Wolf Farm Natural Elements –A Marketplace For Local Farm Products in Abingdon, VA

By Danielle Bussone

 

Steve and Becky Wolf are living their dream. After working in management positions for over 20 years, raising their kids and putting them through college, the empty nesters decided they wanted to get out of the rat race and the stress that comes with it and finally do something for themselves.  “There is still stress, of course,” says Steve, “because you’re running a business and you’re worried about finances, but it isn’t the same kind of stress. These are things we are controlling, rather than having to get something done for someone else.”

 

Steve and Becky Wolf

 

So, they moved to Abingdon, VA in the fall of 2008 and by the next spring they were living on their own farm. Steve had been a manager for a door and window manufacturer, and Becky had been in management for Walmart. Now they have taken their business experience and have opened a retail store, Wolf Farm Natural Elements, carrying farming supplies, animal feeds, fertilizers, minerals, plants, seeds, and just about anything you need for your garden or small farm.

 

 

From a modest beginning, about a year and a half ago they began selling their supplies from from their garage/warehouse at their farm, and at the Abingdon Farmers Market on Saturdays and Tuesdays. The carried their supplies in a two wheel covered trailer and sold them from the parking lot in town. “I felt like a drug dealer,” recounts Steve with a laugh. “Customers would come to my space at the market and I’d say, ‘meet me at the parking lot.’ They’d give me money and I’d give them a bag of feed.”

 

 

Locally grown organic flower plants, herbs and vegetable starts, blueberry bushes, and planting supplies.

 

Wolf Farm Natural Elements sources its products as locally and sustainably as they possibly can. The Wolfs carry a variety of flower plants from an organic company, Blue Door owned by Tom and Deni Peterson, who also sell cut flowers at Abingdon Farmers Market. T & T Farms and Greenhouse, an organic operation owned by Tamara McNaughten, provides the Wolfs with blueberry bushes and vegetable starts. You can find Tamara on Saturdays at the farmers market in Abingdon as well with her array of food plants and freshly harvested organic vegetables.

 

 

 

Wolf Farm does carry an organic feed for horses, cows, chickens, sheep, rabbits, and so on. They also have another line that is an in-between line for some farmers. Its non-gmo certified. The seed is certified that it doesn’t contain genetically modified organisms but it may contain pesticides. It is an interim step for farmers who may eventually go organic but at present can’t spend the extra money for organic feeds that are significantly more expensive, $17.50 non-gmo vs $29.50 a bag for organic, a $12 difference in price. “New Country is starting to expand,” explains Steve. “They are putting in a new mill in Texas where they’ll be able to source more organic material down there and between the two plants they’ll have less freight costs.”

 

 

Richard Moyer of Moyer Farms provides organic seeds for Southern Seed Exchange out of Mineral, VA, which is where Wolf Farms Natural Elements sources all of their seeds. The Moyers also offer a wide variety of vegetables and mushrooms at the farmers market. Fingerling and seed potatoes are provided to Wolf Farm by New Sprouts Organic from Black Mountain, just outside Asheville, NC, and they get all of their feeds from New Country Organics of Waynesboro, VA.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wolfs carry a lot of quality tools, such as a Japanese digging tool. It has a cove to the blade so you can dig with it like a trowel, you can cut with it, harvest cabbage or lettuce heads with it, just an all round tool which comes in both stainless or tempered steel.

The other tools come from Yoeman and Company out of Iowa, also called Yo-Ho. Wolf Farm Natural Elements’ warehouse is packed with fertilizers, including all-purpose, specialty fertilizers with concentrated nitrogen, phosphorous or potassium, minerals to build up magnesium or calcium, lime, diatomaceous earth, kelp, all kinds of animal minerals, chicken scratch, worm castings, potting soil, seed starter mixes, trays, peat baskets, etc. “We try to have as much certified organic OMRI listed (Organic Materials Research Institute) products as possible, meaning they are acceptable products for use in organic farming practices.”

