Tony Slaughter Farms of Kingsport named Wayne Scott Grower of the Year

Published 2:03 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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In 2007, Food City created the Wayne Scott Memorial Grower of the Year Award. The award is named in honor of Unicoi County farmer Wayne Scott, one of the first to partner with the retail supermarket chain. Wayne Scott’s leadership, passion for the business and dedication to delivering the “best produce possible” are just a few of the reasons for his tremendous success. The award recognizes one outstanding local grower each year.

Tony Slaughter of Tony Slaughter Farms in Kingsport received the 2024 Wayne Scott Memorial Grower of the Year Award. A first-generation farmer, Slaughter felt the calling from an early age. When his first grade teacher asked her students what they wanted to be when they grew up, he was quick with his reply – “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 to help fund his farming projects. After marrying in 1985, he accepted a job with Eastman’s Valleybrook Farm. When the farm closed, he decided to pursue his true passion and became a full-time farmer. For Slaughter, farming was not something that you chose, it chose you, it was in your blood. He became a partner of Food City’s local growers’ program in 2019. The relationship has greatly benefited both parties, as Slaughter is committed to providing the company with top quality products delivered directly to area store locations.

Slaughter has been featured in several magazines for his contribution to farming and selected as a panel member for Q&A seminars with new farmers. In 1991 he was selected as the Sullivan County Young Farmer of the Year, as well as Farm Bureau Outstanding Young Farmer. In 2022 he was named Washington County Farmer of the Year.

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Food City purchases produce from a number of local farms, including those 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.                                                                                                               

“We enjoy a great partnership with a number of local farms. We’re proud to be the exclusive retail outlet for a number of them and of course our customers love the added convenience,” says Joe Greene, vice president of produce operations for Food City.

Food City purchases a wide variety of items from local growers, including tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, cabbage, half runner beans, okra, peppers, squash, gourds, pumpkins, cantaloupes, watermelons, blackberries, strawberries, pears, raspberries, select organic produce and more.

Food City is well-known for their locally grown produce initiative. Their farm to table partnership with local growers provides their valued customers with fresh-from-the-field fruits and vegetables, many of which are delivered the same day they’re picked. What began over twenty years ago with a small number of items and a handful of area farmers has grown into a multi-million-dollar operation. Today, Food City purchases nearly $5,000,000 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.”