Cooling off in Canada, then back for Fire in Triangle

It’s so hot in North Carolina that I’m fleeing to Canada. Seriously. OK, so the trip was already planned. I hope to check out a few farms around Montreal and of course sample some farm-to-table fare. I haven’t done my research yet!

Meanwhile, I’ll be coming back just in time to judge the semifinals of Fire in the Triangle, the hot new chef competition series in our fair state. I cannot wait! I was thrilled to see all events sell out, not that I was surprised. Unfortunately I’ve been traveling more than home since the contest started and haven’t been able to make one of them. Very disappointing. But you can bet I’ll be there July 23 for my judgeship. Because it’s the semifinals, we don’t yet know who the competing chefs will be. So exciting!

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Posted in Cooking, Wake County | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Llamas, alpacas, and tigers, oh my!

Diane and alpaca get nose to nose at Bedford Falls Alpaca Farm

With school out, it’s time to take the family to FARMS! Children of all ages (as they say) love llamas and alpacas. (I was just kidding about the tigers in the headline.) Below are three of my favorite fiber stops in North Carolina, taken from my guidebook Farm Fresh North Carolina. While I was researching the book, Lina captured this lovely image of me at Bedford Falls Alpaca Farm in Warne. Note the similar hairdos. Love that!

Apple Hill Farm

Lee Rankin gives one of her llamas treats

The logo for Apple Hill Farm in Valle Crucis, near Boone, shows an apple flanked by a donkey and a goat, with an alpaca on top. Owner Lee Rankin planned to have only alpacas on the forty-three acres she bought in 2001. But after an animal she thinks was a mountain lion killed several of her alpacas, she got llamas to guard the alpacas, donkeys to bray warnings, and goats as a sacrificial meal. Since those additions, life on this lovely farm in the mountains has been peaceful but busy. In 2009 Lee opened the farm seasonally on Saturdays for tours, and she arranges private visits other days. Her setting and setup are superb. Even the barn is beautiful enough to live in. The tour includes a look at the naturally grown produce garden, berries, apple orchard, and, of course, the alpacas. A lovely shop in the barn carries goods made from alpaca fleece, goat-milk soap, and other handmade products. “What we really like is teaching people about the animals,” Lee said. “If a child learns that animals have feelings, then I’ve done my job.”

Hills and Hollows Farm and Museum

Guerrant Tredway feeds his llamas

Guerrant and Janet Tredway started out buying a few llamas for their own enjoyment in 2005, “and it’s just sort of grown from there,” said Guerrant, who goes by “G. A.” In 2009 the couple started to open their 100-acre farm, west of Eden and near the Virginia border, to visitors. Not only can people touch and feed llamas and see how their fiber is processed, they’re invited to a fascinating show. G. A. will put a llama through an obstacle course, an activity for which some of their fifteen or so animals have won medals. G. A. and Janet are avid collectors of country and farm antiques, including household items, toys, and tools, which they present in two buildings, one loosely set up as a general store. G. A. also restored a sharecropper’s cabin. “We want people to see how things used to be,” said G. A., who grew up on the family land, used first for a dairy and then for a tobacco farm. “If anybody wants to donate anything, just let us know.”

Divine Llama Vineyards

Divine Llama Vineyards combines a llama farm with a winery

With dozens of wineries in the state, it doesn’t hurt to offer something different. Perhaps the most unusual twist can be found at Divine Llama Vineyards in East Bend, which combines a llama farm with a winery. With only a parking lot between pasture and tasting room, visitors sipping their merlots can watch llamas cavort. “Ninety percent of people go to the pasture before coming to the tasting room,” said co-owner Michael West. “The llamas are people magnets, for sure.” West and his wife, Julia, co-own the farm (called Four Ladies and Me), while they and longtime friends Thomas and Julia Hughes own the winery. Together they bought seventy-seven acres in 2006, planted five acres of vinifera grapes, and opened the winery in 2009. The Wests and their three daughters have raised llamas since 2004, and they now keep a herd of about thirty-five. On most Saturdays and by appointment, the Wests will give winery customers a tour of the farm. During the grape harvest, the llamas are put to work, Michael said. “They wear packs with five-gallon buckets for the grapes, and we have fields full of volunteers who want to help them out.”