 

 

As well as quality products from responsible vendors, Steve and Becky produce some products of their own; soaps, body butters, natural hand sanitizers and a lavender mist that is wonderful for adding a non-toxic scent to towels and sheets.

Whatever your farm needs, do yourself a favor and visit Wolf Farm Natural Elements. You can support your local community by shopping at a market dedicated to supporting local organic businesses. This helps to expand an ever-widening web of interconnectedness that puts money back into our own community in a cycle that benefits everyone. This is a model I’m hoping will continue to expand.

Wolf Farm Natural Elements, located at 25245 Lee Highway, in Abingdon, VA opened on April 1 of this year and celebrated its grand opening on Earth Day.

 

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Dan Kerry – On A Plant-Based Mission In The Big Apple!

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

Dan Kerry is on a mission to teach people how to liberate themselves from food-related disability and disease by eliminating animal protein from their plates and replacing it with whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It has become clear over decades of scientific research that many diseases are life-style related and can be improved and even reversed by simple changes in one’s diet. Simple changes in the way you eat can literally save your life!

 

 

Dan is a recent graduate of Food For Life, a teaching program designed to promote a healthy plant-based lifestyle. Food For Life is the brainchild of Dr. Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine based in Washington, DC.  Accepting only a handful of applicants each year, the program is designed to teach people suffering with Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity and other food related diseases how to improve or even reverse health outcomes by simple changes in their diets.

 

 

Dan has jumped into this activity with both feet. He is currently teaching a 21-day quick-start weight loss classes in his community in Manhattan, NYC. Using the curriculum of Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM) for the series which targets the lifestyle of western civilization, Dan seeks to demonstrate how these classes can enable students to take control of their health by making better food decisions. The classes are a combination of cooking classes of easy, tasty meals that compose a plant-based diet. It is accompanied by a video of the founder of PCRM, Dr. Neal Barnard, who explains the nutrition and science behind a plant-based lifestyle. Each class is designed to focus on a particular food and each series is designed to focus on a particular issue whether it be diabetes, cancer, weight-loss, etc. Each class is designed to show how clients can make the most of that information.

 

 

For the last five years, Dan has worked as a life coach, helping people to live happier and healthier lives. Something felt missing to him and he began to look into expanding his practice. Serendipitously, his younger brother introduced him to the film, Earthlings, which is more about the ethical side of a plant-based diet. The film had a profound effect on Dan. “It changed my heart,” he said simply. “It changed my heart.” He could no longer participate in the cruelty connected with consuming animals. He didn’t know how to go about it, but he knew it was something he had to do. Then Dan discovered that he just felt better and he wanted to continue to feel better. This led him to look at the nutritional aspects of being a vegan. He took Cornell’s e-program on plant-based nutrition, started following Michael Greger’s NutritionFacts.org, and was eventually introduced to PCRM through an email communication with Dr. Greger.

 

Dan Kerry Receiving Food For Life Training Certificate

 

Dan became plant-based Feb 2, 2014. “It is always interesting to me that the change to a plant-based lifestyle is often so profound that people remember the exact date they made the switch,” Dan recalls. He discovered that he felt better, more energetic and the arthritis issues he had been dealing with completely disappeared. “It is all the things that one can expect when switching to a plant-based lifestyle.”

Dan is teaching classes out of his home in Manhattan, is partnering with a local yoga studio to teach classes. When I asked Dan about the responses he’s receiving from his students, his response was surprising. “It’s interesting. I thought the biggest challenge would be the purely plant-based approach, but what I actually found was that the students understood some of the issues with the animal products. They were really more shocked about the issue of cutting out or minimizing the oil in their diet. They had not looked at cooking from this perspective. They were actually shocked at how tasty the vegetables were that we produced without oil; it still had its flavor, it was still moist, and all these things.”

