What’s new in food: Botanical Bones earns big treat

A DOG'S LIFE: Rachel and Mark Meyer, with son Joel and pup Carnaby — the inspiration behind Rachel's superfood dog treat company, Botanical Bones. Photo courtesy of Botanical Bones

Like many people who were struggling to cope with pandemic lockdowns, Rachel and Mark Meyer adopted a puppy in spring 2020. Brother Wolf Animal Rescue had initially rescued the family’s newest member, Carnaby, from an unhealthy animal hoarding situation; but the canine struggled to adapt to his new life with the Meyers.

“We weren’t sure we would be able to make it work, but our son Joel had fallen in love with him, so we needed to find a way,” Rachel Meyer remembers.

Rachel began experimenting with recipes for treats with calming, natural ingredients and adaptogens geared toward animals. “Dogs are the best to bake for because if you put tons of peanut butter in it, they’re all over it,” she says with a laugh.

Two years and countless batches of dog treats later, Meyer’s company, Botanical Bones, received a $50,000 grant from NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina. “It’s a game-changer for sure,” Meyer says. “All the hard work paid off.”

The rigorous three-phase application process involved a live pitch process in Durham. “It felt like ‘Shark Tank,’” Meyer says. “It was nerve wracking.”

Part of the grant money will go toward purchasing ovens, sinks and a buildout at the company’s new location — a 6,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Weaverville, which it shares with Darë Vegan Cheese.

Gwendolyn Hageman, founder of Darë Vegan Cheese and a 2021 recipient of an NC IDEA grant, had been among Meyer’s early supporters, encouraging her to apply for the 2022 award. “I’m also in Venture Asheville’s Elevate mentorship program, and they were very supportive of me applying for the grant,” Meyer says. “I had never been through anything like that.”

Though Meyer says she never anticipated Botanical Bones achieving this amount of success in such a short period, she always envisioned owning her own business. “When I started this, it was ‘Let’s see what happens,’ and it kind of took on a life of its own,” she says, noting her early days selling exclusively at tailgate markets and later leasing a commercial kitchen space from Caroline Dockery of Morsel Cookie Co.

Today, Botanical Bones is available online. Treats can also be purchased at locally owned pet shops, specialty stores, Highland Brewing Co.’s weekly Sunday afternoon Meadow Market and pop-up retail events such as Uncommon Market.

For more information, visit avl.mx/8qp.

Touch of spice

Well Seasoned Table, the Candler-based company that grows, blends and packages herbs, spices and seasonings, also represented WNC as a 2022 recipient of an NC IDEA grant. Company founder and CEO Sarah Wickers says, “We plan to use the grant to streamline a lot of our production and packaging processes. We currently handpack and label all of our products, which has put a cap on our production capacity. Our overarching goal is to be a nationally recognized artisan spice company and pivot into a larger market. But we will always hold to sourcing up to 85% of our ingredients from small, family-owned American farms, keeping money in our communities and the hands of the farmers.”

For more information on Well Seasoned Table, visit  avl.mx/a35.

Bear all

Brews & Bears, the annual summertime fundraiser for the WNC Nature Center, ambled out of hibernation May 13 and will continue the second Friday of every month through August, 5:30-8 p.m.

Along with food, drink and live music, attendees will get to see an enrichment activity for the Nature Center’s resident black bears, Uno and Ursa, and can stroll about the property and schmooze with Bryan the pygmy goat, Ben the red wolf and Boris the barn owl.

Admission to Brews & Bears is $15 for members of the Friends of the WNC Nature Center nonprofit and $20 for nonmembers. Beer tokens can be purchased in advance, and a VIP option includes a Brews & Bears travel tumbler and insulator for cans.

Highland Brewing Co. and Urban Orchard cider are these summer’s beverage vendors. Additionally, Gypsy Queen Cuisine food truck will be on-site for the June 10 and Aug. 12 events; Cecilia’s Kitchen rolls in for the July 8 gathering. Blunt Pretzels and Kona Ice will be available for sale at all three remaining Brews & Bears.

Proceeds from tickets and beverage sales support the Friends group. To learn more, visit avl.mx/blt.

