Slaughter is grower of the year

Betsi JamesOur Town Eats

Kingsport farmer Tony Slaughter was named the Wayne Scott Memorial Grower of the Year and Skylar Leonard was named produce manager of the year on April 2, 2024, as Food City hosted the annual growers luncheon at the corporate headquarters in Abingdon, Virginia.

Food City is well-known for its locally grown produce initiative. The farm-to-table partnership with local growers provides customers with fresh-from-the-field fruits and vegetables. What began over 20 years ago with a small number of items and a handful of farmers has grown into a multi-million-dollar operation. Today, Food City purchases nearly $5 million annually in locally grown produce.

“We pride ourselves in selecting the best possible products for our customers,” says Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “Our local farms are known for producing some of the finest products in the country. Buying local provides our customers with the freshest produce possible, while supporting our local economies. In many instances, our locally grown items arrive the same day they are picked. It simply doesn’t get any fresher than that.”

In 2007, Food City created the Wayne Scott Memorial Grower of the Year Award, named in honor of Unicoi County farmer Wayne Scott, one of the first to partner with Food City. The award recognizes one outstanding local grower each year.

Tony Slaughter of Tony Slaughter Farms in Kingsport, Tennessee, is a first-generation farmer, who felt the calling from an early age, telling his first grade teacher he wanted to be “a farmer.”

Growing up, Slaughter was always eager to help his father and grandfather with gardening and tobacco farming. He worked for a dairy farmer while in high school and after graduating, went to work for a John Deere dealership.

After marrying in 1985, he accepted a job with Eastman’s Valleybrook Farm. When the farm closed, he decided to become a full-time farmer. For Slaughter, farming was not something that you chose; it chose you. He became a partner of Food City’s local growers’ program in 2019.

Food City purchases produce from farmers in Grainger, Blount, Hawkins, Jefferson and Sullivan counties in Tennessee and Scott and Carroll counties in Virginia and is the exclusive outlet for a number of them, according to Joe Greene, vice president of produce operations for Food City.

Bass Tournament ahead

The Irwin Food City Bass Tournament to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley is set for Saturday, April 27, 2024, on Tellico Lake. Registration info is here.

Co-sponsor is Juvenile Court Judge Tim Irwin, who played football at Central High School, the University of Tennessee and professionally for the Minnesota Vikings.

Registration is $225 per boat with a $15 late fee per boat for online entries received after 5 p.m. Thursday, April 25. First place is $10,000 guaranteed. Competition is in three flights (first light to 3 p.m.; 6:45 a.m. to 3:20; and 7 a.m. to 3:40) at the Tellico Canal Ramp in Lenoir City.

Betsi James is special events manager for Food City’s Knoxville and Chattanooga divisions.


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