When Kristin, chef and owner of The Wrigley Taproom and Eatery (as well as farmer at her own Faulkner Bent Farm) got in touch with me about collaborating on a special project with local farmers, I knew I had to do it. While I’m not originally from the Appalachian region, this is where my roots are and where my heart is. I love the people that make this place home, and I have a deep passion for supporting the folks and businesses that make up our community. Our area gets a bad rap; in other parts of the country (I lived in Seattle throughout high school), people would ask if the folks back home wore shoes or had all their teeth. Often, when someone found out I was from Kentucky, they’d ask “What’s in Kentucky other than KFC?” I always had a difficult time articulating, though, just what was so special about the state I called home. Everything was here. Everything good. But if you haven’t invested your life into this place, it’s easy to think that its only characteristics are high drug and poverty rates, the highest percentage of children with incarcerated parents, boring small towns, and cousins marrying cousins. If you’re laughing, it’s because you’ve heard all that before and know that Kentucky, especially our little nook of Kentucky, is much more than that.
It’s the wet, early spring morning when the earth is starting to warm up and you can smell the new grass and wild onions. It’s the old porch swing swinging and creaking in the breeze. Bouncing on the back of a trailer bed behind a tractor. Exploring all of the hidden gems and talent in both our small towns and big cities. The winding roads. The lazy shadows of the mountains. Old men waving to you from their porch. Kentucky is really a place that’s home to everybody who comes here. And what I love most about the part of Kentucky I live now is the people who work tirelessly to show just how beautiful and giving our community is. It’s more than the stereotype. It’s a place worth living, visiting, investing in, and loving.
I feel so humbled and grateful to have spent the day with Kristin and some of the amazing farmers who grow our food and build our community into the beautiful place it is. I only saw a small glimpse of what they and their families do, and even in those moments, they work tirelessly and continuously. I’m thankful for the people who have a vision and a love for southeastern Kentucky and are investing their lives into growing and preserving it. Check out these farms and farmers, go support their efforts and our community! Enjoy, sweet friends!