Entertainment

Boots to Roots: A Farm Tasting scheduled for Sept. 20

02 02 VFNC groupThe Veteran’s Farm of North Carolina, Inc. will host its inaugural “Boots to Roots: A Farm Tasting” at the Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom in Hope Mills on Sunday, Sept. 20.

After receiving a National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant in May from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the VFNC began organizing the launch of the Veterans Agricultural Training and Education Program.

The VATEP is a new initiative designed to provide 60 military veterans with hands-on vocational training on a farm in the agricultural industry.

VFNC Executive Director and Marine Corps veteran Robert Elliott will launch the organizations first VATEP class this fall, in a partnership with Fayetteville Technical Community College.

"VFNC's ultimate goal is to train, network and equip veterans, allowing them to easily transition into the agricultural industry to further serve our country while experiencing a life of peace," Elliott said in a release announcing the upcoming farm tasting event.

The VFNC is striving for program sustainability through efforts such as the “Boots to Roots” series of fundraiser events.

The “Boots to Roots” events are collaborations with other veteran-owned businesses who will facilitate and host the farm-to-table tastings. The goal is to raise money to assist the VFNC with funding to support and expand its
mission.

Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be challenging. The VFNC strives to assist veterans with training and networking while equipping them with a toolbox of skills needed to transition into the agricultural industry. North Carolina is home to many veteran-owned businesses, including veteran farmers. Creating a support network between these businesses and the general public is a win-win for the local community and veterans alike.

Kicking off this VFNC series of events is veteran-owned favorite Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom, affectionately known as DBA to locals. This first “Farmer-Veteran Celebration” will be held under the DBA outdoor pavilion.

Brewmaster Vernardo “Tito” Simmons-Valenzuela will serve up signature craft beer flights paired with the small plates created by Brian Graybill, veteran owner of the DBA on-site restaurant, Napkins.

Graybill takes his inspiration for the fall-inspired tasting menu from the produce, meat, seafood and other products all grown, raised and produced on farmer-veteran farms in North Carolina.

The menu includes fall bruschetta, autumn salad, empanadas de chorizo, catfish croquetas, lamb bulgogi, beef barbacoa and bisteca con chimichurri. Ingredients for the menu are being provided by Watson Sanders Farm, Pappy’s Urban Farm, CATHIS Farm, Cedar Creek Fish Farm, Purpose Driven Family Farm, Green-Eyed Farms and Spartan Tusk & Feather Livestock.

Featured farmer-veterans will be located at various stations around the tent during the event. Each will serve attendees their featured small plate created by Napkins as attendees rotate from station to station.

Ernesto Rivas, veteran and acoustic guitar player, will provide live music. Guests will have a chance to win harvest baskets donated by local veteran artisans and business owners in a 50/50 raffle.

All staff and servers will wear masks and adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. Guests are asked to wear masks when not seated, drinking or eating.

This farm-to-table event will be split into two seatings with the first from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and the second from 7-9 p.m.

The cost is $65 per single ticket or $120 per pair, which covers food from Napkins, a flight of 5-ounce beers from DBA and live music.

No refunds will be issued, but tickets may be transferred to others. The event is open to adults, 21 years and older. DBA is located at 5435 Corporation Drive in Hope Mills.

For tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boots-to-roots-a-farm-tasting-tickets-114750521900

Pictured: The Veteran's Farm of NC, Inc. is a farm designed and dedicated to instructing and training servicemembers on all aspects of agriculture.

Parents can take learning outdoors

15 fam friendly outdoorsChildren who spend a lot of time outdoors benefit from exposure to nature in myriad ways, some of which may surprise even the most devoted outdoorsmen.

According to a study published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife, fifth graders who attended school at a local prairie wetlands where lessons in science, math and writing were integrated in an experimental way had stronger reading and writing skills than peers who attended more traditional schools.

Another study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that holding a class outdoors one day a week significantly improved the daily cortisol patterns of students, reducing their risk of stress and improving their ability to adapt to stress.

