Green Olive Market and Café

By Jennifer Muller


Earlier this year, I noticed a new market called The Green Olive Market had opened in Johnson City, TN. My interest was piqued and I made a mental note to stop by, but I had not yet gotten around to doing so. Word-of-mouth started to travel that a few weeks ago, The Green Olive was serving Ethiopian food!


The owner, Meseret Melesse (Marci), is a delightful bundle of energy. She is currently in the “soft-opening” phase of operation until the final preparations can be made. For now, she cooking the dishes fresh each morning and serving them buffet style. Once she has her kitchen fully operational, she is planning a grand opening, at which point she will be offering a sit-down menu while possibly keeping the buffet as a special twice a month event.


Of the roughly fifteen items on the buffet, all but five or so were vegan. Some of the vegan options on her buffet were Miser W’at – a semi-spicy red lentil stew,  Kik Alitcha W’at – mild stew of yellow split-peas, Gomen – collard greens, Alitcha Vegetables – a delicious stew of cabbage and carrots, and an excellently made Shiro W’at – a stew made from chickpeas that are sundried, roasted, and ground. The buffet also provided plenty of freshly-made injera – a spongy Ethiopian flatbread – with which to eat all the delicious items. Ethiopian food is not served with utensils, you eat it with the bread. However, utensils are provided if you prefer not to eat with your hands.



The food was authentic and flavorful, though I tend to enjoy food that is spicier than most people like. After the grand opening, I hope there are spice level options. Other than that, the taste is delicious. There is also a traditional coffee service from 3 pm – 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday. I experienced this service and was treated to the strong, flavored-packed goodness of freshly roasted coffee.


During the soft opening phase, the hours are 12:30 pm – 8 pm. After the grand opening, the hours will be 11 am – 9 pm. Veggin’ Out and About! will be following the progress of the grand opening and will report more in detail as that occurs.

Located at 800 West Market St in Johnson City, The Green Olive is roughly 3 miles off Exit 20 on -26. Drive towards ETSU until Roan becomes Market Street. You’ll see it on the right-hand side of the road.

Originally from Louisville, KY, Jennifer now resides is East Tennessee. Jennifer and her daughter are avid travelers searching for new healthy vegan dishes along the way. When she is not globe-trotting, Jennifer enjoys cooking spicy vegan meals at home with her two fur-babies; her dog, Amy, and her cat, Anna. Contact Jennifer directly to share your restaurant finds, make a comment, or just say hello.


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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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Whole Health Natural Foods — Now Located Near The Virginia Creeper Trail!

by Laura Blankenship


Chris In Doorway

Chris, long-time employee of Whole Health Natural Foods, welcomes customers to the new store.



This June Whole Health Natural Foods store (aka Whole Health Center) opened at its brand new location in the heart of Abingdon.  Conveniently situated between I-81 exits 17 and 19, the new location is nestled between neighboring restaurant 128 Pecan—a fun, casual spot with some vegetarian dishes and a vegan option or two—and the trailhead of the beautiful Virginia Creeper Trail.


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We are sorry to report that Ecolicious is no longer in business. Ecolicious – Charlotte, NC’s Most Environmentally Friendly Market Is Locally Sourced!

by Danielle Bussone


In one of the cutest little houses located in the heart of Charlotte is a general store like no other. From its humble beginning as a few shelves containing only a few items, housed within another business, Ecolicious has come into its own. “We came about just over three years ago,” says Ecolicous founder, Marley Claridge.  “My former partner and I saw a need in Charlotte for a place to buy vegan things. We started out with just a few items on a few shelves. Then people kind of took to it. I wanted to make it larger, and nicer, with more of a boutique feel to it. More than just a convenient store look.”


Ecolicious Exterior

Ecolicious Exterior


Marley has done just that. After her early partnership dissolved, she joined up with long time friend,  Fiona Humphrey,  who had previously worked in finance. Fiona had planned to sell her house and move to Oregon. As luck, or fate, would have it, the market crashed and selling her home was no longer an option. The opportunity to partner with Marley presented itself and the rest is Ecolicous history. The two share a vision for the company which has continued to foster a relationship with the community and an awareness of how our purchasing decisions impact our lives, the lives of innocent animals and the health of our planet. Buying locally affects our carbon footprint as well, which is a credo for the fledgeling business.


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Love Your Farmers Market? Bill McKibben Says Thank Wendell Berry

Here is a great interview from Bill Moyers on Farmers Markets

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Natural Imports of Asheville, NC is the Go To Market for Authentic Japanese Culinary Fare


By Danielle Bussone


Once in a blue moon I’ll discover a truly unique gem of a resource that I simply feel duty bound to share with the world. Natural Imports of Asheville, NC, is one such discovery. Natural Imports is a purveyor of traditional Japanese culinary products of the highest caliber. Great care is taken to assure excellence, offering foods of a medicinal quality, prepared in time honored traditions by skilled Japanese craftsmen. Mass production and quicker, low-quality methods are threatening the livelihoods of these Japanese artisans, who prepare foods using the principal of Ishoku Dogen, “medicine and food have the same source.”  You’ll find no mass market food and no arsenic laden Chinese seaweed here, only traditionally crafted products and sea vegetables grown in deep waters of Japan, protected for centuries with organic, sustainable practices.


Natural Imports Interior

Natural Imports Interior


Bruce MacDonald, now semi-retired, is the founder of Natural Imports. His daughter, Crystal, has been his partner and business manager since its inception in 1993, since she was 19 years old. Crystal speaks fluent Japanese and is a wealth of information about all aspects of how the seaweed is harvested, the medicinal and nutritional ingredients of every product, the sustainability practices of her suppliers and any glitch that effects the ecosystem and thereby affecting the quality of their products. She is a dynamic powerhouse who stays on top of all issues pertaining to Natural Imports.


Crystal MacDonald

Crystal MacDonald


Crystal essentially grew up in the business. Her parents divorced when she was young and she spent summers working at Commodities, a Japanese import store Bruce owned in New York City, where she learned about Japanese food. Bruce had previously worked for Erehwon in Boston, which was the original importer of natural foods in the US and subsequently for Erehwon West in California and later for Bread and Circus, which was sold to become the original Whole Foods Market.



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