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Calling all chicken lovers

Get yourself to Raleigh today for the annual Tour D’Coop, one of the nation’s leading chicken tours (according to me). If you miss it this year, then put it on the calendar for next year. You’ll get to see cool neighborhoods (mostly Five Points), meet nice people (are most chicken parents?) and see the stars of the show — all types of backyard chickens. Whatcha waiting for?

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With a glean in their eyes, helping the hungry

Volunteers carry gleaned apples in Virginia. Photo courtesy of St. Andrew Society

If you’ve thought about gleaning, i.e. harvesting field “leftovers,” now is a good time to start in the Triangle, as strawberry gleaners are urgently needed. (If you can’t help now, read the last paragraph for info about gleaning in general.)

A farmer near Benson (about 30 minutes from Raleigh) has generously given the Society of St. Andrew an entire field of strawberries! They’ll be gleaning from about 9 to noon the next couple weeks. Also, they’re looking to take berries to more food ministries. The farmer also has a U-pick field where you can pick berries to buy or you can buy berries already picked.

For more information, contact Rebecca Page, Triangle Gleaning Coordinator, Society of St. Andrew, gleantriangle AT, 919-533-9609.

Here’s what I wrote about gleaning in my book: On larger farms, a fair amount of food is left in the fields after the professional pickers come through. Enter the volunteer gleaners with the Society of St. Andrew, a Virginia-based nonprofit hunger relief ministry whose volunteers remove the leftovers from fields and packing houses. The North Carolina branch, based in Durham and open since 1992, organizes some 11,000 volunteers yearly and gleans a whopping 18.6 million servings of fruits and vegetables, distributed to more than 2,600 charitable agencies statewide. And they can always use more.

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Come toast NC beer and brewery guidebook

If you’re a fan of quality beer, belly up to tonight’s soiree at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, where craft brewer Erik Lars Myers will discuss and sign copies of his just-released guidebook “North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries” (John F. Blair Publisher), just the kind of guide I’ve been thirsty for. Event starts at 8 p.m. and is being hosted by the Regulator Bookshop.

If you can’t make it, fear not. Events are scheduled for April 18 from 4:30 to 7 at Bottle Revolution in Raleigh, on April 25 from 7 to 9 at Carrboro Beverage Co., and more here.

Erik, who owns Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, has compiled frothy facts on 45 breweries. Each entry includes beer lineups, tour times, brewery background and a bit about the brewers and owners. Other features include tidbits on festivals, bottle shops, hop farms, and cideries. I also appreciated his primer on beer styles and the chapter on our state’s beer and brewing history, which began in 1770 with the state’s first documented brewery in Cross Creek, wherever that is, followed by breweries in Salem (now Winston-Salem) and Wilmington. Present day, the state went from 28 breweries in 2000 to 48 by the end of 2010, a count that included 20 closings during the same time.

As Erik writes, North Carolina has become one of the most notable brewing cents in the southeastern United States. (And if you missed it, both Sierra Nevada Brewing and New Belgium Brewing are opening major beer-making facilities in the Asheville area, adding to the state’s local brew options.) Love those hoppy endings (‘cuz I’m an IPA gal)!

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Posted in Beer, Durham County, Orange County | Tagged , | 1 Comment

NC growers sponsor berry fun contest

Here’s a cool thing. The North Carolina Strawberry Association is sponsoring a YouTube video contest, complete with a prize of a $100 Visa card. Not bad, huh? Deadline for most categories is June 30, and you’ll find all the info here. If you’re looking for places to pick or purchase, the association’s website includes a locator for its member farms.

Strawberry season is right around the corner, which means people will be asking me where they can pick organic strawberries. Sadly, not at many places. Here’s the list I ran last year and if anyone has updates, I’ll include them.

Cannot wait for fresh and local strawberries!!

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How can that even be?

As my partner, Lina, likes to say: How can that even be?

