Produce store sells local
To Allan Curtis, freshness is important. His fruit and vegetables?
"It comes locally," he said. "When I say locally, I mean in the state of North Carolina."
At Veggies, Fruit and More on N.C. 105 near State Farm Road, it's something he sticks to when selecting everything from apples to sweet potatoes.
"Number one, you need to support North Carolina because it's the home state, and you always believe your home state has the best," he said.
Curtis started the store the first of September with his son, 18-year-old Jonathan Curtis.
"God spoke to me and told me to," he said, "to be a blessing to the people of Watauga County."
And, while "anything you do now is a struggle these days," the little store has developed quite a following, with regular faces coming for the $16 a box "old timey surplus cheese," the $2.99 dozen eggs, the $1.39 eggplants and the 79-cent per pound North Carolina white sweet potatoes.
Come in and look to the coolers to your right, and you'll find old fashioned side meat and old fashioned bacon. The selection varies, but two things remain the same, he said: Freshness and value.
"We offer the lowest prices in town, bar none," he said.
And the smiles and conversation? He throws them in for free.
"In a large store, you're just a number, but here you're a person," he said.
Curtis hails from Morganton (though his wife is from Watauga County) and used to deliver newspapers for the Charlotte Observer and Winston-Salem Journal before God turned him to produce. It's a path he's excited to follow.
As for what's in season now?
"Apples," he said. "Apples and citrus fruit."
And that's just part of what you'll find at Veggies, Fruit and More.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
High Country Local Food Summit hits Valle Crucis
Two days, eight panels, workshops galore.
It's the High Country Local Food Summit, and it hits Valle Crucis Friday and Saturday at the Valle Crucis Conference Center (146 Skiles Way, Banner Elk).
Covering topics like farm finances and grant monies, food security and hunger, sustainable forestry and forest products and land access for older and newer farmers, it's perfect for anyone interested in food and where it comes from.
"We hope the community can network with other folks and really, really focus in on the local food system and how they can be a part of that," Appalachian State University grad student and organizer Tracy Jarrell said.
And it's not just about farming. Other ways to get involved include Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers' markets.
"There are various ways that people can get connected with the food that they eat," Jarrell said.
One particular discussion could change the way meat agriculture works in the High Country. It started at the last summit two years ago.
"People were discussing what's missing in this area as far as the local food system is concerned, and one of the things they said was missing is a local meat processing facility," Jarrell said.
This year's summit includes a discussion on the need for such a facility and what the community would have to do to bring meat processing directly to the High Country.
"The nearest one is an hour and a half away," she said. "If we had one here, the farmers would save time and money, because they wouldn't have to spend a whole day taking their products off the mountain to get processed."
A processing facility might create jobs and lower prices for consumers.
"There's also a possibility to do value added products, like smoked meats and bacon," she said.
Funded by the Mazie Jones Levinson Fund for the Environment, the summit is put on by ASU's Sustainable Development program. A $25 fee covers materials and meals during the summit. It happens from 9 to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 13. For more information or to reserve your space at the summit, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (828) 262-7248.
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