 

 

Dan is creating a plant-based eating guide for his students to assist them in choosing restaurants that will support their goals. “One of the things I got to think about in my own journey and in talking with New Yorkers, because it is very common to eat out in New York. People eat out about 30% of the time, it’s the lifestyle of the city. It’s good to have these recipes but most of the people eat out about 30-40% of the time. So how would that work if they want to have a social life with their friends. I started to look at the restaurants in my neighborhood and I started to reach out to them. I was surprised that in my neighborhood there were at least twenty restaurants that were able to provide two or thee main courses and then sides that were totally vegan. We reached out to these restaurants for information. Some of them responded, some didn’t, some are vegan so we know what they will provide. We just want to give people that extra boost for going plant-based and dealing with the social challenges of going plant-based can really get in the way of going all the way in this lifestyle. No one wants to be the troublesome person who asks the waiter too many questions or sends the food back when it has animal protein in it. So I wanted to cut out that barrier to their transition. We have already asked the questions of the chefs and the managers. I really wanted to make it easy for each person who attends our classes.”

 

 

Dan and his wife, Angie, are looking for their first child in March. They are excited to raise a vegan child, giving him or her a healthy foundation on which to build its life.

You can learn more about Dan Kerry’s plant-based Food For Life classes at his website: theplantstrongproject.com.

 

 

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.   Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

 

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Vava’s Crêperie Café – An Exciting New Crêperie in Bethlehem, PA With Vegetarian Options!

 

 

by Michael Wilkins

 

I grew up in the town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where the biggest industry was the manufacturing of steel and Bethlehem Steel was the biggest employer in the Valley. My father worked there all his life and retired from the company before they went bankrupt. I have many fond memories of the city and it’s culture, but in my entire life I never encountered a place like the Crêperie.

 

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The Crêperie is is a little French café located in a strip mall right around the corner from the Marriott hotel properties near the airport. When I arrived at the hotel, I inquired about local places to have breakfast that served vegan food and I was directed to the Crêperie. I went for breakfast the following morning and had a great conversation with Kathy (the owner) about how she cooks her food and what brought her into this line of work. She told me her story about leaving corporate America and opening a small restaurant serving food that she enjoyed while growing up. Her grandmother, which she affectionately calls Vava, was a major influence in her life. This is how she came up with the name Vava’s Crêperie Café. We both grew up in a family of six children which gave us the opportunity to exchange stories about our places in the pack. One of her fondest memories is coming home after school to crepes with homemade raspberry jam.

 

Crepe

 

I must admit at this point she almost had me drooling as she described the crepes her grandmother made with great affection. She uses the recipes her grandmother used to make crepes when she was a little girl. Let’s face it folks, don’t we all want to eat the food our grandmothers cooked for us when we were younger. It takes us back to a happy and comfortable time sharing meals with our family in grandma’s kitchen. This is the atmosphere Kathy has tried to create in her café.

 

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As is the case with many people working in corporate America, Kathy became disillusioned with her work and decided to open the Crêperie. Her goal was to create a similar atmosphere to a French café, mimicking the recipes her grandmother had made for her. Much of this information is locked away in her memory of growing up as a child. She went back to visit Mery, France her grandmother’s birthplace, which gave her the inspiration for the Creperie. The personal touches with which Kathy has imbued her café is obvious the moment you walk in the door. I had conversations with several of the patrons, all of whom heartily endorse Kathy’s creations. The café is small and friendly, which lends itself to an atmosphere of interaction. The Crêperie is evidence that the culture of the city of Bethlehem has changed a great deal from what it was when I grew up. The breakfast of choice for the blue-collar workers in Bethlehem was quite different from what Kathy has created in her restaurant.

 

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As you pick up the menu or look at the choices on the wall where the daily offerings are written, your mind starts to spin trying to digest all of the choices available. You can order anything from a Montecristo, to a peanut butter and banana crêpe. The nice thing about this place is that you can also create your own crêpe from a large list of choices available. The categories include a source of protein, cheese, vegetables, and sauce. There are no strictly vegan options at this point since the crepe batter contains eggs and milk. After our discussion, Kathy has agreed to research vegan crepe options and hopes to have them available in the future.

