Only fifteen minutes outside of Asheville, a city known for its abundance of culinary delights, one Western North Carolina town is deep in a food desert. As with many swaths of Buncombe County, Swannanoa is in a low-income area where residents have significantly less access to supermarkets or large grocery stores.
Per the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Access Research Atlas, Swannanoa is in a low-income tract of land with a high number of households (103 of 2,836 households, or 3.6 percent) without vehicles more than one half-mile from the nearest supermarket. This creates a situation where residents can suffer from malnourishment, unable to readily get fresh fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.
Seeing this as a community issue, local business owners Brandon Ellison and Casey Watkins teamed up to alleviate the problem. When space opened up next to their current business location, Symmetry Financial Group, they decided to start a sustainable food practice. Ellison and Watkins opened a restaurant to provide steady, healthy, local food options every day to residents who would normally go without.
Called Native Kitchen, the space works with local farmers to provide healthier ingredients and do their part to ease the food desert situation in their own community. Along with supporting local farmers, breweries, and musicians, Native also donates and hosts fundraisers for many local charities. Since opening, Native had donated over $106,301 to local charities, including Homeward Bound WNC, The Learning Community and the Asheville Humane Society.
Native has dug deep into the community, becoming a watering hole for all residents. The restaurant features beers from the following local breweries on a rotating tap: Burial, Urban Orchard, Sierra Nevada, Highland, Greenman, Pisgah, Wicked Weed, Hi Wire, Noble Cider and Blue Mountain Pizza. On weekends, local musicians provide live music and are featured on both the website and social media pages.
“It’s crucial to our mission that we not only provide local food, but that we strive to support our local breweries, artists, musicians and community,” says Ellison.
If you’re interested in learning how you can help or more about how Symmetry Financial Group offers life insurance products like Universal Life Insurance, Mortgage Protection Insurance, and Critical Illness Insurance, visit their website.
*Guest Post Provided by Symmetry Financial Group*