At Greenlands Farm & Store, a family-owned and operated homestead farm in Bolivia, the concept of farm-to-table is personal. “You’re standing on the soil where the food you’re eating was grown,” says Heather Burkert, who purchased the farm in 2001 with her husband, Henry. Their daughter, Maud Kelley, and her family joined Heather and Henry in 2012 to help establish and maintain the farm.
Growing from decades of passion for sustainable farming and self-sufficient living, they developed a “homestead farm,” where the crops they grow and livestock they raise are used both in their homes and in their businesses. “We’ve opened up our farm, and where we live, and we share that experience with the public,” Kelley says.
Greenlands Farm’s store features homemade goods, and its deli and bakery boast seasonal menus. Look out for spinach and feta scones this time of year, and Southern tomato pie this summer. The farm hosts farm-to-fork events every other month from April to October; their Tapas & Farm Tour event is aimed toward educating visitors on what seasonal really means. “People will walk in during the winter and ask if we have corn,” Kelley says, laughing. A portion of the proceeds from the Tapas & Farm Tour tickets, along with beer and wine sales, support Helpers of Our Farm, an on-site nonprofit that serves as a educational farm animal sanctuary.
Big things are in the works for Greenlands Farm. It is in the process of launching an online store, Maudie’s Farm Mart, and is testing out a produce food truck. Henry, the patriarch of the homestead, “planted a whole lot of everything,” so keep an eye out for those exciting developments in the summer months.
668 Midway Road Southeast, Bolivia • (910) 253-7934 • greenlandsfarmstore.info
When PinPoint Restaurant opened in Wilmington in May 2015, Chef Dean Neff had big shoes to fill. The space was once home to a restaurant called Deluxe, a beloved local establishment, so Neff knew folks had high hopes that he would bring something good back to that beloved location. One year later, PinPoint has been a success, which serves as a testament to Neff’s innovative cooking techniques.
“We’ve had a really positive response,” says Neff. “In an interesting way, we felt like we had people rooting for us when we got in there.”
PinPoint’s menu changes daily but features staples, and the restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe menu for $25 that changes weekly. “It’s fun, because it really challenges us to bring new things to the menu and showcase ingredients that are coming into season, and come up with things that are far off our usual menu,” Neff says. For example, last summer PinPoint had someone provide them with pounds upon pounds of shiso leaves, which are akin to basil. Neff wasn’t sure what to do with them at first, until he started receiving fresh, local grouper. He began to wrap the fish and North Carolina blue crab in the shiso leaves before putting them on the grill. “It was amazing,” he said. “It really toned down the shiso while keeping all of the delicious juices in the grouper.”
PinPoint focuses on seasonal ingredients and connects with farmers in the area, but Neff likes to describe it as a “community restaurant” rather than a farm-to-table restaurant. Part of being a community restaurant is hosting a Sunday Supper every week. The meal is served family-style over long tables brimming with shared plates. Each week, 10 percent of the proceeds go toward a different local nonprofit. “Not everyone likes to sit down with people they don’t know, but I think it has been very encouraging because we’ve had a lot of people coming out to the Sunday Supper,” Neff says. “It’s challenging people to go out to eat in a different way.”
114 Market Street, Wilmington • (910) 769-2972 • pinpointrestaurant.com
Southern Smoke BBQ
Head north up the coast, and you’ll find Southern Smoke BBQ – a husband-and-wife run restaurant and catering company. Matthew and Jessica Register founded the spot in 2010 in the small town of Garland, which they refer to as “one caution light, a few businesses, and friendly townsfolk who call each other by name.” Their passion for quality ingredients and love for the outdoors inspired their farm-to-table concept. “I grew up eating vegetables that you grow in the summertime, and growing your own produce, and I think a lot of restaurants have gotten away from that,” Matthew says. “When we opened up, that was one of my biggest things: I wanted to buy as much as I possibly could from our local farmers.”
