It’s difficult to say that a meal has been 100 percent sourced in West Virginia – from appetizers, entrées, dessert and even drinks – but last Thursday, 70 diners experienced just that at the Last Run Restaurant Farm-to-Table event.
As part of the West Virginia State Parks’ initiative to promote locally sourced meals, the restaurant created a beautiful buffet-style meal featuring items from local farms.
Prior to the meal, the farmers who provided the fresh produce, herbs, meats, beverages and flower arrangements visited with diners during a meet and greet in the back dining area.
As visitors entered, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee perked up the nasal passages. The coffee in question was the Last Run Blend created by Mountain Roaster Coffee, of Buckhannon.
Owners Gene and Sarah Wells poured samples of the new coffee, which was unveiled at Thursday’s event, and explained the mix that went into the signature drink.
“It’s something really bold for them,” Gene said. “What we had wasn’t really dark enough, and we worked with them over the summer to get it up to what they wanted to represent them. It’s a very bold, full body coffee. It’s a post roast blend, so it’s four different roasts. Four different beans, each roasted individually and then blended to come up with the flavor they wanted.”
While the restaurant has used other varieties of coffee, they will now focus on using their own unique blend.
Moving on around the room, Tupelo Grove Farm owners Nathan Dean and Luci Mosesso, and their youngest son, Victor, spoke about the importance of locally sourced food, as well as patronizing local farms.
“[This event] is a way for people who don’t farm hundreds of acres to be able to make some income,” Dean said. “It’s interesting to see people getting interested in food that doesn’t come on a truck – to realize that there is good food available right in their backyard.”
“I also think it’s important for people to have access to good food, and we have really great food here,” Mosesso said. “It’s nice to share that with people.”
When asked which he preferred, eating or growing the food, young Victor said he liked both, and added, “I like to pull potatoes.”
“He also likes to collect eggs,” Mosesso said. “He’s pretty good at that.”
The Tupelo Grove Farm provided tomatoes, green beans, potatoes and onions for the meal and flowers for the centerpieces.
For the buffet, two proteins were featured – beef and pork.
The beef was provided by Mountain Top Cattle Company owner Ben Wilfong and the pork, by Mothes Family Farm owner Kurt Mothes.
The event was the first time for both businesses to work with Last Run Restaurant, but both owners say they hope it isn’t the last.
“We do a little bit here and there, but nothing contracted,” Wilfong said. “We’re working more toward that. We have a produce side now, too.”
Wilfong and Mothes both said they appreciate the format of the event and like being able to meet with the public to share information about their farms and what they are able to provide to the community.
“This is my first event like this,” Mothes said. “This is my first time going out and interacting with the public and promoting myself. In this county, it’s hard to organize and orchestrate something like this, but they did a really good job.”
“I’d like to see this happen in all parts of the county,” Wilfong said. “To realize that we can be self-sufficient in our communities. It could be made into a series.”
Several of the farmers participating in the event grew up in Pocahontas County and honed their crafts from a young age. Following in their footsteps, Pocahontas County High School rising senior Noah Barkley was one of the youngest farmers to provide produce for the meal.
“I supplied the eggs,” Barkley said. “We’ve been working with the restaurant over the summer. Later on, I’m hoping to be able to supply lamb.”
One of the farmers shared her cautionary tale about how the season isn’t always on your side and that sometimes, things just don’t grow.
Hidden River Farm owner Tolly Peuleche has been a welcoming face at the Pocahontas County Farmers Market and has been a supplier for local restaurants, off and on, over the years. She admitted that this year, her garden struggled, although she was able to provide herbs and flowers for the event.
“It’s a hard year to grow stuff,” she said. “I’m not the only one complaining about it. My flowers are doing well and herbs are doing well, but vegetables are having problems. You’ve just got to focus on the stuff that’s doing well. We have lots of fruit on the trees, so that’s going great. It’s rare that you strike out on everything.”
Other farmers at the meet and greet were Frostmore Farms owners Adam and Rachel Taylor and Brightside Acres owner Dawn Baldwin Barrett. Also providing for the meal were Alleghany Trout Company, Melia Thompson, Fane and Sandy Irvine, Ben Davis and Charity Morrison.
The meal was a success and restaurant owners Jenny and Bonnie Botkin said they plan to do more Farm-to-Table events in the future.