Shelbyville, TN Agriculture Produces Growing Tourism Crop

By Bill Lewis on April 29, 2011 at 4:18 am EST

PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Mccord

In addition to being one of Tennessee’s top producers of traditional farm products such as wheat‚ corn‚ beef and poultry‚ Shelbyville and the surrounding Bedford County area are producing a valuable new crop – agri-tourism.

The county’s traditional farms are among the most productive in Tennessee‚ turning out crops and livestock valued at nearly $100 million annually. These days, agri-tourism is a growing way to increase that bounty and allow visitors to see where their food comes from.

“Agriculture gives people a way to afford to live in the countryside‚” says John Teague‚ the University of Tennessee agricultural extension agent for Bedford County. “People say‚ ‘This is where I want to live and where I want my children to grow up.’ It’s a way of life.”

Valley Home Farm
Bobby Potts and his three sisters share that sentiment. They successfully combine traditional farming and agri-tourism at their historic family farm‚ Valley Home Farm‚ at 310 Potts Road in Wartrace.

The farm is open to the public during the pick-your-own strawberry season from mid-April to early June each spring.

While Bobby Potts concentrates on growing seasonal crops and raising livestock and poultry‚ sisters Linda Potts Williams and Vickie Potts Pyrdum operate Valley Home Foods and make and market the farm’s strawberry‚ peach and blackberry jam and baked goods. Vickie’s husband‚ Billy‚ operates the seasonal farm market.

Bobby Potts‚ his wife‚ Janet‚ and his sister Nancy Potts Edwards‚ raise and market the farm’s specialty crops – strawberries and the honey from 35 bee colonies that thrive on the farm.

Visitors can purchase Valley Home’s tempting treats at the farm store‚ located on the 350-acre property‚ or go to the farm’s website for ordering options.

“We feel very fortunate to have found ways to preserve our family farm‚ keep it productive in today’s changing agricultural environment and keep our family actively working together – now the fifth generation – on the farm‚” Bobby Potts says.

Vannatta Farms

Farming has kept the owners of Vannatta Farms in Bell Buckle together since 1850.

“I’m the seventh-generation farmer in the family‚” says Tracy Vannatta‚ who operates the family business with his father‚ Bobby. “My sons may become the eighth generation. They have a good idea of the farming life‚ and they enjoy it.

The Vannattas own 1‚050 acres and lease about 1‚000 more on which they produce crops‚ cattle and poultry.

“As the county grows‚ farming is still extremely important‚” Tracy Vannatta says. “When you get off the highways you can really see it.”

The joy of spending time in the countryside‚ either as a resident or as a visitor‚ attracts many people to Bedford County‚ Teague says.

“They are coming to beautiful Middle Tennessee and want to experience the country‚” he says.

More information about Tennessee agritourism sites can be found at the PIck Tennessee Products website/

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