 

Recommendations

 

The sauces range from a balsamic glaze to a pesto created by Kathy. She prepares everything from scratch and obtains her produce from local sources. I had a blast ordering my meal and going through all the choices available to create my crêpe. Kathy prepared for me a whole-grain plant-based crêpe which included spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomatoes, sautéed peppers and a pesto sauce. Needless to say, by the time I received my breakfast, my mouth was watering. The taste was fantastic and took me back to a time when I was having breakfast with my brothers and sisters in my mom’s kitchen.

 

Menu Board

 

There are plenty of choices here for carnivores and vegetarians. My bet is that everyone will walk away from here delighted with what they have experienced. The Crêperie has been open a little over a year. If you are like me, when you travel it is fun to experience new and different places to eat. It’s great to have an opportunity to experience food that is prepared with affection and passion. Nowhere is that more evident than at the Crêperie. Bethlehem has finally acquired a little slice of French cuisine. I plan to tell everyone I know about what Kathy is doing here so that she has enough business to allow to continue fueling her passion.

 
 
 

Michael Wilkins is a respiratory therapist, an avid scuba diver and an accomplished photographer. He has been living with hepatitis C for more than two decades and is a cancer surviver. Michael has kept liver cancer at bay by employing the healing properties of a plant-based diet.

A year later, after a strict plant-based regimen, his tumor markers are normal and his MRIs are clean! This has made Michael more passionate about staying on a vegan diet. He has met lots of wonderful passionate people with amazing stories while walking down this path. Michael’s area is Northeast Florida, particularly the Jacksonville area. Contact Michael to share your restaurant finds, make comments, or just to say hello!

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Gathering Café In Charleston, SC, Casual Fine Dining with Vegan Options!

 
 
 
by Danielle Bussone

Travel-weary and ravenous, Rich was searching the web for a place to eat near our hotel in north Charleston when I happened to look up from my steering wheel and noticed a sign that read “Gathering Café.” My car just steered its way into the parking lot. We were greeted by our friendly waitress, Olivia, and we grabbed an empty table. Casual and understated, the restaurant decor belies the gustatory delights awaiting discovery.

Gathering Cafe Exterior

Olivia

Interior 2

 

Gathering Café serves animal dishes for the most part, but we were thrilled to learn the menu has a number of vegan options We quickly discovered Olivia to be knowledgeable and accommodating. To start, we ordered the Carrot-Ginger Soup and the House Salad, which we shared while awaiting our main course. The salad consisted of fresh, delicate baby greens, fresh tomatoes, carrots and cucumber tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and served with a crisp sesame seed cracker. It tasted… well, like spring.

 

House salad & Carrot-Ginger Soup

The Carrot-Ginger Soup was sweet and spicy and utterly delicious. I was beginning to get the picture. The chef at Gathering Café certainly understands flavor. There is a vegan falafel sandwich and vegetarian dishes in which the cheese can be removed if you prefer. We opted for the clearly plant-based options.

Oven Roasted Chickpea Cakes

I ordered the Oven-Roasted Chickpea Cakes. Served on a bed of chickpeas, roasted peppers and tomatoes and topped with perfectly prepared fresh asparagus, the combination of flavors was out of this world.

Rich had trouble choosing between the two rice bowls, so we resolved the dilemma by ordering both (taking one back to the hotel for later).  The Panang Curry boasted carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, mushrooms and ginger stewed in coconut milk and served with brown rice.

Panang Curry

The Teriyaki Rice Bowl comprised of mixed vegetables, avocado, and sesame seeds, was flavored with, you guessed it, teriyaki sauce.

Teriaki Bowl

Finally, we finished with a delightful refreshing fruit sorbet that was just the right combination of tart and sweet. These are not on the menu but are offered as seasonal specials in a variety of flavors.

