As autumn settles into Western North Carolina, people dedicated to eating seasonally revel in the arrival of kale, collard greens, head lettuce, winter squash and an abundance of apples at local tailgate markets. This fall, a new relationship between Warren Wilson College Farm and the ASAP Farmers Market also gives meat-loving shoppers a seasonal reason to rejoice.
The college has traditionally sold the pasture-raised pork, beef and lamb its teaching farm produces through spring and fall bulk meat sales, which have operated old-school for many years. Customers select products on a printed form — beef and pork quarters, a lamb half, boxes of 10 1-pound packages of ground beef or breakfast sausage, for instance — mail it in with a check and pick orders up at the farm on a designated day.
Warren Wilson’s new presence at the ASAP Farmers Market at A-B Tech on Saturday mornings gives shoppers a more regularly accessible outlet for stocking up on its fresh meat offerings. “We do almost all our beef processing and lamb processing in the fall, so this is really beef and lamb season for us,” says Blair Thompson, farm manager at Warren Wilson College. Pork, he adds, is more of a year-round product, but all the farm’s meat will be processed by late December and sold into spring.
ASAP Farmers Market Manager Kate Hanford connected with Warren Wilson while reaching out recently to area farms with the goal of increasing the market’s meat selection. Hickory Nut Gap Farm Director Asher Wright, who had been farm manager at Warren Wilson until 2018, pointed Hanford to the college farm. “Their standards are very much in line with what we are committed to bring to the market,” she says. “It’s a great program, and we love that the students come to the market and work the booth.”
The Warren Wilson College Farm also recently added an online sales platform where customers can preorder retail-sized, individually packaged items for pickup at the ASAP market. “It has made it a lot more streamlined for us,” says Thompson. “Since we can’t have outside folks on campus right now, the new platform and having a physical presence at the market is a great way to keep and grow sales.”
Additionally, the farm now includes Benton-cured bacon in its product line. “We will take our pork bellies to them in Townsend, Tenn., and they will custom cure our pork for us under their USDA label,” Thompson explains, referring to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Benton-cured country hams will also be available from Warren Wilson later this year or in early 2021.
While the college is proud of the meat it produces, “The bottom line for us is getting new farmers and new land managers trained up,” says Thompson. “This is a way to support that mission.”
An order form for Warren Wilson’s traditional fall meat sale is available at avl.mx/8ey. Deadline is Friday, Nov. 6; pickup is Friday, Nov. 14. To order online for pickup at the ASAP Farmers Market, visit avl.mx/8ex.