Fork to Farmer
People. Choosing, convenience, over, kind, of authentic, relationships, there's a huge issue. What. Happens, 20 years down the road with this convenience. Economy, that we've built. If. We just spend our whole lives indoors, ordering, things to our front steps. Then. We know that there's going to be a breakdown society. There's. Going to be a breakdown, of small towns. You. In. Contrast, with mega trends for globalization. Efficiency. And convenience, there is a strong counter movement for. Localism. This. Is especially true in regards to food. Generally. Local, food programs, focus. On bringing, food products, from neighboring, farms to, our restaurants. Our, markets, and our tables, at home but. Our project for the farmer focuses. On leading. The local, foods enthusiasts. To visit, their, neighboring, farms, and, the farmers, in. Essence, we propose, that foodies, take, the next step in their love affair with. Local, foods by, getting. To know the farmers that devote their lives to produce these fresh delicious. Ingredients. That are used by our most, celebrated, farm-to-table. Chefs we, believe that for the farmers the next step in the evolution of the local foods movement it, D anonymizes, the farmer. It. Brings a farmer from the. Invisible to the visible from the backstage, to the front stage. There's. A part of society that just says oh they're just farmers. I've. Never felt. Like I I wish I had walked a different path and. I think part of it is I have three, boys that, I've raised on a farm that. Work, as hard as they work and understand. The benefit of working hard doesn't necessarily, mean, driving. A Mercedes. Working. Hard has its own rewards. When. We visit farmers, first. Thing perhaps it stands out is their deep, knowledge of farming. And the environment, but, to, me the the biggest takeaway, that's, inspiring. Is that. These, individuals. Are, deeply. Value. Driven they're. Devoted. To making. A difference in society they're, devoted, to growing. Healthy. Food. For our communities, you're, meeting these people that are idealists. And they are intentional, about their lives about everything, they do. I have, lived in North Carolina all my life, and. I've been farming on this farm here for 23, years I tell. People all the time I think farmers have called they've got a bum rap you.
Know I'm saying and. Society. When. I was young they, will say preach go school get a four-year degree you know everybody get a degree get a degree you know and but. I look at it. Everybody, is more important, than the problem but. You look at the essence of the whole thing. No. One can survive, without the farm I. Have. A strong environmental, ethic, I think that we. Should preserve everything we can. Over. The post of our lives I think a lot of people don't. Know it to that consideration. Yet. Using a lot of. Prepackaged. Food or. Driving. Their car necessarily. And. I think. Instilling. That in our culture is one, of most important things we can do I. Want. To be. Assured. That I can provide. Food for myself and for my. Community, I do have neighbors that come, to the farm. The. Skillset that we, value here, is commitment. And and, willingness to, understand. Accountability. And there is no I, don't feel like, milking. Today or I don't feel like feeding today that these animals rely, on us, for everything, and we can't, we. Can't just put. Our needs first, I, think. It's that connection, that so many people just don't have. With. Their food that we are trying to bridge that gap I see my primary role, as a chef, as someone, who is celebrating. These producers. It's. My job to make sure that their work is recognized. We. Rely on the fact that we have a customer, base that understands. The importance of local when. You have an opportunity for, people to buy local, food the, next step is to actually get them to see where the food is produced. Part. Of the commitment to local is an education, process we, bring people in and we can we can help them understand, why, it's important, and maybe it's more expensive but, why is it more expensive and they can make the choices based on that as opposed to walking. Into a grocery store and and seeing a local, food table. That maybe local. Means the, southeast, as opposed to. 20. Miles down the road. When. A chef comes to visit, me and takes the time out of their busy schedule. It validates, my lifestyle, choice it validates, my commitment, to, my. Product line it. Helps me to understand, that it somebody, else appreciates, on a lot of different levels what I'm doing as opposed to just expecting. Certain, amounts of pounds of product to be delivered. I. Couldn't. Do what I do if if. The. Farmers and producers were, not doing what they do. Through. A collaborative relationship between. A chef and a farmer, if a, chef truly understands, that that relationship can, help that farmer to stay in business there's, great opportunity, for the chef to also, encouraged. Patrons. Of the restaurant to. Go out to the farms and visit the farms which, can. Inspire. That additional, income through, the farm visit itself through. Direct, sales of the farmer to the patrons, on the farm but, it also can inspire, that building, of relationships, between the consumer, and the farmer. There's. This great opportunity with, community, of how. Restaurants. Can get involved and then, individuals. Who go to those restaurants, they, don't have the time necessarily. To, research my farm or to understand. How my farming, practices, are but, they can trust that restaurant, and they can trust that chef's to have done all that groundwork for them. I love. The roots. I have. Been organic. Gardening, for almost 40 years I. Came. To North Carolina, from the mountains, of Virginia and, West Virginia what, I'm doing here is. Growing. On a small scale in, a very intimate way for. Me to harvest, you, know I started early in the morning and by the time I'm done and ready to go to town on my deliveries I put six hours, the. Relationships, between these, farmers. And the chef's that they supply is incredibly, complex and. Brittle. So. One of the things they do that they express is crucial. To make their collaboration. Work is, communication. The best thing that we've done with, a lot of our farmers to develop, these, consistent. Orders. Tom, from, Ryze uprooted, who gives, us all our greens he knows, if. He's got them we'll take up and we'll take X number without. The relationships, that I have built with, Katie button being an example, you, know I wouldn't be able to exist without.
