Sunburst Chef & Farmer Project
As most people already know, local food is one of the main components to a healthy lifestyle. Over the last decade alone, local farmers markets, restaurants, and supermarkets that keep local produce on their shelves have gained popularity with not only the locals, but also with those who enjoy visiting our mountains on their weekend getaways. Chances are, if you make a trip to Cashiers Farmers Market, Biltmore Village Inn, or Mother Earth Produce, you will probably have something on your plate or in your shopping bag that was produced at Sunburst Chef and Farmer. Sunburst C&F grows specialty produce year-round in a 13,800 sq.ft. glass greenhouse located in Smith Mill Works, a 27 acre plot of greenhouses, hoop houses, warehouses, and offices. Smith Mill Works was once full of booming industry but had been vacant for 15 years when Michael Klatt, owner of SMW, had the vision of restoring the property. Charles Hudson, president and founder of Sunburst C&F, and his wife, Sally Hudson, became the proud owners of one of the many greenhouses in 2015. Both Charles and Sally combined have 55 years of food industry experience under their belts and understand the need for fresh food in the kitchen. At Sunburst C&F, they use hydroponics, aquaponics, and soil-based growing techniques in the greenhouse to grow the best produce possible for their buyers. Hydroponics is a soil-less growing method that takes place on float trays in a nutrient rich water solution. Aquaponics combines hydroponics and aquaculture, raising fish for meat and fertilizer, to achieve a nutrient rich environment in the greenhouse. Soil-based growing is simply the use of raised beds and containers to grow flowers and various herbs at C&F. Because of the greenhouse’s glass structure, more heat is allowed into the greenhouse, which is good, but too much heat will burn and kill adult plants and small seed starts. This posed the need of a type of way to block some of the excess sun from burning their plants. Southwestern RC&D Council partnered with the team at Sunburst C&F to provide a $6,000 grant. This grant has gone toward purchasing reflective foam panels that reflect harmful rays away from the greenhouse, resulting in healthier plants and a cooler greenhouse. In addition to the foam panels, Southwestern RC&D worked in conjunction with Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D to provide and properly insulate a wood pellet heater that allows them to create more energy efficient heat in their greenhouse. This grant has helped tremendously in aiding Sunburst C&F’s ability to produce higher quality herbs, flowers, and vegetables and we are excited to see the progress they make in the coming years. To learn more about Sunburst C&F, check out their website at http://www.sunburstchefandfarmer.com.