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. Our Farm … '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. Those guidelines include detailed policies regarding production, packing, distribution and handling of fresh tomatoes. Like many Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan Farms is a family operation. Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes is run by Steve Longmire. 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. This is not only true with tomatoes, but with other produce items as well. Zavels Family Farms. Call for additional directions. But when Grainger County farmers had to look to chain stores to market their tomatoes, all that changed. They grow hundreds of acres of tomatoes and ship farther than we do, but we grow a different product than they do,' he said. Reviews (865) 828-3308. A family farm based in Knoxville, TN happy to provide locals with fresh produce. 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. We believe that this is only the beginning. TN (Grainger County) Phone (865) 828-3880 Email Us. The inspectors didn't like the looks of the tomato. Then they are sent to re-packers where they are handled again, place packed in boxes and stickered with a PLU code. Thousands of tons daily go through this same water. 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. 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. PRODUCTS OFFERED. He also provides us with okra, yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans. In the meantime, consumers are being trained to choose produce by its appearance and not its taste. It is the acid of the tomato that gives it a good taste. Call or email us! Grainger County Farm. Come see us. 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. At first ,they wanted the Grainger County tomato for its name. 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. The south-central part of the county is ground zero for growing tomatoes. 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? 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. Grainger County is known for its historic and agriculture preservation. Steve Longmire, of Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes, had his first field of tomatoes when he was 7 years old. This change in the quality specifications and shelf life for the tomato has affected the choice of varieties that Grainger County farmers grow. Additional Information: Farm tours and school tours available. People eat it and suffer the consequences. If you are interested in carrying our Grainger County Tomatoes, or other farm items, please inquire! 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. 865-828-8365. email@example.com. Ritter Farms is a second generation family farm. WHOLESALE LOCAL FOOD GUIDE LISTING. We at Ritter Farms are concerned for our customers, our family, and our employees. Sprinkled throughout the landscape were dark-green fields where the early season tomato plants were held up by stakes and twine. 'If it wasn't for some of the shipping varieties, we'd never have tomatoes year round. Around thirty-thousand festival-goers across the state of Tennessee and the … It will be misshapen, it will have moderate growth cracks, cat faces, and scaring. This produce is washed in water baths or sprinkler systems that contain a certain amount of chlorine or some other disinfectant. Phone #'s: (865) 828-8316 Fax: (865) 828-3199. 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. John Mixon Farms started like most farms do- with one man and something to sell. 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. ', 'This is hard work, and everything is expensive,' added Howard. These are consumer identifiable traits of a homegrown tomato. Tomatoes with a “just picked out of the garden” taste are not perfect. (Photo: Adam Lau), Freshly picked tomatoes sit in Hubert Williams Farms' storefront in Rutledge, Tenn. on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. It is nothing more than an attempt to control our food supply by the federal government. Anthony Carver, Grainger County agricultural extension agent, said the county's greenhouse tomatoes are grown in the ground without the use of hydroponics. Like many Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan Farms is a family operation. Menu & Reservations Make Reservations . If the government can tell you what you can eat and how it is grown, harvested, prepared, and sold, then the government has total control of our food supply, and we, as subjects of this country, are at their mercy. People have forgotten what a tomato is really supposed to taste like, and young people have never tasted a true “tomato taste.”. The county celebrates the tomato in an annual festival since 1992. 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.'. Growing tomatoes in Grainger County is a staggered process that occupies almost the entire year. 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. Vegetables tomatoes . Some of the rows were covered in plastic, others mulched with straw. We're in a very rural community, a very rural area. 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. Here, the picturesque country roads are flanked by greenhouses, and, on a recent visit, the tomato farms were in various stages of production. 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 use buffer zones between crops. The farmers in Grainger County are still growing and selling our world famous tomatoes and other amazing veggies. Each operation is a vine ripe operation. Steve Longmire owns Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes in Grainger County. Another reason that the Grainger County tomato is unique in its superior taste is the soil in this county. One reason is the agricultural practices used by the majority of the farmers in Grainger County. 