Her Support. Because. I'm so small they. Really collaborated, with each other in a, non-hierarchical. A very, level, manner they. Know that they are crucial. To each other's success there, our products, don't sell that well, in. Farmers, markets if we, can. Incorporate. Those, products, from the farmers things, that grow really well here, in our area. Then, we can help them fill. That, slot, and make some money off of those products. Small. Businesses, are important, to our communities, and. Collaborative. Relationships, between chefs, and farmers can help. Both businesses to. Stay in business, this, business is. 90%. About, the relationships, that we have with our producers. And our and our growers, and. Our mutual, commitment to. Each other and I think you only can. Only develop that by visiting someone that someone else's house so to speak I think that's the most important, part of this. Business for me is. The building of the relationships, with my clients so when I go in there it's not you, know just me dropping off a box, of greens it's you, know they recognize, me they know who I am we chat we you know it's just not here you go here's the Asiya it's. The funny thing about our business or our businesses, both the production of. The. Raw product and the. Finished, product on the plate is that it, does it does vanish but what remains is, the. It's the permanence, of those relationships, and those than those stories. Agriculture. Is. A connection. To our heritage. Agriculture. Is one of the top industries, and in the state of North Carolina it, is a top industry. Farmers. Are very resourceful. They. Are the. Original. Entrepreneurs. They're. Trying to make it and they're. Having to learn, new. Things every. Day. You. Know we, always talk, about the, tiny margins, of a restaurant but I think that in, margins, a, small. Farmer. Are even, more tiny, so. I think that farmers have to be really creative. In, the ways that they make their ends meet you know farming, can be a relatively, solitary, experience. But. By having farm, juicers there's more interaction, public. And by, having that interaction with the public there may be also an increase, in. In. Identity. In sort. Of raising. Your opinion of yourself because other people think you're fabulous because you're you're, able to grow these things and they understand, all, the methodology. All the research that you've done and they appreciate, it and they're telling you that people. Come out here and they're excited about what's going on it rejuvenates. Me and, makes. Me, appreciate. What I'm doing we, get energized, by. Having, people who aren't familiar with what we're doing or who become, disconnected, from the land actually. Get, out here and help, us get their hands dirty helped us move the cows help, us with the chickens, and you really, see it in their eyes how, engaged, they are that. Wow people are doing this this is really neat and you just see them embracing, it and it's a whole new experience, they're here actually, participating. In seeing. How the animals, move from one pasture to the other it, really brings the chance for, them to reconnect, with the, land and that's we find very energizing, for us as well it, would be wonderful if the spotlight would get shown on farmers, or other people in the industry, the.
Products, Have to be prepared, properly, and. That. Requires a very talented, diligent. Farmer. We. Can only make things shine that, shine. Themselves. On their own I feel, like I do very little cooking, and creating. As. A, chef I am passionate about working with ingredient, and technique I. Want. To do as little as possible to the product because I like to respect it I don't want to cover anything up I want to enhance the product not hide it I believe, our tastes have been so skewed, we've. Been inundated with salt sugar artificial. Flavor and, going back and. Changing. Our palates so that when we are, hungry we will crave something with, flavor and not, something that's just sweet, or salty. That's. Why I think this movement is important. For everyone. I want to keep seeing the farmers, markets, doing well and, people. Doing. Most of their shopping there and then going to the supermarket, we have to support the farmers in order to keep that going the. Dollar that we pay our local farmer will then circulate, within, our community, rather than going, to, some. Other place whether it's South, America, or even California. Someplace, other than home you, don't realize, how important, is to buy local, until. You're a small, business owner yourself. And then you've realized, how. Important, it is that. You. That. You support, other, people in the positions, that you're in the. More that we support. Our local farms, that supports, our local economy. Chefs, do, understand. The, value, of supporting. Local. Economies. Because. Without our look farms. Will. Lose our small towns will lose our our, agricultural. Of working land spaces. Small, businesses. Depend. On that, dollar. Circulating. Locally. So, your farmer, is going to, typically. Spend, their dollar in the small towns you're visiting pharmacy, visiting, the hardware store, visiting. Their own grocery store and that's, what we want to support to bring vibrancy. Back to small towns what. We provide is, a. Tie-in, to all the other great things that are being done in Randolph County all, of us benefit, from the, energy. That the visitors, bring, and that we provide back. To them through, a great experience.
