Even though we live here, we have to admit we are continuously amazed at the abundant resources found here, and especially how great the people are. To highlight both, we explored the exciting farm-to-table movement in our region. From Posana Cafe in downtown Asheville to a farmers market and a farm in Henderson County, we learned about the integration of farm-fresh produce into our homes and restaurants across Western North Carolina.
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We enjoy such a high quality of life here, and a big part of that is the fresh food we enjoy. From the farms to the tailgate markets to the restaurants, the people of WNC bring it all together in innovative ways through the farm-to-table movement. Posana is an excellent example of a restaurant that works with more than 45 local farmers to bring fresh food to people with as little negative impact on the earth as possible.
“Our mission here at Posana Cafe is to really nurture and nourish everyone that walks through our doors, including my wife and I, all the employees, and all of our customers,” says Peter Pollay, chef and owner. “And we do this by being as sustainable as possible and responsible as possible to the environment and to the food that we serve. We support, right now, about 45 local businesses and farmers using well over 90 ingredients. It’s really just the best way to prepare food is to buy stuff locally. You know where it comes from. We have a great rapport with all the farmers.”
“ASAP, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, they are not-for-profit and they are just totally amazing,” says Pollay. “Without them, we wouldn’t have all the small farmers that we have right now. We wouldn’t have the diversity of the products we have in Western North Carolina. And all those ingredients really make my job exciting and fun and creative, and just a joy to do day in and day out.”
“I grew up in large cities—New York and Chicago,” says Pollay. “When I moved here, it was a big change for myself having such a small community. But I love it, I think it’s fantastic. It’s really just a wonderful place to live, Western North Carolina.”
ASAP makes it all possible, connecting all of the pieces together. Farm-to-table, after all, at its essence, is about community, and that’s what ASAP is all about.
“ASAP’s mission is to help keep local farmers farming, to connect them to markets and the folks that support local food and wanna support what they do,” says Maggie Cramer, communications manager of ASAP. “And then to build healthy communities through connections to local food. So the way that we do that is by really making sure that folks are aware of where they can purchase local food, and make sure that it’s easily identifiable so that they can find it. If they’re really wanting to support local farmers and the local economy, that they can find it really easily. That’s through our Appalachian Grown Program, and so you’ll see that logo at grocery stores, at farmer’s tailgate markets, and at restaurants like Posana on their menus and doors.”
“We’re really excited because we’re getting ready to host our annual farm tour, which happens every fall,” says Cramer. “More than 30 farms are open to the public, some of which are never open to visitors, so that they can ask as many questions as they want, tour their fields, learn about their growing practices, and of course, purchase their wonderful, fresh products. It’s a great event, and one that we hope to carry on for years to come.”
“In a lot of times, particularly for restaurants, farmers are even growing something special for the chef at their request because they’ve built a great relationship, they know the kind of product they can get, and they know the customers in the area really want that product and are going to buy it and support their efforts as well,” says Cramer. “So it’s a wonderful community, a group of supporters, farmers, and businesses, and it really makes for a thriving local food movement that’s unlike anywhere else.”
“What we’re doing is really getting recognition, because we’re thriving so much here,” says Cramer. “It’s become a national model, and we hope to see other areas thrive and be just as excited and supportive of local food and farmers as we are here in the Southern Appalachians.”
“I grew up on the panhandle on the Gulf Coast, the panhandle of Florida,” says Cramer. “Grew up a beach girl. Certainly loved the beach, but when I visited here I really fell in love with the mountains and was ready for a change of scenery. Love calling the mountains home, and then going back and visiting the beach.”
The farm-fresh food in our region is one of the many contributors to a full, vibrant life here. To learn more about the many ways you can Live the Life You Choose, check out this playlist on YouTube.