If you are looking for some local beef to throw on the grill for that Fourth of July cookout, consider visiting the Seymour Farmer’s Market. Jonathan Smelcer of Smelcer Farms would be happy to sell you some USDA inspected, locally raised, grass fed beef.
Smelcer says he has been in the cattle business all his life, but only started selling direct to the public in 2015. Before that, he says, he would simply transport his cattle to the feed lot for sale and not deal directly with customers at all. Today he is a familiar face at the Seymour Farmer’s Market in the summer and fall, with his booth and coolers full of meat under a tent in the parking lot of First Baptist Church in Seymour every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
“This hamburger that I have for sale just came back from processing in Newport this week, so it’s super fresh,” Smelcer said. “I invite all the readers of Sevierville Business Journal to come out and get some of this ground beef or any of our other cuts and taste the difference that locally sourced meat offers.”
Smelcer says he operates farms for about 250 cattle in several places including Seymour, Sevierville, and Jefferson City. His typical day as a farmer begins at 5 a.m. and after taking care of his cattle, he is off to his regular job as a Purchasing Manager at Swaggerty’s in Sevierville. On many days he doesn’t get into bed before midnight. As a husband and father of four children (one daughter and three stepsons) he is challenged by the hectic schedule but says doing work he enjoys makes it worth it.
“When I get done here (at the Seymour’s Farmer’s Market), I’ll be off to the farm at Tittsworth Springs to work in the hay field,” he said. “We’re rolling hay today.”
Jonathan Smelcer of Smelcer Farms talks about quality fresh beef with a customer at the Seymour Farmer’s Market. Photo by Sevierville Business Journal.
The hay will be stored and used to supplement grain feed for the cattle during the winter months, Smelcer said. Grain feeding, he says, keeps the animals healthy and strong (with plenty of nice fat marbling in the meat) until the pastures grow back in the Spring. Last year he sold 50 head of cattle and this year he hopes to sell one hundred animals. Beef cattle are ready to harvest when they are 18 months to two years old. He sells individual cuts and also accepts advance orders for half or whole cows. The meat is processed in Newport by another company and customers must pick up their orders at the processing site.
“I add income to my family with this work (of raising cattle) and offer people a quality product, so everybody wins when you buy local,” Smelcer said.
Local residents from Knox, Sevier, or Blount Counties that can’t make it out to the Seymour Farmer’s Market on Saturdays may also purchase Smelcer Farms beef at Loveday’s Garden Center on Chapman Highway, Amish Creations in Pigeon Forge, and Whaley’s Country Store on Walden’s Creek. The meat is also available on the menu at the Local Goat restaurant at 2167 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.
Residents who wish to place an order for pickup at the Seymour Farmer’s Market may contact Jonathan Smelcer at 865-604-7319.