Local Food Season Heats Up

The Highland Farmers Market kicked off the 2015 season on May 29 with vendors selling the freshest in early-season produce, meat and eggs.  The Highland Center has a full season planned with demonstrations, live entertainment and activities for children.  SNAP Benefits are accepted.  The Market will be open each Friday, June through September, from 3:30 to 6 pm at The Highland Center pavilion.

While gardens are just coming into production, The Highland Center has been working to connect consumers with local foods throughout the year.  The Center recently hosted two workshops to teach farmers about direct marketing opportunities, and the Center’s Faces of Farmers website is expanding to include more farms and local food outlets.  The Maple Festival in March was a prime time to showcase local foods among the thousands of tourists that came through Highland.  This year the Center’s annual lamb and beef dinners included meat, produce, syrup and eggs from nine local farms.

The Center is also leading a project to expand farmers’ markets in the Alleghany Highlands Region through a USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion Program.  Participating Markets include:

Bath County Farmers Market: Open Saturdays, June through September from 9 am- 1 pm at Natural Retreats Park in downtown Hot Springs.  Accepting SNAP Benefits with a 1:1 match provided by Bath Community Hospital.

Pocahontas County Farmers Market: Three locations.  Greenbank: Wednesdays 3 pm – 6 pm at Henry’s Quick Stop; Linwood: Fridays 3:30 – 6 pm at Linwood Library; Marlinton: Saturdays 8 am – noon near Frist Avenue Mini Park.

Pendleton County Farmers Market: Opened in 2014 and continually adding new vendors.  Saturdays 8 am – noon at the Treasure Mountain Festival building.

As part of the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, The Highland Center is offering a scholarship position for a Farmers’ Market intern.  The intern will earn $1,000 toward education expenses by working with Center staff for six hours per week during the summer with tasks that include assistance at the Market each Friday and help with youth gardening projects.  Call (540) 468-1922 or email farmersmarket@htcnet.org for more information.

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Highland School Garden Takes Root

The Highland School Garden has been a busy place this spring.  While elementary students started seeds for their gardens inside the classroom, high school agriculture students prepared the outdoor raised beds and maintained the hoop house and greenhouse.   In a partnership between The Highland Center and Virginia Cooperative Extension, students also learned about the science behind gardening with lessons on soil types, erosion, types of matter and experiments with cover crops.  Seedlings have been planted and the school garden is now overflowing with greens, peas, carrots, beets and Brussels sprouts.

Opportunities for kids to learn about food production continue this summer with “Nutrition from the Garden,” a weekly enrichment program for 9-12 year-olds that will feature garden activities, field trips, and simple meal preparation from fresh ingredients.  Participants will have the opportunity to earn a Junior Master Gardener certificate.  The program, being led by Highland 4-H and The Highland Center, will take place each Tuesday, June 16 to August 14, from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. at the Highland School Garden.  Call the Highland Extension Office at for more information.

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Thank You to Community Foundation

The Highland Center was recently awarded two grants from the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge to support its youth programs and community park project.  The Center was especially honored to be selected this year by the Youth Philanthropy Council (YPC) as one of six regional grant recipients.  The YPC is made up of high school students from Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County and Highland County who operate a grant-making board of the Community Foundation.  Their grant will help the Center complete the first phase of the Community Park in Monterey, with continued clearing and trail construction to begin early this summer.  Thank you to the outstanding students who make up the Youth Philanthropy Council and to everyone involved at the Community Foundation!

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Highland Inn Visioning Session

How important is the Highland Inn to the future of Monterey and to Highland County?  What role does it play in community/economic development?

That’s the basis for discussion at the Highland Inn visioning session on May 2, 2015 from 5:30 – 8:00pm. Anyone interested in sharing thoughts about the future of the Inn and its role in other community projects is welcome.  We’ll start at 5:30pm with a potluck dinner.  There will be time to share your ideas about the importance of the Inn to our community, your favorite memories of the Inn, what changes we might consider making, and learn about volunteer opportunities to help with this project.   Following small-group table discussions, we will report out the information to the full audience.

In late February 2015, The Highland Center purchased the Inn and is housing its offices and tenants at the Inn during the Center’s 10-month renovation.  There have already been a number of upgrades made to the first floor and VPAS is using the kitchen to prepare its senior meals for Highland and Bath.

Center board member, Donna Bedwell, says “I hope we’ll have a full house of community leaders who will join in the discussion about the Inn and its place in our community as we work together to create a more vibrant future.”

For more details about the evening, or to RSVP, please call the Center at 540-468-1922.

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Upcoming Highland Farmers’ Market Workshops

IMG_0303If you’re a current farmers’ market vendor or direct marketer, or have considered becoming one, make plans to attend two upcoming workshops presented by The Highland Center and the Highland Farmers’ Market, aimed at getting you started and increasing sales.

On Wednesday, April 29th at 6:30 pm. A presentation about the market and how it works will be given, the past and upcoming year will be discussed, and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers.

The second workshop will be Friday, May 8th, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. “Connecting With Consumers” will be a hands-on course taught by Dr. Theresa Nartea of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Dr. Nartea has served as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Marketing & Agribusiness with Virginia State University College of Agriculture-Cooperative Extension. She will teach effective marketing techniques via a life-size market display and work with participants to create individualized market signage. Following that will be an optional round table discussion where vendors can share their experiences related to attracting customers and sales. Light refreshments will be provided.

Both workshops will be held at The Highland Inn, on Main Street in Monterey, which is The Highland Center’s business location while The Center’s historic school-building undergoes renovation.

For more information, or to RSVP for either event, contact the Center at 540-468-1922 or e-mail farmersmarket@htcnet.org.

These programs are being presented with the assistance of the USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion Program.