How can NO North Carolina person or place be among the final nominees for James Beard awards? That’s just kooky. I guess we did so well in last year’s “Oscars of the culinary world” that we have to take a pass this year.

Still, the earlier and longer list of nominees this year DID include many from our state, and being on that list is a high, high honor. Let’s hear it for them!

Wine and spirit (and, OK, beer) professionals:

Sean Lilly Wilson, Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. Still one of my favorite places in the state. Great beer, wonderful vibe.

Eric Solomon of Eric Solomon Selections European Cellars in Charlotte

Rising Star Chef:

Katie Button of Cúrate in Asheville. Ate there last week. Super food, super-slow service, blamed on “a large party downstairs.” I should have asked for the large-party-downstairs discount.

Best Chef Southeast:

Ashley Christensen of Poole’s in Raleigh. Loud, lively, and delish as ever. I believe Ashley will win some day. Nominated last year too.

John Fleer of Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley in Cashiers. Haven’t been but would love to go. Nominated last year too.

Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston. Went several years ago and loved it. Owners seem like great people. Hooray for Vivian! They’re still closed after a fire, but (new and very improved) website says they’ll reopen this spring. Hope so!

Scott Howell of Nana’s in Durham. A perennial show-stopper. I haven’t been in years. Pricey for me.

Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto in Hillsborough. Such a great spot, great food, Aaron is humble, and farm-to-table through and through. He was nominated last year too.

Outstanding Restaurant:

Magnolia Grill in Durham

To date, only three NC folks have won outstanding chef: Ben and Karen Barker at Magnolia, and Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill. I took friends from Florida to Lantern last week. Amazing as always. They were smitten.

The winners will be announced May 7, and although we won’t have hometown heroes, it’s still exciting to see who wins what.

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And what a year it’s been!

Wow! Today marks one year since my “Farm Fresh North Carolina” guidebook was published by UNC Press. Since then, I’ve appeared at more than a dozen farmers markets and addressed many groups, and the book has received amazing coverage in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and on radio and television. I am so grateful! I still have upcoming events this year, including a presentation this Friday at the NC Agritourism Networking Association conference in Asheville, and more.

Mostly I’m thankful for all the places the book research and promotion has taken me, and for all the fine folks I’ve met — and keep meeting! I thought I’d include here the book’s Introduction, which really is a shout-out to everything agriculture in our spectacular state!

Introduction to Farm Fresh North Carolina guidebook:

At Fickle Creek Farm in Orange County I witnessed a chicken lay an egg. She was hovering a few inches above her nesting box and out it dropped. I’d gathered eggs before, many still warm, but I’d never seen that. Most people haven’t, and that even includes some farmers I asked. I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks.

That was just one of the many thrills I experienced while visiting farms across North Carolina. During the course of my research, I kissed a llama, fed an alpaca, patted a giant hog, picked all types of berries, took a hayride out to a pumpkin patch, sipped on merlot while overlooking the grapevines, shopped at dozens of farmers’ markets, watched sorghum syrup being made, stayed on a Christmas tree farm, ate peach ice cream from a picnic table overlooking the orchard, watched goat cheese being made while the goats grazed outside, and enjoyed scrumptious meals sourced from local farms.

Driving to the farms was usually part of the fun. Meeting the farmers often made the experience transformational. They do back-breaking work all day and still find the energy and passion to entertain, educate, and enlighten us.

I invite you to join me in exploring North Carolina through its family farms, produce stands, farmers’ markets, wineries, orchards, and more. I’ll show you where to cut a fresh Christmas tree or pick a peck of apples. Want to stay overnight on a working farm and eat a meal with freshly harvested ingredients? I know just the place.

Farms mean different things to different people. To parents, they might be about showing their children where food comes from. To local-food proponents, farms are the source of their meals. To local-economy advocates, they provide a way of keeping business in the community. To couples, farms offer the perfect outing, such as a visit to one or more of our dozens of wineries.

My love of farms comes from my love of the land. Farmland and farms were part of my landscape when I was growing up outside of Raleigh. My parents, lifelong southerners, moved to the state in 1958, when I was a year old.