Good brews

Among the 22 recipients of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Sky High Growth Award, two are keeping locals and visitors spirits high.

Ginger’s Revenge, Asheville’s first and only brewery focused on the production of alcoholic ginger beer, was recognized for growing its team to 18 people, increasing annual revenue in 2021 by 35%, increasing annual volume by 50% and distributing products to new territories.

Hi-Wire Brewing was also recognized. Since its inception in 2013, Hi-Wire has seen substantial growth in territory, products, distribution, taprooms and collaborative projects with local, regional and national breweries. It was lauded by the chamber as a staple of the Asheville homegrown business community.

Drink up

On June 1, the N.C. Craft Beverage Museum popped the top on its traveling exhibition, launched at Wicked Weed Funkatorium. “Pour Me Another: The Story of North Carolina Told Through Drink” documents the state’s boozy history.

According to the exhibit, North Carolina dominated wine production in the U.S. in the 19th century; by the early 20th century, the state boasted the reputation of “Moonshine Capital of the World.”  Today, N.C. is recognized as one of the most respected hubs of the craft beer industry.

Kimberly Floyd, founder and executive director of the museum, says, “The traveling exhibit is designed to be movable and will be available to rent and travel across the state. Our museum tells the story of North Carolina, so it was important to have something that could go from the mountains to the coast.”

Three permanent exhibits are already installed in partnership with local businesses, all downtown. An exhibit on wine is located inside The Aventine, 25 Page Ave., Suite 102; another on spirits is at Cultivated Cocktails Distillery, 25 Page Ave., Suite 103; and Wedge Brewing’s newest taproom at the Grove Arcade, 1 Page Ave. Suite 152, is the home of an exhibit on the state’s craft beer.

The inaugural traveling exhibit can be viewed during Funakatorium’s operating hours, through the end of August.

Wicked Weed Funkatorium is at 147 Coxe Ave. For hours, visit avl.mx/9m8. For more information on the N.C. Craft Beverage Museum, visit avl.mx/bmu.

Chow down

The first day of summer is June 21; two days later, on Thursday, June 23, Summer of Chow Chow 2022 kicks off with an opening party at Atelier Maison, 121 Sweeten Creek Road. Chefs from Posana, Odditorium, Salsa/Modesto/Bomba, Red Fiddle Vittles, Nine Mile and Bear’s Smokehouse are among those who will be showing their culinary skills with their specialties; local beverages will be in abundance. Tickets for the party are $100 per person.

Celebrations continue through Sunday; the other two Chow Chow 2022 weekends are Thursday, Aug. 4-Sunday, Aug. 7, and Thursday, Sept. 8-Sunday, Sept. 11. June highlights include Diaspora, a Friday event featuring seven chefs presenting a global spread of bites, accompanied by drinks from seven local beverage makers. Among Saturday’s standouts is Entrepreneurs of Color featuring dishes prepared by chefs Neomi Negron, May Sujitra Chubthaisong, Ramona Young, Patricia Saenz, Jamie Lauren Turner and Erica “Shorty” Glaubitz. The weekend concludes with Sunday Supper Series — a free event (though donations are encouraged) with chefs Gerald Hawkins, Jr., Daniel Wheeler, Chris Cox, Jill Wasilewski and Mallory Foster.

Tickets for all June, August and September events are now on sale and a full schedule with prices, dates, times and locations can be found at avl.mx/6gm.

We’re No. 1!

S&W celebrates its first birthday on Saturday, June 11, with specials and giveaways from all vendors, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Circa 29, the speakeasy on the lower level of the historic building, will be open with a full bar available 5-8 p.m.; the first 20 guests receive a free glass of Champagne. Asheville 8 String Collective will provide live music on the Highland Brewing mezzanine 7-9 p.m.

S&W Market is at 56 Patton Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/9hl.


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About Kay West
Kay West began her writing career in NYC, then was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, including contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. In 2019 she moved to Asheville and continued writing (minus Red Carpet coverage) with a focus on food, farming and hospitality. She is a die-hard NY Yankees fan.

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