nd generation Farmer and his Dad and his family started farming Tobacco and Tomatoes back in 1960. Except for the family farms in Grainger County and in small agricultural counties in other areas of the United States, the majority of our produce on the grocery store shelves go through this process: produce is grown by corporate farms with thousands of acres and many farmers who funnel their produce through a central location called a packing house, processing plant, or receiver facility. The average size of farms for sale in Grainger County was 45 acres. For many growers, the season stretches from mid-March to mid-December. 'Locally, consumers know the stores and roadside markets. "Grainger County tomatoes mean the world to Grainger County and the reason is, we don't have a lot of industry. Another reason that the Grainger County tomato is unique in its superior taste is the soil in this county. People wonder what is happening to honey bees world-wide. Tomatoes with a “just picked out of the garden” taste are not perfect. Our Farm … 'There are not a lot of big growers in Grainger County like you see in Cocke County or other parts of the state. In reality, it has more to do with the rock outcroppings that dot the rolling hills. Longmire said it was in the early 1980s when Grainger County tomatoes started to achieve widespread recognition and growers like himself started to branch out to other states. The Morgans sell a variety of tomato known as 'Empire' that's commonly grown by Grainger County growers. Region: East - Grainger County. John Mixon Farms started like most farms do- with one man and something to sell. At Ritter Farms, we try to educate our consumers and especially young people who come to the farm in groups from their schools by letting them know what a garden variety tomato looks like and tastes like. If I grew a hard, shipping tomato with no flavor, I'd be killing the Grainger County name.'. Grainger County TN used to be the premier growing location for farms that produced great home grown tomatoes but the loss of mom and pop stores forced most of the growers to change to the terrible, hard, mealy, tasteless tomatoes they sell in chain supermarkets. We believe that this is only the beginning. Available: Strawberries, Beans, … But when Grainger County farmers had to look to chain stores to market their tomatoes, all that changed. People have forgotten what a tomato is really supposed to taste like, and young people have never tasted a true “tomato taste.”. Howard's son, Danny, started helping out when he was 9 years old. Who knew an ear of corn or fresh tomato could improve your health, your community and the environment, all at the same time? Hopefully, the younger generation will slide over to farming and feed the world.'. As we must educate our customers – the chain stores, and other retail markets we service must also educate the consumer who buys the product to take home and eat. Stratton Tomato Farm will be having early varieties of ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse on our farm starting in May. People, as a majority, seem to feel good about this system except the family farmer and the ones who see this new system for what it is. The inspectors didn't like the looks of the tomato. These grants turn on in May of each year. Since then Randle and his brother Mike have been farming with there Dad and they have since quit Tobacco but have continued with produce. Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes is run by Steve Longmire. Farmers' Markets around Grainger County, TN. We're in a very rural community, a very rural area. Attention to safe practices is focused on everything from the quality of the soil where the tomatoes are grown, to the cleanliness of the packing facility, to the delivery to the markets. In order to sell them a hard tomato that was perfectly shaped, and had a long shelf life and no blemishes, they would have to sacrifice the very thing that the Grainger County tomato was all about – good taste. Then they are sent to re-packers where they are handled again, place packed in boxes and stickered with a PLU code. Come see us. TN (Grainger County) Phone (865) 828-3880 Email Us. Each operation is a vine ripe operation. There are two levels of funding: 35% and 50% cost-share dollars. Anytime you can grow a crop and spray it with a herbicide that is labeled with skull and crossbones and it kill everything in the field except that particular crop, then the crop takes it in systemically, where does the product end up? PRODUCTS OFFERED. Grainger County. This produce is washed in water baths or sprinkler systems that contain a certain amount of chlorine or some other disinfectant. We always grow our crops with a minimum of chemicals. Chain stores, produce markets, and consumers all over this country are free to choose the kind of tomato they want to eat, but as for me and my family, we choose to grow the type of tomato that has a tomato taste, and we choose to grow it in a way that is safe for all those who choose to buy it and eat it. Additional Information: We are located 4 miles on Lakeshore Road from Hwy 92 or 13 miles on Lakeshore Road from Hwy 25 E (375 Hwy). These companies are a fear factor within themselves because they are developing seeds and varieties of plants that are resistant to different kinds of harsh chemicals, such as insecticides and herbicides that, if an insect such as a honey bee were to pollinate that particular crop and carry the pollen back to its home, it would destroy the entire hive. Local food doesn't suffer the "jet lag" of produce trucked across the country. Now, the iconic red barn has donned an equally iconic shade of orange for the nearly 6,000 travelers who pass by each day. The Grainger County Tomato Grainger County tomatoes are tomatoes that are grown in the county of Grainger in the eastern part of the state of Tennessee. Over the course of the season Longmire plants about 25 acres of tomatoes, which makes his a fairly typical sized operation for Granger County. They are not hard as a brick, but they taste like a tomato rather than a piece of cardboard. This tomato is not picture-perfect – it has a slight give to it, it normally has a large woody calyx end, it has a tomato smell and a rich tomato taste that is very juicy and not mealy. Phone #'s: (865) 828-8316 Fax: (865) 828-3199. We mainly focus on tomatoes, but we also grow beans, cucumbers, pepper… Ritter Farms is a second generation family farm. So when the fruit begins to fly at the Tomatoes Wars at the Grainger County Tomato Festival be glad it wasn't the potato that became the county's number one crop. Because of our history of growing a tomato with an exceptional taste and being proud to put our name on a unique product that keeps people coming back for more, we have become concerned about what is happening in the produce industry. