By Natasha Anderson
The Neck of the Woods Flavor Trail has launched an interactive, mobile-friendly website, designed to help travelers find, and learn more about, farm-to- table restaurants, farm tours, markets, craft breweries, wineries and distilleries in seven WNC counties. Hard copies of the trail map are also available at visitor centers and other locations throughout the region. Counties represented include Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey.
“We learned a lot about culinary travel and the local food economy through our work for the Appalachian Regional Commission on a larger-scale food trail called Bon Appétit Appalachia,” says Matt Powell, director of communications and place branding for Destination By Design. “The success of it inspired us to create a more regionally-specific version to highlight the local food culture of our home area.”
To be part of the Flavor Trail, businesses must be nominated for inclusion. Criteria are a commitment to sourcing and promoting local food and drink as much as possible and offering a great tourist experience. Applications are reviewed by an advisory committee of tourism and economic development leaders in the seven counties. To date, nearly 100 businesses are listed on the trail and nominations will be accepted on an ongoing basis.
“Many businesses have been very excited to be featured on the map,” says Powell. “A few farmers have expressed interest in the site because of the connectivity and increased visibility it will provide them.”
Soggy Bottom Farms, a family-oriented enterprise in Spruce Pine with a grocery, restaurant and field trip offerings, is one of them.
“Small businesses have a hard time competing with mega-market advertising,” says Soggy Bottom’s owner Lacey Queen. “Guides such as these put the farmers and local businesses in contact with consumers seeking the real WNC mountain heritage and flavor.”
The website, which functions like any GPS navigation app, allows users to quickly see what is around them and how to get there. Links to Tripadvisor, Facebook and Instagram profiles ensure users can gather and share all the information they need about the businesses. A ‘categories’ feature allows them to narrow their search to a particular type of establishment.
“Culinary travelers and High Country area explorers will appreciate the ease of use and connectivity,” says Powell. “This will not only serve as a great resource for tourists, it will also provide a convenient way for local folks to get out and explore the culinary scene in neighboring counties.”
The Neck of the Woods Local Flavor Trail was developed with support from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Watauga, Boone and Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authorities. Boone-based planning, design and promotions firm Destination by Design is the project consultant. To learn more about the trail, including a nomination form and list of criteria, visit neckofthewoodsnc.com.