Kennard — In between Crockett and Lufkin, you’ll find yourself surrounded by trees as tall as the tales of Texas in the Davy Crockett National Forest. Down one of the long roads in the rural part of the state, you never know what you’ll come across, but on County Road 4600, you’ll find a clearing with a curious garden run by Larry Bruce.
“It’s been quite a journey,” said Larry, “and it just started out with us saying, hey, we better learn how to grow some tomatoes back here.”
Larry is a former landscaper and his wife, Sarah, a former interior decorator. Together they run Larry Bruce Gardens on a piece of land that’s been in his family since 1866, despite being fenced in by a national forest.
“Somehow by the grace of God, my ancestors were able to hold onto the land and work it and make enough money. They were loggers mostly, and farmers. They had to raise their own food of course, but enough to pay their taxes and hold on to the property. It’s just really amazing.”
Since 1992, they have been a part of this place creating a unique farm to table restaurant that draws in a crowd.
“It’s just really been amazing how people will come out here in the middle of nowhere,” Larry expressed, “but they like our food.”
“We schedule our work around it,” explained Gary Dial, “we might get up at four o’clock in the morning, so we’ll be able to come. Might work until 11 o’clock at night just so we’d be able to come…We’re committed to coming out here.”
“Just unforgettable,” commented Beverly High, “there is no place like it on planet earth.”
“People have said, how did you have this vision? Well, when it started out, I didn’t have this vision. I was just taking one step at a time,” said Larry.
It all started with a kitchen and a garden and over the years Larry has expanded his capacity for growing greens and seating starving sightseers.
“It doesn’t matter how many people are out here,” he explained, “it just feels like a big family gathering.”
Known for their Sunday buffet of pickled okra, smoked brisket, and fresh vegetables, this gathering is about more than just good food, it’s also about good music. With his daughter, April, and son-in-law, Lloyd, Larry is known for not only providing a great meal but also great entertainment.
“He’ll be busing tables and then they’ll be doing a song and he just runs up there, gets his fiddle and starts fiddling and start singing along,” commented Beverly, “They make beautiful music together, really.”
This soulful combination of country music and down-home cooking wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of the Lord in your life. Before it all gets started, Larry, an ordained minister, holds a small gathering for the reading of the word.
Is it a restaurant? Is it a church? Is it a garden? Is it a canning facility? “Yes. All of the above,” said Larry, “and Bed and breakfast.”
No matter if your trying to fill your soul or fill your stomach, it all starts with the small miracle of being able to grow your own food and that’s what Larry’s garden is all about.
“You can’t get any fresher than that,” he says, “people love it and the way we prepare it is hopefully in our family traditional type seasonings and that sort of thing. It reminds people of growing up and going back home.”
Corn, tomoatoes, peaches, peppers, and zucchini are a few of the things grown here but the okra is legendary.
“We have so many fans of our pickled okra, we just have to grow a lot of okra every year. But it goes in some of our other dishes as well,” explained Larry.
Without a doubt, the freshness and flavor of the food in undeniable, but so is the feeling you get at this farm surrounded by a forest. Fulfillment in so many ways that you really start to understand the words of Paul Harvey’s “So God Made A Farmer”—because this farmer is going above and beyond.
“We always pray for everybody to have a wonderful experience,” said Larry, “when they come through the gates and we believe our prayers are being answered.”
“We could go to Lufkin or Crockett or wherever but we’re going to come here. Every Sunday,” commented Gary, “wouldn’t miss it for nothing.”
“We came to fellowship and we stayed for the buffet,” Beverly added, “It is the best food in Texas and probably even beyond.”