As a special bicentennial project in 1975-76, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture launched an initiative known as the “Tennessee Century Farms Program.” This program was designed to recognize those family farms in the state of Tennessee which had been owned and continuously for at least one hundred years. Of the over 700 hundred farms that have been identified and registered, Still Hollow Farm in Greeneville is one.
Still Hollow Farm has been in the Allen family since 1857. Robert Allen moved from Pennsylvania to what is now Greene County in Northeast Tennessee in 1786. His son Daniel was a friend of Andrew Johnson’s, the 17th president of the United States and a native of Greeneville. Later, in 1857, James Allen, Sr. (Daniel’s son) established a 560-acre farm. What is now known as the Allen/Birdwell house was built around 1865. His son James Allen, Jr. acquired the farm in 1885. From 1903-07 and 1923-25, he served in the Tennessee General Assembly. He married Elizabeth Jay Birdwell; however, they had no children of their own. Instead they raised their nephew, George Leo Birdwell, Sr., who obtained the property in 1952. He and his wife Julia Gladys Russell had five children. One of their children, Jay D. Birdwell, Sr., obtained the farm along with his wife Ann in 1973 and is the current owner.
Jay and Ann have preserved everything from the original farm. A log barn and smokehouse date back to the first half of the nineteenth century and are still in use today. While modern conveniences have been added, the original doors, doorknobs, light fixtures, and glass window panes can be found at the historic home. “The Farmer’s Wife” gift shop is located in the 150-year-old granary, which was built around 1860. Signatures and grain calculations can still be seen scribbled on the inside walls. They specialize in wrought iron for the home and garden and also feature items made by local artists and craftsmen.
Still Hollow Farm is a local and regional attraction. At the farm, visitors will find direct access to the Nolichucky River where they can unload their canoe or kayak. They can enjoy a two-hour trip from the TVA access at the Davy Crockett Dam up river and a four-hour trip down river to the Poplar Springs Access Area. They can fish for small-mouth bass, catfish, spotted bass, and redeye. On the farm itself are numerous picnic areas with spectacular views of the Nolichucky River and the Cherokee National Forest.
From April through September, the farm is available for parties, reunions, weddings, and other types of social activities. This year, a pavilion was added on to the Farmer’s Wife gift shop, allowing more space for such things as birthday parties or wedding rehearsal dinners.
From July through October, visitors can pick their own flowers or order fresh bouquets and floral arrangements. In addition, they can pick their own sweet corn. There are other vegetables available in season, too; i.e., okra, pole beans, squash, pumpkins, and watermelons.
Sheep have been incorporated into the farm life, as well. You can see the Katahdin Hair sheep, which do not need shearing and which are also extremely docile. You will also be able to see two of the newest additions to the farm – Lady and Rosie, which are Haflingers. (The Haflinger breed is a small horse originally from Austria and which came to this country in 1958. The name comes from the village of Hafling, which is now located in Italy.) The ladies are truly beautiful horses with very nice temperaments. Jay and Ann will be using them for wagon rides around the farm.
I recently took my granddaughter to the farm to spend the afternoon. My favorite reason for going there is for the peace and relaxation that washes over you as soon as you get out of your parked car. You can wander about the field behind the main house and walk along the creek. When you cross the hand-hewn bridge spanning the woodland stream, you can follow a walking path through the woods. There are little alcoves with benches surrounded by native flowers, rhododendrons, and azaleas along the way where you can just sit and take in the lovely peace of the nature surrounding you. Still Hollow Farm is also a great place to bring your kids. You can get them away from the video games and let them explore this wonderful slice of nature. You can also pet Molly the sheep (who has become quite a celebrity) and the other sheep, as well as the two horses. However, I must tell you that they will not be too interested in you if you do not have anything for them to eat.
So, pack a picnic lunch and spend the day at Still Hollow Farm located at 3005 West Allen’s Bridge Road in Greeneville, TN. They are only ten miles from the Appalachian Trail and only forty-five minutes from Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. For directions and additional information, just give them a call at 423-638-3967. Visit their blog, which features continuous updates concerning upcoming events at: Still Hollow Farm (https://stillhollowfarm.blogspot.com/).