Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw, NC

Last month I visited a few fantastic local sustainability resources in the Burlington, NC area: Burlington’s food co-op Company Shops Market, Piedmont Feed and Garden Center in Chapel Hill, and Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw.

Left Bank Butchery

Have you been to Saxapahaw? It’s a magical oasis of local food, drink, art, music, and nature in the middle of rural Central North Carolina.

Food and drink: Saxapahaw General Store, The Eddy Pub, Haw River Farmhouse Ales, and of course Left Bank Butchery

Art, music, nature: Haw River BallroomPaperhand Puppet InterventionHaw River Canoe & Kayak Co.

Combining all categories: the weekly farmers market and outdoor concert series Saturdays in Saxapahaw, running from May through the end of August; and this coming weekend (May 2) is the annual Haw River Festival!

On the gloomy March day of our visit, we stopped only at the General Store for a delicious lunch (I wrote about our first visit there here), and Left Bank Butchery for some treats for dog (pig ears) and human (grass-fed local steak from Braeburn Farm).

Left Bank Butchery believe in using sustainable farming practices to raise healthy, happy animals. They start with whole carcasses from cows, pigs, and chickens pasture-raised (or, for the pigs, pasture- and forest-raised) on local farms, and butcher them in-house to ensure the highest-quality cuts of meat possible.

Our arrangement with local farms is simple- we buy from farmers that use the highest standards in regards to animal welfare, ecologically sound farming techniques, and quality of meat.

The day we visited our only planned destination in Saxapahaw was the General Store for lunch; we were thrilled to see Left Bank Butchery a few doors down. Next trip to NC we’ll have to go back on a summer Saturday for Saturdays in Saxapahaw… or to see a band at the Haw River Ballroom… or for dinner and beers at The Eddy… or to paddle the river. So many reasons to return to Saxapahaw!

The New York Times and Washington Post love Saxapahaw too. If you go there and don’t want to leave, here’s who you should talk to about real estate.

Have a Saxy day!

Piedmont Feed and Garden Center in Chapel Hill, NC

The next stop on our tour of local shopping highlights in the Burlington, NC area, was Piedmont Feed and Garden Center, right down the road in Chapel Hill.

I’ve been dragging my feet on this post because my sad, sorry, rainy day pictures are an embarrassment and don’t do the place justice. The store is bright and welcoming, full of feed and products for livestock, dogs and cats; a carefully curated equestrian section; bulk farm and landscaping supplies; and anything you might need for your garden. And if the greenhouse was lovely on the dreary March day I was there, it must be gorgeous now in Spring bloom.

See their Facebook page and Instagram feed for photos full of vibrant colors that show off the store way better than I do here, or better yet, go visit in person!

Piedmont Feed & Garden

The greenhouse 

This was before the Spring plants were fully stocked; the greenhouse is even more impressive now.

Greenhouse plants

Greenhouse plants

Greenhouse plants

The equine section (my favorite)

Equine section

Wanted: everything

Purchased: a Shires grooming kit bag (I am absolutely loving this bag), and a hoof pick/corkscrew combo (for emergencies)

The pet, poultry, and livestock sections

Poultry and livestock sections

Wanted: the fancy chicken coop and the squirrel-proof bird feeder (the sales video at the feeder display is pretty entertaining)

Purchased: a duck-shaped dog toy (HPuppy’s current favorite) and some limited-ingredient dog treats

If you live in the Burlington or Chapel Hill areas, Piedmont Feed and Garden should be your go-to gardening and farming resource. Check their events calendar to learn about upcoming plant and animal workshops and seminars, and go see Chris and Lilly–then vote for them as Best Garden Store and Best Pet Store for Chapel Hill Magazine’s 2015 Best of Chapel Hill Awards! Hurry, polls close on Wednesday the 22nd.


Next and final Burlington area tour stop: Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw. (We also stopped at Saxapahaw General Store for lunch but I’ve already written about how wonderful that place is.)


Burlington NC’s local food co-op

Company Shops Market

My sister lives in Burlington, NC, a town just off the interstate between Greensboro and the Chapel Hill-Raleigh-Durham area. While it may often be overshadowed by its better-known neighbors to the east and west, Burlington is the anchor of a fast-growing local food scene in North-Central NC. On Saturday my sister and her family treated Mr HP and me to a tour of local food resources in the Burlington area, starting with breakfast at the Company Shops Market, Burlington’s food co-op. Their slogan: Local Food for Local People.

