Shortly after buying our small farm north of Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1998, we planted a pack of mixed gourd seeds from Wal-Mart. I took a few of the small colorful ones to work. One of my co- workers told me about the Tennessee Gourd Festival and Show at the Wilson County Fairgrounds that very next weekend.
We were blown away by all the things people made with gourds. Painted, carved, stained, and wood-burned. Vases, bowls, lamps, and ornaments. And, of course, Birdhouses. The possibilities were endless.
I found a niche product I could grow and Zena found a new medium for her art.
We named our farm the Tojo Creek Ranch and grow several acres of gourds each year. We sell our dried gourds and crafted gourds on the farm and at selected arts and crafts festivals. We teach gourd craft and horticulture in our on-farm store and studio.
John and Zena Swendiman
Directions From I-40:
Exit #238, US Highway 231. Go NORTH through the Lebanon circle. Continue north on Highway 231 for 5 miles. Do not turn off 231 until you Go PAST the Carroll Oakland School. Turn on the first left past the School onto Old Hunters Point Road. Go 1 mile and turn left onto Canoe Branch Road. Turn left immediately on Thomas Road. Go 1 mile and follow signs to Tojo Creek Gourds.
The Legend of Tojo Creek:
Long ago an ancient band of hunters roamed the forest at the southern point of a mighty river in Middle Tennessee. They called the forest Hunters Point.
One day Tojo the Elder discovered a secret cave from which a magic stream flowed. These waters made Tojo immortal. He called the stream Tojo Creek.
To this day no one knows where that secret cave is. The elves say if you enter these woods at midnight of the first full moon after the winter solstice and be very still, you will feel the magic of the Gourds of Tojo Creek.
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