Happy Thanksgiving! Kitchen closed Wednesday, Store closed Thursday

Posted by on Nov 20, 2017 in General | 0 comments

Happy Thanksgiving! Kitchen closed Wednesday, Store closed Thursday

When my siblings and I were growing up, sometimes at the dinner table one or more of us would complain about someone or something we didn’t like. We might shake our ruffled feathers and squawk about a slight or greater disturbance in our field.  Our parents were often amused by our expressions and antics, and after the ruffling settled into the silence our parents created, another message appeared. One of my father’s constantly relevant statements was “we have a lot to be grateful for.”  We all agreed. Nothing like a reminder of gratitude to make ruffling recede.

“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech.”   Aldo Leopold, 1948

We are grateful to be here.

Prodigal Farm and the Field of Creams

Posted by on Nov 11, 2017 in General, Grocery | 0 comments

Prodigal Farm and the Field of Creams

Dig, structure, develop, sustain, respect, practice, exceptional, flow, flavor

The quality of landscapes goes beyond words. Still, well-grounded humans are able to observe, to absorb and to reflect the quality of nature exquisitely. Farming is a way of cultivating and appreciating the rhythm, wildness and beauty of nature and its density of life. The quality of relationships matters.

The great conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote, “The sadness discernible in some marshes arises, perhaps, from their once having harbored cranes. Now they stand adrift in history.”

Prodigal Farm in Rougemont is not adrift in history. Prodigal Farm was established in 2015 by Kathryn Spann and Dave Crabbe. The name, Prodigal Farm, Kathryn affirms, both fulfills and explains hers and Crabbe’s arrival, her return to rural North Carolina, and their purchase of an old farm which still includes a crib house, smokehouse, antique car, tobacco barn, poison ivy, rambling planting, layers of memories, and, now, a fleet of well-tended goats and a dairy. And, as Kathryn notes, farming also means a lot of paperwork. It is not easy for producers of milk and cheese to make a living.

Prodigal refers to the Scriptural story of the returning son and the happy father planning a party in his honor—not dwelling on the long absence but on the return, the celebration, and the living potential. The word also means lavish, yielding abundantly. Spann and Crabbe met in New York where both lived, she a lawyer and he a builder. They met waiting in line for concert tickets. Crabbe was born in Towson, Maryland, and long aspired to be a farmer. Kathryn had not originally planned to return, but when Dave visited and loved the area, she was drawn to returning to her rural roots. She liked the idea of enjoying her Dad’s company while he was still alive, and she and her sister (who lives in Chapel Hill) have always been close. So Kathryn and Dave came to Durham County, North Carolina, near her family’s roots.  In fact, the farm they bought shares a country road named for her mother’s grandfather’s family. They are planted in soil with her family history, and memories. They are part of their own legacy creation, as we all are—step by step, moment by moment, clearing paths, fields, making plans, loving their goats, learning more about cheese as they love their land, the space and roots they chose to come and return to. To roost.

These farmers love their labor-intensive life, and are thus part of the geologic time in ways they weren’t so visibly before—more aware and getting their hands dirty in new and ancient ways.

As I read about these settlers, I was reminded again how we can feel the energy of the Earth as Earth interacts with our energy. I like to think of our re-entering a space, a landscape, a dream-come-true, as an immersion in air or water. Wade in the water. Take me to the river. Fly me to the moon. Some of our best nature appreciators, such as Wendell Berry, the Kentucky poet and farmer, capture the quality of landscapes and still express how nature’s true quality goes beyond words. This quality is what Prodigal Farm revels in, revives, and expresses in everything they do. Read about their plans: how creatively they are expanding and living their fields of dreams; about their hard work.

Kathryn Spann was one of the founders of the South Durham Farmers’ Market. Her commitment to this lawyer-turned-farmer lifestyle is inspiring, visible, and rooted.

In her words: I’ve served on several boards, including the Durham Farmland Protection Advisory Board.  The South Durham Farmers’ Market started as an initiative of that board, which I chaired at the time.  The goal was to increase market opportunities for Durham farmers, since only 4-5 of the 70-odd vendors at the downtown Durham market are farmers from Durham.  The South Durham Farmers’ Market has helped many Durham and new farmers grow, and it is now a thriving community hub, where folks can find gorgeous produce and artisan foods.