They both loved to grow things, and we had a large vegetable garden. Behind it were miles of woods and pastures—my playground. In the summer, we would pick buckets of blackberries. Every December we’d tromp through the woods to find the perfect eastern red cedar, drag it to the house, and decorate it. No offense to the tree farmers in western North Carolina, but I still prefer the cedar over the Fraser fir.

On many occasions, when I wasn’t in school, I would join my mom, a nurse who worked for United Cerebral Palsy, as she visited clients at their homes. We drove deep into the country, on paved and dirt roads, passing tobacco farm after tobacco farm, slowing for tractors, and occasionally stopping at a corner market for Nekot cookies and Dr Peppers.

My dad had an office job at Nationwide Insurance, but he lived on a farm in Granville County until he reached adulthood. I remember once watching him compete in a watermelon-seed spitting contest at the State Farmers’ Market, back when it was near downtown. I think he came in second.

When I returned to North Carolina in 2003, after an almost thirty-year absence, I discovered, not surprisingly, that things had changed. The rural landscape of my youth had become urbanized, as farmland was being rapidly lost to development.

But I also was delighted to discover that the red clay soil and farmland of my youth were still there, if I looked. And thanks to the tobacco buyout, there were actually more small farms doing interesting things. The end of the federal tobacco support program in 2005 didn’t kill the tobacco industry, but it greatly consolidated it. Tobacco farming was no longer lucrative for most family farms. So farmers got creative. They’re good at that.

Farm Fresh North Carolina is a celebration of our farmers’ ingenuity and successes. The book focuses on goods and services produced directly for the consumer. These might include produce and livestock, Christmas trees, wine, pick-your-own fruit, and even meals and lodging.

This guidebook also introduces a new crop of farmers—young and not-so-young people who want to return to the land, farm sustainably, and support their local economy. While the number of farms statewide has decreased, the number of small, sustainable farms is slowly rising. The renewed farm movement is the bridge between the old-time North Carolina I grew up in and the more progressive state I live in now.

In the past several years, both new and long-standing farms have been boosted by the statewide and national boom in farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, where customers buy a share in the farm’s seasonal harvest and receive a box of the farm’s produce weekly. The Slow Food and eat-local movements have contributed greatly as well, with many home cooks and restaurant chefs going out of their way to use ingredients from area farmers. Some of those chefs, cooks, and farmers have shared their favorite farm-sourced recipes with us. You’ll find a handful in every chapter.

While this book features many farms that are set up to serve the public, others are private, but the farmers nonetheless feel it’s important to let people see the work they do.

As organics pioneer Bill Dow at Ayrshire Farm in Chatham County told me, “If people don’t learn about where their food comes from, then we’re in serious trouble. I feel like it’s my duty to show them.”

Whatever your reason for visiting North Carolina farms—shopping for food, kissing a llama, tasting wine, or waiting for an egg to drop from a chicken—get out there and enjoy yourself. And thank a farmer while you’re at it.



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It’s maple-tree tapping time again — yes, in NC!

Maple syrup from the NC mountains (photo Maple Creek Farm)

It’s time to get sappy! Yes, it’s maple syrup-tapping time again — even in North Carolina! Maple Creek Farm outside of Burnsville, in the mountains, will host its fourth annual Maple Tour on Saturday, Feb. 25, and Sunday, Feb. 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You’ll get to see how maple syrup is made, take a short hike through their “sugar bush,” and meet their donkeys and miniature goats. (Is that the same as a pygmy goat?) Also on hand will be coffee, cocoa, maple popcorn, and samples of syrup on dollar pancakes. Yum! Maple syrup and sorghum syrup also will be available for sale.

Admission is an affordable $5 and kids under 12 are free. Wear boots if you want to hike in the sugar bush – it’s muddy this time of year! For more information and directions, visit

Here’s a blog posting I wrote about the 2011 event, with photos, and below is the Maple Creek Farm entry from my book “Farm Fresh North Carolina.” It was researched in 2010, and I’m pretty sure Richard Sanders is no longer managing the farm. Otherwise, information should be accurate!

