Many Virginia residents are going back to basics in a delicious way, embracing farm-to-fork fare in both restaurants and markets across the state. Not only does this fast-growing trend benefit those establishments directly, it’s also a boon to farmers and growers supplying the fresh, locally sourced ingredients Virginians crave.
Grandale Vintner’s Table
Located in the northeastern corner of Virginia in Purcellville, just a few miles from West Virginia and Maryland, Grandale Vintner’s Table began as Grandale Farm Restaurant in the fall of 2005. Executive Chef Author Clark Jr. founded the Loudoun County restaurant after acquiring land from Dr. Thomas Orme, a farmer from whom he purchased produce while serving as executive chef for another farm-to-fork restaurant. According to Clark, the duo “decided to open Grandale on the basis of purchasing locally grown ingredients and supporting the other farms in the area.”
Although the dining spot has evolved over the past several years, most recently rebranding to feature “a more dynamic menu and a comfortably relaxed atmosphere,” Clark’s focus remains rooted in the farm-to-fork concept.
“We like to source as much local food as we possibly can, and we grow a lot of our own produce here,” Clark says. “When guests come in they see a big board listing the farmers we’re working with through the season, and they can visit our gardens and orchards on the 120-acre property. Our guests get that feeling of being on a farm. I think that gives us at Grandale Vintner’s Table a unique advantage.”
The restaurant’s partner company, 868 Estate Vineyards, also located on the property, provides much of the wine served at the restaurant, but Grandale also has an extensive wine listing of Virginia, national and international selections. Clark purchases meats like lamb and beef from Milcreek Farm in Lovettsville, Virginia. Nearby Cedar Springs in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, supplies microgreens and forage, and Cherry Glen Farm in Boyds, Maryland, sells Grandale a variety of goat cheeses.
While each menu item doesn’t exclusively contain locally sourced ingredients – something Clark says is nearly impossible to achieve if a restaurant offers a diverse selection – most dishes contain a variety of local elements.
“We really focus on enhancing our menu,” Clark says. “Our featured items are all based on locally sourced foods, and many of our featured meats are cut specifically for us.”
Yoder’s Country Market
Blending locally sourced food and Christian values since its creation in 1984, Yoder’s Country Market is a specialty grocery store in Madison owned by Michael and Heather Yoder. The couple, part of the Mennonite community, purchased the store from Michael’s parents in 2007. They have continued the Yoder family tradition of working with local farmers and growers to give customers access to high-quality products.
“We sell local chicken, pork, beef and rainbow trout,” Michael Yoder says. “Almost all of our meats come from within an hour of our store, and that’s something you aren’t likely to find at a chain market. We also work with six Mennonite bakers in the area, selling their homemade baked goods. Everything is made from scratch without preservatives.”
In addition, Yoder’s Country Market features a cafe where customers enjoy homemade soups and made- to-order sandwiches, complete with freshly-baked bread. The store also sells bulk food, kitchen tools, books, gifts and various natural care products, and outside, there’s a barnyard petting zoo.
“Having a place where folks can sell everything from homemade aprons to locally grown produce and meats is great for the local economy and community. Our store employs 35 people – about half of whom are Mennonites,” Yoder says. “We’re in a fairly rural area, but we have customers who drive one to two hours just to visit us. We’ve worked hard to make our market a family destination.”