His tomatoes are some of the best you can find. Like many farms in Grainger County in East Tennessee, the Stratton Tomato Farm grows the crop in both fields and greenhouses. In addition to those great-tasting Grainger County tomatoes, the Ritters grow a variety of garden vegetables which can be purchased as they're brought out of the field at the Big Red Barn on Hwy 11W between Bean Station and Rutledge, Tennessee. The box should have said greenhouse tomatoes instead. We grow top-quality produce. Like many Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan Farms is a family operation. We believe that this is only the beginning. The inspectors didn't like the looks of the tomato. Tomatoes are the main commodity and these “World Famous Tomatoes” are highlighted annually the last weekend in July at the Grainger County Tomato Festival. We use buffer zones between crops. 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. We have people come in from out of state and make special trips to Grainger County to buy locally. Grainger County tomatoes have in recent decades become nationally and internationally renowned. Region: East - Grainger County. We have 2,100 boxes in the cooler ready to go out. They are known somewhat world-wide, for they have been sold to some markets in Canada, Mexico, England, and I'm sure other countries I'm not aware of. Hubert Williams Tomato Packers 12248 Lakeshore Dr., Rutledge 865-828-3308 Available: Strawberries, Beans, … People have forgotten what a tomato is really supposed to taste like, and young people have never tasted a true “tomato taste.”. For many growers, the season stretches from mid-March to mid-December. Jimmy Pierce likes to grow a 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. I'm proud to be part of this. Located right here in East Tennessee, Sweetwater Valley Farms is one of the few producers of fine farmstead cheese. The county celebrates the tomato in an annual festival since 1992. 'We can ship a medium-grade flavor tomato with some extra shelf life to a restaurant in New Jersey, and when a customer puts that in their mouth, they'll swear it's the best tomato they've ever had,' Carver said. 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. Thus, we educate our customers, letting them know what to expect from a homegrown tomato. Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes is run by Steve Longmire. That's when the problems started. The Morgans sell a variety of tomato known as 'Empire' that's commonly grown by Grainger County growers. In 2018, Grainger County was reported to have over 650 greenhouses, 923 farms producing 500 acres of field vegetables, and nearly 90,000 acres of farmland. 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. Call for additional directions. Grainger County is situated on the Clinch River (impounded by Norris Dam to form Norris Lake) and on the Holston River (including Cherokee Lake). A third reason that the Grainger County tomato has been a unique, much desired tomato is that Grainger County farmers have, until recent years, uniformly grown garden type varieties rather than shipping varieties. The farmers in Grainger County are still growing and selling our world famous tomatoes and other amazing veggies. 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. It is nothing more than an attempt to control our food supply by the federal government. "Grainger County tomatoes mean the world to Grainger County and the reason is, we don't have a lot of industry. Reviews (865) 828-3308. I don't get up every day dreading to go to work. Grainger County Farm. Grainger County is in the Eastern Region region. Williams Hubert Tomato Packers 12248 Lakeshore Dr Rutledge TN 37861. Around thirty-thousand festival-goers across the state of Tennessee and the … The Morgan tomato farm was started by Howard's father, James, a former zinc miner who switched to full-time farming in the late 1940s. If I grew a hard, shipping tomato with no flavor, I'd be killing the Grainger County name.'. 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. We mainly focus on tomatoes, but we also grow beans, cucumbers, pepper… The last statistics I am aware of indicates that better than 80 percent of the tomatoes consumed in this country are gas-green tomatoes. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL) (Photo: Adam Lau), Tomato greenhouses and farms dot hillsides outside Rutledge, Tenn., in Grainger County. Each operation is a vine ripe operation. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL) (Photo: Adam Lau). That simply means that our tomatoes are picked in a ripe stage and are ready to sell or eat. Get reviews, hours, directions, coupons and more for Ritter Farms at 2999 Highway 11W S, Rutledge, TN 37861. They'll talk to our produce managers and say, 'I want the very best you have.''. 'Right now we're gearing up for the Fourth of July. 865-828-8365. strattonfarmstn@yahoo.com. Here, the picturesque country roads are flanked by greenhouses, and, on a recent visit, the tomato farms were in various stages of production. Somebody has got to do this after we're gone. In reality, it has more to do with the rock outcroppings that dot the rolling hills. We feel strongly about giving our customers a good tasting tomato. Crops: Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Beans, Peppers, Onions, Watermelons, Cantaloupe, Peas, Pumpkins … Grainger County is known for its historic and agriculture preservation. 