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Jake and Lara Sawyer are excited to be involved in a project close to so many Grainger County residents’ hearts. The “Everywhere You Look, UT” campaign now calls their business home.
In the county that’s home to the world-famous tomatoes, Red Barn Produce on U.S. Route 11-W in Grainger County serves as a community landmark and destination for fresh produce. Now, the iconic red barn has donned an equally iconic shade of orange for the nearly 6,000 travelers who pass by each day.
The Sawyers, owners of Red Barn Produce and lifelong residents of Grainger County, are excited their business is now involved in the ongoing UT System’s mural campaign and that almost 600 UT alumni, employees and students representing the county will have a piece of UT right in their own backyard.
“When I was first presented the campaign, I thought it was a really great concept,” said Jake Sawyer. “I really decided to do it after recognizing the entire community could rally around the mural, given we’re located right next to Grainger County High School. It’s another great way for people to find us, too.”
“Everyone here cheers on the Vols,” added Lara Sawyer. “And we’re happy there is now a physical reminder of UT right in the center of Grainger County.”
Jake’s first job was working on the farm surrounding the Red Barn Produce along with his brothers and farm co-owners Clint Sawyer and Wesley Wells. Having now owned the store portion of the family enterprise for five years, Jake and Lara mainly sell tomatoes and strawberries grown on the property, but they also stock packaged goods and seasonal specials.
The campaign was first brought to the Sawyers’ attention by a lifelong friend and 2017 UT Knoxville alumnus, Blake Hodge.
“I didn’t immediately think of the produce barn for the mural, but then the barn’s proximity to the high school and the fact that they’re one of the only tomato farms on 11-W really stood out to me,” said Hodge. “I’ve known Jake and Lara my entire life, so I knew it would be a match made in heaven.”
Hodge commuted from Grainger County to Knoxville every day for class while studying for a degree in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology. Hodge appreciated the perspective he gained from his studies.
“UT does an incredible job of keeping its students locally grounded but thinking with a global mindset. I met so many people and learned unique perspectives I would have never been exposed to otherwise,” said Hodge.
The Red Barn Produce
Rutledge, TN 37861
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.