The Culinary Experience in Rabun County

The Culinary Experience in Rabun County

by: Gayle Darugh

The experience – in particular the culinary experience – continues to make unique communities a magnetic attraction for curious travelers.  Rabun County Georgia has such a diverse number of organic farmers, small producers, vintners, seed savers’ generational preservation of “old time” crop seeds, and celebratory new renderings of traditional Appalachian foods by vigorous and imaginative young chefs. It’s no wonder the Georgia Legislature declared Rabun the “Farm to Table Capitol of Georgia” in 2015.
The Southern Appalachian Mountains remain one of the most bio-diverse regions on Earth. In addition, the culinary traditions of rural communities remain prominent for all celebratory gatherings. Today, millennials are choosing alternative jobs by developing small farms focused on healthy choices, hands-on management of their food sources, and efforts to build soil that is nutrient rich and pesticide free.  In fact, for only the second time in the last one hundred years the number of people under 35 choosing farming as their lifestyle choice is increasing.  The current U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Census reports that 69% of them are college educated – significantly higher than the general population.
Which brings us to the happy aggregation of history, culinary tradition, traditional farmers, innovative young farmers and traveler’s interests.  Today Rabun County enjoys award winning wineries such as Stonewall Creek Vineyards www.stonewallcreek.com, Georgia’s Regent’s Award winner as the number one wine from Georgia-grown grapes in 2017.  Nearby Tiger Mountain Vineyards http://www.tigerwine.com/ won the same award for 2016.  Two new distilleries, R.M. Rose www.rmroseco.com  and Moonrise Distillery www.moonrisedistillery.com, not only continue the time-honored and now legal manufacture of “moonshine” but are also introducing new moonshine flavors and smooth small batch rye whiskies and bourbons which reflect local terroir.
Farmer’s Markets abound with more than 50 small farmers and producers contributing to the Saturday morning Clayton Farmer’s Market www.simplyhomegrownga.com with goat cheese, wild crafted herbs and mushrooms, fresh eggs, artisanal breads, honeys, preserves and fresh seasonal produce.  Osage Market http://www.osagefarm.com is open seven days a week, April through October, and the interest of visitors is obvious via the array of out of county and out of state license plates.
The array of restaurant offerings continues to grow each season.  Jamie Allred, chef-owner of Fortify Kitchen and Bar and Fortify Pi http://fortifyclayton.com, brings his family recipes to new heights through his association with local farmers.  On Wednesdays during the season the dinner menu features a specific offering from a local farm with the farmer present to inform and answer questions from diners.  Lake Rabun Hotel www.lakerabunhotel.com, features a similar presentation known as Featured Farmer Thursdays during the growing season.  A visit to the Farm House at Persimmon http://www.thefarmhouseatpersimmoncreek.com, in beautiful Persimmon Creek Valley offers the passionate renderings of Chef Vincent Scafitti.
Visitors interested in cooking classes have varied choices.  Beechwood Inn Bed and Breakfast www.beechwoodinn.ws, in Clayton, GA offers custom hands-on classes tailored to the participants.  The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia www.foodbanknega.org/programs/4 has an amazing teaching kitchen offering everything from food preservation, Farm to Table Wine Dinners, and a variety of classes on healthy eating for kids.  The Farmhouse at Persimmon also offers cooking demonstrations.
Foodies will love the Grow Cook Eat farm-to-table tours offered once a month from April through October by the Rabun County Tourism Development Authority www.explorerabun.com.  Participants will be shuttled to two farms,a  restaurant, a vineyard or distillery, and a producer, such as a local honey producer.  Schedules are posted on the website.
If you have ever considered moving to the country and trying your hand at growing your own produce, or actually producing on a larger scale, try out a weekend educational Camp at Timpson Creek Farms.  Timpson Creek Farm is a Certified Organic vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower operation.  Director Darby Weaver will whet your appetite with hands-on planting and growing, help you decide your best potential for your situation, and encourage you to gather with other wanna-be independent growers while feeding you a feast of the freshest organic produce you can imagine, https://timpsoncreekfarm.com/
With so many facets for approaching fresh farm to table delights, it is no wonder Rabun County is The Farm to Table Capitol of Georgia.