What better way to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Feed & Seed facility at 159 Welborn St. and the receipt of a long-sought-after $250,000 grant than with a dinner prepared by one of the nonprofit’s partners, Bacon Brothers Food Group chef Anthony Gray and his team?
The celebration July 13 was well earned and appointed. With ingredients sourced from 10 local and regional farms, as well as Mt. Pleasant-based Abundant Seafood’s Captain Mark Marhefka, it was the embodiment of Feed & Seed’s mission to create a self-sustaining revenue system for regional food producers by providing a means for local restaurants, schools, and individuals to purchase their products at a fair price.
For three and a half years, Mike McGirr, co-founder and executive director of Feed & Seed, has been promoting the nonprofit’s concept and fundraising. In order to receive the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant, McGirr had to raise matching funds. That financial goal was recently achieved, and the $250,000 from ARC will be used to purchase specific equipment for the USDA-inspected commissary kitchen, which is an integral part of the Feed & Seed mission, McGirr says.
USDA certification will allow food items minimally processed in the kitchen to be packaged and sold in any market, allowing farmers and purveyors to spread their reach regionally and nationally.
The ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
“Feed & Seed is an extraordinary example of how local food systems, agricultural entrepreneurism, and thoughtful community based development can drive economic progress in South Carolina,” says Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the ARC. “Communities across Appalachia can learn from this model.”
In development since 2014, Feed & Seed’s market is located inside the 22,000-square-foot The Commons warehouse space adjacent to the proposed City Park and the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail, which means that cyclists will likely be one of the facility’s target demos.
Welborn Partners, whose offices are located in the same system of warehouses, is developing the property and is also financially invested in Feed & Seed.
McGirr says having a chief donor as the builder and landlord will be a huge asset and incentive to complete the construction in a timely manner, which is projected to be within seven months to a year from now.
“We couldn’t ask for better partners,” McGirr says.
The wholesale marketplace and processing facility will share operations with private retail components, including a produce market, a second Community Tap location, Bake Room bakery owned by Wade Taylor, a butcher shop and diner from the Bacon Brothers Food Group, and a second and expanded Due South Coffee location.
Due South Coffee co-founder Patrick McInerney says the new location will serve additional food and baked goods produced entirely through Bake Room and Bacon Brothers, both of whom will be sourcing ingredients only through Feed & Seed.
“We’re super excited to be partnering with them,” McInerney says.
Bacon Brothers COO Jason Callaway says the diner, named after his and Gray’s grandmothers (Pauline and Mabel) will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with each service building on the other, meaning breakfast will be available all day, and lunch items will be available for dinner. The menu will constantly change because it’ll be based on ingredients from Feed & Seed’s providers.
The butcher shop, which will handle a wide variety of meat types, will also serve as a training facility for butchers. “There’s a shortage of talented butchers,” Callaway says.
A main Feed & Seed goal is also to serve the immediately surrounding community.
“We want to serve the neighbors who have lived here for the past five generations,” McGirr says. “The neighbors come first. People on bikes come second.”
Exhibit A: Here’s what a locally-sourced dinner looks like
Chef Anthony Gray prepared a menu appropriate for a balmy July evening that showcased the vibrancy and intense flavors of the locally grown and raised ingredients.
Cold items included a smoked mackerel pâté with Thicketty Mountain Farms salt and vinegar potato chips, Royal Red shrimp toast with Thicketty Mountain Farms pickled peppers, palmetto sweet onion, Crescent Farms parsley, and aioli, that flew off the platters as soon as they hit the serving table; and vibrantly colored assorted fresh crudités from Bio-Way, Crescent, and Reedy River farms, including peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cusa zucchini, hakurei turnips, and suyo long cucumbers; and for a fresh finish, South Carolina berries, peaches, and melons.
Gray, in his signature style, also brought the heat with Caroland Farms smoked wagyu brisket and Johnson Creek Farms forage fed angus served on a soft roll with palmetto sweet onion, ramp vinegar, and pimento cheese; and Johnson Creek Farms grilled carne asada tacos with Bio-Way Farms salsa, among other dishes, such as a grilled corn salad, grilled potato salad with green beans, basil pesto and corno di toro peppers; beef sliders, and a Royal Red Shrimp salad he whipped up on the fly.
Johnson Creek Farms
Reedy River Farms
Blue Ridge Creamery
Thicketty Mountain Farms
Whispering Pines Stables
Bethel Trails Farm
Split Creek Farm