SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — With the traction of West Virginia’s local agriculture movement slowly gaining speed, a simple meal can now be transformed into something even more.
It can become a local experience.
For Doug Vera, owner of both WV Dish in Charles Town and Domestic in Shepherdstown, the restaurant business has turned into exactly that.
The construct for Domestic and WV Dish is basic, simple, regional American fare by using local and seasonal ingredients, Vera said.
Vera’s restaurants are just two of a select handful in the Eastern Panhandle that integrates a variety of local products into dishes.
According to Vera, even the tables were crafted from a Mennonite mill based out of Hagerstown, Maryland.
The farm-to-fork movement was one of the reasons Vera said he started WV Dish more than six years ago.
“My feeling is that everyone should be doing it,” Vera said, when asked about using local products.
Vera said that many times local produce is more superior in quality than what can be found at a commerical grocer. In addition, there is an added community connection, he said.
He smiled and described a recent experience from a vendor in Kearneysville.
“Not only did she bring me two huge bags of produce, she also brought a large bouquet of sunflowers for free,” Vera said.
Vera’s restaurants use a large range of local products from fruits, vegetables, eggs, honey to select meats.
A number of local vendors sell to Vera, including Morgan’s Grove, Tudor Hall, Moon on the Mountain and Black Dog Coffee.
However, he said maintaining the local fare at times was difficult.
“It’s not easy,” Vera said.
Leaving the Farm
“You can procrastinate paperwork for a few days, but animals always have to eat,” Mel Johnson said, closing the gate to Creek Side Farms in Jefferson County.
Johnson is the farm manager at Creek Side, a pig farm that sells pork product to various farmers markets and restaurants around the area.
The farm is home to red wattle durocs, a cross breed of swine. According to Johnson, the breed is given the name because of the wattles or “tassels” hanging off of their necks. However, not all of the pigs on the farm have the tassels, as it is a recessive-dominant type of gene.
Johnson said that local farms, like Creek Side, differ from many corporate farms because of the way the animals are kept…