Maple Creek Farm

Though Maple Creek Farm grows vegetables and raises pigs, its claim to fame can be found in its name. The 106-acre farm northwest of Burnsville has the country’s southernmost commercial sugar bush, the name for a grove of sugar maple trees. Since 2007, farm manager and forester Richard Sanders has been tapping sugar maples for syrup every February, starting with a few taps and not much syrup and growing to around 500 taps and close to 100 gallons of syrup. “Up north they tap with buckets, but here it’s way too hilly and rocky,” said Richard. To solve that problem, he has run three miles of tubing through the grove to tap the trees, whose sap flows by gravity. Sanders also grows sorghum cane and makes sorghum syrup every fall.

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Help fund farm on wheels — and youthful idealism

Not to be all middle-aged about it, but I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling when learning about cool projects that energetic young idealists are doing. One of those projects is the nonprofit Sol Food Mobile Farm, in which four longtime friends in their early 20s from my hometown of Durham will be driving across the country for six months to work with kids on a variety of garden and ecology projects. They’ll kick things off in Durham this June.

The crew’s home/office on wheels will be an enormous “green” veggie-fuel bus (though it’s painted red). The foursome bought a shell of a bus and are fixing it up themselves, adding such sustainable features as solar panels, a green roof, vermacompost, and waste-water collection tanks. They’ve already mapped their route through ten urban areas.

Like many groups these days, Sol Food is raising funds through crowd sourcing. Please read their appeal here, check out their video, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to part with a little cash. Or donate to the group directly here.

I should add that I’ve met one of the four, Dylan Hammond, a couple times because his mother, Judy Martell, is a good friend of mine. Knowing Judy, I’m not surprised Dylan has so much on the ball. Please lend a hand to Sol Food Mobile Farm!

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Posted in Durham County, Environmental, Gardening | Leave a comment

I’m goating* you on

There are some great goat-loving opportunities in the Triangle and the Triad

I don’t think I’ve met a soul who isn’t smitten with goats (myself included). If you live in the Triangle or Triad, here are some great goat-loving opportunities that will let you get up close and personal with the ridiculously  cute creatures.

Celebrity Sightings: This weekend, Feb. 11 and 12, see dozens of baby goats at Celebrity Dairy outside of Siler City. Open Barn is from noon to 5 p.m. with food and drink from noon to 3 p.m (cash only). Cost is $10 per carload, which will go to Heifer International. Goat cheese will be for sale, of course. Remember to dress warmly, as all activities will be held outside – though there will be a bonfire. (All sales cash only.)

It’s almost time: At Prodigal Farm near Bahama in Durham County, older youth and adults can sign up to help feed new crop of babies, expected to start popping out the first week of March. Prodigal anticipates about 130 babies this year! Feedings are in the morning and afternoon and take a two- to three-hour commitment. Email

And don’t forget the ongoing dinners at Goat Lady Dairy in Climax, between Burlington and Greensboro. Not only is the food great, you get a deluxe tour at this wonderful homestead goat-cheese and sustainable produce farm.

*Yes, it was intentional!

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Posted in Chatham County, Durham County, Family travel, Goats, Randolph County | 2 Comments

School teaches women small-scale farming

Private farm schools are cropping up like cucumbers in August, it seems. Now we have one in North Carolina, one for women only. It sounds pretty cool. Here’s the press release, issued this month out of Chapel Hill:

NC Women of the Land Agricultural Network (NC WOLAN) is offering The Farm School for Women, a residential on-farm training program designed specifically for women who, through knowledge and experience, value their connection to and stewardship of the land, have a passion for sustainable agriculture and are committed to the values of small-scale farming.

The residential program is located on Genesis Farm, a twenty-acre market and educational farm located near Chapel Hill, NC. For about ten hours each week, students will engage in formal classes, on-farm workshops, and field trips. The students will also spend approximately 20 hours a week working on the farm, applying the concepts learned in classes: to growing the vegetables,caring for barnyard animals and learning practical, business and homesteading skills.

Applicants are evaluated and accepted by a review panel based on background, desire and commitment to the program. The program is scheduled to run March to October, 2012. Application forms and more information are available online at The School is a sponsored program of the Genesis Farm Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission to further agricultural and small farm life through education, awareness, support, outreach and service, especially to women and youth; and to respect nature in a safe and sustainable environment.

