Grainger County’s Tomato Trail Summer’s Yummy Bounty

Grainger County’s Tomato Trail Summer’s Yummy Bounty

One tomato, two tomatoes…so many tomatoes

Driving through the rolling farmland of Bean Station, one cannot help noticing the number of farms that surround the byway.  Fields of hay and grazing cattle are just the tip of the agricultural activity that is hiding around the bend.

Just off the byway in Bean Station along 375 are fields and fields of the famous Grainger County tomatoes sun ripening in the fields for harvest. Generations of families have farmed this verdant valley as a way of life dating back to the early pioneers.  The rich bottomland soil produces crops that are the darling of home canners, grocery shelves, and family tables.  Who does not love a summer tomato sandwich?  There is always a debate locally about the mayonnaise brand, but the star is always that lovely red globed fruit.

To drive along on this agricultural heritage side trip, turn onto 375 (Lakeshore Road).  This road will follow the shorelines of Cherokee Lake to the terminus at Cherokee Dam. Along the way, you will pass by seven farms including a Century Farm– Morgan Farms, and a well- known wholesale and retail farm, TN Home Grown Tomatoes.  Farm stands and retail produce stores dot the road. Stop at Cherokee Dam to stretch your legs.  You can walk across the dam or plan a picnic lunch.  This TVA reservation includes a picnic area, pavilions, campsites, and a swim beach.

At this point, you can choose to loop back on SR92 towards historic Rutledge and visit more farms, or opt to continue your journey on SR25 by following 11 E to Morristown, a distance of about 22 miles.

Places to stop along this route:

  • Gilmore Dock (seasonal)- patio seating overlooking Cherokee Lake.
  • Lisa’s County Kitchen: Homestyle cooking for lunch and dinner.
  • Mossy Creek Café: Located in historic Mossy Creek features barista coffee and an eclectic brunch menu
  • Down Home Restaurant in downtown Rutledge, TN: A local favorite for homestyle cooking for lunch and dinner. Open for breakfast on Saturdays.
  • Lakeside Marina (seasonal) patio seating overlooking Cherokee Lake
  • Cooks Boathouse Restaurant: Family style dining overlooking Cherokee Lake

Farming is a tradition for the entire stretch of the East Tennessee Crossing Byway.   Tomatoes are just one of the prime crops grown in this fertile valley.