Environmental Leadership Center
Warren Wilson College
Campus Box 6323
P.O. Box 9000
Asheville, NC 28815-9000
Please refer comments or questions about this website to Ellen Querin.
by Kate Lundquist
Orange, yellow and red leaves surround the kale and squash as I walk through the Warren Wilson College garden. There is serenity and comfort in the squash on the vine, and the wildflowers growing in a plot of soil. Nutrients for us to survive and beauty for us to behold wraps my fascination around the stem of the vegetables. Fall has settled into Western North Carolina. Since working on a farm in the summer of 2010 and living at a college with a focus on sustainability, I have felt myself more connected with the food I eat and desiring to eat local, whole foods. I met with Lily Walton, the meat manager for the Warren Wilson Farm to find out how working with animals—seeing where your food is grown--is instrumental in choosing where you buy food. This is especially important now that Thanksgiving looms near and lots of food is on the shopping list. Walton says, “I believe that growing your own food is very empowering. At the Warren Wilson College Farm, we put a lot of thought and effort into our farm management practices so that they are humane and healthy for the animals and the land on which we farm.”
The dedication of the supervisors and farm crew is what makes the farm thrive. Walton has been asked many times if it is harder to eat Wilson meat because she raised it. Walton reflects, “There is no greater connection to food than eating something that I helped raise and slaughter.” A senior at Warren Wilson adds, “Eating local is fresh and supports us! I bring vegetables and meat from our farm to our Thanksgiving table in Chapel Hill. It feels much homier.” A freshman agrees, exclaiming, “I had no idea eating local tasted so much fresher! I will definitely try to bring our college’s ideals to my home in New York.”
So where can we buy this local food? The North Asheville Tailgate market (and others in the area) are great places to go. The farmers are there to point you in the right direction for your ingredients. Lockie Hunter, a local Asheville mom and professor at Warren Wilson shares, “My family begins our Thanksgiving menu planning by consulting the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) website.”
I looked up the site, which displays a food and farm events calendar and a comprehensive listing of local markets, farms, and food-stands. Hunter says, “If we discover a market that will have local beets for the holiday then we begin planning a beet dish. If we find that sweet potatoes will be in season then we plan a sweet potato dish. Since my roots stretch back into these hills, I try to teach my children that buying locally not only strengthens our local economy but also sustains our local heritage. This lesson ties in nicely with the values of giving thanks so that the true significance of the holiday is not muddled in commercialism."
With environmental crises on our hands around the globe it is important to be sustainable in Western North Carolina and support humane practices. Instead of flooding the chain supermarkets this season, choose local and sustainable vegetables and meat. Gratitude for our plentiful harvest begins with the soil it grows in and the farmers who grow it.