'I can lose $200,000 worth of tomatoes in 10 minutes in a hailstorm. Our Farm … The south-central part of the county is ground zero for growing tomatoes. Yes, that Grainger County — where home-grown and carefully cultivated tomatoes have gained a brilliant reputation for taste and texture from coast to coast, if not beyond. View our Wholesale Listing. 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. 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. 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. In the meantime, consumers are being trained to choose produce by its appearance and not its taste. The decomposition of the limestone rock in this county adds alkalinity to the soil and gives it a pH that is very favorable for growing tomatoes. Morgan's Farm is located in southern Grainger County, TN. As they looked to seed companies for tomatoes with the qualities demanded by chain stores, Grainger County farmers found that there were plenty to choose from, and Grainger County farmers experimented with many varieties. 'We grow our greenhouse tomatoes in the soil, and we stick with proven varieties.'. 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. Now we provide acres of produce and other farm items to local vendors, grocers, individuals- both regionally and nationally. It will be misshapen, it will have moderate growth cracks, cat faces, and scaring. Seed companies and other companies like Monsanto are genetically engineering our seeds to increase production, appearance, and shelf life at the expense of taste and health in most of our produce items. The rest, he said, are a mix of 'shipping' varieties with less flavor but longer shelf life. 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. We also feel that if these major chain stores must have the picture-perfect, hard-as-a-rock, cardboard-tasting tomato, then someone else will have to sell them this type of tomato because we have a dedication to the general public and to our customers to preserve the reputation of the Grainger County tomato and give them the best tasting tomato on the market. Come see us. 'I never went to day care,' Danny said. Those guidelines include detailed policies regarding production, packing, distribution and handling of fresh tomatoes. Buying local Flushing foods is a simple way to do all three. 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. Stratton Tomato Farm will be having early varieties of ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse on our farm starting in May. Call or email us! John Mixon Farms started like most farms do- with one man and something to sell. 'The big stores want a product that's picture perfect and hard as brick — a tomato that's pretty, but has no taste. Sprinkled throughout the landscape were dark-green fields where the early season tomato plants were held up by stakes and twine. It's a classic table tomato packed with flavor, but also somewhat delicate compared to hardier 'shipping' varieties. We cull a lot of our tomatoes 'cause they crack. Over the years, Grainger County tomatoes have been a tomato that was desired above most other tomatoes because of their rich garden flavor and their homegrown appearance and texture. By this time, a week to 10 days has passed before they are shipped to distribution centers and then to chain stores, which makes them close to two weeks old before the consumer can buy them. Steve Longmire, of Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes, had his first field of tomatoes when he was 7 years old. The County is comprised of three cities Bean Station, Blaine and Rutledge with a population of approximately 25,000. Includes crop descriptions and photos, information about the farm market, festivals, mountain traditions and recipes. Growing tomatoes in Grainger County is a staggered process that occupies almost the entire year. 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. We are a small agricultural community … (Photo: Adam Lau), Freshly picked tomatoes sit in Hubert Williams Farms' storefront in Rutledge, Tenn. on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. One reason is the agricultural practices used by the majority of the farmers in Grainger County. Some of the rows were covered in plastic, others mulched with straw. 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. Grainger county is a rural county whose primary industry is agriculture. Grainger County is situated close to Knoxville and is renowned for its tomato crops. Howard Morgan said as the market has expanded, he has invested in refrigerated trucks with air-ride suspension that protect his tomatoes over the long haul. These are consumer identifiable traits of a homegrown tomato. Grainger County produce is direct from our farms to you. Today there are over 650 hot houses in the county and 500 acres of field crops of mostly tomatoes which bring in $10 million in sales annually. 'People say the flavor is not there unless the tomato is grown in a field, but our way of producing in greenhouses is fairly unique,' Carver said. There are different reasons why these tomatoes have had these unique qualities. Stores in this area had to have the Grainger County tomato because that's what people in this area wanted to buy. Since then Randle and his brother Mike have been farming with there Dad and they have since quit Tobacco but have continued with produce. Rutledge, TN 37861. 