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Your chance to set the table at Durham’s CenterFest


Come talk food and drink on Monday, Jan. 23, at 6:30! The Durham Arts Council is holding focus groups for its expanded CenterFest, to be held this fall. One of the groups is all about food and beverage elements. These could include locally sourced foods, wine festival, beer garden, food truck rodeo, chef competitions, and other foodie ideas. I’m co-moderating this particular group, along with Shelly Green, head of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Here’s the link to all the focus groups on the table, and from there you’ll need to scroll to the food one on Jan. 23:

Here’s the link to the RSVP form. You can also submit a suggestion here, even if you can’t attend the group.

Hope to see you there!

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The best collard greens you’ll ever eat

Happy New Year from Farm Fresh North Carolina! Looking back, kudos to everyone who supported farmers and dedicated themselves to fresh food in 2011. And to those who bought my book, a special thanks! What a fantastic year I had promoting it — meeting farmers and chefs and farmers markets managers and customers from around the state.

As we Southerners know, today is the day we eat black-eyed peas and collards. Here’s a recipe from my book for the best collards I’ve ever tasted. Make them yourself or get to Lucky 32 in Greensboro or Cary by midnight to ensure a fabulous 2012!

To the collard averse from the recipe’s creator, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen chef Jay Pierce: “These are different; you should try them.” He’s right. Jay’s flavorful treatment of this much-maligned green will turn you into a collard convert.

Southern Collard Greens

Serves 4

1 pound collard greens

1/4 pound pork fatback, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 yellow onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick

2 medium carrots, sliced (about 1 1/2 cup)

1 ham hock

5 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pick through the collards and discard any old and discolored leaves. Strip the leaves off the stems by grasping the base in one hand and pulling the leaves away from the stem with the other.

To clean the collards, fill the sink with cold water. Add the collards and stir vigorously with your hand; let the dirt fall to the bottom of the sink. Let the collards sit undisturbed for a minute or two. Carefully remove the collards from the water and place in a colander. Rinse out the sink and repeat the washing process 2 more times. After the third cleaning, carefully lift the collards out of the water, place in a salad spinner, and spin until dry.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the fatback and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until it renders some fat. Add the onions, carrots, and ham hock and cook until the onion is a dark golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Add the greens to the pan and cook, stirring, until wilted. Add the broth, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, thyme, and pepper. Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes, until the greens are tender.

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Posted in Cooking, Guilford County, Recipes, Wake County | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Culinary/ag education in Charlotte and beyond

Thought I’d share this recent email and my answer, as it contains some good farm-fresh culinary/agricultural education resources in Charlotte and beyond.

Dear Diane,

My brother is an aspiring chef living in Charlotte. He is very passionate about sustainable farming and farm to table dining. I have already bought him your book as a Christmas gift but was wondering if you knew of any workshops that I could send him too that would enhance his education and passion. Thanks, Justin

Hi Justin,

Thanks for gifting my book!

One option, which is focused on farming as opposed to dining, is here The focus is on people who are seriously interested in farming, so I’m not sure that would be right, but maybe? 

Other options would be to see if Johnson and Wales has anything that would fit. Also at the Art Institute of Charlotte,, but I’m not sure if they offer any classes to the non-degree seekers. If you look in the book under Charlotte dining options, they run Artisan, a student-run farm-to-table restaurant. They do A LOT with sustainable cooking. There’s also a phenomenal program at the community college in Chatham County, but that’s probably too far for you.

You could also get him involved in Slow Food Charlotte, if he’s not already.

Best of luck, and if these don’t fit the bill let me know and I’ll see what else I can tell you.

Keep it fresh in NC!


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Posted in Chatham County, Cooking, Food, Mecklenburg County | Leave a comment

Home Grown Hand Made videos are online

Wow, a big shout-out to Axel Foley of the The Peoples Channel and Durham Community Media for making videos of all the vendors at the group’s fall fund-raiser, Home Grown Hand Made, at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. The one for Farm Fresh North Carolina is below. (Others include Coon  Rock Farm, Benjamin Winery, and The Cookery.) Thank you, Axel!

