Green Valley Grill in Greensboro believes that the nearer the farm to the fork, the better the flavor. Many of their local partners are farmers who handpick their produce on just a few acres, while others are larger growers that supply some of the best restaurants in the country with top-quality ingredients.

From eggs, truffles, jams and fruits to grits, meats and sausage, Green Valley Grill has an extensive list of locally produced foods on their menu. Outside the restaurant is a unique veggie bike where guests can purchase seasonal fruits and vegetables to take home.

It’s part of their commitment to offering guests the freshest food, whether they are sitting at a Green Valley Grill’s table or their own kitchen table.

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

From Farm to Fork

Jamie DeMent is the executive chef and owner of Piedmont Restaurant in Durham. She and her husband, Richard Holcomb, also own Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough, which serves as a 55-acre family resource for some of their restaurant’s food. In addition to heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, they raise grass-fed beef and lamb and hormone-free chicken and pork.

See more: See Why North Carolina is Hailed as a Culinary Mecca

“We want to shine a light on foods harvested and raised in North Carolina,” DeMent says. “We use a lot from our farm and other local farms, as well as North Carolina fisher folk and food artisans. We are a Southern restaurant, but the face of food in the South is changing and has a more global influence. You are just as likely to see bok choy on the menu as collard greens.”

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DeMent finds vendors who can supply the traditional Southern fare as well as more ethnically diverse foods. “Our policy is that everything possible must come from North Carolina. Fortunately, we live in a state where we have extensive resources for fresh food and we have lots of creative people growing it.”

See more: From Field to Fork in North Carolina Schools

While serving fresh, healthy food is an important reason for buying local, it’s not the only reason, DeMent says. “We see many of our farmers and partners every day. We go to the same schools and shop at the same market. It’s incredibly important to support the people and businesses around you and the community you live in.”

Emphasizing farm to fork freshness is a priority at Piedmont Restaurant

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

Sourcing Local

For Cheetie Kumar, owning a restaurant in North Carolina “is a chef’s dream.” It’s no wonder, with North Carolina’s extended growing season and access to everything from fresh vegetables and herbs to fresh meat and seafood. “We have abundant and varied sources for fresh food that inspire everything we do,” Kumar says.

And what they do at Garland in Raleigh has put the restaurant on the map. A James Beard Award nominee three years in a row, the restaurant, owned by Kumar and her husband, Paul Siler, has a seasonally driven menu influenced by the flavors of India and Asia, but with a Southern flair.

See more: How to Pick Out Fresh Produce at the Farmers Market

“Southern food is so complicated and mysterious and historical, and though we have a Pan-Indo-Asian influence, we are what I would call new Southern,” Kumar says. Garland’s reliance on locally sourced foods emphasizes that Southern influence and truly brings local farms to forks.

Chef Kumar utilizes a farm-to-fork mentality at her restaurant, Garland, in North Carolina

Photo credit: Julie Leonard

“The concept and day-to-day operation of our restaurant is based on North Carolina agriculture,” Kumar says. “We source everything we can from independent farmers and the North Carolina Farmers Market, which we visit weekly – usually twice. These are truly local vendors, many of whom are multigenerational farmers.”

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Kumar is inspired by those farmers and the products they grow. “We plan our menu based on what foods are in season and available,” she says. “While seasonality ensures freshness, it can also be a limitation when ingredients are not in season, so we rotate our menu accordingly. But I consider those limitations a good thing because eating seasonally is good for the planet and good for our bodies.”

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