Appalachian flavor

Charlie Jackson

In a cove in Jackson County, Jackie Palmer and David Smith are raising their newest batch of baby goats. These goats will grow to adults to produce the unique Appalachian flavors of Dark Cove Goat Cheese.

Jackie and David raise Alpine dairy goals, breeds they feel are particularly adapted to the southern Appalachian climate and geography. They use only the freshest ingredients and pure mountain spring water to make their special goat cheeses. Jackie says, "The flavor of our cheese is unique to this farm. There are other fine goat cheeses, but only one with the flavor that comes from the water and environment of this cove and the special care we put into our cheese."

Ricardo Fernandez, owner/chef of Lomo Grill, agrees. "We love Dark Cove cheese; it has a special taste that we have not been able to find anywhere else." Lomo Grill, in Waynesville, North Carolina, prides itself on the many fine dishes that they create featuring Appalachian grown farm products.

The southern Appalachians have many characteristics that make it a wonderful place to live or visit. One of the best features is being able to enjoy the fine foods grown on local farms. Growing conditions here allow for a great variety of farm products to be grown over a long season. The community in this area also appreciates the physical and cultural landscape that includes family farms and supports this local industry by purchasing their products. Tourists visit the area because of the picturesque scenery and increasingly to experience the unique qualities of the Appalachian flavors grown on the many small farms comprising the mountain landscape.

Though small by modern industrial agriculture standards, our Appalachian farms often grow a large variety of farm products, from farm animals to fresh vegetables and fruits to fibers and more, unlike most large farms that grow monocultures of only one or two products. Many of our farms are growing for local markets rather than for national or even global markets. Local farms are able to respond to demand, with varieties and products that reflect the local conditions of the environment and consumer preferences. We are blessed with many small farms that are able (and eager) to grow for a local market that appreciates quality and the special flavors that come from products grown for freshness and flavor.

Appalachian flavor is a combination of qualities: an appreciation of farms and regional culture, the special mountain flavor that comes from our soils and climate, and the skills of the great cooks who prepare the food.

This mountain area is fortunate to have many chefs that appreciate and seek the special flavors of Appalachian grown foods. Knowing the best dishes are made with the highest quality and freshest farm products, these chefs seek out the Appalachian farms growing fruits and vegetables for flavor instead of shelf life; the many fine meat producers raising their animals on mountain pastures; and the many artisan cheeses that reflect in their taste and production the unique mountain characteristics. The chefs use these ingredients to create their own signature Appalachian flavored dishes.

This region is also fortunate to have hundreds of farmers and artisans that travel to different towns several times each week to sell at the many farmers' tailgate markets. These markets are like street fairs and are a great place to meet the farmers that grow the food. Every week throughout the growing season you can find produce, fruit, prepared foods, meat, eggs, cheeses, and artisan crafts that are Appalachian in character and flavor.

It is a privilege to be living in a region that appreciates the special flavors that come from our local farms. Whether it's a local farm, tailgate market, restaurant, bed and breakfast or grocery store you are seeking with the Appalachian flavor, you will find it in Appalachian Flavor Sustainable Agriculture Project's Local Food Guide. The Local Food Guide can be found throughout the region and on the web at

We are on the cusp of a growing movement in support of local food and local farms. It should be part of everyone's experience of the region, to visit an Appalachian farm or enjoy the special foods grown on one.

Find a local CSA and other sources of locally grown food in the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's Local Food Guide, available in print and on the web at Charlie Jackson is the Local Food Campaign Director of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. For more info on ASAP, contact him at 828-293-3262,

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