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

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.

WOODLAND BANNERS POETRY WALK (Take a Walk on the Wild Side)

Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Community | 0 comments

WOODLAND BANNERS POETRY WALK (Take a Walk on the Wild Side)

“My duty is to keep awake
The sense of wonder in the world.”  

 From the words of Marc Chagall

When you visit the General Store, be sure to take a turn on the patio, where you will see installations of three banners created by local artist Steven Durland and accompanying poetry by Linda Frye Burnham.

In 2015 Steven and Linda, an artist herself (words and performance), launched the Woodland Banners Poetry Walk on their 28-acre Frog Pond Farm in Saxapahaw. The Poetry Walk is a stroll through the woods with stations featuring large outdoor banners Steven created from digital images he made using leaves and other bits and pieces of the forest floor. Their property, which is shared with chickens, geese, dogs, and cats, they describe as “like Texas,” in that the property boundaries are jagged, and have a panhandle. These artists are always ready to make something new. They have spent their lives creating nonprofits supporting community arts and artists, and they relish creating their own art in their space now.

The farm is a great space for their art. Unlike a more formal gallery, which has its own unique advantages of display and presentation, the woods at Frog Pond Farm are nature-made and also influenced by man-made changes around them. As Steven drove me around the place in their golf cart, complete with vinyl seats printed with some of his images, he noted the difference in the landscape over the 20+ years since they have lived there. The farm is hilly, and he pointed out the direction where the thick trees had been clear-cut on a neighboring property. When the trees were cut, he said, the light changed a lot. It was also a lot windier. At this time of the afternoon, the sunlight was angling long and low, and it was easy to imagine the changes he described.

Linda was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and grew up in California. Steven is from South Dakota. They met in New York, lived and worked in L.A. for many years, and chose North Carolina’s Triangle to settle in — for the beauty, and the potential of culture/creativity with its convergence of universities and populations. They have seen and done a lot, and they have some great stories to tell. (Ask about the 5-Minute Performance Olympics, Bingo, or High Performance magazine’s fascinating history.)

As I listened to Linda and Steven describe the Woodland Banners Poetry project, I felt the peacefulness of the place as we sat on their deck overlooking the pond, where the brown chairs on the far pier were perfectly reflected in the water, along with the clusters and bits of leaves that have already begun to fall.

They feel that the banners and poetry are integrated into the property in a way that they like, and that enhances the life of both the art and nature. One reflects the other. As I left the property I looked out of my car window at the visible banners. With the lengthening light, and the beginning colors of Fall, I was captured, too, with their presence.

Many of the banners are named after artists whose work Steven thought serendipitously shared color and/or compositional elements with his leaf images. I bought the book they created to showcase the poetry and banners, and so I have also been introduced to a few new artists.

Linda noted the names and began researching the words of these artists. She found that they had great power and sounded like poetry, so she repurposed the artists’ actual words, creating a poem for each banner.

Here is a piece: “Leaves after Marc” (Franz Marc).

Art frees itself
From the desires and needs of men.
We will no longer paint a forest or a horse
As they may seem to us,
But as they really are. 

Expressions that seem spectral now
Will be thought natural tomorrow.

The poems were printed on aluminum trail markers and placed in the woods near their matching banners. The trail leads from the beginning of the driveway, through the forest to Steven’s Bourbon, Dogs & Art yurt studio at the top of the hill.

As he began making the images, Steven said that he recognized that there was something there beyond “I like this.” Nature reminds us of art, and artists’ work reflects nature. The gratification of how this project unfolded is clear when you listen to Linda and Steven talk about it. After many years of supporting art and artists communally and institutionally, giving each other these things offered a deep and new satisfaction. Visitors to the farm and the Woodland Poetry Walk will find satisfaction, peacefulness, and inspiration too, I imagine, as I did, and will. The dialogue of nature and art is constant, and, as Linda put it, still surprises. Those who stroll along the path of poetry and images often come back clutching leaves or other forest bits and excitedly show them to Steven. Did you see this? Many visit and return with parents or children.

These artists know that our sense of aesthetics is mostly based upon what we’ve been taught, and to experience this natural dialogue on their nearby farm is to stroll into a new yet familiar landscape and let it absorb us. The vitality of poetry endures, vinyl banners and aluminum plaques are durable, and we excitable humans may enter the space and leave, changed and perhaps “re-animated” with this sharing.

Frog Pond Farm also includes a large yurt Air BNB, which gets rave reviews. We’ve met many of their visitors who visit the Store, and they are full of the natural magic of the place: Nature, Art, chickens, geese, dogs, cats, a golf cart, a pond, woods, forest bits re-imaged and fluttering above the forest floor, and interesting, introspective artists with some great stories too.

