The Sweet Life at Muddy Pond Sorghum in Tennessee & a Recipe for the Best Sorghum Cookies
This is where our heart is. This is what we love. – Mark Guenther
Life is sweet in the Muddy Pond community in Tennessee. Sorghum cane planting, harvesting, and syrup-making is not just a business here. It’s a way of life. It’s a passion. It’s about family, fellowship, and community.
Traveling through the winding roads and picturesque foothills of rural Middle Tennessee, Roger and I did not know what to expect from this long anticipated trip to meet with the Guenther family of Muddy Pond Sorghum. As we turned onto Muddy Pond Road, the rolling hills were blanketed with the late summer’s shades of green with stretches of road eerily canopied with draped trees. Muddy Pond Road seemed endless as we drove past quaint general stores and long stretches of fertile farm land.
As we approached the mill, the quiet country road brought us into a bustling center of activity. It was sorghum making day and family, friends, neighbors, and guests from afar were stopping by. We could hear women singing “Down in the River to Pray” through the open windows of the building. A horse-drawn mill, set alongside today’s modern mill, was fed with cane, a 1960s-era truck was parked by the building, and the steam locomotive boiler billowed dark smoke from its chimney. We had arrived, not at a destination, but at a time gone by.
September and October are busy times in the predominately Mennonite Muddy Pond community. The sorghum cane is ready to harvest and the Guenther family opens their mill for production and welcomes the public to learn about the process of making sorghum. It is also the time to get a glimpse of a simpler life in Middle Tennessee where days are filled with family, farm, and chores.
Young children excitedly arrive on farm vehicles and in cars to help out at the mill. Friends and guests come to purchase homemade goods baked that day by women in the Guenther family and to buy freshly made sorghum that is still warm in the bottle. There is a real sense of community as the men gather to talk and strangers spoke to us telling of the good life in this part of Tennessee. With passion in their voice and a peacefulness in their demeanor, I had to believe it was true.