What’s new in food: HarvestFest debuts, benefiting ASAP

FIRST OF ITS KIND: Arica Haro, left, and Daniel Pettus of Olivette Riverside Community and Farm are helping organize the inaugural HarvestFest on Sunday, Sept. 11. Photo courtesy Olivette

Designating an event “the first annual” before it even makes its debut conveys a sense of optimism and purpose. Arica Haro, who manages events at Olivette Riverside Community and Farm, readily confirms that planners of the first annual HarvestFest, taking place Sunday, Sept. 11, are committed to its sustainability. “We are super dedicated to it, so there will be next annuals,” she says.

The first, to be held 3-6 p.m. on the property’s Riverside Park, will include live bluegrass music from The Barefoot Movement, kids and family activities, as well as Wicked Weed beer, Vidl Cellars wine, frozen treats from Buggy Pops and other locally prepared foods for purchase.

The event will celebrate local farmers, who as designated VIF — Very Important Farmers — will receive free admission, goodie bags and other pampering as they enjoy an afternoon by the river. “This is right at the peak of harvest season,” Haro points out. “Everyone is cranking it out every single day, and when we asked around about what they would most like to have, they all said, ‘A break!’ So that’s what this is intended to be.”

Just as important, HarvestFest is a fundraiser for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Double SNAP for Food and Vegetables program, which matches dollars spent by SNAP customers at participating farmers markets with tokens that can be used to buy produce. For example, a swipe of an EBT card at a market for $10 garners $10 in SNAP tokens and $10 in Farm Fresh Bucks to be used for fruits and vegetables.

Haro says when Olivette reached out to ASAP to help identify the best recipient for funds raised, SNAP was the clear choice. “We have a program called Sharing Is Caring, which this year donated over 50 shares of our CSA to Haywood Street Respite and BeLoved Asheville,” Haro explains. “Each share is 20 weeks of organic produce. Double SNAP fits well with what we do as far as helping families access fresh produce and supporting local farmers.”

All of the funds raised in ticket, beer and wine sales will also be donated to Double SNAP.

HarvestFest is produced by Olivette Riverside Community and Farm and Chatt Hills Music.

Olivette Riverside Community and Farm is at 172 Old Macedonia Road. Tickets are $25 per person; free for kids, farmers and farmer families. For more information and tickets, visit avl.mx/by6.

Souper bowl

Speaking of annuals, while COVID-19 forced a significant change to the format of MANNA FoodBank’s popular Empty Bowls fundraiser, it didn’t break the nonprofit’s streak. The 19th annual, held in October 2020, carried on via a drive-thru pickup event of a bowl and packaged dry soup mix to make at home. Last year’s 20th annual brought people back inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville-Biltmore for a walk-through to choose their own bowl from the hundreds donated by local potters and select a few servings of soup packaged in compostable to-go containers, along with bread and desserts.

The 21st annual returns to the DoubleTree on Monday, Oct. 10. The event reprises the very popular pet bowl add-on introduced last year, as well as the Collectors Corner, where attendees can purchase larger bowls, platters, mugs, drinkware sets or other decorative handmade ceramics.

MANNA is still seeking and accepting soup-sized bowls, typically 2-3 cups. Kara Irani, director of marketing and communications for the nonprofit, says, “The more bowls we have, the more tickets we can sell. Our food costs have exploded this year, and every year since the pandemic has been a real challenge.”

With more than a dozen restaurants and food services on board — Biscuit Head, Corner Kitchen, Chestnut and Red Fiddle Vittles, among them — Irani says there will be a plethora of soups, and guests should be able to select at least three to-go containers per ticket. Dessert and bread providers include Annie’s Bakery, City Bakery, Tupelo Honey, Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe and Sunshine Sammies.

Since its launch, funds raised from Empty Bowls have allowed MANNA to provide the equivalent of 3 million meals across Western North Carolina. Empty Bowls runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m., but guests must schedule a one-hour slot for attendance; seating is available but limited.

Tickets, which went on sale Aug. 29, are $45. A $10 kids package includes one kids bowl pre-selected by MANNA, food-themed socks and custom MANNA coloring pages; a fur kid package is $30 for one pottery pet bowl handmade by a local artist pre-selected by MANNA, furry friend treats and other pet surprises.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville Biltmore is at 115 Hendersonville Road. To purchase tickets, visit avl.mx/ajt.

