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.
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.
For the last two decades, Eddie’s Health Shoppe has outfitted health-conscious customers with vitamins, minerals, and personal-care products. Here, Nature’s Way and Nordic Naturals vitamins share shelf space with training supplements, including Hammer Nutrition endurance fuels and MET-Rx protein powders. The friendly staffers help shoppers navigate a selection of energy bars, including the Elite bar, a European-style dark chocolate fortified with Vitamin D, and gluten-free Lärabars, taking form from fewer than nine ingredients—all fruits, nuts, and spices. The shop also stocks a slew of organic bath and body products by brands such as TheraNeem Organix and Purely Clear.
At each of The Shrimp Dock's three locations, you can reap the fruits of fishermen's labors, inspecting market catches ranging from salmon and snapper to mussels, lobsters, and scallops. Their fresh Gulf shrimp comes in five sizes, ready to quell hungers ranging from petite to gargantuan. True to their origins, the markets also stock Cajun favorites, with recipe-ready meats including alligator and catfish. With shipments arriving straight from three coasts six days a week, their stock stays as fresh as it is delicious. In addition to filling area kitchens with just-caught seafood, The Shrimp Dock also specializes in prepared fare; lunch specials from the kitchen, served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., include Knoxville's beloved Gulf shrimp and oyster po boys and homemade soup.
The Captain enthusiastically touts the potential benefits of a diet rich in fish, including regular doses of omega-3 fatty acids, reduction in risk of heart disease, and a conversation-starter with pelicans.