In the era of coronavirus, outdoor adventures can offer a break for students and their parents.

Parents who want their children to reap the rewards of being exposed to the great outdoors can encourage educators to incorporate nature into school curriculums and also embrace these family-friendly outdoor activities.

Nature treasure hunt: A treasure hunt can keep kids engaged on family hiking excursions and provide an excellent opportunity for parents to teach children about the assortment of plants, birds and wildlife that live in the parks and along the trails near their home.

Outdoor art class: Families don’t even need to leave their properties to spend quality time together outside. Pick a pleasant or mild afternoon and set up an outdoor painting station, encouraging everyone to paint what they see. Regular outdoor art sessions can add variety as each season can offer new landscapes and wildlife activity.

Bonfire: Outdoor activities need not be limited to daylight hours. A post-dinner backyard bonfire can entice everyone outside, where families can tell scary stories as they make s’mores.

Stargaze: Stargazing is another way families can spend time outdoors and learn a few things. Some blankets, a thermos and a chart of constellations can provide the perfect complement to a sky full of bright stars. If visibility is compromised in the backyard, find a local spot where everyone can get a clear view of the night sky.

Fruit picking: Depending on the availability of farms in your area, fruit or vegetable picking can provide a fun and educational activity. Visit a local farm during its harvest season, teaching children about how the foods they love are grown and eventually make it to the family dinner table.

Parents can expand on these ideas to offer outdoor learning even after students return to the traditional classroom.

Kayak adventures await on area lakes and rivers

14 razvan chisu 6F98shIQysI unsplashNow that warmer days are upon us, I seek the refuge of water with my activity of choice kayaking. I have always had a mermaid soul that draws me to the water for activities such as paddle boarding, boogie boarding, swimming and surfing, but the kayaking experience has been unique. This versatile sport can be enjoyed in many different settings, from the river to open lakes and even the beach. I also love that the kayaking community is quite diverse in terms of age and physical ability. Anyone, even you landlubbers, can enjoy this sport.

If you do not own a kayak, a few places offer kayaks for rent. I appreciate these options as different types and sizes allow people to try them out and find a comfortable fit. I own a sit-in kayak, where my legs fit inside the vessel. Some buccaneers own sit-on-top kayaks, a flat style allowing legs to stay exposed, and prefer that style for both the rowing and what else – tanning. My 10-year-old daughter uses this type of kayak; it is safer, I feel, in the event she has to abandon ship. Everyone seems to have their preferences, so I think renting for a day to “test the waters” is a great option.

When I first began kayaking, I found it a pleasant surprise the number of places available for kayak access in the local community. The locations vary in level of difficulty and offerings regarding fees and amenities such as shuttle services, guided tours, events and classes. Some kayakers like such programming, while others prefer to strike out on their own.

Spring Lake Outpost on the Lower Little River in Spring Lake has rental options, guided tours and self-guided options. Book a fun float such as the SLO Glow Canoe or SLO Glow Kayak trip; Freedom Float for the Fallen; Memorial Candle Release or an adult, youth or tandem short-route trip. One option allows you to rent their vessel or use your own kayak to put in. You travel downriver to a designated location where SLO guides pick you up and drive you back to the starting point.

Another site for a similar shuttle experience is Cape Fear Adventures in Lillington. I enjoy this area of the Cape Fear River in neighboring Harnett County as it is wide enough to give paddlers the freedom to explore with minimal obstacles. I have visited on days when it was calm enough to row upriver and then almost sail back down to the ramp for departure. With a kayak, canoe or paddleboard rental, you can book the Leisure Paddle, Easy Float, 10-mile Challenge, Epic Overnight or Sunset Paddle. Rev up the action with Stand-Up Paddle Board Yoga or Whitewater Kayaking. Slow it down with Lazy River Tubing.

If you are not into the river scene, several lakes in the local area allow you to launch your kayak free of charge. A few of my favorites are Hope Mills Lake in Hope Mills, Lake Rim in west Fayetteville and Mott Lake on Fort Bragg. All have ramps for easy water access, but Hope Mills Lake provides a nice kayak ramp that makes embarkment a snap. Lake Rim Park offers guided lake tours and off-site paddling adventures as well.

