Blackberry Farm – Walland, Tennessee
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~ John Burroughs
There is a peacefulness in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. The morning mist blanketing the foothills gives way to sunny afternoons and soft breezes of mountain air that refresh the senses. Nestled in these foothills is the little town of Walland, Tennessee, just thirty minutes from Knoxville, where reality can be suspended and life moves at a slower pace. Come to Blackberry Farm, an American Treasure.
Started as an inn with six guest rooms by the Beall family in 1976, Blackberry Farm today is a 4,200 acre property with 62 guest rooms. As a recipient of the 2012 President’s American Treasures Award for their work on the farm and in the garden, it is one of the most highly acclaimed resorts in the United States.
The property was named the #1 Food & Wine resort in the world and the #2 Hideaway in America in 2012 by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report and the #1 Resort in North America by Travel + Leisure’s 2011 World’s Best Awards. As a member of Relais & Chateaux, they also have the honor of the Grand Chef distinction since 2005.
This luxury property offers an upscale escape with numerous outdoor activities for the sportsman such as fly fishing, equestrian sports, clay shooting, cycling, fox hunting, and mountain biking. There are also opportunities to relax at the Farmhouse Spa. However, to anyone in the culinary world, Blackberry Farm stands for one thing, Foothills Cuisine. Foothills Cuisine blends locally grown and regional artisan ingredients with the ruggedness of the mountains in a manner that reflects the refinement of the resort. Blackberry Farm also attracts some of America’s top chefs to host cooking schools and epicurean events.
The focus of our visit was to meet with Executive Chef Joseph Lenn at The Barn (the premier dining restaurant at Blackberry Farm) and visit with their Master Gardener, John Coykendall, to learn more about their farming practices and preservation efforts.
We arrived on a Tuesday to meet with Chef Lenn. After our meeting, we learned there was a special event, Smoky Mountain Table, concluding that evening with a dinner in the garden. Chef Lenn invited us to be a part of the final gathering of the participants that had come from points throughout the United States to “experience Blackberry Farm.”