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‘We needed this’

Community enthusiasm high as Monterey Farmers Co-op opens its doors
Story and photos by: Chris Villines 1/28/2019


White County Farmers Cooperative’s new Monterey Farmers Co-op branch store held its grand opening event Dec. 15, and part of the festivities included the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. Marking the occasion are representatives from the Co-op, the Town of Monterey, and Tennessee Farmers Cooperative. From left are Ben Clark, Deb Dunn, Julie Bohannon, Mark Davis, Bill Wiggins, John (Bobo) Keyes, Aaron Pittman, Andrew Baisley, Kaydee Johnston, Ray Lyons, Rick Syler, and David Simmons.
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Located equidistant between Nashville and Knoxville, the quaint town of Monterey is near the point where Putnam, White, and Cumberland counties meet.

With the recent opening of a Co-op store in the community, it’s now a place where locals can meet, too, and find bagged feed plus other products for farm, home, and outdoors.

Monterey Farmers Co-op opened for business on Dec. 8 and held its grand opening celebration on Dec. 15. The store, a branch of White County Farmers Co-op, set up shop on 202 South Holly Street in a 4,000-square-foot building that formerly served as an inventory overflow warehouse for the Cumberland Container Fulfillment Center.

And judging from the reactions of those who steadily streamed through the doors for the grand opening, this addition to the small town’s business lineup is a welcome one.

“We needed this,” said local resident Austin Harris, a beef cattle and hay farmer who was accompanied by wife Adrianne and their infant daughter, Amelia. “When I heard we were getting a Co-op, I was very, very excited. This will definitely be closer and more convenient for me.”

Chris Walker, another Monterey resident, also expressed his happiness with having a close-by option to buy feed and other supplies for his goats and horses.

“When I was growing up here, there were three feed stores in town, but they all went away,” said Chris, who, in addition to farming, owns Barkbusters, an area tree service. “Now we have this store, and I hope the people of this area will take advantage of it. It’s going to save me a lot of time and fuel.”

Having a store in the same town in which she graduated high school is a dream come true for White County Farmers Co-op Manager Deb Dunn.

“I had been approached several years ago about putting a store here, but the timing wasn’t right,” said Deb. “There was nothing here for the farmer. They had to go about 20 miles in any direction to get what they needed.”

Considering that the Co-op didn’t even begin leasing the building until Nov. 15, Deb said the turnaround time to get the store opened was nothing short of “miraculous.” She gave credit to the two people who will staff the store, Kaydee Johnston and Aaron Pittman.

“Kaydee practically lived here for a month,” laughed Deb. “It’s been a team effort to transform this place. We’ve worked very hard.”

As he surveyed the grand opening activities, White County Farmers Board President Ben Clark talked about how the Monterey store fits with the Co-op’s growth strategy.

“Our goal has always been to try and grow the business in whatever way we can,” he said, “and still be able to provide the farmer a quality product at a reasonable price. We thought Monterey would be a great place to keep the Co-op’s name out there. And we want to be actively involved in the community.”

Kaydee stressed that she hopes every customer feels at home and a sense of pride when walking into the store.

“We want them to feel like they have ownership,” she said. “When they leave here, we want them to tell others that this is their hometown store.”

Monterey Mayor Bill Wiggins called the opening of the Co-op a “welcome addition” to the town’s business lineup.

“There’s definitely a market for the Co-op’s products here,” Wiggins said. “This will be helpful to a lot of folks. We’re glad White County Farmers Co-op has made an investment in Monterey.”

Monterey Farmers Co-op is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Wednesday and Saturday, the store is open from 7:30 a.m. to noon. For more information, call the Co-op at 931-559-2278, or visit the store’s Facebook page at

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