A group of teens from the Rural Resources' Farm and Food Teen Training Program took a road trip to Southwest Virginia on April 1st to get a taste of farm to table living. Debbie Strickland, director of the program, arranged the trip to Harvest Table Farm and Restaurant so the youth could see a retail application of a local food system.
"I really want them to grasp the concept of farm to table," Strickland said, "not just to their own table but in a very nice restaurant."
Samantha Eubanks, Harvest Table's resident farmer, and intern Kai Conley took the group on a hands-on, educational tour of the farm. The teens learned about cover cropping, companion planting and poultry production, among other things. Along the way, they tasted radish flowers, young asparagus shoots and rhubarb.
Eubanks -- or farmer Sam, as she's known -- said the farm is designed to be sustainable.
"I studied permaculture in college and my major was agroecology," explained Eubanks. "So I tried to set up the farm in a way that sets up a self-sustaining ecosystem. That goes hand in hand with the principles of permaculture. One thing that I should really say, is that everything in permaculture should have three functions. When we make a decision on the farm, we think of three different reasons that something is going to help us. For example, the radishes. They are breaking up the soil by growing down into the soil, becoming large and then decomposing. They are also covering the soil so that it's not being washed away and they're providing flowers, which is food for the insects."
The farm provides between 40 and 80 percent of the Harvest Table restaurant's produce needs.
"They supplement a lot with local farmers," Eubanks said. "I'm constantly communicating with the chefs, telling them what we have, what's available. Then they're constantly talking to other farmers. ... Really the idea is that we're filling in what they don't have. We're growing a lot of lettuce, onions, kale, radishes, throughout the summer, things that people might have in the fall or spring but they don't have year round. We're trying to fill that gap."
From the farm, the group drove just over two miles to the restaurant and guild shop. They enjoyed farm-fresh creations beautifully prepared by Executive Chef Phillip Newton, Sous Chef Bradley Griffin, and Baker Mary Heath. Though the atmosphere is casual, the neo-Appalachian cuisine blends the concept of locally grown with fine dining flair.
The Meadowview Farmers' Guild adjacent to the restaurant was the last stop. Over 200 vendors participate in the guild, offering a wide variety of products that range from arts and crafts to food items.
For more information about Harvest Table Restaurant and Farm, visit the link below:
13180 Meadowview Square
Meadowview, VA 24361
For more information about the Rural Resources' Farm and Food Teen Training Program, visit the Rural Resources' website at:
And be sure to check out the video link to see highlights from the trip!