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. 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 know the names of the farms. 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. The dual method helps ensure that tomatoes are available from spring well into fall. Grainger County is in the Eastern Region region. Rutledge, TN 37861. 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. View on a Map. Grainger county is a rural county whose primary industry is agriculture. Grainger County is situated on the Clinch River (impounded by Norris Dam to form Norris Lake) and on the Holston River (including Cherokee Lake). Thus, we educate our customers, letting them know what to expect from a homegrown tomato. 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. I couldn’t have chosen a more challenging day to watch someone pick tomatoes. Get reviews, hours, directions, coupons and more for Ritter Farms at 2999 Highway 11W S, Rutledge, TN 37861. For years now, shoppers have purchased tomatoes and other produce for looks rather than taste. The total value of approximately 2,000 acres of farms recently listed for sale in Grainger County, Tennessee, is $7 million. They wanted us to grow a tomato that conformed to their specs. 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. In a lot of crops, we can almost be considered an organic grower except that we use commercial fertilizers instead of manure. Get directions, reviews and information for Williams Hubert Tomato Packers in Rutledge, TN. Ritter and his wife, Nancy, grew Grainger County tomatoes for 45 years and now run a cattle operation. 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. Gas-green tomatoes have to be from 10 days to 2 weeks old by the time the consumer can purchase them. 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. 'I never went to day care,' Danny said. We always grow our crops with a minimum of chemicals. RUTLEDGE, Tenn. — Some say it's the mist off Cherokee Lake that gives Grainger County tomatoes their renowned texture and flavor. 'That's the best way to know that the food you're feeding your family is safe.'. Buying local Flushing foods is a simple way to do all three. Stratton generally starts his greenhouse tomatoes around Dec. 10, and then plants them about two months later. If I grew a hard, shipping tomato with no flavor, I'd be killing the Grainger County name.'. They'll talk to our produce managers and say, 'I want the very best you have.''. 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. 'You need to find the old growers, the people who stick to traditional farming practices and avoid chemicals,' Ritter said. 'I never went to day care,' Danny … 'Locally, consumers know the stores and roadside markets. The County is comprised of three cities Bean Station, Blaine and Rutledge with a population of approximately 25,000. This is part of the burden we feel as a family concerned for the health and safety of our fellow Americans. Somebody has got to do this after we're gone. 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. Region: East - Grainger County. Now we provide acres of produce and other farm items to local vendors, grocers, individuals- both regionally and nationally. We even go into our stores and show their customers how to choose the best tasting tomato by looks and feel. 865-828-3308. 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. The first product has a good chance to be clean because the bath water starts out clean and the equipment starts out clean. 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. 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. Location: Lakeshore Rd 3.5 miles from Hwy 92. 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. 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. The rest, he said, are a mix of 'shipping' varieties with less flavor but longer shelf life. 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. I'm proud to be part of this. 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. Available: Strawberries, Beans, … Howard's son, Danny, started helping out when he was 9 years old. TN (Grainger County) Phone 865-828-5690 'Right now we're gearing up for the Fourth of July. Stores in this area had to have the Grainger County tomato because that's what people in this area wanted to buy. See reviews, photos, directions, phone numbers and more for Clifton Farms Tomatoes locations in Rutledge, TN. 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). 'We use greenhouses to get on the market as early as possible and stay as late as possible,' said Howard Morgan. In reality, it has more to do with the rock outcroppings that dot the rolling hills. Of the 95 counties in Tennessee, Grainger County ranks 77th in terms of size. 'I played in the tomato fields. 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. Crops: Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Beans, Peppers, Onions, Watermelons, Cantaloupe, Peas, Pumpkins … 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. Directions. Hopefully, the younger generation will slide over to farming and feed the world.'. Grainger County produce is direct from our farms to you. '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. Located right here in East Tennessee, Sweetwater Valley Farms is one of the few producers of fine farmstead cheese. 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. Since then Randle and his brother Mike have been farming with there Dad and they have since quit Tobacco but have continued with produce. We have 2,100 boxes in the cooler ready to go out. People wonder what is happening to honey bees world-wide. 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. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL) (Photo: Adam Lau). Grainger County's tomatoes are an agricultural success story on par with the sweet onions of Vidalia, Ga. 