Tim Mercier grew up beneath the shade of apple trees at Mercier Orchards, helping his father tend the fertile mountain soil while snacking on juicy winesaps plucked straight from the branch. To this day, Tim continues to run his family's 50-year-old farm, where he harvests apples by hand, wears John Appleseed’s cooking pot hat, and manages the market alongside his wife, children, and grandchildren. At the 200-acre farm, tree branches sprout dozens of kinds of apples, including sweet ambrosias, tart dandee reds, and crisp pink ladies. Beyond the apple groves lie stretches of cherry trees, peach trees, and blueberry bushes, as well as strawberry fields blossoming with chandler, camerosa, and sweet charlie varieties.
The Mercier family opens their farm to visitors year-round, inviting guests to stroll the verdant grounds and pick their own berries and apples. Afterwards, guests pop into Mercier Orchards’ rustic shop to survey jugs of fresh cider, colorful jams, and caramel-coated candy apples. In the bakery, they sample apple cider donuts, pecan breads, and the farm's famous fried pies, which can now be found on the shelves of local Whole Foods.
In the 1960's a man planted two apple trees in his backyard. And with a little time and passion, he cultivated his land until it grew to hold 8,000 apple trees. The husband-and-wife team that started Apple Valley Orchards back then sold their first apple from those trees in 1974, but their ideas didn't stop there. Now their children run the orchard?which now includes a cider mill and bakery?and sell 22 varieties of apples. The bakery cooks the bounty into cinnamon rolls, fritters, turnovers, and pies, letting visitors get a taste of the harvest's variety and helping them get in a doctor-avoiding dose of the fruit. The orchard also lets locals explore its tree-strewn paths on wagon rides and tours during the summer.
Mother Earth Meats pledges to raise its antibiotic-free livestock under humane conditions, bolstering animals' quality of life as well as patrons' nutrient intake. Grass-fed cows, bison, and lambs yield butcher?s cuts chock-full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and eggs laid by free-range chickens boast denser concentrations of nutrients than their conventional brethren. Staffers also stuff chorizo, andouille, brats, and other sausages by hand and even make a bison hot dog mixed with pork. Mother Earth sends finished meats on to groceries such as The Market in Maryville as well as eateries such as Blackberry Farm Restaurant in Walland and French Laundry in San Francisco. Additionally, the Beer Barn's staff is on hand to lend their knowledge to patrons looking to complement their cuts of meat with craft brews.
In addition to cultivating a rich assortment of herbs, Erin's Meadow Herb Farm welcomes visitors into its greenhouses, fields, and classrooms to learn the best uses for its multitudinous varieties of herbs. Inside, visitors can peruse a variety of gifts and products made using all-natural ingredients, or drop in for classes that include demos, spa-centric herbal recipes, and the recipe for creating a love potion disguised as peppermint tea.
The cooks at Suck Creek Bar and Grill crowd a grill with sizzling patties and load hearty sandwiches with fried chicken, thick-cut bologna, and bacon. Patrons crack open a Budweiser ($2) while perusing a menu that promises starters of fried mushrooms ($4.25). Hearty specialty burgers ($3.75) romp on fluffy buns loaded with american, pepper jack, or colby queso. In a cozy dining room with crimson trim, a hamburger-steak dinner ($6.75) prepares diners for revelry like a save-the-date note from Bacchus. Fried-fish sandwiches ($3) arrive on a tidal wave of tartar sauce, and the crispy bacon and tomato slices of a time-tested BLT ($3.50) fuel karaoke performances and air-guitar smashing on Friday and Saturday nights.
Equipment: Real Ryder and Lemond Bikes, Lululemon yoga accessories, Everlast box
Students should bring: A bottle for water. We have purified water and towel service.
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Average class length: 30?60 minutes
Number of Staff: 11?25 people
Class location: Mix of indoor and outdoor classes
Guests allowed: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Pro Tip: Bring a friend. Having a workout buddy motivates both of you and makes it more fun.
Exercise is challenging, and people frequently give up on their fitness routines. How do you keep clients motivated?
Our trainers keep it fun by changing things up all the time. Whether it's cycling, yoga, or group fitness, each day is different. And we focus on balance in working out?cardio, strength, and flexibility are all part of our program at Thrive.
What's the most radical physical transformation you've seen a client make?
We have a client in his early 60s who has absolutely transformed his body by consistent exercise and training and good nutrition. He credits his personal trainer, but really he's done all the hard work. And it shows.
Sweating to the oldies is acceptable, but sweating to the blues less so. Do you find that certain styles and genres of music generate more intense workouts?
Music motivates movement; there's no question. We have a great mix of instructors who play a wide variety of music, including original mixes from one of our DJ instructors. You'll find rock and roll, jazz, reggae and lots of electronic dance tracks here. And we have a disco ball in the cycle studio.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Thrive is all about functional fitness?that is, keeping people healthy as they move through all phases of their life. Our clients range in age from rom the twenties to the seventies. Even though their fitness needs differ, their goals are basically the same: to stay healthy and fit. It's our challenge to help them. We think we do a great job; at least, they tell us that we do.