There was a moment today at the farm store inspired by a woman who is staying nearby, that stopped in to shop for food and gifts. She hasn’t been together with her entire family for 20 years but this year they overcame the insurmountable logistical task and are having Christmas in Fairview. It could be said that six busy months of long days in the farm store may leave one exhausted and ready to hide from the general public for a few days but today I felt renewed as we witnessed the spirit of giving in a way I have never experienced before. It happened among strangers and despite the warm, humid December 23rd weather, we all had chills and tears.

It started like this: one of about 60 special orders we cut at the butchery this week was brought to the register, erroneously the wrong name had been heard and therefore the wrong order had made it’s way to the counter. Jokingly, the customer said to the person behind him that she could pay for that order, a six rib standing rib roast. The seed was planted and while our employee was ringing him up the person in line behind him said silently to the employee that she wanted to pay for the man’s pork crown roast which was being brought out at that time. The total was much less than he anticipated and he asked if everything was rung up correctly. Our employee told him “yes, sir, it was the woman in line behind you, she just paid for your crown roast.” He was in awe and not sure how to respond but then suddenly the two began hugging and crying. This was an amazing, unnecessary and kind act between two complete strangers.

Our farm store is only about 20×40 downstairs, and at that moment we had a rush, so the kind act did not go unnoticed but what happened next was even more unexpected. The gentleman declared he was going to pay for the next person and as the customers in the store gathered their last minute sausage, eggs, and handmade gifts for the holidays each person paid for the person in front of them. The generosity continued and it went on and on for about 20 minutes worth of transactions.

At last, there was a woman waiting to be rung up because she wanted to cover the order for next customer yet at that moment no one was ready to check out. However while she was opening the door for a man with crutches another person stepped in and offered to pay for her order! She was moved to tears and exclaimed that he had no way of knowing how much this meant, as the pork shank she had ordered was for a traditional Mexican dish called posole which was being prepared for her mother, who worked as a translator, to share with some of her clients on Christmas Eve. So this act would indeed benefit many more than just her.

She eventually had to go but left $30 on the counter. The next person, only purchasing $23 worth of goods went home on their merry way having their order paid for and an early Christmas present. The $7 that was remaining was put towards the next customer’s order who happened to be the person who actually did order the rib roast [originally brought to the counter the first time this happened] and with impeccable timing the brother of the first generous customer who started this entire line of giving came down from shopping upstairs and declared he would cover the rest of the order and so it came full circle!

By this point in time we were all feeling the love and noticing what we as humans can do for each other. I can’t help but wonder was it the season, the love of a family finally being together, or the space that is created for all of us this time of year, that allowed us to remember who we can be to each other. It was amazing to see people share in the good times, support one another through the hard times and give to another person a connectedness that isn’t always apparent in every day life. I hope this story will be told to the loved ones of the people who witnessed this moment today and that there will be acts of kindness and love that will grow exponentially because of her gift. Thank you to this beautiful soul who made today the most memorable day of the season and prepared our spirits for Christmas.

 

Hickory Nut Gap Farm is showcasing their newly built kitchen & butchery and fall farm activities this weekend September 19th and 20th with a grand opening and fall festival celebration. The weekend includes farm tours at 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00, a corn maze, baby pigs, goats & calves to visit, culvert slides, corn box, mini hay maze, hay climb, trike track, horse rides, hay rides, and kiddie cart rides. The Kitchen is open for lunch from 11-4. There will be plenty of samples including beef short ribs, pork belly, beef shank, freshly pressed apple cider, fried apple pies, donuts and much more.

The farm was established in 1916 and has been selling grass-fed beef and pasture raised livestock for the last 15 years as well as hosting people in September and October for agritourism activities and school tours. According to Amy Ager the addition of the kitchen and butchery will “create a wonderful opportunity for folks to taste the bounty of the farm’s meats and locally sourced produce during their visit as well as provide versatility for cutting our own meats.”

The HNGF kitchen & butchery and retail store are open 7 days a week from 9-6pm. The deli case will offer fresh cut beef and pork as well as smoked sausages and bacon. “We currently have 5 events scheduled for our Big Barn event space in September and October which include both private dinners and corporate events,” according to HNG on farm butcher and meat manager, Brian Bermingham. Catering using HNG meat products and local produce will be one of the farm’s specialties moving forward. Look for butchery and cooking classes hosted by their in-house knowledgeable staff as well Asheville’s own local chefs coming this winter. “Plans are also underway to launch a soup and bread CSA and preorder dinner menu as well as frozen prepared foods,” states head chef Nate Sloan.

