4th Generation Family-Owned Business

Our story begins in 1939, the Hollands established Holly Knoll Farms in Greeneville, TN. We had milked cows for 80 years, but we decided to exit the dairy business in 2020. 

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Farm history? How can we define the farm history of Holly Knoll Farms? Papaw sometimes talks about the past when they started milking, working ground, and planting crops. Papaw said, “I used to plow ground with horse front of the plow.” (Vernon, pg. 1).  I could not imagine plowing ground with a horse rather than a big John Deere tractor. Papaw has worked ground with a horse and tractor. He said, “I like the tractor much better.” (Vernon, pg. 1). Milking equipment has changed over the years too. Papaw asked me a question, “Do you know how we used to cool milk?” (Vernon, pg. 1). My reply, “Cooling unit? Well, how did you cool it?” (Ashlan Holland, pg. 1).  Papaws response, “No I would take the milk to the spring and place the milk into the tile where the spring flows. That was the only way we had to cool the milk and I would take the milk to the spring after each milking.” (Vernon, pg. 1). We have upgraded over the years at the family dairy farm. Now, we have a milk tank with two electric cooling units to keep the milk at the exact needed temperature.  The Agriculture industry has upgraded in technology since the first and second generations of the family dairy business. The 2nd generation, Papaw milked approximately fifty cows in Mosheim and made a good living during the mid 1900’s. Papaw milked, fed cattle, put hay up, and picked corn for the cows. Papaw owned approximately 85 acres. Papaw made the statement, “The input cost of farm expenses and general living expenses was much cheaper during the past.” (Vernon, pg. 2). Papaw has shown me old bills from the 1900s that would totally surprise you how much the cost of living has sky rocked since then. 


Third generation, my father Curtis Holland, was born in 1967. When he was a senior in high school he had rented one of the biggest farms in county. Probably, one of the biggest farms in East, Tennessee. The big farm was a little over 900 acres. He was running steers across the pasture fields and had corn out in the crop fields. Also, He was helping his father with the dairy farm. When he graduated from high school he began driving a Pet ice cream truck at night. Dad grew a lot of tobacco every year too. Curtis said, “Dad and I increased herd numbers, farming more crop and pasture land.” (Curtis Holland, pg. 2). Dad got married in 1992, to my mother, Lori Holland, whom was raised up helping work on her family dairy farm. Mother and father had big goals to achieve together in life. Momma said, “We always wanted to have 2 kids and work hard to increase the farm size for our children.” (Lori Holland, pg. 2).  My parents have worked many long days and into the early morning on the farm together for over 26 years. I remember from my childhood how hard they used to work at the farm. They were always busy doing something. Mom said, “They used to milk 150 cows and grow 50 acres of tobacco.” (Lori, pg. 3). Once, My brother and I was old enough to help we started helping complete chores on the farm. One day we might be in the hayfield and the next day we might be planting corn. We are always on the go. Throughout high school, we showed dairy cattle, helped our parents farm approximately 1,200 acres of row crop, manage the cattle, helped milked, and grew tobacco. The reason we grew tobacco was help us pay for our vehicles. Oh, I cannot forget that we raised steers until they was big enough go to the Holstein steer sale. We would split the steer money with our parents. My family and I have always been busy people on the farm. I recall having sixty heifers and steers on the bottle at one point during my younger days. 

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We have been faced with different challenges in the past few years. Recently, we decided in the last 8 weeks to end the family dairy farm legacy. Majority of the dairy farms in the county and surrounding counties have sold out due to the milk prices. We have down sized on the rented acres due to parents & papaws age, I am in college, and my brother went out on his own with beef cattle and row crops. Life never stays the same especially on a diversified family farm. We have added to the size of herd numbers. We bought approximately 30 head of registered angus cattle. We have several groups of Black Angus, Herefords, Holstein, jersey, and brown swiss heifers/steers. We all stay busy on the farm since my dad is working full time selling equipment at Southland Equipment LLC; I recently graduated from the University of Tennessee Martin and started my career with USDA NRCS as a Soil Conservationist.

Last two years, we have been selling our own beef straight off the farm after it gets USDA labeled and vacuumed sealed for our customers. Our beef is raised here on the farm. We raise grass fed beef for our loyal customers. We want our customers to know where their beef is coming from! We hope to have hogs processed in the fall. The Holland family, take great pride into our meat and enjoy seeing our satisfied customers. 


Holly Knoll Farms, might be just a name of a farm to someone driving down our road and sees the farm sign. The farm name, “Holly Knoll Farms” represents blood, sweet, tears, pride and joy of many generations of the Holland’s. I am proud to be the 4th generation on the family farm. I take great pride in my work I complete during the day on the farm. By the way, my parents’ goals come true for them. They had two kids and increased the farm acreage from 85 acres to approximately 250 acres that we own. I am hoping my future goals for the family farm happens eventually too.