FARM Cafe celebrates anniversary May 4
by Anna Oakes
FARM Cafe -- Boone's first and only pay-what-you-can restaurant -- celebrates a year of service on Saturday, May 4, with an appreciation event.
The restaurant, located at 617 King St. in the former Boone Drug building, will host the event from noon to 4 p.m. The event will feature live music by Brian Swanson and trio The Dashboard Hula Boys, and beef tenderloin donated by Earth Fare is on the menu.
"Without the generous support of our community -- the many regular and one-time volunteers to the in-kind food donations to our patrons -- year one would not have been as successful and fulfilling," said executive chef Renee Boughman in a statement. "It is because of our great community that we've been able to serve a population of the High Country that is underserved."
FARM (Feed All Regardless of Means) Cafe opened May 1, 2012, and since then has served more than 15,000 meals and has coordinated 6,000 hours of volunteer service, said Angela Rockwell, general manager.
At FARM Cafe, patrons pay what they can for a fresh meal prepared from as many local and seasonal ingredients that are available. Suggested donations are posted at the buffet line. Diners who are not able to pay the suggested donation can volunteer in exchange for a meal.
"We've been trying to figure out ways to inform the public about what we do and how the pay-it-forward model really works," said Rockwell. Another challenge for the new restaurant, she said, has been developing an efficient training system for the cafe's ever-changing rotation of volunteers.
FARM Cafe's model is based on the One World Everybody Eats movement that began in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has led to several dozen startups across the country. In November, the restaurant received the Spirit of Farm City Award at the 57th annual Farm City Banquet in Boone.
At the appreciation event, Boughman will discuss the cafe's new garden in Valle Crucis sponsored by Mast General Store, Heifer International and other community partners.
"That's something that we really want to put a lot of focus on," Rockwell said. "We still need a lot of supplies," such as gloves, shovels and other garden items.
The cafe anticipates a need for volunteers beginning in May and throughout the summer, when fewer students are in town. Volunteers are also needed at the Valle Crucis garden site.
The event also marks the beginning of a new summer schedule for the cafe: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information about FARM Cafe, including how to volunteer or donate, visit http://www.farmcafe.org or call (828) 386-1000.