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. Stratton generally starts his greenhouse tomatoes around Dec. 10, and then plants them about two months later. Search for other Fruits & Vegetables-Wholesale in … VISITING. Vegetables tomatoes . Went to festival last weekend, unfortunately bought 2 boxes of homegrown tomatoes. A family farm based in Knoxville, TN happy to provide locals with fresh produce. Another reason that the Grainger County tomato is unique in its superior taste is the soil in this county. Get directions, reviews and information for Williams Hubert Tomato Packers in Rutledge, TN. We at Ritter Farms are concerned for our customers, our family, and our employees. 'That's the best way to know that the food you're feeding your family is safe.'. I couldn’t have chosen a more challenging day to watch someone pick tomatoes. Grainger County is limestone country, and it's the limestone-based soil that makes the tomatoes both sweet and tart. 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. 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. These grants turn on in May of each year. Local food doesn't suffer the "jet lag" of produce trucked across the country. The average size of farms for sale in Grainger County was 45 acres. Like many Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan Farms is a family operation. The Grainger County tomato is unique in its time from harvest to consumer. Physical Address. Please take a beautiful country drive to our mountainous county to visit with our farmers in their stores on their farms to buy those juicy tomatoes you love. We feel that this is the safer means of fertilizing our crops. This change in the quality specifications and shelf life for the tomato has affected the choice of varieties that Grainger County farmers grow. This produce is washed in water baths or sprinkler systems that contain a certain amount of chlorine or some other disinfectant. There are two levels of funding: 35% and 50% cost-share dollars. Grainger County's tomatoes are an agricultural success story on par with the sweet onions of Vidalia, Ga. They know the names of the farms. Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Grant Program - These cost-share grants put money back onto the farm as investments to livestock handling equipment, registered bulls, hay storage barns, hay feeders and much more. Carver said about 70 percent of Grainger County's tomatoes are the 'flavor' variety that's the most perishable. 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. People eat it and suffer the consequences. 'We use greenhouses to get on the market as early as possible and stay as late as possible,' said Howard Morgan. But processing produce continuously all day long at a rate of thousands of tons in order to meet food demands leads to much of the produce being processed through dirty water on dirty equipment. See reviews, photos, directions, phone numbers and more for Clifton Farms Tomatoes locations in Rutledge, TN. Ritter said in the last five years he has seen hybrids, and even genetically modified strains, overtake the old-fashioned tomato as growers strive to meet the demands of major supermarkets. 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). Jack Ritter, of Ritter Farms, is a longtime Grainger County tomato producer who agrees that the best way for consumers to know what they're getting is to make a trip to the farm. We have seen this happen in the chain stores that we sell to. The taste that keeps one coming back for more is from the acidic content of the tomato, not the sugar content. Steve Longmire owns Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes in Grainger County. Tomatoes with a “just picked out of the garden” taste are not perfect. Ritter Farms is a second generation family farm. We explained that they were destroying the purpose of having a Grainger County tomato. 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. They are not hard as a brick, but they taste like a tomato rather than a piece of cardboard. 'If it wasn't for some of the shipping varieties, we'd never have tomatoes year round. 'Locally, consumers know the stores and roadside markets. Of the 95 counties in Tennessee, Grainger County ranks 77th in terms of size. 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. 'I played in the tomato fields. The dual method helps ensure that tomatoes are available from spring well into fall. Grainger County. We're in a very rural community, a very rural area. TN (Grainger County) Phone (865) 828-3880 Email Us. Grainger County, nestled in the eastern part of Tennessee, has been growing tomatoes since the 40s which was then passed down through generations to create a variety of tomatoes … 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. Early greenhouse tomatoes come first, followed by early, middle and late season field crops. Location: Lakeshore Rd 3.5 miles from Hwy 92. This is part of the burden we feel as a family concerned for the health and safety of our fellow Americans. But when Grainger County farmers had to look to chain stores to market their tomatoes, all that changed. Our first sales were to individual stores, then we were asked to deliver the tomatoes to a central distribution center. Hopefully, the younger generation will slide over to farming and feed the world.'