Friday, November 13, 2009

WNC Ag Options Dinner Was Amazing!


Skipper Russell's lettuce field.  Photo by Megan Riley from website
Last night I had the honor of attending the WNC Ag Options Celebratory dinner for the 2009 grant recipients.  What an amazing event that was!  Megan Riley, program manager, MC'd the evening.  First she told the story of how she collected the food for the dinner earlier that week from current and former WNC Ag Options grant recipients.  This was illustrated with beautiful pictures from the farms.  Then four of the grant recipients told their stories of their experiences this past year fulfilling their grant obligations.  Two of them were local hop growers that I have worked closely with, one was a vegetable grower who is now producing large scale lettuce, and another put up a solar powered greenhouse.  Then everyone got a chance to say a few words about what they did with their grant money.  It was very inspiring to hear their stories and see what a difference a little bit a money can make in peoples' lives.

Then we got on to the good part.  Eating.  The food was prepared by two local women who, with some help from Megan, spent several days peeling, chopping, and cooking.  Pies, cornbread, and some delicious jelly and jam were also provided by one of the grant recipients.  We started out with hot cider, crackers, and lots of yummy cheeses from Spinning Spider Creamery.  The main dinner included beef stew and an incredible chicken pot pie, collards, roasted vegetables, a delicious kale "quiche-like" casserole, spiced beets, and cooked apples.  It was all very good, and there were enough leftovers for all of us to take some home.

What a great way to celebrate a successful project and honor all the grant recipients for the hard work they had done all year.  My hat is off to Megan Riley, Rob Hawk, and Ross Young who lead this project, and all the other Extension personnel who are, and have been, involved in organizing and administering this mini-grant program for our local farmers.

You can read more about the program and all the grant recipients from this year and previous years on the WNC Ag Options website.  If you want to apply for one of these grants, you have about another week to submit your letter of intent.

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