Food & Wine touts Blackberry Farm in ‘maker’ issue

Blackberry Farm’s Master Gardener has been dubbed “The Seed Saver” by Food & Wine magazine.

John Coykendall has been featured in the publication’s first “makers” themed issue, which recognizes 31 “gamechanging craftspeople” redefining cuisine in the United States.

The magazine recognized Coykendall for his work tracking and documenting the “living history” of heirloom seeds. He documents the seeds’ origins and how and where they have been used. He’s saved several heirloom seeds from extinction.

The article delved into Coykendall’s work with the Unknown Pea from Washington Parish, Louisiana, which almost went out of existence.

“The old-timers down here told me this pea was extinct,” Coykendall said.

He spent 30 years looking for the pea and finally found it about six years ago in someone’s garden. He’s planted some at Blackberry Farm and the seeds are used in pea flour macaroons by Blackberry Farm chefs.

“I couldn’t wait to get those in the ground,” he told Food & Wine.

He told the magazine he has grown enough pea seeds to disperse to other growers. His seeds are available for purchase at

Coykendall has been the Master Gardener at the Walland, Tennessee, luxury hotel for 20 years. He has traveled all over the world, collecting heirloom seeds and exploring gardens.

The March 2019 Food & Wine issue included other makers such as bakers, artists, chefs, spice importers, potters and designers. The issue is out Feb. 22.

Blackberry Farm was ranked the No. 26 Top Hotel in the South in the 2018 Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice awards. It is a 4,200-acre property in the Great Smoky Mountain foothills. The property is owned and operated by Mary Celeste Beall.

Blackberry Mountain, the sister property to Blackberry Farm, opened in mid-February. It is a 5,200-acre mountain resort emphasizing wellness and the outdoors. Blackberry Farm Brewery also opened a taproom near downtown Maryville in January.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Brenna McDermott

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Published March 8, 2019