This year we partnered with Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm, a resort and culinary destination situated on a 4,200-acre working farm, to create a Thanksgiving menu inspired by new recipes and old rituals. In the meantime, we visited the farm and got to know the many people who make it possible: the gardeners who grow and harvest the season’s bounty, the artisans who turn fresh sheep’s milk into cheese and pickle vegetables, and the chefs who make use of the homegrown ingredients in innovative cuisine.
We also explored the beautiful gardens, hills and gathering places that guide the spirit and pace of life at Blackberry Farm. Here’s a taste of what we discovered.
Blackberry Farm is nestled in the foothills of East Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains — hence the term “Foothills Cuisine,” which the team uses to describe the blend of country mountain cooking and haute cuisine served in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurants. As the name suggests, the mountain range is often blanketed by a thick fog, creating an unforgettable backdrop to the farm. The abundant land makes a range of outdoor activities possible for guest, including hiking, paddling and kayaking, horseback riding and fly fishing. It’s also the perfect site for dining alfresco, as the Beall family, which owns Blackberry Farm, likes to do as often as possible.
A farm-to-table philosophy guides the menus at Blackberry Farm; the gardens determine the dishes on the table. The gardeners practice companion planting, in which mutually beneficial plants are grown together. They grow beans, squash, corn, watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes and more, including many heirloom varieties native to the region. They also harvest seeds, allowing them to dry and saving them for the next year’s bounty.
Inside the garden shed, the day’s harvested produce is stored, and ingredients are allowed to dry or ripen. Beans are shelled and corn is ground by hand. Nowhere is Blackberry Farm’s abundance more palpable than here.
Family and guests gather at The FarmStead, the hub of Blackberry Farm, and The Barn, where meals are served. The 18th century structure is home to both the dining room and the many culinary programs that take place at the farm, featuring visiting chefs and winemakers. Just next door is The Larder, where all of the culinary magic happens before it’s brought out to be savored by guests. And on the other side of The Barn is the Farmhouse, made of reclaimed wood to capture the area’s traditional charm (it’s also the ideal spot for an outdoor dinner).