The popularity of culinary tourism has grown significantly in recent years as travelers seek out unique experiences that involve fresh foods, farm-to-fork dining, vineyards and craft breweries.
To aid visitors in finding these experiences, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) created “Bon Appétit Appalachia.” The campaign features a map guide detailing more than 160 foodie highlights from Mississippi to New York and a companion website.
The ARC also partnered with Edible Magazine to promote the campaign throughout the year. The magazine is featuring culinary stories from throughout the ARC region in each issue.
In Virginia, 16 businesses were selected for the map guide and two of those are found in Martinsville. Rising Sun Breads, owned by Darla Main-Schneider, and 3rd Bay, owned by Yvonne Givens, are both listed in the brochure as farm-to-fork restaurants.
According to Jennifer Doss, Director of Tourism with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, “having four businesses listed in this national publication is a great honor for MHC and helps to promote the growth of agri-artisan-based businesses in the area.” She noted that three of the four local businesses are also members of the Smith River Artisan Trail.
Tracy Cox, owner of Dippers Ice Cream, stated, “We were thrilled to be listed in the Bon Appétit Appalachia among other businesses that feel the same way about fresh food. Consumers are becoming more proactive with knowing the source of their food and this is a wonderful resource to see the businesses that are sourcing fresh, local ingredients.”
She explained that “Once produce is picked, it begins to lose flavor. Using fresh local ingredients that are just picked enhances the flavor and quality of a restaurant’s dish and also helps the community. When we can buy our ingredients local and make our ice creams local, we know that we have put every dollar we can back in our community. That is what a small community is all about - coming together and staying strong!”
Dippers sources many ingredients locally including strawberries from Tuttle’s Farm and peaches from Shirley’s Orchard. This year they grew their own rosemary and basil for some unique flavors.
Yvonne Givens, owner of 3rd Bay, noted that her café uses local tomatoes from 4 M farms in the spring and summer. They source majority of their vegetables including some tomatoes and sweet potatoes from Ridgeway Farms.
Complimentary copies of the Bon Appétit Appalachia map guide can be picked up at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, located inside the New College Institute on Moss Street. The Visitor Center is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 am-5 pm and on Sundays from 1-5 pm.