Rooster Head Folks Feeding The Hungry
Last updated 4/15/2020 at 4:31pm
Jacqui Edens at Rooster Head Plantation, off Old Hendersonville Highway, has been hustling to keep local kids fed as financial hardship persists for many parents.
"You can throw a rock in this area alone and hit a kid who is hungry," Edens said. "We just felt like, if we are going to be open, why can't I make a peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwich for a kid, add a bag chips, some fruit, cookies, a veggie and a bottle of water."
Rooster Head Plantation is to the right of the highway when headed toward Ecusta Road, and though it may not appear so, there are up to 1,200 animals (counting the chickens, but not the bees) out past the main store, including four Great Pyrenees; numerous "fat and sassy" chickens; some friendly, waddling pigs; and several sheep. There is also a rebellions ram named Hermes, that, in the April 2019 flood, eluded authorities for three days, with an all-points bulletin put out for his arrest, until he was finally found in a backyard with three other sheep who turned out to be his sisters.
Rooster Head Plantation is a year-round farm that raises pastured pork, chickens and fresh eggs.
The store has a variety of products from vendors at the Farmers' Market, and under normal operations – "when we aren't having a pandemic" – Edens offers tours for children and Friday evening story times designed "to get kids interested in farming."
She also partners with Pisgah Collective, an outdoor-inspired Montessori school in Pisgah Forest, with which they collaborate to provide free events that educate kids and families on agriculture.
Edens, originally from Colorado, lives on the farm in a tiny house behind the store with her husband, Transylvania County native Jaye Edens (the first child born in the hospital in 1982), their two children: 11-year-old Gracyn and 8-year-old Wyatt, and their two dogs.
Edens is a part of Moving to Conservers, a grassroots organization focused on the study, conservation and local action of promoting "zero waste" in the county.
From there, Kim Coran, the newsletter editor for Moving to Conservers, assisted in "getting the word out" for donations.
"This is our vision, but we couldn't afford to do it by ourselves," she said. "It takes everyone in the community to help."
On the first day, Edens said she fed 14 children, and then the next day, 34.
"That first week we ended up feeding 134 kids, and then the next week, in two days, 143," Edens said. "I've gotten several variety of cheeses to make a cheese sandwich, or a peanut butter sandwich, or a hot dog any way you like it. We are just asking that people come and get a free meal."
Rooster Head Plantation is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Edens said she's following strict Centers for Disease Control guidelines by having volunteers wear masks and meeting patrons in the parking lot to take their orders.
"If someone comes to buy a thing of vegetables and another car was there to buy vegetables, the second car has to wait," she said. "We haven't had one person complain or leave. We do ask that people wash their hands before they handle anything, and we are keeping the place disinfected for everybody."
For children, a volunteer comes to the car and tells them what is available.
She added that Cedar Mountain Cafe donated the cheese for the kids' lunches, so "it's real cheese."
"We are trying to make it well-balanced, but also be kid friendly," she said. "We are serving things that are shelf-stable that they can take, and we give everything individually packed, so that if a child wanted to save it for later, they can. We don't pre-make anything because we are worried if we pre-made it and people didn't take advantage of this, then pre-made things can't be donated."
Veterans, active duty, health care providers and first responders get a 10 percent discount, she said.
"My husband was a first responder as a firefighter, and was also in the military, so those people are both really close to our hearts," she said.
Rooster Head Plantation also partners with the Hunger Coalition of Transylvania County.
"I have boxes of free produce if people do need it," she said. "We feed moms and dads, too, so if they need food, they can eat. We want to make sure that everybody is eating."
For up-to-date information, follow Rooster Head Plantation on Facebook.