The. Thing about fork the farmer is that it really emphasizes, relationships. It's a new economy really an economy. That's not just financial, we want them to value each other and care for each other and they care about their place if we try to think about success stories of what's really been. A place that exhibits, what we want to happen in the local food economy we. Can think about Kingston. Carolina. You, know the backhoe sort of paid all the bills when, when. I was coming along and and then I raised my family on it and. And. It was a good thing for a long time we all kind, of in. Eastern, North Carolina have, this. Connection, to the tobacco, trade but, if it's rise and, you, know ultimately its fall when, agriculture changed. I think our economy changed drastically. And that. It's what as, farmers, look for new ways to make money to replace the tobacco production they. Were looking at bad foods that were maybe unique or, could bring a good cash crop and I, think that all happened, about the same time that folks started wanting to know where their food was coming from it, became our goal, to, start, trying. To get local. Farmers, who had, what's. Been tobacco farmers, back into growing something, and the hope was that it would be produce. Or niche, proteins, or cheese's you know I was. Asking, if anybody had suggestions and folks. That would, be interested, in growing something for me and the same person's, name kept coming up ever. Growing season, you. Just it's, almost like rolling the dice you don't ever know what you're going kid if it hails and, you. Know tears a bunch of sunflowers, down I mean I don't you, know I don't, get this upset about that you steroids like well. This. I've, just kind of figured out it's just part of it you know bad. Things gonna happen good, things going on. Warren. Is someone, who really, finds joy and what he does and that's something, that I. Have. Observed about. Him and something I strive, to, glean, from him.
The. Agriculture. The farm-to-table, movement, has. Made a huge difference in people that are coming and visiting and, how they're enjoying our community, because, the experience, for all of our visitors whether they're coming for art or whether, they're coming for, Civil. War history or, just history in general or for. Baseball they, all have food in common, so they're all coming, to that table together. To enjoy the, hospitality and, enjoy, local foods that are grown here in our area, in that we've, grown up with and we think, of everyday is just what, we generally have it's. An experience, for them that's difference I think that's made a huge difference for us and I think also as the farmers, created, new crop. Industries. They are actually, making more money which means that they're. Selling more product, which means that businesses. Can, thrive I, mean they can come into town and spend money and so, people are providing businesses for where they can come spend money which. Creates, a greater economy, in the downtown area or, in the whole county really you, know I don't think until recently. Anybody. Would have taken you in the backyard, when. They were making a fish stew and show you how they cracked eggs are taught because I don't think they thought it was interesting I don't think they thought it was a worthy story. And. But. Those are the things that make this. Region so interesting, you know I don't think that. People. Here. Necessarily, and understood, that the way that we cook whole hog barbecue. We interesting. And unique and that people from other places would find it like you know earth-shatteringly. Interesting, I mean they'll travel from you know freaking, Minnesota, to come here and what, you cook chicken and rice with your mom so. I think a private place and the pride of understanding. Where, you come from and. Who. You are and. What makes you unique what, makes your place unique and really. Being able to share, those stories, can. Interest people from. Elsewhere, I think they formed the farmer movement he's a creative, idea and I think it's an important one it. Matters, because community. Matters that. Is one, of the huge losses in, this, country and it's not just this country it's around the world we're. All becoming so isolated. And having. That connection to farming, and agriculture. And. Having the connection to the earth it. Grounds, us. The, closes, that we can be with the hair the. More we understand, appreciate, life I. Think. There's a place for the. Convenience economy, in everybody's, lives there are some things that you just need to buy quickly and cheaply and, have them delivered to their door but. I think there's also a, need, within, that that, we have the economy that's built on community, and relationships. And people.