Cheesemakers encourage us to be the master of our cheese. Cheese-lovers , do you like it young, innocent and mild, or mature and saucy?

Can Saxy villagers pass up Saxapahaw Blues?

Kathryn’s favorites are Field of Creams & Saxy Blues – and they’re also a great contrast on a cheese board.  Field of Creams, she says, really celebrates our clean and bright tasting goat milk, while Saxapahaw Blues highlights the richness of the milk produced by Reverence Farms’ lovely Jersey cows.

We now have Prodigal Farms’ cheeses at the Store, so you can taste that terroir and their dreams for yourself. When you taste, think about the river of history, soil, of roots, and of return. Taste and savor all of the labors of love and goats that share the space; of Kathryn and Dave, not adrift but listening to the Earth and their goats as they do the work of clearing brush, making cheese, learning, and selling what comes. The cow’s milk used in their growing cheese-making dairy comes from our neighboring Reverence Farms, one more example of sharing resources to create quality products to share. Quality, distinct from quantity, invites us to learn more about the cost of what is sold; not just in the money exchange but in the spectrum of the relationship between humans and animals, agriculture and eating, work and love. Statistically, there may be more and more cheeses offered in the marketplace, but they are not all created equal. Quality comes from love and love’s labor.

Prodigal Farm: A licensed farmstead cheese dairy; 97 acres; Pastured Animal welfare-approved goat herd; Conservation, biodiversity, sustainability, well-managed open land.  And a little better care every year, as they learn.

These life-words represent commitment and conscious choices by these now-farmers with the skills and enthusiasm to share the fruits of their labor with care and taste. We are grateful for them.

Wendell Berry wrote, I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth. Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true. They think of food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture. They think of themselves as ‘consumers’. … One reason to eat responsibly is to live free.

To visit Prodigal Farm, check their website for directions and more. Spann and Crabbe also offer bread, produce, and other specialty items at the South Durham Farmer’s Market and the Market in Raleigh.

In the immortal words of Monty Python, blessed are the cheesemakers…

Community Benefit Concert For Recycling In Haiti With Gabe Pelli & Will Ridenour

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in General | 0 comments

Community Benefit Concert For Recycling In Haiti With Gabe Pelli & Will Ridenour

Johnson Desauguste created Kay Blada Recycling in 2015. Like Saxy villagers, he knows the creative value of community and the impact direct action can have on the quality of life anywhere. On October 22nd (this Sunday!), Gabe Pelli and Will Ridenour are performing  at the Haw River Ballroom to support Kay Blada Recycling in Haiti. The show starts at 3pm!

Blending American folk and West African kora music, Pelli and Ridenour create music for all walks of life and are known by many in our local community. Their debut album (available early 2018) was recorded in a 100-year-old chapel in rural Chapel Hill. Those who know their music use these words to describe the experience:  love and remembrance, beauty and resistance, passion and strength. The band plays festivals, house parties, theaters, hospitals, and any venue where music invites listeners on an odyssey of hope.

Kay Blada Recycling is generating hope and efficiency as it is educating people (us!) about the value of environmental health and safety and direct action to support our environment, including promoting work to support these changes. Read Kay Blada’s story and details of their progress on their web site, and be sure to watch the promotional videos! You’ll be inspired!

Now, Kay Blada is seeking funding to scale its operations and reach while continuing to pay its collectors a fair wage. With more funding, Kay Blada will have access to more effective collection tools, processing facilities, employee training, plastic transportation vehicles, and local marketing. Every contribution helps Kay Blada to fulfill its mission of creating local jobs, educating the community, and cleaning up the environment. Donations to Kay Blada are processed securely through Stripe payments and Squarespace, and can be accessed through the donate buttons in the bottom left corner of each page on Kayblada.squarespace.com

The money raised from this exciting benefit concert will go directly into purchasing a truck that will be used to transport Kay Blada’s compacted plastic to P-au-P, Haiti. Also the truck will be going all around the Center Plateau, and all the way to Cap Haitian to pick up loose plastic and transport it to Kay Blada Recycling for processing.

Our Place in the World

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in General | 0 comments

Our Place in the World

“Food is the one central thing about human experience that can open up both our senses and our conscience to our place in the world.”  Alice Waters

It’s easy to forget that every choice we make (as family and community members, as students, teachers, parents, citizens, and consumers) affects not only us, but also our species as a whole. We form our environment, and we are a part of it. There is a give-and-take between our physical body and environment that unites the health and vitality of all living things. Revitalization requires commitment, summons endless enthusiasm, and it keeps on giving.

