A few of Curt Vancel’s relatives have been back now to visit since the latest owner reopened his old general store. New owner Beth Bohnert enjoys seeing them and always has tea made for visitors. Vancel Mill is long gone, but much of this East Tennessee hollow looks like it never changed.
When you open the doors of Mountain Hollow Farm Store and Studio, you see that many hands have been hard at work on this tribute to yesterday. Hardwood floors anchor the space. Floor-to-ceiling displays feature regionally made handcrafts, made in the USA products, and especially yarn — hanks and skeins of the most beautiful yarn you’ve ever seen.
The farm’s educational tours take you from meeting the cashmere goats near the barn to learning how the fiber is crafted into garments. They host knitting classes, children’s birthday parties, and laid back community gatherings at the store and adjacent open-air pavilion. Bohnert is especially proud of the hanks of naturally colored cashmere from her own goats, that have been processed for sale in her store.
The Bohnert family’s passion for farming and industriousness is getting noticed in their rural community just an hour south of the Kentucky border. The day we visited, ladies from the local homemaker club were touring and reminiscing about the farm life of their earlier years. “Oh, I live on 200 acres,” one of them told me, “but we don’t farm anymore.” Bohnert hired an educator to develop historically based curriculum that meets educational requirements for Tennessee schoolchildren.
If you visit Mountain Hollow Farm, the owners invite you to pack a picnic lunch and stay awhile. Whether you enjoy petting the gentle animals, shopping the store or just sitting on the front porch, you’ll find plenty of something — or nothing — to do.