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Davidson County offers intro to sustainable farming program

This is a great program for people seriously interested in farming and within driving range of Lexigton, NC.  The Davidson County  Cooperative Extension is inviting prospective, beginning, and transitioning farmers to attend the 2012 Piedmont Farm School. The seven-month program is for individuals seriously considering or currently involved in farming and is designed to provide training in production practices and business planning, in order to help people operate successful small-scale, sustainable farms. Each month from February to June and September to October, the group will meet one evening for business training and on another day for a field trip to local farms. The cost is *very* reasonable and you can find all the details here.

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Posted in Charlotte area, Farmers, Food policy, Gardening, Livestock, Organics | 3 Comments

It’s a Farm Fresh weekend! (holiday gifts, anyone?)

I don’t usually post my own events here (which are always listed under Author Appearances, above), but it’s such a big FFNC weekend that I thought I would. On Saturday, Dec. 3, I’ll start the day bright and early at the Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market, from 8 to noon. My foot warmers are already packed! That market is across from the K&W Cafeteria at the University Mall, 201 S. Estes Drive.

From there, I dash back home to Durham for my 3 p.m. appearance at the Durham County Library, 300 N. Roxboro St., downtown, where I’ll give a narrated photo journey of the book. Great scenery, fascinating farmers, and outstanding sources of local food, wine, and more! Followed by book signing!

On Sunday, Dec. 4, I’m back in Chapel Hill, at the Southern Village Farmers Market’s special Craft Market, from 1 to 4 p.m. on the village green. The address  400 Market St., Chapel Hill, will get you close.

While I have you on the line … I’ll also be at the wonderful Parker and Otis gourmet food shop on Friday, Dec. 9, from 11:30 to 1:30, chatting up lunchgoers and signing books. That’s at 112 S. Duke St., in Brightleaf Square. I’ll be the one eating the pimento cheese sandwich. They are the BEST!

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Meet the folks of ‘American Meat’

Suzanne at Cozi Farms in Saxapahaw wrote today to spread the word about a special event at the awesome Haw River Ballroom on Thursday, Dec. 8.

They’re screening the new documentary film “American Meat,” along with a local foods feast beforehand and discussion following. Film only is $10 and with the meal is $25. Ticket info here.

The meal features pastured, organically fed chicken, pork, veggies and greens, all grown across the street and prepared by the outstanding cooks at the Saxapahaw General Store and Eddy Pub. Film and conversation to follow.

Here’s what Suzanne says about “American Meat”: “I was surprised at how enjoyable this movie is to watch. Film director Graham Meriweather doesn’t gloss over the difficulty of the subject, yet he also manages to bring it down to a human scale, and in the process reminds us that raising livestock for food doesn’t have to be inhumane but rather a reflection of our common humanity. Graham does something that I have yet to see in any film of this genre: chronicle where we’ve been and where we’re going in the raising of livestock for food in a way that not only allows but encourages dialogue from participants of all sectors. And that’s just what we plan to do after the screening: confinement livestock producers will sit next to, discuss and take questions from the audience, next to pastured livestock producers, in a wide-ranging conversation that will include the filmmaker himself.”

This sounds like a very special event, especially the Q&A portion. Confinement farmers and pasture farmers answering audience questions?  Admirable.

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Posted in Alamance County, Films | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Green-light specials at holiday markets

Thanksgiving shoppers can be grateful for the number of farmers’ markets holding special market events specifically for the holidays. Not only that, the Triangle and Western NC local-food communities have put together websites giving overviews of holiday markets.  The mountain version, organized by our friends at Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, is called From Here. Its holiday market listing is here. I’m not sure who is organizing the Triangle Farmers’ Markets listings, but I’m sure happy to see it — here. That, too, has a list of holiday markets from the top producer markets, meaning that everything is guaranteed to be local. Happy shopping!

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Posted in Buncombe County, Chatham County, Durham County, Henderson County, Madison County, Orange County, Wake County, Watauga County | Leave a comment