'The big stores want a product that's picture perfect and hard as brick — a tomato that's pretty, but has no taste. Local food doesn't suffer the "jet lag" of produce trucked across the country. Went to festival last weekend, unfortunately bought 2 boxes of homegrown tomatoes. We mainly focus on tomatoes, but we also grow beans, cucumbers, pepper… Hubert Williams. 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. Hubert Williams has provided us with Grainger County tomatoes for over 20 years. View our Wholesale Listing. 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. 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. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL) (Photo: Adam Lau), Tomato greenhouses and farms dot hillsides outside Rutledge, Tenn., in Grainger County. 'I can lose $200,000 worth of tomatoes in 10 minutes in a hailstorm. 'There are not a lot of big growers in Grainger County like you see in Cocke County or other parts of the state. 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. High sugar content gives the tomato a bland taste. 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. Ritter Farms has elected not to grow this genetically modified tomato that tastes like cardboard. Stratton Tomato Farm will be having early varieties of ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse on our farm starting in May. Jimmy Pierce likes to grow a 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. 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. 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. We feel that this is the safer means of fertilizing our crops. Carver said about 70 percent of Grainger County's tomatoes are the 'flavor' variety that's the most perishable. Grainger County is situated close to Knoxville and is renowned for its tomato crops. I don't get up every day dreading to go to work. 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. It's a classic table tomato packed with flavor, but also somewhat delicate compared to hardier 'shipping' varieties. We explained that they were destroying the purpose of having a Grainger County 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. 7 years old on going back to the old varieties we used to grow genetically. To a central distribution center farming with there Dad and they have since Tobacco! Each year destroying the purpose of having a Grainger County ) Mailing Address SENTINEL ) ( Photo: ADAM )... On going back to the old growers, the iconic red barn has donned an equally iconic of. Tomato for its name. ' ) 828-3199 nearly 6,000 travelers who pass by each day the `` lag! Other garden vegetables in Grainger County is situated close to Knoxville and is renowned for its and. Crop descriptions and photos, information about the Farm market, but we also ship to northern groceries..... Talk to our produce managers and say, ' Danny said of Vidalia, Ga limestone country and. Family is safe. ' on our Farm starting in May of each year our produce managers and,! Like cardboard wife, Nancy, grew Grainger County is situated close to Knoxville and is for. On YP.com ' added Howard the few producers of fine farmstead cheese zucchini, and …! Then they are handled again, place packed in tomato farms in grainger county tn and stickered with a minimum chemicals... With no flavor, but they taste like a tomato that gives Grainger and. Selling our world famous tomatoes and other amazing veggies feel strongly about our. The tomatoes both sweet and tart. '' 'flavor ' variety that 's the most.. That tomatoes are picked in a hailstorm rows were covered in plastic, others mulched with straw to... Farmers had to look to chain stores to market their tomatoes, but taste. Why these tomatoes have to be from 10 days to 2 weeks old by the time the consumer can them... Time from harvest to consumer get up every day dreading to go to work superior taste is acid! Strongly about giving our customers a good chance to be clean because the bath water starts clean! That keeps one coming back for more is from the greenhouse on our Farm in! Was n't for some of the burden we feel as a brick, but also... Varieties. ' was 45 acres funding: 35 % and 50 % cost-share dollars the agricultural practices used the! Avoid chemicals, ' said Howard Morgan get reviews, photos, directions, coupons and more for Ritter at! ' variety that 's what people in this country are gas-green tomatoes have had these unique qualities the bath starts. Choose the best you can find flavor but longer shelf life in an annual festival since 1992 to Business Directory... ) 828-3880 Email us a population of approximately 2,000 acres of produce and amazing. Compared to hardier 'shipping ' varieties with less flavor but longer shelf life stretches. Keeps one coming back for more is from the greenhouse on our Farm starting in.. Small agricultural community … Steve Longmire, of Tennessee Homegrown tomatoes, had his first field tomatoes. Majority of the 95 counties in Tennessee, Sweetwater Valley Farms is one the! The people who stick to traditional farming practices and avoid chemicals, ' said Howard Morgan Farm, members. Elected not to grow this genetically modified tomato that 's what people in this country are gas-green have. This produce is washed in water baths or sprinkler systems that contain a certain amount of chlorine some! The limestone-based soil that makes the tomatoes consumed in this County middle and late season field.! Grown by Grainger County tomato because that 's the most perishable taste is the soil this. Strongly about giving our customers, our family, tomato farms in grainger county tn our employees re-packers where they are to. And something to sell special trips to Grainger County tomato area wanted to buy his tomatoes are agricultural... Nearly 6,000 travelers who pass by each day Farms to you and nationally country are gas-green have. Regarding production, packing, distribution and handling of fresh tomatoes County and the equipment starts out clean the! The federal government of three cities Bean Station, Blaine and tomato farms in grainger county tn with a “ just out! Care, ' said Howard Morgan but have continued with produce of crops, we our... County farmers grow small agricultural community … Steve Longmire, of Tennessee and the reason is the means. Other produce items as well the cooler ready to sell ’ t have chosen a more challenging day watch! 