We-the-people define our roles in our world by who we are and how we live. Close-knit communities are vital because the energies of daily life and history are regularly shared and consciously nurtured. When they opened the General Store ten years ago, Jeff Barney and Cameron Ratliff knew they wanted to provide for the local community as warmly, as sustainably and as efficiently as possible. They wanted to live their own dreams and help revitalize this beautiful riverside spot using their talents and diving in to unearth all of the creative possibilities along the way. Jeff is an epistemologist (look that one up!), butcher, chef, partner, father, foodie, co-proprietor, and of course, much more. Cameron is a stellar student, popular teacher (Hawbridge!), mother, baker, partner, strategic thinker, and co-proprietor who once thought of going to law school to focus on city-planning. Think of the choices and possibilities! Our choices and histories matter, as we have been reminded in powerful ways this week on our national stage.

Last week a couple came for lunch, took a tour of the Rivermill apartments and decided to move to Saxapahaw. We all love a place where we feel at home, where we are welcomed, and where we can almost always find what we’re looking for: gas, batteries, motor oil, diapers, snacks, coffee, beer, wine, water, specialty drinks, good food, and friendly people.

The Saxapahaw General Store is entering its 10th year, and this anniversary prompts thinking about the American tradition of General Stores, along with the history of this particular General Store. Every day people come into the store and exclaim over something they remember from “back when,” before so much had changed in this little village. We love to hear these comments and stories, and we are delighted that there are qualitative researchers among us, and far-flung, studying incubators, small-town entrepreneurs, and communities where people are drawn together to build, support, and grow a collective. Talk to anyone in this village, and you will find people who grew up here, with generational roots, and every kind of “newcomer” with gifts, talents, and appreciation for what this village is, has been, and what it might be. Leaders help to guide the growth by living their dreams. They are people who choose to engage a community that is interwoven and interpenetrated by history, memories, tradition, intention, motivation, research, support, strategic planning, and a real appreciation of community history and culture.

The General Store has an old and beloved place in our culture. The American General Store flourished throughout the 19th century but declined rapidly in the 20th century, particularly after the 1920s. It was mostly succeeded by specialized stores. Before General Stores there were trading posts, which “popped up” at crossroads, the confluence of rivers, and the center of villages, where settlers and travelers congregated. Seasonal needs were made known and people rose to meet them.

Jane Cairns

Saxapahaw, too, has a fascinating history of settlers, Sissipahaw Indians, and travelers drawn to the riverside, including the Jordan family whose visions and efforts have been the impetus behind revitalizing the area into the lively community they remember from years ago. I visited the Store’s neighbor, the Saxapahaw Museum, for the first time this week. Its director, the lovely Jane Cairnes, showed me around, pointing me to places on maps and mounted pictures, vintage and new, with stories that she’s heard from other visitors. I encourage everyone to visit. There is a timeline of the area, artifacts, and pictures of residents, star athletes (several Olympians included!), veterans, mill workers, the early Mill, the old dam. The list goes on. Our General Manager, Marc Smith, was a key player in showcasing the displays in the Museum. We can always learn more about who we are and our place in our community. Change happens. Everyone matters.

Hell’s Belles, Dirty Blonde, & Sonnie Plakotaris: Which of these is not a craft beer?

Posted by on Aug 6, 2017 in General | 0 comments

Hell’s Belles, Dirty Blonde, & Sonnie Plakotaris: Which of these is not a craft beer?

Last week I met someone who was visiting the Village after a while away. She was happy to see familiar faces and old friends, and she mentioned the “Bubble” that exists in Saxapahaw. She said, it’s hard for people to leave here, and when they do, they always come back. I’ve heard this before, and it is something to remember.

Today, I talked a little with Sonnie Plakotaris, our laid-back beer-buyer, people-appreciator, natural-product-creator, Nature-lover, and all-around cool presence.