. Thousands of tons daily go through this same water. Howard's son, Danny, started helping out when he was 9 years old. They grow hundreds of acres of tomatoes and ship farther than we do, but we grow a different product than they do,' he said. He also provides us with okra, yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans. Location (s): 175 Greelee Road. It is the acid of the tomato that gives it a good taste. 865-828-3308. TN (Grainger County) Phone 865-828-5690 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. PRODUCTS OFFERED. Ritter and his wife, Nancy, grew Grainger County tomatoes for 45 years and now run a cattle operation. It was July 27, 2016, and the temperature in Grainger County hovered at around 96 degrees. Ritter Farms has elected not to grow this genetically modified tomato that tastes like cardboard. Hubert Williams has provided us with Grainger County tomatoes for over 20 years. Hubert Williams Farm. 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. WHOLESALE LOCAL FOOD GUIDE LISTING. They wanted us to grow a tomato that conformed to their specs. Region: East - Grainger County. Phone #'s: (865) 828-8316 Fax: (865) 828-3199. Hubert Williams. 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? Directions. Howard's son, Danny, started helping out when he was 9 years old. The only thing they could do was to choose the lesser of the evils of the genetically engineered tomato and grow the one with the least mealy, cardboard taste. People wonder what is happening to honey bees world-wide. 'There are not a lot of big growers in Grainger County like you see in Cocke County or other parts of the state. This is not only true with tomatoes, but with other produce items as well. We have a strong local market, but we also ship to northern groceries.'. photos by ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL Anthony Carver, Grainger County agricultural extension agent, admires ripe tomatoes at Morgan Farms in Rutledge, Tenn. (Photo: Adam Lau), April and Betty Morgan, from left, sort freshly picked tomatoes into differently graded boxes at Morgan Farms in Rutledge, Tenn. on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. 6195 Hwy 92 Rutledge TN (Grainger County) Mailing Address. Then they are sent to re-packers where they are handled again, place packed in boxes and stickered with a PLU code. Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. We always grow our crops with a minimum of chemicals. 'You need to find the old growers, the people who stick to traditional farming practices and avoid chemicals,' Ritter said. At first ,they wanted the Grainger County tomato for its name. Who knew an ear of corn or fresh tomato could improve your health, your community and the environment, all at the same time? 'Everything we grow is an eating tomato that's soft and meaty. Grainger County tomatoes are known by almost every person within a 250 mile radius and by a great majority of people throughout the United States. We even go into our stores and show their customers how to choose the best tasting tomato by looks and feel. 'I never went to day care,' Danny … That means that they are picked green, run through washing and grading machines that would bruise a ripe tomato, put in coolers and exposed to ethylene gas which makes them ripen. Anthony Carver, Grainger County agricultural extension agent, said the county's greenhouse tomatoes are grown in the ground without the use of hydroponics. Now, the iconic red barn has donned an equally iconic shade of orange for the nearly 6,000 travelers who pass by each day. Gas-green tomatoes have to be from 10 days to 2 weeks old by the time the consumer can purchase them. For years now, shoppers have purchased tomatoes and other produce for looks rather than taste. Growing tomatoes and other garden vegetables in Grainger County. 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. High sugar content gives the tomato a bland taste. The goings on at the Grainger County Tomato Festival These photos are representation of what is going on at The Grainger County Tomato Festival throughout the years.We have artists, great food, farmers, authors, living history camp, tomato wars and much much more. Farmers' Markets around Grainger County, TN. The first product has a good chance to be clean because the bath water starts out clean and the equipment starts out clean. At the Howard Morgan Farm, family members were busy packing into 25-pound boxes tomatoes that had been picked from the greenhouses that morning. If you are interested in carrying our Grainger County Tomatoes, or other farm items, please inquire! In a lot of crops, we can almost be considered an organic grower except that we use commercial fertilizers instead of manure. Over the course of the season Longmire plants about 25 acres of tomatoes, which makes his a fairly typical sized operation for Granger County. We're listed in ASAP's Wholesale Local Food Guide, ASAP's Farm to Business Trade Directory. Zavels Family Farms. RUTLEDGE, Tenn. — Some say it's the mist off Cherokee Lake that gives Grainger County tomatoes their renowned texture and flavor. Additional Information: Farm tours and school tours available. Some of the shipping tomatoes I'm talking about are simply hybrids that have those characteristics, but some are genetically modified, and that's what scares me.'. Menu & Reservations Make Reservations . We have concentrated on going back to the old varieties we used to grow by using heirloom seeds. ', 'This is hard work, and everything is expensive,' added Howard. 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. 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