Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

A Savings Account with Interest

When the cold hand of winter pulls back autumn’s colorful curtain to reveal a stark landscape, thoughts of verdant gardens and orchards seem distant. But careful planning and diligence allow us, in winter, to realize the harvest long after the fields and trees have gone to slumber. Our stores of preserved foodstuffs keep us informed of our efforts we made during the months of bounty – the poet William Blake reminds us, “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”

John Oliver, the pioneer European settler to our Cades Cove area, must have underestimated the climate in his first Smoky Mountain winter of 1818. Had it not been for gifts of dried pumpkin from sympathetic Cherokee, he, his wife Lucretia and their infant daughter surely would have perished. The native people knew from time immemorial to dry slices of pumpkin and winter squash on willow poles to be rehydrated and used for needed winter nourishment. They shared anecdotal knowledge of both foraged and cultivated foods and the keeping techniques of each to ensure survival in lean times. With the exchange of intellect and practice between the Cherokee and settlers, Cades Cove remained a viable agricultural community for many years.

At Blackberry Farm, we demonstrate and utilize a number of time-tested preservation methods like drying, pickling, fermenting and curing a great many vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats and cheeses. Our larder is well-stocked with “put-up” delights that allow us to share with our guests seasonal tastes of the farm; the food we have banked during the growing season can now be withdrawn and enjoyed throughout the cold months. We invite you to open a jar of our jam to remember the summer fruit, or sample the cheese to consider the ewes’ diet of spring grass during milking time.

Winter is a time for reflection and what better way than a gustatory reminiscence of seasons past?

Jeff Ross, Garden Manager