Small bites: Food news to go

FARM LIFE: This picture of farmhand Clarence Owenby is featured in an exhibit of images of Hickory Nut Gap Farm that opens May 30 in Chapel Hill. Photo by Ken Abbott


The Center for the Study of the American South in Chapel Hill will exhibit “Useful Work,” a collection of photographs taken by Asheville photographer Ken Abbot that capture the essence of Fairview’s simultaneously historic and progressive Hickory Nut Gap Farm. The show will feature 16 images selected from the project, which Abbot completed with funding he received from an N.C. Arts Council Artist’s Fellowship in 2006.

The farm and the old Sherrill’s Inn on the property, which once served as a stagecoach stop along one of the early roads into the Blue Ridge Mountains, was bought in 1916 by Jim and Elizabeth McClure, a honeymooning couple from Illinois who later helped found Western North Carolina’s Farmers Federation. Today the farm is still worked and managed by fifth-generation descendants of the same family, who also run the nearby Flying Cloud Farm, which produces organic fruit, flowers and vegetables.

These days Hickory Nut Gap is a well-known area supplier of grass-fed beef and pastured pork and poultry, as well as a grower of organic apples, berries, asparagus and, recently, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. The farm also operates as an educational facility, offering tours that provide a glimpse into the day-to-day workings of a successful family farm that strives to practice sustainable agriculture.

“All in all it’s a great story,” Abbot says in his artist’s statement for the exhibit. “Like a successful photograph, all the pieces fit together and suggest something larger — a shape and order that is reassuring and hopeful.”

A larger collection of Abbot’s pictures of the farm and inn, along with essays by Rob Neufeld about the farm’s history, will be published as a book, “Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm,” in early 2014 by GFT Books.

An opening reception with the artist and members of the farm family will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 30 at the center in Chapel Hill. The reception will feature oral histories from the Southern Oral History Program’s “Mountain Voices” collection and live mountain music. The show runs May 30-Sept. 1 at the Center for the Study of the American South, 410 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. For details, call 919-962-5665 or visit



Although it is running a couple of months past its previously anticipated spring launch, Asheville Bee Charmer is set for a soft opening in early June. Owners Kim Allen and Jillian Kelly will kick off their new bee- and honey-focused business with a honey tasting on June 16 that will be part of Bee City USA’s weeklong series of events for the annual Asheville Pollination Celebration. For the cost of a $10 donation to Bee City USA, participants will be able to taste a selection of exotic honeys from around the world, as well as some locally produced sourwood and wildflower varieties. In addition to a honey-tasting bar, the Asheville Bee Charmer will offer imported gourmet and small-batch local honey as well as local artwork and craft items with honeybee themes.

5-6 p.m. June 16 at Asheville Bee Charmer, 707 Haywood Road. For details, visit or



The WNC Green Building Council will host the Local Pizza Challenge – Make it Green contest during the organization’s Annual Networking Celebration 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at Highland Brewing Co. Local pie makers including FRESH, Favilla’s, Piazza, Native Kitchen & Social Pub and Mellow Mushroom will battle it out for the title of Best Local Pizza. The event is open to the public. A $5 donation is suggested to benefit the WNC Green Building Council, and Highland Brewing will donate 50 cents from each beer sold during the event. Winners will be chosen by people’s choice and Asheville Scene Food Writer Mackensy Lunsford.

Pizza businesses wishing to compete should contact Nina Zinn by 10 a.m. May 22 at 828-254-1995 or To register to attend or for details, visit




If you are feeling beered out from Beer Week activities or just aren’t much of a brew hound, The Cheese Store of Asheville is partnering with Grapevine Distributors to offer the Anti-Beer Week Cheese and Wine Tasting at 5:30 p.m. May 29 at The Weinhaus, 86 Patton Ave. The evening will include a tasting and tutorial on pairing wine with a variety of different cheeses. Tickets are $15 per person. Space is limited, so reservations are recommended.

For details, go to and click on “Events.”





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2 thoughts on “Small bites: Food news to go

  1. On Hickory Nut Farms, of course they are a local institution, and I admire what they’ve done to save the farm and market their products. However, I grew up here eating our family’s grass-fed beef. Yecch. Didn’t like it then, don’t like it now. Give me good corn-fed U.S. Prime beef like that at Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s, Fleming’s, Bern’s (Tampa) and the other Prime places. And recent studies have shown that fat beef isn’t necessarily bad for you!

    –Lan Sluder

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