Once Upon a Farmstock ...

Envision a barn dance meets a concert meets a food festival meets a backyard party, and you have an idea of Farmstock, our annual  celebration supporting new farm entrepreneurs and local sustainable food systems. As we finalize this year’s details, we’re reminiscing about last fall’s (meaningful!) shenanigans.

Needless to say: Farming is hard work. Farmstock is a chance for farmers throughout our region to come into the downtown where most of their produce is being sold and to meet the people eating it and the chefs using it. While there is a fundraising element (more on that later), this isn't an educational event as much as it's a down-home party, city meeting country for a foot-stompin' good time.

Last year's event captured the spirit of the Grand Ole Opry and TV shows like Hee Haw with a three-act show presented on the Raleigh City Farm stage. Hillsborough band Piedmont Regulators kicked things off, accompanying the Green Grass Cloggers and Ran-Lew Dairy Barn Dancers with old-time tunes.

Next up, local singer Sarah Osborne and her brother conjured June Carter and Johnny Cash. Raleigh City Farm's James Edwards channeled his inner Willie Nelson to perform a few throwbacks, accompanied by Old Milburnie Farm's Daniel Dayton. There was a solo performance by Chatham County Line's Dave Wilson and a country-rock set by local troupe Tonk.

No party is complete without food and drink, and we lacked neither. Chefs Scott Crawford, Tom Armstrong, Dave Mitchell, and John Ford prepared an array of gumbos made of seafood from Locals Seafood, sausage from Firsthand Foods, chicken from Old Milburnie Farm, and produce from a number of the farmers in attendance. Raleigh's Trophy Brewing Co., Asheville's New Belgium Brewing, Southern Pines Brewing Co., and local small-batch Plenty Brewing had tons of beers on tap.

And then there were the The Farm Awards, woven throughout the acts. Last year's nods included: a Farm Fundraising Gift to Raleigh City Farm; The Farmshare Award to Raleigh City Farm's "most valuable volunteer" Lisa Grele Barrie; and The Farmers' Chef Award to Fiction Kitchen chef Caroline Morrison for excellence in supporting local seasonal foods and new farm entrepreneurs. Growth Fund seed grants (cultivated by Raleigh City Farm, Old Milburnie Farm, and New Belgium Brewing) were awarded to high-potential farm entrepreneurs looking for project-specific capital — learn more about those three winning farms here.

Last year was the inaugural event; the celebration exemplifies Farmers' Collective's mission to promote community-supported agriculture and the growth and success of new farm enterprises. We look forward to thinking of new and creative ways to honor our mission as we grow. In the meantime, we're gearing up for another bout of merriment this September. Farmstock is laid-back, approachable, and a whole lot of fun.

September is the month of both Hopscotch and the Wide Open Bluegrass festival in downtown Raleigh, and Farmstock is smack-dab in the middle — we're the chill one with the killer food. Mark your calendars for September 24!

When you sign up for a produce, milk, or egg farmshare, you get a complimentary Farmstock ticket. Entry tickets include music, hang time, and gumbo, and there are also VIP tickets that include unlimited beer. Stay tuned for more details, and start dusting off your boots, or dancing shoes, or both!

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