Matthew and Jessica work with farms in their area and around the state to source the best and freshest seasonal ingredients for their businesses. Matthew works with a young farmer named Caleb Johnson, a graduate of North Carolina State University, and his farm: AJ Family Farms. He will check in with Caleb regularly to see what’s in season, and come up with dishes based on the weather. “I buy whatever he’s got,” Matthew says of Caleb’s farm. “Last week he had beautiful green tomatoes, so we did a corn and green tomato succotash over grits. That’s kind of my approach.”
The Registers’ small restaurant is open on Thursday and Friday, due to their busy catering schedule. Their chalkboard menu changes every day — you’re likely to find hearty soups and stews in the winter, and fresh, light dishes in the summer. Matthew is especially looking forward to featuring sweet corn starting in July.
But if you’re going to Southern Smoke BBQ for lunch, you’d better get there quick. The restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m., and closes when they sell out of food, which can happen in just a few hours. “We usually have a line anywhere between 20 and 50 people when we open up,” says Matthew. “It’s really unique, because we’re in a town of about 500 people.”
29 Warren Street, Garland • (910) 549-7484 • southernsmokebbqnc.com
The Hen & The Hog
The Hen & The Hog is a farm-to-table restaurant in Halifax that specializes in edgy Southern comfort food. The restaurant’s head chef, Chelsi Hogue, partnered with Halifax local Glenn Wilson last year, who has been a hotel designer for Marriott for more than 30 years. Wilson had a vision to revitalize the historic town, so she bought a few properties, and her first order of business was to open a hip, new restaurant. The two met when Wilson ran an ad seeking a Chef Operator of this new restaurant, and Hogue says they clicked right away. “If you ask [Glenn] to this day, she’ll say, ‘From the first email I ever got from Chelsi, I just knew she was the one to do this with.’”
Hogue is dedicated to North Carolina agriculture and sourcing from local farms, but running a farm-to-table restaurant in a rural area with few resources can pose its challenges. “We use farm-to-table loosely, because I take anything I can find that’s from North Carolina,” Hogue says. “It’s not all local to Halifax; I use everything from local seafood, to miso out of Asheville. It just depends.” The Hen & The Hog features farms such as Ran-Lew Dairy, Heritage Farms, and Halifax’s own Oak Grove Farm.
Hogue’s menu is completely dependent on the season, and frequently changes to feature fresh ingredients in unique ways. Her current spring menu will run through mid June. Looking toward the summer months, Hogue is excited about featuring squash, corn, and especially tomatoes. “I could eat them like an apple,” she says. When it comes time to start thinking about the summer menu, Hogue will sit down at a coffee shop or on her front porch, put some music on, and just wait for the menu to come to her. “I have no idea what it’s going to be until I sit down and do it,” she says.
16 South King Street, Halifax • (252) 583-1017 • thehenthehog.com
Catch on Market
The head chef and owner of Catch on Market in Wilmington, Keith Rhodes, is somewhat of a celebrity in North Carolina and beyond, having been a contestant on the TV show Top Chef and a 2011 James Beard Award Semifinalist for best chef in the Southeast. But in Wilmington, Rhodes keeps it local. He and his team reinforce their roots in the community by supporting farmers in their area. “The idea of using local farmers first and big box purveyors last was our initial ideology and deeply resonates with myself and team,” Rhodes says. “We knew we would have to work together as a community to highlight our farmers best offerings to create a thriving, conscious vision for future generations.”
When Rhodes and his wife, Angela, founded Catch in 2006, they only had a handful of farmers to work with as they tried to figure out what the relatively new concept of farm-to-table would mean for their restaurant. But with passion and trust, they began to build relationships with farms from all over the area. They get their produce from Shelton Herb Farm and Black River Farms, their seafood from Nature’s Way and Henry Temple, and their steaks from Carolina Bison, just to name a few. Catch sources most of its local products through Feast Down East, a regional farmer co-op that brings local farms together and helps distribute their products around the area.
