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Farm to Fork in the Smokies

John C Campbell Folk School students

The Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina are known for their outdoor adventures; vibrant arts and crafts; and exceptional food scene. What makes for this outstanding food and drink landscape is readily available and locally grown and sourced food products.

The Fork-to-Table movement, also known as Farm-to-Table, means that the food is obtained directly from the source without going through a store or distributor. The producers tend to grow food that is sustainable, organic, and environmentally friendly. Here are some of our favorite Farm-to-Fork producers in the NC Great Smoky Mountains.

honey dripping from a stick

Wehrloom Honey and Meadery

See what all the buzz is about at Wehrloom Honey and Meadery in Robbinsville. The Wehrs Family has mastered the delicate balance of producing all-natural, delicious honey and mead while benefiting the environment and providing a happy home to their bees.

The Wherloom beehives house about 300 colonies of bees to derive the purest honey. Their bees forage on land that is 2/3 national forest, deep in the Great Smoky Mountains. Their honey and mead take on the clean, fragrant flavors from the wild nectar sources of the wilderness.

Of utmost importance to Wehrloom Honey is the wellbeing of their bees. They strive to keep the bees living as close as possible to their natural state. Visitors can take a tour of the farm and observe the bees as they produce their delicious creation.

You can purchase honey and other products like candles, tea, and skincare merchandise at their farm store or through their website at Wehrloom Honey and Meadery. We highly recommend you plan a special trip to their Robbinsville Meadery or their new taproom in Asheville! All of their mead (a fermented beverage that is a cross between beer and wine) is made with their locally produced “Appalachian Mountain” honey and is gluten free.

They also supply local watering holes like Nantahala Brewing Company in Nantahala, Parson’s Pub in Murphy, Fontana Village in Fontana, and Currahee Brewing in Franklin.

Read more about Wehrloom Honey and Meadery here.

trout in a stream

Sunburst Trout Farm

Sunburst Trout Farm in Waynesville is a model of sustainability for fish farms everywhere. Their trout is grown exclusively in the pristine waters of the Shining Rock wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest. They use no hormones or antibiotics in raising their fish, and they don’t feed them animal byproducts. They also use a certified lab to test for pesticides, mercury, or PCBs (man-made organic chemicals.) What this means is that you are consuming trout that is completely natural and healthy for you.

The farm is also very conscientious about protecting the environment. To that end, their day-to-day operational protocols include 100% utilization of the product and composting.

Over 3 generations and 70 years, Sunburst Trout Farm has remained a family business that prides itself on supplying the freshest possible trout to you, the consumer. They harvest their fish up to 3 times a week and cut to order to ensure the highest quality of their product. Many of our favorite local restaurants serve Sunburst Trout products. Try their trout at Cornucopia in Cashiers, Frogs Leap Public House in Waynesville, and Old Edwards Inn in Highlands. You can also order directly from the company’s website.

apple orchard in the smokies

KT’s Orchard and Apiary

KT’s Orchard and Apiary in Canton is another shining example of a successful Farm-to-Fork business in the Smokies. They are a woman- and family-owned orchard growing apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, black raspberries, and blackberries. They also have a full line of artisanal products that include dried fruits, juice, vinegar, jams, and preserves. In addition, they produce their own honey and specialty products like beeswax and salves.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has certified them as a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) enterprise. To achieve this rating, KT’s Orchard and Apiary uses voluntary audits to verify that their fruits and vegetables are “produced, packed, handled, and stored to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.”

Of course their U-Pick option means you are getting the freshest fruits and berries available when you pick them off the trees and bushes yourself!

You can also enjoy their products at the Swag in Waynesville, the Smoky Park Supper Club in Asheville, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Taproom and Restaurant in Mills River. And the students and staff in the Haywood County School System are fortunate to have KT’s Orchard and Apiary as a direct provider for their school meals.

Ferncrest winery in the nc smoky mountains

FernCrest Winery

Jan and Kurt Olson, owners of Ferncrest Winery, planted their own small vineyard in 2010. They focused on three varietals they knew would thrive in the Smoky-Mountain climate: Chardonel, Vidal Blanc and Cynthiana. They planted their grapes on a steep slope in the Snowbird Mountains in Cherokee County. By 2013, their wines were winning awards.

Kurt’s fascination with ferns led to the naming of the winery and all of its wines. They like to say that, like ferns, their winery harnesses the power of the sun.

All of Ferncrest’s wines are made exclusively using grapes from their own vineyard, as well as the fruit from their local partners in North Georgia and North Carolina. They are members of the NC GreenTravel Initiative, which promotes environmentally sustainable tourism. They are also endorsed by “Got to Be NC,” an initiative from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that “puts local ingredients and products on store shelves, dining tables and restaurant menus throughout the community.”

They also offer a delightful menu with cheeses from local cheese producers, Yellow Branch Creamery, and local jam producers, Ma’am’s Hot Jam.

Visit their tasting room in Andrews to see why going local makes for some of the best food and wines available.