I like to take a few things on my kayak adventures that you may wish to take, too: a small cooler with water and snacks, bug spray, a sun hat or sunglasses and flip flops or water shoes. Requirements are life jackets for each person and an emergency whistle, just in case.

Don’t forget to batten down the hatches, as even on calm days, it’s easy to lose a phone to the water. How devastating it would be to miss out on sharing pictures of your adventure with your social media mates. So, grab your Mer Pals, hit the open water and beat the heat this summer.

Labor Day: A history worth celebrating

15 Labor Day guy works in storeMany people look forward to Labor Day weekend because it offers one last extended break to enjoy summer weather.

Though summer does not officially end until September is nearly over, for many people Labor Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September, marks the unofficial end of summer.

But Labor Day is more than just one final chance to embrace the relaxed vibe of summer and soak up some rays.

In fact, Labor Day boasts a unique history that’s worth celebrating for a variety of reasons.

The United States Department of Labor notes that Labor Day is a celebration of American workers that dates back to the 19th century.

The day is meant to commemorate the contributions workers in the United States have made to the nation, helping to make it one of the strongest and most prosperous countries in the world.

Despite the fact that municipal legislation surrounding Labor Day was initially introduced in the 1880s, debate remains as to just who should be credited with proposing a day to honor American workers.

Some records suggest that Peter J. McGuire, who served as general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and cofounded the American Federation of Labor, deserves the credit for Labor Day.

However, the Department of Labor notes that many people believe a machinist named Matthew Maguire (no relation to Peter) was the first to propose a holiday honoring workers in 1882.

At that time, Maguire was serving as secretary of New York’s Central Labor Union, which later adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The first Labor Day was ultimately celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in accordance with the plans made by the Central Labor Union, which strongly suggests that Maguire does, in fact, deserve the credit for coming up with the holiday.

Labor Day is worth celebrating because, without the contributions of millions of workers every year, the United States would not be the success story it is and has been for more than 200 years.

In addition to the United States, many countries across the globe, including Canada and Australia, have their own versions of Labor Day.

Labor Day weekend is often dominated by backyard barbeques and trips to the beach. With social distancing in the coronavirus era, this Labor Day weekend celebrants and workers should remember that Labor Day can be a time to reflect on the value of hard work.

Those who want to be more in touch with the meaning behind the holiday can look for additional ways to celebrate it.

Research local industry and shop local when possible. Giving your business to a locally owned store increases the investment back into your lcoal economy.

While many people are off on Labor Day, essential workers may not be. Bring lunch to a police station or firehouse, or simply thank workers you come across, such as grocery store employees, for doing their jobs.

Active military who are deployed may be missing home, especially during national holidays. Send a care package to them that they can enjoy overseas.
Purchase items made domestically to support national industry.

Bosses can reach out to employees with words of praise and encouragement. Too often employees are told what they need to improve rather than what they are doing right. A few words of gratitude can buoy spirits.

Employers can start the three-day weekend early by enabling workers to leave a few hours early on the Friday preceding the holiday weekend.

Support local entrepreneurs by shopping at farmers markets

13 dane deaner opZCDREwnMI unsplash 1Farmers markets have grown in popularity in recent years. Nowadays, consumers interested in farmers markets can likely find one near their homes whether those homes are in rural communities, the suburbs or bustling cities.

People who have never before shopped farmers markets may be curious as to why many people find them so appealing. The following are a handful of benefits of shopping farmers markets that might turn market novices into full-fledged devotees.

Freshness: Many people visit farmers markets because the fruits and vegetables sold at such markets seem to taste more fresh than those sold at chain grocery stores. People are not mistaken, as the produce available at farmers markets often comes from local farms, meaning there's no long-distance shipping necessary. Locally sourced foods need not be frozen en route to the market, meaning foods purchased there tend to taste especially fresh.