When it comes to the menu at Catch, Rhodes switches it up weekly or even daily depending on what comes through his kitchen door that morning. This summer, Rhodes is looking forward to showcasing sliced cucumbers, shucked corn, fresh-picked berries, and stone fruit. “When Mother Nature provides us with complimentary weather, we are able to take advantage of coastal Carolina’s bounty from the earth,” he says.
6623 Market Street, Wilmington • (910) 799-3847 • catchwilmington.com
Since its inception in July 2010, 247 Craven in New Bern has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Maintaining and improving the downtown New Bern scene hit close to home for 247 Craven owner and head chef, Ashley Moser, a native to the area. “Growing up in the area, there was a lack of restaurants which thrived on an honest, down-to-earth approach to food,” Moser says. After attending culinary school in Charleston and working for a few farm-to-table restaurants in Asheville, Moser returned to New Bern to bring this type of culinary experience to his hometown.
247 Craven tries to source as many fresh and local ingredients as possible, focusing on quality meats, seafood, and vegetables from the coast to the mountains of North Carolina. The restaurant sources pork from Heritage Farms in Seven Springs, and its lamb from Rainbow Meadows in Snow Hill. Since New Bern is located on the Inner Banks, it should come as no surprise that 247 Craven features some of the freshest seafood imaginable. “We have great relationships with local providers of shellfish, like Chadwick Creek of Bayboro, and most of our fish is sourced from the waters directly off our coast,” Moser says. This time of year, his favorite ingredient to showcase on his menu is soft-shell crab.
Moser’s menu changes as much as is necessary to keep it full of seasonal ingredients. Along with soft-shell crabs, Moser loves working with morel mushrooms, radishes, spring onions, and fresh peas. “I tend to mix it up more often in the spring and summer when our local vegetables are abundant, highlighting all of the delicious ingredients coming out of this area,” he says. If you want to know what’s on the menu that day, you’ll have to give the restaurant a call; specials change so frequently that they’re not posted on the website. But even if you don’t know what to expect on the menu, you’re guaranteed to experience phenomenal cuisine with only the best ingredients.
247 Craven Street, New Bern • (252) 635-1879 • 247craven.com
More Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Eastern Region
Surf House • Carolina Beach
Craig Love, the owner and chef of Surf House, is supporting local fisheries and fishermen by serving sustainable, lesser-known-but-equally-flavorful alternatives to the fish you’re typically used to seeing on a menu.
Spoon River Artworks and Market • Belhaven
Less than a block away from Belhaven’s marina, Spoon River has great access to fresh seafood, no doubt, but there are other ways the restaurant ensures that its food is locally sourced.
Blue Moon Bistro • Beaufort
Located in the historic 1827 Dill House, Blue Moon Bistro is just open for supper and seats 50, allowing for a memorable and intimate dining experience.
Weeping Radish Brewery & Pub • Grandy
Among the local products the pub relies on are its pork and beef, both sourced from within North Carolina and crafted into artisan sausages and bratwursts by Weeping Radish’s resident master butcher.
The Colington Café • Kill Devil Hills
The Colington Café’s prime coastal location allows it to be not only farm-to-table, but also boat-to-table, sourcing crabs from nearby Lake Mattamuskeet and shrimp and scallops from the Atlantic Ocean.
Chef & The Farmer • Kinston
To chef Vivian Howard and manager Ben Knight of Chef & the Farmer, having a farm-to-table restaurant means to first build a community. It’s only then that all the details will come naturally.
Rx Restaurant & Bar • Wilmington
James Doss runs Rx with his partners, Josh Novicki and Charlie Wray. The three also own Pembroke’s, which focuses on the same local ingredients and painstaking preparation.
On The Square • Tarboro
After honing their world-class culinary talents in New York City, Stephen and Inez Ribustello brought them to eastern North Carolina, where Inez’s family has lived for generations.