PILOT MOUNTAIN — Tucking into the second of four courses at a table for 125 running down the middle of Main Street in Pilot Mountain on Saturday evening, Tory Casey of Elkin was inspired by the good vibes of the evening. “If we could get everybody to sit down together at a table with some good food, we’d have world peace,” she said.
Her husband Joe Thrift added, “Or at least world peas,” as he attacked his roasted squash and pumpkin salad with gusto.
The occasion was “Foothills Dinner on Main: Pilot Mountain,” a sold-out benefit for Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve in Westfield and the dinner was indeed on Main Street with one almost block-long table for 125 people running down the center yellow line.
Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve received the proceeds from the evening and Margie Imus, co-director of the non-profit farm and nature preserve, said, “we are earmarking the proceeds to go toward programs for the Surry County School system.”
In the two-and-a-half years since Minglewood has functioned as an educational non-profit, Imus says she has noticed that Forsyth County utilizes the resources of the farm much more than Surry. Imus says of Surry, “This is where we raised our kids. They are a product of the Surry County school system and they have done well so we want to give back.”
Imus says the NC Board of Education has required “environmental literacy to be taught throughout the K-12 curriculum when possible, so when these kids graduate they are environmentally aware and have the knowledge.” Minglewood can help with that requirement by providing programs for the classroom, for outdoors on the school campus and with field trips to the preserve.
Imus has been working with Dr. Jill Reinhardt, assistant superintendent for Surry County Schools, to expose the system to the opportunities that Minglewood can bring to the system’s students and after Saturday’s fundraiser, $5,000 is now available to fund programming specifically for Surry students.
Last year, a pilot program was tested with students from Winston-Salem’s Summit School in which fifth graders were divided into three groups, one studying Life in the Forest in the farm’s forest, a second group studied watershed issues in Life Cycle of the Creek and the final group looked into Life on the Farm. After 45 minute lessons, the students rotated through all three subjects.
But between each, they reflected quietly in the respective environments and wrote about their experiences in notebooks provided to them. Imus said that one student produced a beautiful poem and others produced some quality writing. “It’s just a matter of sitting quietly in nature,” she says. It inspires.
The experience led to a new program “Nature Journaling in fourth grade,” which will bring the concept of “environmental literacy” to language arts.
Dr. Kyle Lutz, a science teacher at Kennedy High School in Winston-Salem is working with Minglewood on a complete curriculum that will be offered to schools. Imus says it will be unveiled in the next few weeks but she is ready to talk now with any educators who are interested in utilizing Minglewood in their teaching.
Margie and Bill Imus, the other co-director of Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve, believe niche farming is a viable agriculture option for Surry County. They ran Minglewood as a market farm for 25 years before converting it to an educational non-profit, selling produce to high-end restaurants in Winston-Salem and farmer’s markets. Several of the chefs participating in Saturday’s dinner first came to know Minglewood in that capacity.
Saturday’s dinner was the brainchild of Niki Farrington, owner of Niki’s Pickles and team member at The Living Room in Pilot Mountain. Scott Needham, owner of The Living Room, jumped immediately on board and Margie Imus says Saturday’s dinner would not have been possible without them. The Living Room supplied facilities for the six contributing chefs to do their work.
The six local and regional chefs who shared the cooking duties for the sit-down dinner, much of which utilized local ingredients, each offered one of the appetizers passed at the cocktail hour preceding the dinner.
Chef Harrison Littell of Five Loaves Catering in Winston-Salem featured a Gnomestead Hollow Mushroom Tart with Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Chef John Bobby of A Noble Grille in Winston-Salem offered Zucchini, Sorrel, Radish, Popped Farro, Lardo and Rye, Chef Travis Myers of Willow’s Bistro Winston-Salem prepared Bruschetta with Purple Cherokee Tomato, Pickled Green Tomato, yellow Romano Bean and Goat Cheese, Chef Chris Wishart of Old North State Winery in Mount Airy did a Prosciutto and Smoked Salmon Bruschetta, Chef Jeff Bacon of Providence Restaurant & Catering in Winston-Salem featured Butternut Squash Fritters with Leek and Chervil Pesto, Dried Sungolds and Pickled Radish, and Chef Niki Farrington of The Living Room Coffeehouse and Winebar and Niki’s Pickles in Pilot Mountain offered Sassafras and Spent Grain Goat Sausage wrapped in Pickled Kudzu.
Old North State Winery, Biltmore Estate Winery, Shelton Vineyards and Surry Cellars kept guests well-lubricated throughout the evening.
As guests were seated, a first course of Pickles and Paté from Nikki Farrington and Harrison Littell started things off. The dish featured Harmony Ridge Farm Pork and Duck Paté Grand Mere and seasonal pickles with fermented mustard and shaved daikons, pickled cranberries and grilled crostini.
Next up was Roasted Squash and Pumpkin Salad by John Bobby and Travis Myers. It featured pickled okra and guanciale, providence, baby greens, sorghum, pepitas and olive oil.
The main course was a family style feast of Smoked Beef Short Ribs with Watermelon BBQ Sauce and crispy shallots by Jeff Bacon, pork loin by Chris Wishart, with sides of Multicolored Heirloom Carrots Morrocan Style by Jeff Bacon, Yellow Romano Beans and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Scallion Ash, Olive Oil and Beets by Travis Myers and Smoked Tomato and Braised Greens from Roma Ready by Harrison Littell. John Bobby took care of bread and butter.
The evening was capped with dessert by Niki Farrington. Plated over Farrington’s signature kudzu leaf was Turmeric Mocha and Persimmon and Pumpkin Pudding plus Sassafras and Cayenne Creme with Salted Maple Spent Grain Granola.
Educators wishing to make use of the facilities and programs at Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve, 238 Minglewood Road, Westfield, NC, 27053 should call Margie Imus at 336-755-8727 or email her at email@example.com
Niki Farrington is planning a second dinner on Main Street in the spring. It will raise money for building a greenway from the town of Pilot Mountain to Pilot Mountain State Park. Check out The Living Room’s Facebook page for more information.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.