Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2015 - 32
How it became
for The Region
Is the dining room inspired by Barbara
Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"
a national-scale oasis?
by Eric J. Wallace
photography by Annie Laura, 621studios.com
About 10 yeArs Ago, acclaimed novelist and author Barbara Kingsolver
and her hubby, Emory and Henry
College professor of environmental
studies Steven Hopp, committed
themselves to a somewhat radical
experiment. Grown loathsome of
the human engineered, city-in-theheart-of-a-desert environment of
Tucson, Arizona, and determined to
rekindle their connection to the
land, Kingsolver and family (daughters Camille and Lily) packed their
things and cut out for Hopp's southwest Virginia homestead.
Nestled into the Blue Ridge
mountains and inspired by the seasons, the family made a pact: "... to
abandon the industrial-food pipe32 BlueRidgeCountry.com
line and live a rural life - vowing
that, for one year, they'd buy only
food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to
live without it."
The resulting experience was
root-shakingly powerful. So much so
it compelled Kingsolver and Hopp
to co-author a book, 2007's cultishly
popular, New York Times Bestseller,
"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."
Within a year of "Miracle"'s
release, enlisting the help of his
long-time friend, regional/seasonal
cuisine expert, chef Phillip Newton,
H o p p o p e n e d H a r v e s t Ta b l e
Restaurant, determined to create "
[t]he most dedicated farm to table
restaurant in the region, state, and,
eventually, the nation."
Over the course of the next two
years, Hopp and Newton built a network of over 50 local farms from
which to purchase top-notch seasonal produce. Bent on taking their
locavorialist operation a giant's leap
further, in early 2010, they purchased a 4.5-acre tract of property
adjacent to Hopp's own homestead,
hired a full-time, degree-holding
farm manager, and founded Harvest
Catching wind of these goings-on,
in late 2011, The New York Times sent
a reporter to have a gander at the
"house that Animal, Vegetable,
Miracle built." Amidst a mostly glowing write-up, Newton's menu of year-