By Dave Russell
Nonprofit WNC Farm to Table is one step closer to fulfilling its mission of helping farmers find customers and customers find farmers.
Participating farmers, about 60 percent of whom are from Jackson County, will soon log onto wncfarmtotable.org to list what they have ready for market. Consumers, both household and restaurants, would then take a look at what is available and place an order.
“The idea is to keep the farmers farming and the food in the community,” creator and director Lisa McBride said.
In most cases, producers would deliver to WNC Farm to Table at 513 Mill St. in Sylva, the former home of the Paper Mill Lounge. Consumers would be notified and pick up their fresh, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses, etc.
WNC Farm to Table acts as the “middle man” between the two, but in this case the middle man makes little to no profit. The mission is “to provide local food to both consumers and to wholesale and increase the market for farmers and producers,” McBride said.
A first order of business and ready for order now is the consumer supported agriculture, or CSA program. Customers essentially subscribe to receive a box of food each month.
“There are options for an herbivore, a carnivore and an omnivore,” McBride said. “Herbivore is different fruits and vegetables. The carnivore has breads but also meats, cheeses, eggs, things like that. The omnivore box is a combination of both of them, which is why it’s more expensive.”
The boxes come in large and small sizes.
A small summer carnivore box, for example, would offer a meat, a dozen eggs, a cheese, a milk or cream and a loaf of bread. All of it from local producers. For $320, a consumer would receive a box every Wednesday for the months of July and August.
“All of that is from Jackson, Haywood and Macon counties, all super-local stuff sourced in the last couple of days,” she said.
The online ordering system should be up soon to match consumers with producers.
Customers can order everything from one jalapeno to two slaughtered cows, if available.
“I have a couple of farms with meat, and I am also working with the meat processing issues we have right now, because we have a shortage of meat processors in Jackson,” she said. “The meat in the CSA boxes comes from Haywood County right now.”
Consumers can request special items if they are available, and if not available locally, they can be sourced from neighboring agencies.
“I’m working with Tractor up in Burnsville,” she said. “They send me their availability each week, I send them mine, so that if there is something we can provide each other we make it like a regional food network.”
WNC Farm to Table provides fresh local products to area restaurants.
“Ilda, The Wine Bar, Bear Lake Preserve, Guadalupe and Mad Batter and a few others are ordering,” she said. “I do have a couple of other restaurants coming in wanting to be added.”
The application to accept EBT payment is completed.
“We are looking at subsidizing EBT recipients so their dollar goes further,” she said.
The Jackson County Farmers Market has offered that program for years.
“We also offer vacation supported agriculture,” she said. “It’ like a CSA for vacationers. It’s a link where people can go online and order a CSA of vegetables for while they are here. They can also add eggs, meat and cut flowers to go with it.”
Vacation rental companies, such as Sun Dog Realty, offer the service to visitors who, for example, would rent a cabin for a week, McBride said.
Hemp products are grown locally, but McBride has no plans to offer them to consumers until she receives approval from the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
WNC Farm to Table can be found online at wncfarmtotable.org.