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Highland Center Purchases Inn

InnThe Highland Center recently closed on the purchase of a 110 year-old landmark building that is a linchpin of the county’s economy – the Highland Inn on Main Street in Monterey.

The Inn’s restaurant and lodging facilities closed in October of last year.  “We were concerned about the Inn sitting empty and the impact that has on all Main Street businesses,” says Susie Newlen, owner of Highland‘s Mountain Flowers, who organized a group of community retailers to discuss options for saving and revitalizing the Inn.  “I am thrilled that The Highland Center has stepped in to help find investors and explore ways to renovate the Inn.”

The Highland Inn is not only a historic Main Street feature, being built in 1904 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, but it is also Highland County’s largest lodging facility.  “A major feature of The Highland Center’s renovation is the conference-retreat center, which is designed to bring more visitors to the area, encourage start-ups such as a catering business, and bring mid-week and off-season revenue to the County,” says The Highland Center’s Executive Director Betty Mitchell.  “That project is really not possible without a large-scale lodging facility such as the Highland Inn.”

“This was a natural decision for us,” says board member Donna Bedwell, who is also chair of the Highland County Tourism Council.  “The Inn is such an important piece of infrastructure, and its success is critical to The Highland Center’s community and economic development efforts.”

The Highland Inn will be open for overnight lodging over both Maple Festival weekends and will serve continental breakfast for guests.  Plans are for the restaurant and lodging to be fully up and running by early summer.

“We wHigh Innant this to be a community endeavor,” says Mitchell.  “We will have volunteer work days to make minor repairs, as well as open forums to talk about the future of the Inn.”  Long-term plans are to rehabilitate the Inn and come up with an investment model that encourages local ownership.

The Center will hold a Community Visioning & Potluck Dinner in the dining room of the Inn on Thursday, April 30 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.  Please join us to talk about the future of the Inn.  If you have questions or would like to be involved please call The Highland Center at (540) 468-1922.

See The Recorder’s article here.

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Highland Launches Sweet Spot campaign

KariHighlanders should be proud of two new videos sponsored by the Highland Tourism Council: Find Your Sweet Spot and Maple Magic.  Both were produced locally by Chris Swecker of Dodging Bullets Media and are helping to launch new branding for Highland County.  The motto “Find Your Sweet Spot” calls attention to Highland‘s maple industry and the many opportunities for visitors to slow down and enjoy Highland‘s scenery and rural way of life.

The Highland Center collaborates with community organizations such as the Highland County Chamber of Commerce, a long-standing tenant and partner, to bring more visitors and businesses to the region.  Recently, The Highland Center’s Community Projects Coordinator Sarah Collins joined the Highland County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and is serving as the EDA representative on the Highland Tourism Council.  “I accepted nominations to the EDA and Tourism Council because of my interest and educational background in community and economic development,” says Collins.  “I’m also happy to provide design assistance to the Tourism Council.  We have a great logo and style guide, created by Kat Rutt Design, and there is so much potential for how we can use this material for marketing the county, especially as we move forward with the ‘Sweet Spot’ campaign.”

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Historic Renovation Underway

center skyWe did it!  With the support of community donors, private foundations, and government agencies we were able to raise $3 million to fully renovate our historic building, which has served as a community icon for nearly a century.  The project is a key piece of The Highland Center’s efforts to reinvigorate Highland‘s economy with renovations that include a conference-retreat center, an improved inspected commercial kitchen, a fully upgraded auditorium, and state of the art space for small businesses and non-profits.  The building will also be fully handicapped accessible and will undergo major structural and systems upgrades to make it attractive and useable for decades to come.

Following a competitive bidding process the Center selected Lantz Construction Company of Broadway, Virginia, which will use several local subcontractors.  The contract should be awarded this week pending final approval from a government funder.  The Center’s offices and most tenants will temporarily move to the Highland Inn on Main Street during the renovation, starting in April and lasting the duration of construction.  “Our programs will continue through the renovation, including the Youth Employment Program, business counseling, Faces of Farmers, youth gardening, and planning for the community park and other revitalization projects,” says Executive Director Betty Mitchell.  The Highland Farmers’ Market will still take place at the pavilion on The Highland Center’s lawn from June through September.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in The Highland Center’s capital campaign.  It is not too late to show your support, as the Center is still seeking contributions for furnishings and fixtures as well expansion of its community programs.  Please feel free to stop by the Center or, after April, our temporary home at the Highland Inn to talk about our progress and plans for the future.

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Wintertide Holiday Treasures Market and Open House!

Wintertide Holiday Treasures Market and Open House

 at

The Highland Center

December 5 – 6 

Friday 12 – 6, Saturday 10-5

 

 Holiday Treasures Market!

 Start the shopping season off with local gifts and crafts!

Scheduled Vendors: 

– Anna Lee Candles – Homemade candles and crafts

– Anna’s Butterfly Shop – Artistic butterfly displays and jewelry (Saturday only) 

– Diamond Triple C Ranch – Alpaca wool products

– Deanie Trible – Homemade decorations, purses

– Debbi Stephenson – Purses and clothing crafts (Saturday only)

– Donnie Massie – Woodworking crafts

– Eddie and Rhonda Shinaberry – Evergreen wreaths, Christmas ornaments, crafts

– Ginny Neil – Painted shirts and artwork, crafts

– Ginseng Mountain Store – Marinade

 Grandma’s Throw Pots – Pottery and Laurel Point bagels and breads 

– Karen Botkin – Knitted items, Christmas crafts

– Loops By Hook -Chore helpers in fun colors, crocheted hats and scarves

– Susan Glendinning – Dried flower arrangements (Saturday only)

  

Vendors and products subject to change 

 

 

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