‘Milky Way Farm Is a Great Place for Memories’
There is quite possibly no other landmark in Giles County with as much mythos surrounding it as Milky Way Farm. Its effects on the citizenry of Giles County in the first half of the 20th century were far reaching and that has made for almost as many stories about the farm and the Mars family as there are residents of Giles County. Though the farm has changed owners several times, there is to this day a sense of ownership on behalf of the citizens of the county towards it.
Candy magnate Frank Mars and wife Ethel came to Giles County at the invitation of a Mars candy bar box manufacturer, Eric Schuller and his wife, a hometown girl and daughter of Sen. Brown. The Mars’ visited the county in 1920 and fell in love with the beauty of the area; as they say, the rest is a long and illustrious history. Never meant to be a permanent home, a hunt lodge was soon erected. Ethel, deeply involved in the horse world, made the location a home-away-from-home and a place to entertain like-minded friends on weekends and holidays.
“When my father and I first looked at Milky Way Farm, we thought we really have no business purchasing it,” Lynn Golden said. “At over 1,100 acres, it was too big a project, but then we walked the hillside, watched a sunset from the back hill, read the history — the stories of how one person made a difference.”
The farm made a tremendous difference in the lives of Giles Countians during the depression era years. When construction began on the property and its facilities, there were approximately 1,200 locals employed in various positions — 984 working directly for Milky Way and the remainder as sub-contractors.
Golden and her father reached out to the community for information on the history of the farm.
“Ten years ago, we had an open house for anyone that ever worked or had a relative work on the farm, and 350 people came and told stories,” Golden recalled. “Stories of how their family built Milky Way Farm and all the treasures of it.
“We promised to do our best to not look at all that needed to be done but celebrate what we could do to make it a little better each day. It is such an honor to help protect such a beautiful piece of Tennessee history.”
The Goldens are looking forward to making memories with future generations of Giles County.
“Milky Way Farm is a great place for memories — whether it is a wedding, a group lunch and tour, a corporate meeting, a family outing or a holiday tradition. It is a place to reflect and enjoy the outdoors and the architecture of years past. We love outdoor events — Easter egg hunts, hayrides, music and trail runs — and hope to continually do more each season. We love events in the historic Manor House and barns.”
With an eye toward sustainability, the farm is still a working one.
“Today, the main crops are corn and hay,” Golden explained. “We have sheep, horses and donkeys. We have blackberries and are beginning to grow other items to make soaps and lotions. Country breakfast and barn tours are some of our favorite days when a group gathers and friendships are made.
“We are excited about the upgrades to the Show Barn for large events. Knowing that a wedding and reception or festival can be outside or moved inside if needed is a nice option. We still work by reservations, so that we don’t overlap with a private event.”
Upcoming events include:
• The annual Easter Egg Hunt is set for Sunday, April 5, from 1-4 p.m. There is a fee of $12 per guest over age 2 that covers the hunt, snacks and activities. Reservations can be made at info@MilkyWayFarm.org, by calling or texting 931-808-2281 or through the website or Facebook page.
• Trail Run — Mud Girl is set for Saturday, May 16. Reservations may be made at MudGirlRun.us.
All other upcoming activities are listed on Facebook and the event calendar at MilkyWayFarm.org.