This is part two of the Western NC Farm Tour trip recap. This post is sponsored by the NC Department of Agriculture. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Happy Friday friends! It’s been a rejuvenating week back home. Today, I’m sharing more of the recap from my NC Farm Tour Trip! To see a recap of the first few days, water buffalo cheese making and organic farming, see here.
Carolina Bed and Breakfast
I want to talk a little bit about where we stayed. As I mentioned in the last post, we were all randomly assigned to different bed and breakfasts depending on our blogs. I stayed at the Carolina Bed and Breakfast, a beautiful, history-ridden bed and breakfast just north of downtown Asheville. It was built in 1901 and has 6 rooms. James and Susan, the owners of the Inn, cook for the guests every morning with recipes inspired by their time overseas. The inn was quaint, cozy and comfortable!
Susan and James spent most of their life traveling and living abroad before coming back to the Asheville area and starting their B&B. The rooms remind me of mini cottages – so cute! My room was out in the back near the beautiful gardens. I could sit out there all day and read – it was so peaceful.
Susan has even written a cookbook with recipes inspired by her European and world travels, which she graciously gifted me the night I arrived. She has also run marathons – I love to travel, run and eat, so I’d definitely say they paired us well.
We had a later start on Thursday which was nice. I got up and did a little run around the Montford neighborhood, before joining some other guests at the bed and breakfast for our sit down breakfast. James and Susan had made some recipes from their cookbook. They made the peach soup, which was so good and refreshing. We then had an egg popover with fresh berries and a ginger mint syrup.
Taste of Ingles
After our adventures at Piscah Brewing and New Sprouts Organic Farm, we spent the rest of Thursday exploring the Taste of Local event at Ingles. Ingles is a local grocery chain that started in Asheville in 1963. They have since expanded to over 200 stores in 6 southeastern states. Unfortunately, we don’t have one in Charlotte, which is a huge bummer.
The “Taste of Local” is a monthly event held at an Ingles store, that gives customers a chance to meet local farmers and food producers who supply Ingles, while also sampling their products. Can you imagine having the chance to talk to the farmer who grew your squash, or a local vendor who started the local coffee you love? It’s an amazing idea, and happens monthly at different Ingles stores in the Asheville area.
I enjoyed this event because in addition to taste-testing some local food products, we got to talk with the owners and business originators. It was so fascinating to hear how some of these businesses started. Some of the neat vendors I got to meet included Sunshine Sammies (really yummy ice cream sandwiches), Firewalker Hot sauce, Old Mule BBQ Sauce, Tribal Grounds Coffee and more.
I also respect Ingles because they have an awesome dietitian on staff – it was so nice to finally meet Leah McGrath in person after following her on Twitter for years. She is a very influential RD, and she is doing great things in the nutrition world.
We also got a chance to tour the Ingles Distribution Center, which distributes all merchandise for Ingles stores. The center is located within 250 miles of any Ingles store, allowing it to meet the store’s standards for freshness and quality. The facility was HUGE – 1.6 million square feet to be exact! It holds grocery, perishable, frozen items and more. The transportation
department has a fleet of 170 tractors and 625 trailers delivering to stores seven days a week.
I hadn’t before considered how a product in the grocery store actually gets there. Think about it.
Seed/crop has to be planted –> grown and picked –> taken either to a restaurant/directly to a grocery store or distribution center before going to a store –> you buy it at the grocery store. Obviously, this is a very simplistic version of the process, but it really gave me so much more of an appreciation for how the actual products get to the store!
Engadine Inn and Cabins
For our final night, we headed to the Engadine Inn and Cabins at Honey Hill for dinner. The Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association, who kindly hosted us for the weekend, all chipped in to make various dishes for this dinner. We had such an incredible assortment of food and desserts. The coolest thing about it is that the inn owners are coming together to produce a cookbook. Many of their recipes are pictured below. I can’t wait to get my hands on that!
The Engadine Inn and Cabins have beautiful views of the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. We watched the sunset while enjoying some coffee, drinks, homemade peach ice cream and an assortment of cookies. I’d love to come back and stay here for a weekend because it is so cozy and picturesque.
The entire property is 12 acres, with 6 different private cabins to choose from at the foot of the mountains. If anything, this trip made me more excited to travel back to Asheville for a little weekend getaway!
Harvest Farm – Marion, NC
I slept like a baby after dinner at the Engadine Cabins – went to bed with a full belly. Friday morning was our final morning, and we spent it exploring Harvest Farm.
Harvest Farm is a conventional family farm owned by Cassandra Benfield. We met with Cassandra and heard how she started the farm and how she manages it. She also oversees some other farms and a pumpkin patch! She grows a variety of veggies, including cucumbers, peppers, snap peas and heirloom tomatoes.
Harvest Farm works with local produce stands, restaurant delivery trucks, food shelters, and distributes produce to wholesale distribution facilities. It was such a pleasure getting to speak with Cassandra – she has a passion for spreading her knowledge!
She graciously let us pick some tomatoes!
I can’t imagine doing this for hours, but that’s the life of farmers and workers. We also got to plant cabbage via a 6 row disc plantar on a tracker. The tracker pulled us along and we had to drop the cabbage into the revolving discs into the ground. It was MUCH harder than it looks and gave us some good laughs.
I really enjoyed the experiential nature of Harvest Farm, and Cassandra’s patience in allowing us to see what a day in the life of a farmer is truly about!
This Farm Tour was a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of “farm to table,” in the literal term. If you ever have an opportunity to tour a farm (or work on one), I urge you to take it. You will walk away with a much bigger appreciation for that line of work. Thank you to all the farmers out there!
Have you ever stayed in a bed and breakfast? I feel like they have much more character than a hotel!