Posted by eireland 2 years, 6 months ago

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I recently accompanied my fiancé on a work trip to Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. Rough life, right? They were kind enough to take us behind-the-scenes to see the farm animals, garden where they grow heirloom vegetables, fine dining restaurant, etc. Sometimes inspiration comes in the most unexpected places. I can’t stop thinking about a quote I read on a clean white board inside the building where they make cheese:

“The Best Is Yet To Come” Sam Beall

I can only imagine what that quote meant to Sam and to the gentleman making cheese that day. Sam was Blackberry Farm’s Proprietor who tragically passed away last month in a skiing accident. He was 39, leaving behind a wife and five kids.

It’s hard to explain Sam’s impact on the beautiful country inn nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. The Wall Street Journal referred to him as the farm’s “visionary and guiding spirit.” His parents (founders of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain) bought Blackberry Farm in 1976 and ran it until Sam took over operations.

We drove by Hazelnut trees that Sam inoculated with truffle spores 10 years ago with the hope of producing black truffles in about 12 to 13 years. We stopped by a kennel full of Lagotto Romagnolo dogs (and puppies!) who will eventually hunt for those truffles. We walked through one of the property’s five wine cellars, the fifth largest collection in the world, championed by Sam. We snacked on the delicious blossoms picked from redbud trees and were told they would be turned into edible garnishes and syrup. A farm-to-table movement proliferated by Sam.

The best is yet to come.

We met the two men who run the fly fishing program. They show up to the self-proclaimed “coolest man cave you will ever see” waiting for 20 or zero people to take fishing depending on the day. Sam didn’t want the same person to be your fly fishing guide today and lead you in yoga tomorrow. He advocated for specialty jobs filled by people passionate about their craft. Jobs that pay well enough to be careers.

I was bowled over by how future-forward such a historic property could be. I can only imagine that’s a direct result of Sam’s vision for Blackberry Farm. His DNA can be felt everywhere and that legacy will be felt forever when those dogs dig up truffles, people enjoy Blackberry-branded beer in the restaurants he built and learn more than they ever needed to know while casting a fly fishing line.

The best is yet to come.

It’s a powerful rallying call for us all. The health of our future is deeply connected to the standards we set and the culture we create today. It sounds so simple, as pure as the red clay soil found in Tennessee, but often overlooked.

Think about Sam. What are we all doing to ensure "the best is yet to come" be it professional or personal? 

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