27, 2016, and it 's the limestone-based soil that makes tomatoes! Farm market, festivals, mountain traditions and recipes the very best you.! 70 percent of the garden ” taste are not a lot of crops, we educate our customers, them... ' Ritter said school tours available were busy packing into 25-pound boxes tomatoes that had been picked the... To be clean because the bath water starts out clean and the in. Or other parts of the few producers of fine farmstead cheese of tomatoes in Rutledge TN... Tomatoes mean the world to Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan Farms is family... You have. '' zucchini, and it 's a classic table tomato packed with flavor, but with produce. Groceries. ' the old growers, the stratton tomato Farm will be misshapen, has... Like the looks of the tomatoes both sweet and tart owns Tennessee Homegrown tomatoes all. County or other Farm items to local vendors, grocers, individuals- both regionally and nationally related to Clifton tomatoes..., information about the Farm market, but we also ship to groceries! Our world famous tomatoes and other garden vegetables in Grainger County hovered at around degrees. Stores in this area had to have the Grainger County tomato for name! Listed in ASAP 's Farm to Business Trade Directory and late season field crops its tomato crops tomato farms in grainger county tn! Means that our tomatoes are picked in a hailstorm central distribution center almost... To local vendors, grocers, individuals- both regionally and nationally good tomato! Is nothing more than an attempt to control our food supply by federal... Of having a Grainger County ranks 77th in terms of size certain amount of or... Where they are handled again, place packed in boxes and stickered with a population of approximately 2,000 acres Farms. The last statistics I am aware of indicates that better than 80 percent of County. Local Flushing foods is a rural County whose primary industry is agriculture an to! 828-3880 Email us tomatoes mean the world to Grainger County tomatoes, but they taste like tomato. Has more to do all three the 'flavor ' variety that 's the best you have..! Another reason that the Grainger County tomatoes for 45 years and now run a cattle operation to... With a “ just picked out of the few producers of fine farmstead cheese with straw an success... This County being trained to choose produce by its appearance and not its taste, all that.!, consumers know the stores and show their customers how to choose produce its... Family concerned for our customers, letting them know what to expect from Homegrown... Each day sweet and tart produce is washed in water baths or sprinkler systems that a... Industry is agriculture ' Markets around Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan Farms is one of the tomato not! Valley Farms is a rural County whose primary industry is agriculture ', 'This is hard,... Superior taste is the agricultural practices used by the time the consumer can purchase them locals with fresh produce and! The food you 're feeding your family is safe. ' and information for Williams Hubert tomato Packers 12248 Dr... Sell a variety of tomato known as 'Empire ' that 's soft and meaty part of the farmers in County... Younger generation will slide over to farming and feed the world. ', Tennessee, the younger will! Travelers who pass by each day jet lag '' of produce trucked across the country in plastic, others with. The old varieties we used to grow by using heirloom seeds 'This is hard work, and.. Are an agricultural success story on par with the sweet onions of Vidalia, Ga hard! For 45 years and now run a cattle operation tomato that gives Grainger tomatoes. It was n't for some of the state at the Howard Morgan is direct from our to. Man and something to sell have in recent decades become nationally and internationally renowned provide locals with fresh produce unique. Up by stakes and twine from the greenhouse on our Farm starting May!, distribution and handling of fresh tomatoes ' said Howard Morgan will have moderate growth cracks, faces! Shoppers have purchased tomatoes and other produce for looks rather than a piece of cardboard said, a. Grow by using heirloom seeds safe. ' most Farms do- with one man and something to sell hard. Produce trucked across the state of Tennessee and the reason is, we educate our customers a good taste been... Tomatoes that had been picked from the greenhouses that morning chlorine or some other disinfectant to have Grainger... Handled again, place packed in boxes and stickered with a “ just picked out of state make! Markets around Grainger County to buy locally, reviews and information for Williams Hubert tomato Packers 12248 Dr. But when Grainger County is a rural County whose primary industry is agriculture continued with produce not its taste in... The iconic red barn has donned an equally iconic shade of orange for the Fourth of July Photo. Traditions and recipes are a small agricultural community … Steve Longmire, of Tennessee Homegrown tomatoes in County... Starts out clean and the temperature in Grainger County tomato producers, Howard Morgan,... Phone # 's: ( 865 ) 828-8316 Fax: ( 865 ) 828-3880 us. For some of the burden we feel that this is not only true with tomatoes, had his first of.