Can do

In more MANNA news, the nonprofit’s biggest food drive collection of the year takes place on Ingles Day at the N.C. Mountain State Fair on Wednesday, Sept. 14. “Ingles buys out the door and in exchange for bringing five cans of Laura Lynn food, you get a free ticket,” Irani explains. “Families love it, and so do we. A family of four equals 20 cans of food and every donation helps.”

N.C. Mountain State Fair gates and buildings open September 14 at 3 p.m. with rides at 4 p.m. Gates close at 11 p.m. The WNC Agricultural Center is at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher. 

All dressed up

For years, Aaron Thomas, owner and chef of Nine Mile, says customers have been purchasing the restaurant’s salad dressings to take home. “We put it in soup to-go containers and sold it by the container,” he says. “We had talked about bottling them to sell with a more finished look but didn’t get around to it until COVID hit, and we knew we had to develop more revenue streams.”

On a steamy late August afternoon, Thomas loaded up his car with boxes of empty bottles and labels and drove out to his mother’s house in Leicester. “Nine Mile is definitely a family business,” he admits with a laugh.  “She’s going to attach the labels to the bottles. My kids aren’t old enough yet to get them on straight.”

Once his mom, Anne Marie Thomas, finishes her task, the bottles will be filled with two of Nine Mile’s four house dressings — jalapeno lime cilantro and sesame garlic tahini (His Majesty). Bottles will be available for purchase at all three locations and soon thereafter online.

Aaron Thomas says Nine Mile is still testing the mango vinaigrette for shelf-life purposes.

All but the jalapeno lime cilantro have been on the Nine Mile menu since its launch in 2008. Along with salad dressings, Thomas notes, Nine Mile’s original Montford location will soon be brewing Nine Mile beer.

Nine Mile’s three locations are at 233 Montford Ave., 751 Haywood Road and 33 Town Square Blvd. For more information, visit avl.mx/ax3.

Lose the booze

Jason Pedrick, founder of NoLo, a distributor of nonalcoholic spirits, wine, beer and beverages, is emphatic that he is on a mission to encourage every venue in Asheville — from bars to breweries to ballparks (hello, Asheville Tourists) — to carry beverage options beyond juice and soda for patrons who can’t or prefer not to drink alcohol. “I am a nonalcoholic beverage activist,” he proudly admits.

Since April, he has done nonalcoholic pop-ups at Uncommon Market Sundays, where he samples his products and mixes nonalcoholic cocktails. Those caught the attention of Halle and Keith Hirsch, owners of Saint Brighid’s bar, located inside Marquee at Foundy in the River Arts District. The couple suggested a partnership, and on Aug. 22, Pedrick set up a NoLo bottle shop on one of the bar’s walls.

Among the canned and bottled products at the shop, which can be purchased to take to your home bar, is a selection of nonalcoholic beers, nonalcoholic wines and ready-to-drink bottled and canned mocktails such as the Phony Negroni, Flyers Brooklyn Gold Highball (a sparkling cannabis cocktail) and Spiritless Old Fashioned.

Or belly up to the bar for a cold nonalcoholic beer, nonalcoholic bubbly or spiritless cocktail created by Saint Brighid’s.

“People can ask for a Phony Negroni on ice with an orange peel and sample it before they buy a four-pack,” Pedrick says. “Same with a glass of NA wine or NA beer.”

NoLo Bottle Shop is open daily at Saint Brighid’s inside Marquee, 36 Foundy Street. For more information, visti avl.mx/by9.

Ciao, Chow

To borrow a line from the late, great singer/songwriter John Prine, “Summer’s end is around the bend just flying. …” So, Asheville also bids ciao to Summer of Chow Chow 2022, taking a last spin through Western North Carolina’s culinary zone with nine events for the grand finale weekend.  Among the options with tickets remaining are the Zero Proof & 100% Delicious seminar exploring the nonalcoholic spirits, beer and mocktail scene on Saturday, Sept. 10, 9-11 a.m. From Our Hearth to Yours — focused on chefs, bakers and makers who began their businesses in their homes — also takes place Saturday, Sept. 10, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Taking Care is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. with conversations on mental health awareness over a brunch of global comfort foods and a performance from Asheville Drag Brunch.

For more information on all closing weekend events, locations and tickets, visit avl.mx/by5.




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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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