Here are a few tidbits:

Sonnie was born in Takoma Park, Maryland and spent most of her life in that burgeoning D.C. area. Her DNA is a great mix of Spanish, Greek, Native American, and German. In her case, it was a recipe for beauty, brains and a true Nature lover. She is the youngest of four siblings. After her first son (Gabe) was born, Sonnie felt strongly about not bathing their son with products full of chemicals that she didn’t want or need, so she and a friend hatched their own idea. How hard can it be to make our own? They did some research, and Soulshine Natural Products was born.  Sonnie makes nicely packaged soy candles (she also didn’t like the idea of burning paraffin in the house, and she loves candles), hand sanitizers, and room sprays (you can find all at the SGS!). She uses tea tree oil and peppermint, well-known antiseptics, staying true to her naturally-pure product focus. Sonnie is also a professional cleaner, and her next offering will be Cottage Cleaners, so stay tuned….

Sonnie and her three children moved to Chapel Hill in 2011. After someone suggested the SGS would be a good fit for her Soulshine products, and that got her thinking about maybe working at the store. She had been a stay-at-home Mom (and loving it), and liked the vibe of the Store. She has been here ever since. She likes the “commute to the country,” and the friendly, relaxed community here.

Sonnie’s favorites are seasonal, fresh vegetables (check out this fabulous picture of her home-made salsa from last week!), hiking, gardening, being near or on the water. Since she moved to North Carolina she has become a bluegrass fan, loves a good fiddle and stand-up beat. Bring it up and watch those dark eyes sparkle. And did I mention she is a very funny woman?

Along with adding her very-cool presence and service, Sonnie is our beer-rep liaison, and she is the one to ask if you have a special order or personal beer favorite you’d like the Store to carry. She has her favorites too—right now, the ever-popular (and local!)  Foothills Hoppyum, Fullsteam’s Humidity (in the Carolina Blue can), and neighbor Haw River Farmhouse Summer Golden, Sun Hands.

Craft and home-brews are growing by leaps and bounds all over the country, and two NC breweries took home awards at the recent U.S. Open Beer Championships. Haw River Farmhouse Ales is just a stroll away from the Store, and always worth a visit to see what’s brewing. Their menu alone is worth a visit. The Eddy Pub, also just a stroll away, hosts beer dinners too. The next one (August 24th) is a five-course food and beer pairing with Carrboro’s Steel String Brewery!

Sonnie will shake her head or smile if you say it, but she was pictured once on the cover of All  About Beer, so she is our resident Cover Girl. Cheers to Sonnie! Here’s the proof…..

What do Cat Pajamas and the Five-Star General Store have in common?

Posted by on Jun 17, 2017 in General | 0 comments

Local celebrity writer Daniel Wallace has written about both!

You may have encountered Daniel Wallace any number of ways: playing ping pong on a Monday night in the Ballroom, on NPR recently talking about his new book, Extraordinary Adventures, or reading from Cat’s Pajamas to a full house in Chapel Hill. Or you may have read the great article Wallace wrote for Our State magazine in 2015 about this Five-Star General Store here in Saxapahaw.

Daniel Wallace is known for his weaving of tall and small tales which are insightful and funny (if sometimes dark, as clouds and life can be), about everyday people, and the wonder and perpetually surprising rhythms and happenings of lives that ring true and familiar, whether colorized and planted in Birmingham, Chapel Hill, or Saxapahaw.

I am a Wallace fan (FOD, as his friend and fellow local celebrity writer Alan Shapiro put it), and I am a fan of the Five-Star Store, where, as Jeff Barney has said, the goal was never to get big but to become more deeply rooted. The General Store’s goal has been and is to be open to all, and to provide, generally, what The People want, basics that serve the community with care. A dynamic everyday plan requires and revels in the vital energy of everyone here and also everyone who comes, as Wallace wrote, to be a stranger or just to be strange.

Just as the Chapel Hill’s Just Bee Apiary collective (whose products we carry!) understands that the relationship between taste and home comes from “terroir” (from the tiniest invisible Earth element to the melding of sweet and sour colors), Jeff and Cameron, the staff, and those who serve and join us participate at every level in the Store and community creation. We participate by sharing garden bounty and fresh meat, creative dishes and carefully crafted products , by filling orders, dropping in to say hello, picking up sundries, buying gas, or ordering two sides of brussels sprouts once a week with dinner. We enthusiastically feed the roots as well as the garden of this community in all kinds of ways, by caring. Jeff refers to the food made and served as “soul food”: “what makes it soul food is its uniqueness to this place and these four walls.” Everyday creation.