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL) (Photo: Adam Lau). I don't get up every day dreading to go to work. They wanted us to grow a tomato that conformed to their specs. VISITING. I'm proud to be part of this. One of the things our farmers have been able to boast about is the fact that our product is picked one day and delivered to the grocery store shelf the next day. The Grainger County tomato is unique in its time from harvest to consumer. For approximately 100 years, Grainger County has been noted for production of a tomato that has the same taste as the tomato you picked in your grandmother's garden. The south-central part of the county is ground zero for growing tomatoes. Call or email us! TN (Grainger County) Phone 865-828-5690 Major chain stores and produce outlets started demanding that produce, especially tomatoes, be picture-perfect and hard as a brick so it would keep on store shelves 15 to 30 days without decaying. The only way the farmers could survive and continue selling tomatoes to the chain stores was to sacrifice taste in order to meet the requirements of the inspectors. We are a small agricultural community … Our first sales were to individual stores, then we were asked to deliver the tomatoes to a central distribution center. They know the names of the farms. Steve Longmire owns Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes in Grainger County. Grainger County is known for its historic and agriculture preservation. The rest, he said, are a mix of 'shipping' varieties with less flavor but longer shelf life. Get reviews, hours, directions, coupons and more for Ritter Farms at 2999 Highway 11W S, Rutledge, TN 37861. Like many farms in Grainger County in East Tennessee, the Stratton Tomato Farm grows the crop in both fields and greenhouses. The first product has a good chance to be clean because the bath water starts out clean and the equipment starts out clean. Stratton generally starts his greenhouse tomatoes around Dec. 10, and then plants them about two months later. We have seen this happen in the chain stores that we sell to. Of the 95 counties in Tennessee, Grainger County ranks 77th in terms of size. View on a Map. The last statistics I am aware of indicates that better than 80 percent of the tomatoes consumed in this country are gas-green tomatoes. That simply means that our tomatoes are picked in a ripe stage and are ready to sell or eat. Directions. They found varieties that had been engineered to ripen uniformly, be free of growth cracks, be perfectly uniform in shape and size, but in all the varieties, the one thing lacking was a good taste. WHOLESALE LOCAL FOOD GUIDE LISTING. Hubert Williams Tomato Packers 12248 Lakeshore Dr., Rutledge 865-828-3308 I couldn’t have chosen a more challenging day to watch someone pick tomatoes. Grainger County's tomatoes are an agricultural success story on par with the sweet onions of Vidalia, Ga. According to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension office, the county has about 70 tomato producers who grow their tomatoes in 600-plus greenhouses and about 500 acres of fields. In stores that carry our tomatoes, once educated and enabled to recognize our tomato for its looks and taste, we have seen sales increase from 10 to 50 percent. Ritter and his wife, Nancy, grew Grainger County tomatoes for 45 years and now run a cattle operation. In the county that’s home to the world-famous tomatoes, Red Barn Produce on U.S. Route 11-W in Grainger County serves as a community landmark and destination for fresh produce. We feel that this is the safer means of fertilizing our crops. This is part of the burden we feel as a family concerned for the health and safety of our fellow Americans. Rutledge, TN 37861. Hubert Williams has provided us with Grainger County tomatoes for over 20 years. Grainger County is in the Eastern Region region. A family farm based in Knoxville, TN happy to provide locals with fresh produce. 'I played in the tomato fields. 'Right now we're gearing up for the Fourth of July. Reviews (865) 828-3308. Hubert Williams. Like many Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan Farms is a family operation. It is the acid of the tomato that gives it a good taste. Gas-green tomatoes have to be from 10 days to 2 weeks old by the time the consumer can purchase them. We're listed in ASAP's Wholesale Local Food Guide, ASAP's Farm to Business Trade Directory. They'll talk to our produce managers and say, 'I want the very best you have.''. I can show them at Ritter Farms because we have our own honey bees and we have seen this take place ever since seed companies and Monsanto have developed this monster that has to be affecting the general population by causing different forms of diseases, especially cancers and serving as population control by causing sterility in humans. 'If it wasn't for some of the shipping varieties, we'd never have tomatoes year round. Jimmy Pierce likes to grow a Around thirty-thousand festival-goers across the state of Tennessee and the … That's when the problems started. We use buffer zones between crops. 'I can lose $200,000 worth of tomatoes in 10 minutes in a hailstorm. In order to meet rigorous inspections at distribution centers, farmers have had to give up growing some of the typical garden type varieties because they wouldn't pass an inspection. 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