Earth to Market
One of the most popular grassroots movements today is the phrase “Buy Local, Eat Fresh.”
The idea stretches out from farmers to local markets that are aware of the latest farm-to-table projects. And North Carolina farm fresh begins at home in Moore County.
Just ask Bonnie Black, owner of The Market Place, on Midland Road, in Southern Pines, who continues to offer customers fresh produce grown at local markets. Black has stepped up to the plate and joined the rally to establish a farm-fresh ideology in the workplace. Her background serves her well in the selection of locally grown produce.
“My grandfather was a big farmer,” says Black. “He owned a large plot of land at the corner of Murdocksville and Dobbs Chapel roads. I remember growing up and helping him on the farm. We picked produce every day. People came from miles around to buy his vegetables.”
The whole family worked the farm.
“We did a lot of picking, selling, canning and freezing, too,” Black says. “When you grow up like that you continue to enjoy and appreciate fresh vegetables. When we fix cold gazpacho, for example, we use local farm-grown cucumbers, onions and tomatoes.”
Wendy Blue, a waitress at the restaurant, is the daughter of John Blue, who owns a farm in Vass.
“We’re very lucky to get fresh vegetables from Blue’s Farm,” says Black. “He grows cabbage, potatoes, cucumbers and green peppers, which we use in the restaurant. We really use tons of tomatoes, also.” Black pauses. “Fresh matters to us, so we give our customers the best.”
Black is always searching for local farmers who grow and offer their produce for sale.
“We have a lot of farmers who have stands along the highway,” she says. “And their produce is very fresh.”
Because Black uses a lot of lettuce, both in salads and sandwiches, she requires a top-notch grower.
“I purchase hydroponic lettuce from Green Haven,” she says. “Their bibb lettuce is wonderful, and we are constantly using it. Of course, a lot of produce is seasonal. But we try to keep local as much as possible.”
When the season permits, Black gets strawberries and peaches from Kalawi Farms locally.
“Fresh fruits are delightful and customers really love the taste,” she says.
Black’s mother makes fruit pies using the fresh fruit when it is available. Fresh apples and blueberries are also used.
Black’s well-rounded array of available vegetable sources includes her father-in-law, Harold Black, who farms at Sunflower Ridge. “He grows a lot of vegetables,” says Black. “We are lucky to have more than one source for our vegetables. We always get cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, onions and broccoli from the farm. Fresh cabbage makes great slaw.”
When quantities run low, and the items are not in season, Black purchases what she needs from Aberdeen Produce.
Black is looking to expand her use of local foods by purchasing and adding fresh herbs to the meals.
Another interesting note about Black’s heritage is that her great-grandparents helped establish the Malcolm Blue Farmstead, which has been historically noted and running for more than a century. With Black’s background, it’s no wonder that she not only has the experience, but the knowledge to serve up a field of healthy fresh and local foods.
Contact freelance writer Anita Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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