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For as long as Betty Crafton can recall, Crafton Farms has been known for strawberries and sweet corn, sold seasonally from a roadside stand on the family’s 300-acre property in Portland.
The family’s strawberries are even famous in Knoxville, thanks to a community member who delivers several crates every year to UT Knoxville Athletics.
Now Crafton Farms will be known throughout the region for one more thing—a 20-foot “Everywhere You Look, UT” mural, visible to an estimated 3.25 million people a year.
Why did the Craftons submit their grain bin after seeing a post on Facebook?
“Because we’re die-hard UT fans,” said Emily Crafton, one of Betty’s seven grandchildren and a 2009 graduate of UT Knoxville. “When Dad told me, I assumed he was joking, but then I realized he was as excited as a kid on Christmas.”
“We all bleed orange,” said John Crafton, Jr. who noted his father—now 86—attended every home game up until the last few years. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”
With more than 900 acres in total, the family also knows quite a lot about farming.
For eight generations, the Craftons have grown corn, wheat, soybeans and strawberries as well as raised cattle, said John (Austin) Crafton who manages the farm’s day-to-day operations with his father and grandfather just as the family has done for almost 200 years. Crafton Farms is a leading producer in Tennessee’s agricultural industry, with products distributed across the state and throughout the country.
When asked what the phrase “Everywhere You Look, UT” means to him, John Crafton, Jr. replied, “That the whole state is behind the school.”
When passersby see the message, his daughter, Emily, hopes they recognize her family’s pride in the University of Tennessee.
Betty, the matriarch of the family, “Feels honored to be asked for this.”
For the University of Tennessee, the feeling of honor goes both ways.
“The opportunity to recognize and celebrate the impacts of UT alumni and supporters across the state is what makes the mural campaign so special,” said UT President Randy Boyd.
Several members of the Crafton’s large family are UT alumni, including Betty and John’s son, Dr. James Crafton who passed away in 2019 after a battle with cancer. James attended UT Knoxville, where he met his wife and UT Knoxville alumna, Kim, before graduating in 1981 and going on to study dentistry at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis.
The University of Tennessee is honored to partner with Crafton Farms and hopes the mural serves as a tribute to the Crafton family for the many ways their work impacts the lives of Tennesseans.
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1036 TN-52 West
Portland, TN 37148
Troy Freeman started his mural painting career while still in high school, painting mascots for his and area schools before advancing to sign painting work for local farmers and then founding his own business.
Free Sky Studios, Inc. is a Springfield, Illinois, based professional mural and sign painting business providing commercial and residential clients with a professional source for quality, creative work. With more than 20 years of experience, Troy focuses on delivering quality service marked with exceptional talent and professionalism in every project.
From a 65-foot corn cob to 4-story Frank Lloyd Wright tribute mural, Troy has the experience and expertise to tackle any location we envision.