The Poetry Walk is open by appointment throughout the year and on select announced open house weekends. Fall open house will be Oct 28-29, 1-5pm. You can learn more about the Poetry Walk and get on the mailing list for open house announcements at www.durland.comMementos and art are for sale in Steven’s Gallery, and online. I recommend your taking a book of the Poetry Walk home. It’s not just a book for the coffee table, but for morning beginning, anytime remembering, or bedtime savoring before sleep and an ongoing dream-time. We’re thrilled to have Steven and Linda’s creations now enhancing our space too.

Village People Help the World Go Round

Posted by on Sep 2, 2017 in Community | 0 comments

Village People Help the World Go Round

Last weekend some friends and I went to see Of Wings and Feet, the latest show by Saxapahaw’s Paperhand Puppet Intervention at the Forest Theater in Chapel Hill. Since 1998, Paperhand’s founders and directors, Jan Burger and Donovan Zimmerman, have been making and mixing many art forms including giant puppets into spectacular shows to inspire people and promote social change, and their 2017 summer show has all of their mission’s trademark passion, artistry, and fun.

Though I had read about Paperhand’s shows and heard rave reviews for years, I did not go to one of their shows until last weekend. I mention this because I think this is one of the whole messages that these amazing creators and performers convey: Come, see, sing, clap, think, do; experience this amazing creation we know as art; claim your place as a part of the whole Earth; express this vitality of living together. We can put off things, choices, ignore ideas, dreams, feelings, but they are still within us. If we stop and think, breathe, let the world show itself (beyond the tweets, as important and potent as they might be; beyond the bombardment of images, sounds, streams, what we call “demands” of life), what do we hear, see, think, feel? How and what are we creating together?

When Jan Burger and Donovan Zimmerman came up with the name, they have said they imagined a giant paper hand coming out of the clouds and tapping someone on the head, saying, Wake up! Zimmerman has said people have come to him after a show and said, Thank you for speaking the language of dreams. Others wait for more of a story-line. He has a question for them: what do you feel?

We humans live story-lines, but we know we also live and remember our lives in what seem like bits and pieces. Some of us love to have a story to follow, and others like to have the dream-time remade on stage. When we think about love, what powers us, isn’t it our emotions that help us relate the most clearly, purely, to living, and to loving each other and the planet that is our home? We can see ourselves on stage, in whatever amazing costume, and laugh and cry, clap and cheer. Story-lines emerge as we do.

Chris Carter is part of the Paperhand family, and for this show is also credited with “Engineering & Effects, and for “making the impossible possible.” Chris lives near Saxapahaw, uses wind and sun to make electricity, and always teaches me great tidbits about bugs, plants, and the river that just happen to come up in conversation.

I saw Chris Carter at the Store yesterday, as on many days, and told him that some friends and I had seen the show, and we loved it. I loved the spectacle of it, the artistry, the energy, the flow, the music, the voices, the message, and the crowd of all ages. He commented on the commitment of the project, with a full smile: it’s almost like a priesthood, Chris said…as we get together and rehearse, some are crying afterwards, we keep rehearsing, and as we practice together, we get past that phase and get it together. We’re very serious about what we’re doing, and it’s fun.

Remembering the raw power of compassion, the vitality of life, and that the energy of each of us is unique and also part of a community, a world, indivisible and beautiful when we see and feel it is no dream. It’s an organic symphony. In the show is a sign with the words The Cycle of Beginnings and Endings. The beginnings and endings we experience are profound, sometimes fleeting, sometimes lasting.  Of Wings and Feet shows how our consciousnesses emerge, grow, interact and constantly form the world that we experience.

After I experienced the Paperhand show, I heard Lorna Goodison, Jamaica’s Poet Laureate, on the BBC on writing a poem to commemorate Jamaica’s Emancipation Day. August 1, 1834 was the date that the end of slavery was proclaimed throughout the British Empire.  Goodison pointed out that all slaves were not freed until 1838, when the Apprenticeship system ended. Scenes and sounds from the Paperhand show came to my mind as I listened to the poet speak about the poetry in her and about the importance of hope and of remembering the suffering and system of plantation slavery.

Goodison spoke about her process of letting the poem reveal itself, in different voices. Here is the end of the last part, which in me was interwoven with the powerful message and mission of Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s creative commitment.

Some believe all the foolishness hard heart people say

bout freedom not for any and every one.

How some need to be


led with bridle and bit like mule and horse.

Not because some get let go first,

always remember this:


It matters not when you did leave.

Every single one of a we

come out a the cane piece.

Always remember this: These puppeteers are active celebrants. The Earth and all of life are ours to love. Celebrating and nurturing life is a fantastic commitment, not for the faint of heart and full of satisfaction. The winds blow, the seas rise, the circus rumbles through with tumbling acrobats and strong-men. Sad, strange and wonderful things appear. Each piece has its substance and illusion. We can forget to breathe, and be awakened. Our wonderful friends of the Saxapahaw Paperhand family bring it all to life in magical and memorable ways. Join those who have made the Paperhand shows an annual family adventure! Go, see Of Wings and Feet, and be sure to read the program, too. The combined talent will blow you away. We are grateful for them all.


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.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This