In 1956, my grandmother and father immigrated from Germany to Maryville, TN. She had met and married Robert, an American soldier, and they moved as a new family to his hometown of Maryville.
Twenty years later, in 1976, they found and bought this land called Sweet Hollow near Maryville in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. My father had been traveling overseas and then journeyed home to help my grandparents care for the land. Later that year, he and my mother met, and together they all worked the land and built their structures using practical and sustainable principles embraced by the "back to the land" movement.
Throughout the years, this land has raised cattle, chickens, a few hogs, and bountiful vegetable, herb, and perennial gardens. My parents began a greenhouse and landscape business which sustained us for nearly 20 years. As a family, we raised and planted thousands of native and perennial plants for our community to enjoy, to freshen the air and stabilize soil. We continue to care for the land working with nature through our meadow restoration project.
Now in our older age, the land sits here, waiting for what next it is to raise. This land is part of our lives, and we are delighted to share it with our community as a space to host retreats and events.
-- Jessi Luna
Herman's mother brought him from Germany to Maryville to live with his stepfather at the tender age of 9. His story of adaptation to East Tennessee culture is an example of building community. After military service and travel abroad he returned home in 1976 to help his mother work their new farm. Mary was a college student when they met a few months later. Together they studied agriculture, plant sciences, animal husbandry, and forestry at University of Tennessee, melding select principles with those from the "back to the land movement" on their new land. Realizing he also needed skills to repair farm equipment, Herman studied welding, They then created Sweet Hollow Landscaping, a greenhouse, design and landscape construction company, which thrived for nearly 20 years as a family business. Herman later became a journeyman welder and master pipefitter with 35 years experience of fixing, repairing and building things out of metal. Mary continued in conservation and ecology work throughout the States, Puerto Rico, and parts of Asia. Now Herman's skills as master builder and Mary's offerings as ecologist - naturalist provide invaluable support to Seven Springs in everything from visioning to implementation.