Admission for this weekend grand opening and fall festival celebration is $7 per person with 2 and under aged guests admitted for free. Horse rides are $7/ride and hay and kiddie cart rides are $3/ride.

For more information visit www.hickorynutgapfarm.com or call 828-628-1027.

HNGF is currently available to schedule caterings, event space rental, custom cut beef and pork and school tours.

Last night I sat on the porch while the third rainstorm of the day came up the valley my way and I watched the lightening bugs in the forest and couldn’t help but wonder what soundtrack they were dancing to, if there was was one to hear. Summer has arrived on the farm and what lies ahead in the next few months needs a soundtrack to dance to. The dance has many people, but I don’t envision that its a typical Fairview square dance where you can’t quite hear the caller and your next step will likely end up on someones toes in effort to keep the line moving in the right direction. No, it sounds more like the thunder and the applause of the rain, loud and heavy storms coming my way before I can gather my things, bring in the comforter from the clothesline and head for the house.

The past two nights Granny Annie has joined us for dinner. With John in Raleigh most weeknights and Jamie visiting accounts in Hickory and Charlotte this week we have had some not so organized impromptu dinners. I cooked the boys favorite Pasta Roberto and we had spicy greens and peas from the garden two nights ago. When I got home from picking up Cyrus and Nolin from their afterschool fun yesterday I found, that our proud fisherman Levi, had caught a 16″ large mouth bass from the pond with Granny Annie, which she was sauteing in the pan for dinner. We coupled this with mashed potatoes (Cyrus’ dinner request) and an egg casserole with kale and cilantro also from the garden bounty. Not exactly a well put together dinner, but substance nonetheless, and a chance to sit for 20 minutes that was welcome at the end of a long day.

Levi is in his last week of preschool, my baby is heading to kindergarden after this summer break, and he is so ready. My hope for him is that he doesn’t enter this new school year with another cast on his arm. Two major breaks and six casts later he has the resilience and tolerance of no person I have ever met as he still attempts life with gusto. Nolin played his first Capture the Hoops game today, an Evergreen tradition for third graders, which he will be rising to next year. He also celebrated the joys of two months of ukelele lessons and made $8 busking at the inaugural Fairview Farmers Market at the elementary school over the weekend. Cyrus will be in middle school next year its still hard to believe! He and his cousin Anne were the first buskers at HNG making their ice cream and root beer money playing at the farm store while jamming away on bluegrass songs for our customers. It’s hard to believe that these children I carried in the sling while giving farm tours to preschoolers seven years ago are growing up into the wonderful young people that they have become.  nolinonuke

But the boys aren’t the only thing growing around here:

1. The blueberries are ready for picking and we are opening the upick today. This marks the beginning of berry season with black raspberries and blackberries to quickly follow.

2. I made my first solo appearance on the cover of a magazine. Farm Bureau’s Field and Family wrote a nice article about the farm and our berries. This all was prepared last year at this time which might has well been a lifetime ago because when my friend Sam called to tell me about it, it took a minute to remember that day even happened. fieldandfamilywsam

3. The kitchen and butchery is coming along. The roof is on and we are diligently making all the fun decisions like where to put electrical outlets and light switches. It’s going to be so great when we can serve you food, cut our own meat, create awesome sausages, make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and offer cooking classes over the winter.

4. We just launched our first ever (can you say step outside of your box Amy) crowdfunding campaign on Barnraiser. Get this, we are trying to raise $25K in 30 days. So far we are on our way with 52 awesome supporters donating for some great gifts to total $5785! If you want to be a part of this project and show your love by backing it you can do so here. All this support keeps us going and fuels our enthusiasm for this bear of a project. The benefits to the community we hope will spread far and wide once we open, fingers crossed, in August.

kitchen smokerview [Check out the smoker location back center wall!]

5. Saturday, June 20th we will bring in the official summer season with an Open House: Kitchen and Farm Tour. Burgers and hot dogs will be served between 11-1, with all donations going to our Barnraiser Project. Tours will be given at 10am and 2pm on Saturday. The culvert slides, baby chicks, pigs and creek will be ready for the kiddos to come play. See you there?

6. HNGF Camp will be held in the Big Barn behind the Farm Store so the farm will be alive with lots of children enjoying art, drama, and riding horses over the next five weeks. But don’t worry we have plenty of room for other visitors during that time as well!

We hope you are as excited about the transition from spring to summer as we are and that you will come to the farm to celebrate with us and catch us up on your lives too. The chance to make this land and this business into a place for our community to enjoy has been one we are thankful for and you are the reason we are still going.

Cheers to whats ahead in food, family and community.

amyandjamiecatawbadinner