In-season foods: Some grocery stores may sell fruits and vegetables even when those foods are out of season. Farmers markets only sell in-season fruits and vegetables. To grow fruits and vegetables out-of-season, farmers may need to rely on chemicals or other unnatural methods. No such means are necessary when farmers stick to growing foods in-season.

Environmental benefits: According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, food in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to consumers' plates. Such journeys burn natural resources, pollute the air and produce sizable amounts of trash that ultimately ends up in landfills and/or the world's oceans. Because food sold at farmers markets is locally sourced, considerably fewer natural resources are necessary to transport the food from farm to table, and the relatively short distances the food travels translates to less air pollution.

Biodiversity: Many farmers market shoppers find unique foods not readily available at their local grocery stores. This is not only a great way to discover new and delicious foods but also a way to promote biodiversity.

Hormone-free animal products: Farmers markets do not exclusively sell fruits and vegetables. Many farmers markets also are great places to find meats, cheeses and eggs. Animal products sold at farmers markets are typically antibiotic- and hormone-free, which is both more humane to the animals and healthier than animal products produced with hormones or
antibiotics.

Farmers markets are more accessible than ever, and the benefits to shopping such markets are endless.

Now, more than ever before, is the perfect time to support local entrepreneurs. One of the great characteristics of Cumberland County farmers markets is that, in addition to touting agricultural goodness, other items from local entrepreneurs, like sauces and jellies, crocheted pieces, soaps and more are often offered.

Here are a list of regular pop-up and brick-and-mortar farmers market locations.

Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market

Popular for its taproom, Dirtbag Ales offers a variety of fun activities throughout the year, to include a farmers market. The farmers market welcomes individuals, families and furry companions to support local artisans on Sundays through Nov. 22. The market notes on its Facebook page that it is adhering to social distancing guidelines with face masks being strongly encouraged. Preorders and prepay will be offered. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for more information on the vendor lineup. Dirtbag Ales is located at 5435 Corporation Drive. Visit -https://www.facebook.com/dirtbagalesfarmersmarket/?eid=ARBzYoEIHDqKQpjM4ryHihJaVs-4Y4SMXOSHiGJ9YmhzJ85g69SwR7dAo3tKoP6hwq215i7dwX1I3LGb&fref=tag for more information, or call 910-426-2537.

Murchison Road Community Farmers Market

This farmers market, located next to Fayetteville State University is a program that stems from the school's Development Corporation. Find delicious baked goods, handmade crafts and more from the area’s growers and artisans. The Murchison Road Farmer’s Market is located at 1047 Murchison Rd. The market is closed for now, but the organizers hope to resume it in the fall. To learn more, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fayettevillefreshnc/ or call 845-216-1242.

City Market at the Museum

This farmers market, touting fresh produce, beautiful artwork, baked goods, soaps, candles and more is held on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-
1 p.m. The market is held at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum, located at 325 Franklin St., giving you the perfect reason to stroll around the downtown area and support local merchants.
For information, call 910-433-1944.

The Reilly Road Farmers Market and Carolina Farmers Market

This tried and true local favorite has been open for 40 years. Satisfy your sweet tooth with old-fashioned candies, honeys and jam, browse the fresh produce, or pick up some delicious cheese here. The farmers market is located at 445 N. Reilly Rd., although owner Mike Pate hopes to move into a building currently under construction at the corner of Raeford Road and Bunce Road. Pate also owns Carolina Farmers Market, a nursery with a beautiful selection of flowers, on 4400 Raeford Rd.  The Reilly Road Farmers Market is open throughout the week from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 910-868-9509 for more details. The Carolina Farmers Market is open from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. For more information, call 910-426-1575.

Bright Beginnings

If the evenings are more convenient for you to do your shopping, then Bright Beginnings will be the perfect market for you. The night market, located at Bright Light Brewing Company in downtown Fayetteville, is open on the first Friday of every month. Visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Bright-Beginnings-112449620380630/ or call 919-349-6062 to learn more.

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