The New River Organic Growers will be hosting a fundraising dinner at the River House Country Inn and Restaurant at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 25.
“It’s an all-local dinner and NROG is providing all of the food,” said Sally Thiel, president of the NROG. “It’s limited to 50 tickets, one reason is due to space.”
The five-course meal, prepared my chef Bill Klein of River House, and formerly of Asheville’s Fig in Biltomore Village and the Bistro at Biltmore Estate, will consist of wild harvested mushrooms and greens, locally-grown ruhbarb, strawberries, spring lamb and peas.
Tickets are $60 a person and available online at www.newriverorganicgrowers.com. All of the money goes to support the NRGO local farm cooperative.
The NRGO cooperative started in 1998, and transformed local farmers from growing tobacco to producing and selling produce, meat cheese and eggs. Last year, the co-op built its warehouse in Fleetwood.
“We started off as a co-op of farmers in the High Country,” Thiel said. “The farmers sell produce to the co-op. We delivered all our produce by refrigerated truck and now we have expanded.”
Theil said last year, the NRGO had $450,000 worth of business and opened the warehouse to be able to store a more extensive selection. The organization sells to restaurants in Blowing Rock, Boone, Hickory and continues to expand throughout the state.
“Now we deliver all in the High Country to restaurants and buyer’s clubs,” she said. “We expanded into Asheville two years ago and we are now working on expanding into the (Triad) and Charlotte areas.”
The farmers of the NRGO had hard times with their crops last year due to the summer rains. Because of that, the winter crops they sell, such as potatoes and winter squash, were not available to help the co-op through the winter months.
“The reason for the fundraising is we had a really difficult time last year, because farmers lost so much of their crops due to all of the rain,” Thiel said. “We hardly had any (winter sales) because farmers lost all of their crops.”
The NRGO has approximately 70 farmers, according to Thiel. The farms are located in Alleghany, Ashe, Burke, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties in North Carolina and Grayson County, Virgina.
“The only way we can create an economy of scale is to pull together and make it happen,” Thile said. “Some farms may have 5,000 head of lettuce and that’s the largest quantity they can do, but when they join with the rest of us, that makes it affordable for them to do it.”
For more information, visit the organization’s website www.newriverorganicgrowers.com.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.