In his 2015 article, Daniel Wallace wrote about believing that there are unmapped tracts where dinosaurs might roam, in Bigfoot, in the possibility of stumbling over a treasure trove, and believing now in Saxapahaw. I’m a never-ending believer in possibility too, and in the “magic” that makes this village what it is. Here’s an example: Friday night the film, The Neverending Story was shown in the amphitheater next to the Haw River Ballroom. Lots of children (old and young) were watching the age-old “fantasy” unfold—“the Nothing” threatens to destroy Fantasia and beckons the human boy (Bastian) to fulfill his part, by caring enough; adventures ensue.  Left Bank Butchery’s hot dog cart was there, and the Haw River brewery was open for business. All of this, and a full-moon too.

Extraordinary adventures reveal what drives us, charge us to pay attention, as messy or extravagant as any moment may be, whether catching or eating big fish, dancing in front of the Haywagon stage, looking over the river from Cup 22, the Eddy, or a backyard close by beneath a full moon, or chilling at a five-star gas station with bakery baskets, local melons, good food, big smiles or … whatever each brings to the table.

And speaking of tales and extraordinary adventures, I saw the film Wonder Woman, which just came out in local theaters to box-office-record-breaking ticket sales. The first time a female superhero has had her own Big Box Office film, in the trail of Batman and Superman! Jill Lepore’s book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman came out in 2014, and Lepore is talking to audiences everywhere about what got her on the trail of the superhero’s beginnings. She is a historian and journalist who was asked by the New Yorker to write about Margaret Sanger and the beginning of Planned Parenthood. One bit led to another and she landed in archives where the Sanger Papers and the papers of Gloria Steinem and Ms. Magazine were kept. It turns out that within the iconic Superhero story is a fascinating family story threaded with its own intrigue and adventure.

William Moulton Marston, the psychologist who created Wonder Woman, wrote a regular column for Family Circle about conventional family life with his mistress, Olive Byrne, even as he and Olive Byrne and his wife, Holloway, lived their most unconventional life. Marston was thought of as an “expert on truth,” but lived a secret life, then presented that secret life as a kind of utopian fantasy connected by iconography and more to the currents of our human and national history of mental, emotional and physical slavery and the great hunger and struggle to break the chains that bind. Jill Lepore completed the collage of connections, to Margaret Sanger in particular, by following the pieces of documented clues. There are always clues.

The Wonder Woman stories, like many superhero stories I imagine, are animated by references to fables and stories about the ancient Greeks and other ancestors, including the Amazonians. There are always battles between “corrupted” humankind and the forces of Good. This is where the cresting wave of extraordinary adventures always rises, like the running wave of a river through green land with high banks and low, where branches reach from trees that have long bent toward the water and where the memories of men and women linger.

As our present (in any time) challenges our ideas and beliefs about Life, and our life, it seems to me we can learn best, now, perhaps, from recognizing that life is a collage, with each of us choosing and creating our reality every day, individually and together, and the surface variations are like the River that so many of us love and that reminds us we ARE the river of life too—reflective, sometimes turbulent, sometimes peaceful, moving with the life within us.

Ultimately, aren’t all stories family stories? Wonder Woman’s origins are in a fascinating family story which involves one of our pioneering advocates for equal rights. Our iconic superheroes have their own histories, created by humans, with trails and beliefs to follow: how they were crafted and inserted, celebrated and launched into our collective consciousness and run like the river, shaping our emotional story and our world.

In the League of Superheroes, each is a hero in their own right, with their own story, but when they are called upon to join forces (to work together), they do with mighty results. Another tangled family of sorts. Ambition always falters without a family story, a network of support which builds gets stronger.

In the extraordinary adventures of the current village of Saxapahaw, rivers converge in the people’s mingling, just as they do in the confluence of the Mill and bridge that overlook and cross the Haw. Colorful canoes and kayaks are part of the view and experience and create their ripples too, real and digital. We humans do that.

One recent afternoon I served food to a customer who worked for many years as a land surveyor. He had not been to Saxapahaw for a while, but grew up in the area and knows a lot of its history. He said he remembers when plans were being made to renovate and “re-activate” the Mill and more. He said he thought it was impossible. “I’m glad I was wrong,” he said, laughing as he took a bite of his sandwich. “It couldn’t have happened without the right people.”