Company Shops Market

Burlington food co-op aisles

Burlington’s food co-op sources as much as possible of what it sells from local farms and producers, and charges members a fee in exchange for discounts at the store and the opportunity to participate in elections. Membership is a bargain one-time payment of $100 for individuals, or $150 for a two-adult family. The Burlington co-op is a strong supporter of the local community:

For every dollar you spend, 68% goes back into the community through donations, purchases, taxes and payroll. We’re helping to support the local small farms, businesses and producers and offering our customers all-natural, free-range, fair trade, organic and REAL food products!

I particularly appreciated the bulk eggs: fill your own container! Genius!

Our breakfast was fantastic, with more variety than the Charlottesville Whole Foods breakfast bar, for about half the price.

Burlington is lucky to have the Company Shops Market. I’ll definitely be back.

Co-op breakfast bar

Local food for local people

Downtown Burlington’s Saturday morning farmers market is also getting ready to open for the season on April 4:

Did you know that all of our vendors grow, raise, and create everything they sell at market within a 60 mile radius of Downtown Burlington? Now that’s what you can call local!

Next stop in our tour, Piedmont Feed and Garden Center in Chapel Hill!

Raleigh Farmers Market

Today we have a guest post from Nadia Cempré! Thanks, Nadia!

I have been dying to find an opening in my insane life to visit my sister Lamya in Raleigh–and this weekend when I finally made it happen, I could hardly sleep thinking about it for three very clear reasons:

  • I couldn’t wait to see my sister’s new condo.
  • I couldn’t wait to try out a Middle Eastern restaurant she’d been promising to take us to for good ol’ home-cooking.
  • The promise of the Raleigh Farmers Market in Summer time!

This last one is something I have been excited about for no less than 7 or 8 years, dating back to when my interest in the local food movement was first sparked. I distinctly remember watching the Travel Channel as they counted down the top 20 places for singles in their late 20s to meet others – and lo and behold in the top spot they name… the Raleigh Farmers Market.

I go to the Charlottesville City Farmers Market just about every Saturday morning during the season–it is my absolute favorite thing to do after my long marathon training runs, and the open and close of the Farmers Market season demarcate the start and end of a significant chapter in my life annually. I come alive when it’s announced in April, and retreat into a period of melancholy and reflection when it converts to a Holiday Market in November.

So you can imagine my surprise, as we took our time getting ready yesterday morning that the Raleigh Farmers Market is open year round, all day long, seven days a week!

Raleigh Farmers Market

The local food movement took its time inching its way out East from the West coast of the United States– but as it did, North Carolina and its Research Triangle area became leaders in the endeavor. Proximity to the heart of Southern farmland, combined with research, education, and support from the three surrounding universities conspired to produce a community hungry to support their families with local and responsible meats and produce.

The market is sponsored and supported by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, so it is very much a state-funded endeavor, and the state also sponsors a North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council:

It is the purpose of the North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council to contribute to building a local food economy, thereby benefiting North Carolina by creating jobs, stimulating statewide economic development, circulating money from local food sales within local communities, preserving open space, decreasing the use of fossil fuel and thus reducing carbon emissions, preserving and protecting the natural environment, increasing consumer access to fresh and nutritious foods, and providing greater food security for all North Carolinians.

For the past few years, the Charlottesville City Government has struggled with decisions regarding finding a permanent space for our quaint group of vendors and farmers. The Raleigh Farmers Market venue is the dream of every vendor–and every mom with a stroller in the middle of August. When we arrived we walked into one of the two massive permanent shelters that had constant fans blowing in every direction, and a permanent roof protecting from what can be a sweltering North Carolina sun.

As a matter of fact, they had Big Ass Fans.

Big Ass Fans

Right away, it was clear that this, just like in Virginia, was the month of the peach! They were everywhere! Plump, and beckoning, and promising of sweetness. The vendors were practically begging us to try samples, and even though we could hardly breathe from the local brunch offerings we’d just had, we couldn’t resist the peach slices.


Speaking of my brunch, I have been pleasantly surprised by all the local, responsibly-raised offerings in restaurants and have had no trouble finding poultry and meat options in Raleigh I can feel happy about. Here was the brunch I speak of, consisting of local eggs on Carolina crab cakes with seasonal fruit salad:

Raleigh Brunch

My youngest sister Mona had grand plans to make her famous Eggplant Lasagna for Lamya so the main purpose of the visit was to purchase the freshest ingredients for that. Eggplants were everywhere, and debates regarding the right size, color, and variety were intense.

Raleigh Eggplants

In the end however, fresh and local garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, and basil were all successfully agreed upon and taken home for the lasagna. The tomatoes were glorious and it was all I could do to stop myself from grabbing a pint of the cherry ones and munching right there and then!


