Friends Drift Inn Farm – Disclosures and Questions
Frequently Ask Questions
Do you really live in a barn?
Yes, yes I do. I live in a big red barn with Charlie and a cat named Tribbles. There is a large central room we call the “ballroom” because it is where we have dance parties when we have the time. During the spring, the ballroom turns into a nursery for our baby plants. In the fall, the floor is often filled with piles of the winter squash harvest.
Do you make money from this blog? How?
I am a farmer and a writer. Those are my primary revenue streams. Sometimes I am paid to speak. These pursuits are definitely propelled by this blog’s visibility.
If you make a purchase from an affiliate link like Amazon, we receive a small commission. If you are local and buy produce from us online, we pocket that money. If you see ads on our site, we get paid for those. We have as yet not written any sponsored posts. If we receive product we note that on the specific post.
What defines Appalachian Foodways?
People need to understand the Appalachian region encompasses 205,000 square miles from New York to Mississippi. That is a ton of cast iron skillets to examine!
Here is the thing. I write about what I know to be traditional here in my little corner of Appalachia. I grow vegetables at the farm that I believe are significant to our region including heirloom beans and cushaws. Many of the family meals are vegetable based. Pinto beans topped with mixed pickles, cornbread, fried taters, a plate full of freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers speaks to me of dinnertime on Johns Creek. So does cushaw pie, autumn olive jelly and biscuits with sorghum.
Is that definitive? Of course not. Some folks get plum oft red when I say that an Appalachian tradition they experienced does not apply to my community. I do not understand why. We each have different experiences. My experience does not diminish others’ journey; it just brings another perspective to the Appalachian table. There is lots of room!
You talk about food heroes. What do you mean?
I mean people who make a difference. Cathy Rehmeyer, PHD who has taught and is teaching our famers how to farm throughout the year, even in the depths of winter. Tammy Horn, current Kentucky Apiarist, who is establishing “bee highways” on reclaimed mine sites. It is chef Matt Corbin who deliberately chose to return to the mountains and open a restaurant that is anchoring our downtown scene with creative menus featuring local produce. It is Valerie Ison Horn who combats poverty and hunger in Letcher County with a program that feeds children at the farmers market. There is Jonathan Piercy and Jenny Williams who are shaking things up in Hazard, and Sister KC who is building a food community in Prestonsburg. It is people like Bill Best who has saved hundreds of varieties of beans and tomatoes from oblivion. It is the young farmers who are taking a chance and farming as an occupation right here in the mountains.These are not the people you read about in the New York Times when they address the issues of Appalachia, but maybe they should be.
What do you think about chefs?
Chefs have the power and the platform to bring changes to the Appalachian economy. Chefs can influence the way people cook at home. Chefs can be a catalyst for change in our school lunch programs. I like chefs! Some of my best friends are chefs.
Since 2011 I have been blessed to meet, cook with, and interview dozens of chefs. Chefs are the hardest working folks I know, next to farmers.
A good chef is one that cooks with passion. The plate before you has to come from the heart. Like writers, chefs are creative souls who make a life’s journey to excel exploring their craft.
Chefs can be fickle. I have kept chefs’ secrets, and been scooped by other news outlets. That is annoying, but I am in this for the long haul. The chefs I trust, trust me too. It is a two way street. In this industry, stories run rampant about chefs and their fractious relationships with the media. For whatever reason, my relationship with chefs has been enlightening, smoky, drenched in bourbon and full of laughter and giggles. It is all good. (Well there is one chef, but his name will never be mentioned here! LOL)
Who influences your writing?
Wow. That is a hard question because if I start listing names surely someone would be overlooked. It goes without saying Charlie, mom, and our extended family profoundly influence not only my writing, but who I am and how I look at life. Charlie’s mom and dad, our grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and outlaws all factor in to the way I think about farming and cooking. Obviously the original Friends Drift Inn.
If you are looking for the literary influences, I like Jesse Stuart. I cried the first time I read Edna Lewis; finally a Southern cookbook that spoke to the Upper South! Martha Foose inspired me early on, with her voice so evocative of Mississippi in July.
I owe a debt to a litany of chefs. They know who they are. They let me play in their kitchens. They encouraged my writing. They told me to get over myself. I love them every one.
Your new approach to this blog is farming. Why?
In 2014, Charlie and I begin selling our produce at the farmers market. Before that we had a large family garden, but nowhere near what is needed for a market garden. Charlie makes fun of me sometimes, because we do things for the “experience.” I want to be authentic.
Our experiences at the farmers market changed us both dramatically. The eagerness of people here to purchase local food, to learn about the history of our heirloom vegetable varieties, and as we demonstrated how to cook what we grow the intense interest we garnered from all generations and all walks of life made us realize what is truly important. We talk about that in our new beginning post.
For us, our people right here in Appalachia are the most important thing, and finding a way to usher in an economy that revolves around sustainable agriculture and food. We wrote a manifesto that better explains our passion and focus.
Are you ever going to write a book?
That is the question isn’t it? I will say “no comment” for now. Winks and giggles!
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