GPS-driven, summer-drive-or-ride-in-the-country driven, steam-powered, or walking, come see us!. Grab a cold drink, pet the well-loved pets that may wander by (on leashes), order a bite to eat (I recommend the pork shoulder sandwich!), and drink in some Brigadoon. This enchanted place rarely disappears in a mist, and we can return almost anytime we are driven to. The things that unite us remain both magical and knowable. Just listen to the River.

The Amazing MB Martin, Chef and Catering Wizard!

Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in Catering, General | 0 comments

The Amazing MB Martin, Chef and Catering Wizard!
Chef M.B. Martin

The Amazing Catering Captain, MB Martin!

This is Chef MB, a catering miracle-worker whose creations delight and are seemingly done without any visible dust or noise from her hours of labor. MB truly does make miracles happen, and I have heard wedding parties say, just in my short time working at the Store, that the food served at the wedding they attended at the Ballroom was the best they have eaten at any wedding. High praise!

I sat down with MB (interrupting her rare break and tasty-looking lunch) and asked her a few questions about her food passions and favorite things. The catering is a lot of work, she said, but she loves working with Patti G., and being able to prepare fresh and wholesome food (from selective ingredients), handling the food from start to finish and also being a part of the completed experience, knowing the client has had a good meal and made a good memory.

MB was born in Rocky Mount (NC born and bred!), and was raised in Burlington. She received a B.A. in Graphic Design, with a minor in Business, at UNCG. She was just a baby (16!) when she started working at the General Store, and began catering about four years ago. Some of the things MB loves about Saxapahaw are shared by many who visit and live in the area (including me): the community, the farm-to-table opportunities, the peacefulness of the river. She loves to spend time reading, crocheting, and is an AVID cat lover (she has 3 and a big smile spreads across her face when she thinks of them).

Along with the catering offerings, MB creates regularly in the SaxGen kitchen, where the crew puts out tasty food all day every day. (MB also makes her own Monthly Planners, which are works of art in themselves.) Her creative mind  never stops, and we are glad she is here! Next time you see MB, give her a nod, a smile, a handshake, a hug, a thank you if you feel inclined. She earns them every day.


What do a Library and the Five-Star General Store Have in Common?

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in General | 0 comments

What do a Library and the Five-Star General Store Have in Common?

Roots run deep, to land we love, and through time, families, neighbors, and communities. Roots of knowledge, learning, and memories also run deep, generationally, and are linked to the places where we land and the people and places we love and remember. Places we like to be.

Recently I read an article called Raleigh’s 50-ft Librarian by Scott Huler in Our State magazine (2014). Huler wrote about NC State’s Hunt Library, in west Raleigh, which opened in January 2013 at a state cost of about $115 million.  “Think again!” might be the building’s motto, its designers said.  Susan Nutter, the Libraries’ Director, wanted a library for NOW, not more bricks and rectangles. Students and faculty wanted a building that would keep changing, keep growing, and would give them a chance to change and grow with it. A goal and design emerged to house the system as an efficient dynamic human environment of research, interactive learning.

The state-of-the-art technology is constantly in use in creative ways, yet the design’s focus became on the interactions of people. The place is designed for activity, discovery, and collaboration. The architect (whose company also designed the Bibliotheca in Alexandria, Egypt, which opened in 2002) said it is almost the opposite of the way libraries of the past are thought of: lots of books with dusty spines, lots of quiet, solitary patrons sitting in cubicles for long periods. Books are primarily retrieved by bookBots that dive deep (and transparently, so patrons can watch them through the glass) into stacked metal bins which hold most of its 1.5 million collection. There is no browsing among those volumes, but the space is well used and the bookBot apparently captivating to watch.

The Hunt Library may not be one that my parents would have recognized, but they surely would have appreciated its creation. The students and faculty asked for a library that, at its core and in its every facet, serves its students and adapts to the now of this time and more, and that’s what they got.

The Hunt Library vision and creation reminds me of this humming General Store in Saxapahaw. A community is vital when its people serve each other in ways that complement each other and the whole, the place, and the community. At the Store, this is a conscious mission, just as it was and is at the Hunt Library. These visionaries knew what they wanted to create and would not settle for less: test limits; see what holds; see what breaks; listen; innovate. Creating a lively gathering place which serves each of us is our way of consciously building a structure to nurture the best of our everyday creations.