The market was set up in an impressively organized fashion, and I quickly learned that produce was designated to either the right or the left of the shelter. One side was for vendors exclusively selling self-grown and farmed produce and plants. The other side was designated for items that might be re-sale. Everything under that first roof had to be North Carolina-produced. Interestingly, they didn’t define ‘local’ by radius, but rather by state. The rules meant that if it came from 4 hours away in North Carolina, you could sell it. However, if it came from 3 hours away in Virginia you could not. That was a designation of ‘local’ I hadn’t heard before but it made complete sense since the entire thing was an endeavor of the state.

The variety was staggering! Having done a fair amount of travelling I thought I had pretty much come across anything we can grow in America, but I found a delectable item called a canary melon that I had never seen before! It was delicious!

Canary melons Canary melon

The shelter was divided into three sections: produce, prepared and baked foods, and garden. Next on our agenda was to purchase three new indoor potted plants for my sister’s condo. I have never had a green thumb, and never been one to care about flowers, but it was hard not to get mushy at all the beautiful and unique floral and plant arrangements.

These plants in particular caught my eye; their bright purple veins appealed to the biologist in me, and my sister took home a darker variety.

Raleigh plants

Raleigh plants

Three plants later, we made our way to the most dangerous area, the prepared and baked goods section. Good thing we were so full already! I was able to control myself when it came to my weakness: fresh baked salt pretzels! But Lamya didn’t win her battle and walked away with a gorgeous loaf of ciabatta (for garlic bread with the lasagna!)

Raleigh pretzels

I learned that the huge sheltered building next door was a further expansion of this market. That building was where farmers from all over the country could share their goods. It was not limited to North Carolina produce, and there you could find Florida oranges, and Virginia eggs! Truly a one-stop-shop experience!

My favorite part of the Raleigh Farmers Market were all the little helpful signs that seemed to be a trend amongst vendors. Everywhere you looked, there were notes telling you how to cook, tend, water, and care for the various offerings.

Raleigh market signs

Raleigh market signs

The vendors were cheerful, friendly, and happy to be there, and the sense of safety and community abounded. I can’t wait to come visit again, and this time I’m bringing massive coolers so I can take things home to Virginia!

Locavore surprises in Saxapahaw, NC

On a recent visit to Burlington, NC, home of the world’s cutest nephew, HP was happily surprised to find a locavore haven in nearby Saxapahaw. The Saxapahaw General Store carries local and organic produce and groceries, local beverages and baked goods, and serves up a pretty extensive menu of breakfast, sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and more using local ingredients. We had a tasty lunch of sandwiches and salads and picked up a few heirloom tomatoes for tomato sandwiches for breakfast the next day. [Brookville Restaurant in Charlottesville is the master: toasted white bread, Duke’s mayo, and sliced fresh, local, heirloom tomatoes. So simple, so unbelievably good.]

Saxapahaw General Store

The Saxapahaw General Store has a mission I am happy to support:

They decided to become stewards of local foods, good wine and beer, nutritious snacks, and eco-conscious dry goods.

We stopped by sister pub The Eddy for a post-lunch local beer. The Eddy’s interior of brick, wood, and antiques harkens back to the building’s former life as a mill. I didn’t realize how impressively environmental the refurbishment of the space was until reading their website:

To honor the space outside the mill, we have equipped the whole building with geothermal wells for heating and cooling  of the spaces.  The kitchen’s water is heated with solar electricity, and much of its daytime lighting comes in naturally from a clerestory constructed in the center portion of its roof.  A series of ramps and stairs allows full access to the spaces without the use of an elevator.  New double paned windows in the fashion of the original windows add efficiency of heating and cooling.

The Eddy serves local, seasonal pub food, maintains a busy live music schedule, and has a lovely patio and event spaces.

If you should happen to find yourself near Saxapahaw, you should check out these two locavore havens. Cheers!

Taste testing homemade horse treats

My sister visited from North Carolina last weekend, and she brought a couple bags of homemade horse treats from her friend at Carolina Pet Treats-N-Toys to undergo some rigorous scientific testing.

Seven horses and one dog analyzed and compared the horse crumbles and the horse cubes, and the result was: both were a hit!

The treats are all natural, with ingredients like oatmeal, carrot, sugar, molasses, and Cheerios. There was not a clear winner between the two types of treat; when offered both a cube and a crumble at the same time, one in each hand, the horses did not exhibit a distinct preference.

The horses paid close attention to the flavors, and carefully analyzed each treat. They all requested multiple samples to ensure they could give a complete report.

I rounded out my research with a dog’s point of view: two paws up!

Summary: all the horses (and the dog) loved these treats, and I was happier feeding these natural, homemade treats than the processed, commercial treats from the feed store.

For more information on the horse treats, or treats for your non-equine pets, contact Jamie Baldwin of Carolina Pet Treats-N-Toys, at 336-338-3186, or buttonrabbit4@yahoo.com.