The Cane Creek Market

I'm traveling home from Djangocon in Washington DC. Since I refuse to surrender my constitutional rights in order to be allowed to ride in an airplane, I'm stuck on the ground. However, I treated this as an opportunity, I trucked my Harley to Tennessee and the availed my self of some seriously nice motorcycling in the eastern states both to and from DC. I'm now on the return truck part of the trip with a couple Harleys in tow.

My riding buddy, Mike, had a mission. His neighbor, Rosie, on hearing that he was to be traveling in the South, requested that he get her some Sorghum Syrup. Not knowing where to find it, we asked our hosts Bill and Peggy in Hohenwald for a clue. They immediate suggested Cane Creek Market a small rural store on an obscure road in Tennesse. 
It was only a few miles away from Hohenwald, so we decided to stop by as we started our long journey back to the West Coast. It really seems to be in the middle of nowhere. I hadn't planned on going in, but Mike was taking a long time, so I decided to see what was up.

The only word that I can come up with to describe the place is “enchanting”. The store is a showcase of locally produced goods and all the components to make them. I saw no national brands. The shelves were stocked with bags, tubs and jars all sporting labels likely printed right there in the store.

While I'm not a stranger to Costco, I generally prefer to shop at my local organic coop. I doubt that even my politically correct Oregon coop market has as many locally sourced items on its shelves.

I encountered a bearded man taking inventory and commented on my delight in visiting his store. I introduced myself and I into a conversation with Vance Coblentz, the current owner:

“This place was established in 1990, approx. 22 yrs. ago. Originally it had
been a farmers market at another location. The business was then moved to
the current place by the previous owner. It was run by a Mennonite man, same
as me...”

“I had originally moved in from Ohio to take a job at the local lumber yard, which I did. I've always thought I'd like to do something like this, operating a store, but it never seemed to work out until 2 years after we moved here. I have a small family consisting of: my wife, 9 mo. old son, and a 15 mo. old foster daughter that we will be adopting on Sept. 24 of this year. So, am hoping this will be a greatthing to bring up my children on.”

About the mix of his clientele, Vance said, “I would say about 35% of my customers are local. The rest would either be tourists, out-of-state friends and relatives of the locals, and people from surrounding cities like Memphis and Nashville. The "locals", as they are known, would consist of a mixture of Amish-Mennonite, Mennonite, and a few others in between.”

Between the two of us, Mike and I bought about eighty bucks worth of snacks, pickled or dried vegetables, and, yes, sorghum syrup.

So this is my advice, if you're traveling I40 between Nashville and Memphis, take the extra forty minutes: get off the freeway at exit 143, head south on TN13 for about 15 miles, turn left onto TN438 and you'll find the Cane Creek Market on the right in about two miles. It is well worth the trip.