Collaboration and bonds with neighbors (we’re all students and teachers!) is the substance of a place where people know the value of their buried roots and the flowering that comes from them as well as the necessity of change. Here, at the General Store, produce changes with the seasons, new local products appear, staff changes, neighbors go and come, children go away to school and some return. Memories are shared and new ones made. People are drawn to and back to Saxapahaw, and everyone is welcome.

When Jeff Barney and Cameron Ratliff began to think about the community they love and its potential to grow as a supportive economy, they imagined, with fellow visionary and native son Mac Jordan, a place where a village could gather for food, drink and provisions, run by people whose varied backgrounds have taught them that we each influence our environment every day by interacting with all who darken the doors and step over the threshold. Every day I learn more about the amazing people who work and gather or pass through the Store and the village: the chefs who daily dish out food to exclaim over and tell your friends about; staffers who sew, dance, make lace, candles, music; some who are models, mothers, fathers, composers, artists, yoga instructors, gamers, readers, writers, graphic designers; customers who are farmers, artists, builders, carpenters, parents, students, teachers, consultants, gardeners, inventors, and veterans of all kinds; and we also get to enjoy many beautiful boisterous and studious children of all ages. What gifts.

As new businesses and relationships appear and grow, the mission remains the same. The Store is well-established and re-inventing all the time, along with the great neighbors and visitors we serve. Those who work and gather here are as independent as ever and still always strive to work together and appreciate the daily delights and opportunities of NOW. My parents might have been overwhelmed by the many menu offerings and amazed at some of the shelf items, but I think they would have been happy with what they were served. And they completely understood the mission. It’s about people first, and talents and values converge. Thank you all!

Live, Organic, Vegan, Energy A.K.A. LOVE

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in General, Grocery | 0 comments

Live, Organic, Vegan, Energy A.K.A. LOVE

At the Saxapahaw General Store, we strive to be inclusive of all.  This is why you’ll find locally made kombuchas and sodas sitting next to Pepsi and Coca-Cola products, and Little Debbie snack cakes alongside an arrangement of local, organic, and natural energy bars.  One of these local, organic energy bars is made right in Durham with 100% raw, organic, gluten-free, and vegan ingredients.  They call it love, and we agree!  You can find the Cashew Brownie, Ginger Spice, and Goji Cacao flavors of Love Bars on our shelves as a more healthy and nutritionally dense option for your snacking needs.

Roots Run Deep

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in General, Grocery | 0 comments

Roots Run Deep

I’ve always been fascinated by individuals I encounter whose families have a deep heritage and rooted connection to a specific geographic region.  My mother’s grandmother was born in Italy and my father’s great-grandparents were born in Ireland, so I don’t have a deep familial connection to a certain place here in the United States.  Mike Kirk lives on a piece of land that has been in his family since the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). This land is now farmed as Cane Creek Farms, and is located right off of Bradshaw Quarry Rd in Efland, NC, and Mike is the farm manager.  As I write about the connection to this parcel of land in North Carolina, I realize I cannot discount the fact that before the 18th century, this land was home to Native American tribes who were violently uprooted from the place they were deeply rooted and connected with, and that there are connections to certain places around the world deeper than I will ever know.


Boxcarr Retirees

Boxcarr Retirees

The 85 acres of Cane Creek Farms operate with only three full time employees.  The other full time residents of this land include pigs, chickens, horses, and the retired goats from Boxcarr Handmade Cheese.  Through the sleepy winter months you’ll still find kale, collard greens, and salad greens poking up through the earth, while garlic and onions sleep underground.  During the busier spring and summer months, interns will be helping plant and harvest strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, tomatoes, and flowers, to name just a few.  Though Cane Creek is not a certified organic farm, they follow organic practices and only spray their crops when absolutely necessary.

Cane Creek Farm- Mike

If you ever stumble upon Mike’s path, you’ll find a warm, open, unassuming person.  The energy of Cane Creek Farms reflects the welcoming nature of its manager.  There is a lovely peacefulness that radiates from this farm.  The ripples have been felt by local hunters who post up on the property during hunting season, by a bee farmer from New Hampshire who travels the 800 miles to bring his 30 bee hives to Cane Creek for the summer, and all those who make the quick stop at the bottom of the Cane Creek driveway to gather fruits and veggies from the “honor system” farm stand.

We’re serving Cane Creek Farms eggs for breakfast right now at the Saxapahaw General Store, and you can find lots of their produce here at the store throughout the year.

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