Local chefs are proving to be some of the best supporters of Haywood County farmers.
“The Buy Haywood project is having a great year, from new produce sales at Ingles grocery stores to a new map and brochure to encourage people to visit farm stands and farmer’s markets,” said George Ivey, coordinator of Buy Haywood, which helps develop stronger markets for Haywood County farm products. “We thought it would be logical to focus next on restaurants, and we’ve been very pleased to learn that many chefs are already on board.”
Those chefs are buying everything from seasonal items like peppers and tomatoes to year-round items like rainbow trout, with some buying directly from farmers at local tailgate markets and others relying on farm stands like Duckett’s Produce, according to Ivey.
The Haywood Regional Medical Center Cafeteria is one of many local restaurants that utilize Christopher Farms of Waynesville for deliveries of a wide variety of fresh, local produce. Chef Phil Mohr is very pleased with the results.
“It’s a great way to support the local economy, and it just tastes better,” he said.
Buying local is also important to Denny Trantham, Chef de Cuisine for the Blue Ridge Dining Room at Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa in Asheville. A Haywood County native, Trantham buys from farms throughout Western North Carolina, including trout and salad greens grown by several Haywood County farmers.
“Buying fresh food from local sources is all part of our continuing effort to support sustainability,” said Trantham. “Plus, we love the opportunity to showcase these great local products to all our visitors from near and far.”
Several Haywood County chefs also utilize tomatoes and other local produce to make their own value-added products, including Hudson’s Smoked Tomato Jam, available through Sunburst Trout Farm; Maria Pressley’s salsa, available at Maria’s Mexican Pueblo; and a trio of tomato sauces made by Chef Ricardo Fernandez at Lomo Grill.
“We are very thankful that these chefs are offering local farm products to their customers, and in the process helping to support family farms,” Ivey added.
The Buy Haywood project has started compiling a list of local restaurants offering Haywood County farm products. The list is available online at www.buyhaywood.com/try.html.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to identify and support the restaurants that support our local farmers,” said Ivey. “If there are other people out there who offer or want to offer Haywood County farm products in their restaurants, we want them to call us so we can help them connect with farmers, consumers, or both.”
The Buy Haywood Project supports farmers in Haywood County in Western North Carolina by promoting high-quality farm products to community-minded consumers. The project is managed by the Haywood County Economic Development Commission, and it receives support from the Golden LEAF Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. For more information call 828.456.3737.