Sorbet

Do yourself a favor the next time your are in Charleston. It’s worth the drive out of the city to visit this charming little restaurant to enjoy some of the best food in the area.

    

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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Green Truck Neighborhood Pub Serves Up Vegan Options In Savannah, GA

 

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

Green Truck Neighborhood Pub isn’t just a great place to find a plant-based meal in Savannah, it is a community experience. We arrived early for lunch on a Wednesday and the place was already packed. Rich and I were disheartened to learn there was a 30 minute waiting list, just our luck. We were en route to another destination and couldn’t hang around. But, just as we were about to leave the waiter mentioned there were two seats at the bar. Bingo! We were seated immediately.

I was surprised to find Green Truck so busy considering how large the dining area is. We were elbow to elbow at the bar where our orders were taken and place settings appeared out of thin air.

 

Green Truck Exterior

 

Green Truck

The Original Green Truck; the Namesake, a 1965 Chevy Stepside is a metaphor for hard work, a long road, and enjoying the journey.

 

There is a pride that exudes from the staff and for good reason. This is truly a community effort. Local farms provide grass fed hormone-free beef (still a boo from all us vegans) as well as  produce in season.  Local Perc Coffee, provides the coffee served at Green Truck. The furniture, bulletin boards and booths were either made from local artisans, or were salvaged. Local print shops created the menus and t-shirts, the beer comes from artisan brewers within the US, and everything that can be recycled or composted from restaurant is. And if this kind of social responsibility isn’t enough to tempt you to eat here, check out the menu.

 

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The Mighty Veg With a Side of Vegan Chili

 

Rich ordered the Mighty Veg Burger topped with sliced tomato, avocado, grilled onions and red pepper with a side of homemade vegan Chili, dill pickle and crostini. The breads, salad dressings and sauces are made in house, including the ketchup. It was a beautiful presentation and OMG delicious! We always divide our orders so we can enjoy the entire meal. The burger was plump, flavorful, and moist, and did not fall apart as I bit into it.

 

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The Mighty Veg Up Close and Personal

 

I ordered the Veggie Reuben, which is also the Mighty Veg burger sandwiched between slices of homemade Rye and topped with zesty Saurkraut and homemade Thousand Island dressing. I ordered a salad on the side. Normally it comes with Swiss cheese, but we opted to omit it. It wasn’t your typical Reuben, but it was really good. As usual, we divided the sandwiches and shared, so we both won.

 

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The Vegan Reuben Close-up

 

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The Vegan Reuben With A Side Salad

 

Green Truck doesn’t have a lot of veggie options, but what they do have is outstanding. If you are ever in the Savannah area, it will be worth the effort to check out Green Truck Neighborhood Pub.

 

Green Truck Interior

Interior

 

Green Truck Micro Brews

Bar offers a selection of 30 micro brews in bottles and 6 on tap From American craft breweries owned and operated in the United States, as well as a number of wines in bottles or by the glass.

 

green truck image

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Sweet Savor African Restaurant

Sweet Savor Exterior

Sweet Savor Interior

En route to Jesup, GA , we stopped in Charleston for an overnighter. Just down the road from our hotel, we discovered Sweet Savor African Restaurant, a Nigerian restaurant that is located in exactly the same location as now defunct Taste of Ethiopia, one of our all-time favorite Ethiopian restaurants. It’s a cautionary tale, use it or lose it. If we don’t support these marvelous ethnic restaurants with our patronage, they disappear, along with their amazing vegan options.

 

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Sweet Savor is certainly not a plant-based restaurant but it does offer a few plant-based options. This cuisine is based on healthy whole foods like beans, grains and fruits. The spices are definitely understated so don’t expect exotic flavors. The food is simple and hearty. The owner is a lovely Nigerian woman who is willing to work with customers to see they have everything they need. If you find yourself in North Charleston, check out Sweet Savor and discover the hearty food of Nigeria.

 

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