At Oleo Acres, a traditional family farm located a mere 30-minute drive from Memphis, Tennessee, folks can sample sorghum pie and other treats sweetened with the juice that flows from a mule-driven press. They can taste organic pork raised on site, sample gourmet meals at Farm to Table events, swap heirloom seeds and sit around the fire philosophizing.
Covington native, Tim Ammons and Betty, his wife of 28 years, own and operate Oleo Acres to be as self-sufficient as possible while preserving traditional knowledge and sharing it with others. The annual Sorghum Festival is their oldest public event.
“I got into sorghum,” explains Tim, “because to be self-sufficient you need a sweetener. It’s too cold around here to grow sugarcane. The main difference between the two is that after refining out the sugar and molasses from cane, it has no food value. Sorghum, on the other hand, is a form of multivitamin - full of Bs, iron and calcium.”
The taste of sorghum is distinctive and varies depending on the variety and how it’s cooked. Tim states flatly, “Either you like it or you don’t.”
Gourmet meals and heirloom plants
Oleo Acres also hosts an annual Farm to Table event christened Salt of the Earth. In 2012, the meal showcased Oleo Acres’ fresh produce and organic pork, with a “texture and flavor that’s amazing compared to store-bought.” It also promoted the produce and proteins of other area farmers, such as Oak Hill Farm heritage pork, Hillbilly Acres chicken, 3 B’s Gardener herbs, and Kathleen McDonald’s goats. Seven chefs from area restaurants came to prepare their own delectable creations from the farms' bountiful harvest.
Oleo Acres seed swaps and heirloom plant sales occur regularly, to help others experience the incredible variety that exists beyond the grocery store bin. “I started collecting heirloom varieties of sorghum seed when I found out Monsanto is starting to genetically modify sorghum,” says Tim. This is the latest in a wide range of heirloom seed varieties that Tim collects and grows, including tomatoes, corn and many more green vegetables.
Scout Day wraps annual festivals into one action-packed day
Tim and Betty, who have two grown sons, also sponsor an annual Scout Day the first weekend in November. “Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have so much going on, it’s hard for them to attend all our events,” explains Tim. “Each November, we pack all our activities into one day specifically for them so they can experience the hayrides, sorghum pressing, vendors and fresh food.”
Gratitude for his bountiful support
Tim Ammons is grateful for all he has, especially his community of friends and supporters. “I never want to say it’s anything I did or planned because I have a network of friends, master gardeners in Tipton county, and individuals who volunteer their time or donate equipment. They believe in our goal of eco-friendly living and sustainable lifestyles.
“In particular I have to plug L’Ecole Culinare. Without them Salt of the Earth never would have happened. Chefs Spencer McMillan and Jake Miller come out every Saturday with their students to volunteer and help on the farm. They realize there’s only so much I can do.”
For up-to-date information on events, visit the Oleo Acres Facebook page.