from Table

I like E.A.T. South and I like what ya'll are doing. E.A.T. South helped in our transition to featuring locally procured lunch specials. I don't think I would have thought about this stuff if it weren't for your presence here.

- Bob Parker, Owner at Dreamland BBQ and Railyard Brewing Co.

This week we sat down with Bob Parker, owner of two of Downtown’s favorite restaurants: Dreamland BBQ and Railyard Brewing Co.

Beth Anne: Thanks for sitting down with me to give perspective from a restaurant owner in this movement to promote local food. What would you identify as barriers that exist for restaurants to buy from local farms?

Bob: Cost. Convenience. Having it brought to the restaurant. I don’t mind having to pick it up twice a week at different places. We go to the farmer’s market on Coliseum Mondays and Thursdays and we get fresh local Catfish on Fridays from Destin Connection. We haven’t been doing stuff like that on our regular menu, it’s all special.

BA: So Railyard hasn’t always featured a local special. What influenced this transition?

Bob: I like E.A.T. South and I like what ya’ll are doing. E.A.T. South helped in our transition to featuring locally procured lunch specials. I don’t think I would have thought about this stuff if it weren’t for your presence here.

BA: So E.A.T. South played a pivotal role in that?

Bob: I drive by your farm every day coming into town. I don’t think our produce comes from you guys but it’s that reminder that-hey, there’s something happening-there’s food local that we can get that’s good. I wish we could do more, I wish we could do tomatoes seasonally, but they are so expensive. I think when we move our store we are gonna do some of that--we’ll put stuff on the menu that’s going to cost more money-maybe fried green tomatoes. I like what Randy from the A&P Social does-it makes me think about this stuff a lot. I like eating at A&P. Having Central and A&P use E.A.T. South-it helps. Those are the two places where I eat. I would say having those two promoting what they do on social media reminds me of it and then having Ms. Barbara who comes in every morning, Mon-Fri and cooks for us. She cooks, well you’ve had it. I think if you do that consistently for a long time, people start buying into it and participating. When we started about a month or two ago, we weren’t selling much but I think word gets out that hey-there’s a place downtown that’s serving a special every day that’s pretty good that’s not necessarily healthy but it’s locally sourced. We’re not trying to get people to eat unhealthy every day but--come twice a week. It’s something different that we can offer that incorporates some of the local produce and fish. We are not farm to table by any means in the sense that everything we do is like that but I think that would be a cool transition to make as we move over to our new store. With the local beer, I mean we are the only local brewery. If you want a locally brewed beer that was brewed last week you have to go to us.

BA: Do you feel like this focus on local is a movement that’s catching on or do we have a long way to go?

Bob: I don’t know if it’s a long way to go or just that it’s getting the people on board who would be interested in the first place. I think the market is the locally-owned restaurants.

BA: Well I think that’s our focus.

Bob: I’ve learned if you can get us involved in going down to the farm, that actually changes things. We got Randy to come brew beer with us that he will serve at his store--that makes it real.

BA: ...the connectedness….For us I think it’s not so much about moving our produce because our production is very small but it’s about moving local farmers' produce and how we bridge that gap with people.

Bob: With us and them. I don’t know any farmers besides yall.

BA: Yea, to me that’s our role. We know the farmers and we know the restaurants. So we have to find the common space to bridge those connections.

Bob: I think for us some of it’s price-point driven but it's possible to do it as a special. That way we don’t have to buy much and we are able to serve it for a couple of days.

BA: Well and I think as a restaurant owner, it may be possible for you to get to know the farmers and have a conversation with them and be able to work out a deal with them. I think having those relationships is what’s unique about promoting our local economy. You can’t have those conversations and relationships…

Bob: ...with a guy in California. Unless I go there, which I can’t.

BA: Exactly.

Bob: I’d like to go visit some farms. I’d like my people to go see that because ya know, we are city folks now. I grew up in the country with a garden and getting my hands in soil every day but I never do that any more. My kids don’t do that.

BA: I think it would be cool too, and this is big picture down the road, but to maybe have monthly visits with restaurant owners/chefs to go visit a farm and see what they do and see what they have to offer. Maybe even do a little work for them. I like the idea of building the local grower and seller relationship.

Bob: You guys need to be an advocate for the farmer to us. Otherwise, I’m not going to know or be excited about their produce. I would like to have a pig farm one day. I don’t know what that would look like--I don’t want to run it, I don’t want to be a pig farmer. I just want Dreamland to have locally-sourced meat, if I could work that out. I’d like to find a partnership with a pig farm. Maybe it’s a special on the menu. That’s a big picture dream because it’s one of those things that might not be profitable but it would be really cool.

BA: Well I hope that dream comes true! I also think it would be cool. I want to thank you for your time and valuable feedback. I hope this is the beginning to a larger conversation between farmers and restaurants.


You can like Railyard and Dreamland on Facebook! Make sure to stop by Dreamland for some famous barbecue and stop by Railyard for the locally-sourced lunch special and the freshest batch of beer in town!

Railyard Brewing Co. is the ONLY brewery in Montgomery. 

Railyard Brewing Co. is the ONLY brewery in Montgomery. 

I stopped by Railyard for their Friday lunch special featuring fresh and local catfish, collards, black-eyes peas, sweet potato and freshly brewed Oktoberfest beer.

I stopped by Railyard for their Friday lunch special featuring fresh and local catfish, collards, black-eyes peas, sweet potato and freshly brewed Oktoberfest beer.




Pesto with what you've got!

Basil is a delicious, summer-loving plant that is a great addition to the garden and the table. We have a lot of it growing at the farm. May we humbly suggest you take some home from the Curb Market Saturday and make some pesto.

Pesto is our focus here, but you can also add basil leaves to salad dressing, marinades, and pizza sauce. Eat pesto on pasta, crackers, sandwiches and wraps. It also goes nicely with chicken, fish and shrimp.

I make my pesto with whatever I have on hand. Being a farmer without deep pockets, I skip the pine nuts (feel free to give them try, though, they’re delicious!) in favor of walnuts or our own local pecans. My recipe follows. I’ll try to give you amounts to get you started, but really, I just put things into the food processor until it tastes good. Go forth and have fun in the kitchen!

Basil (1 - 2 cups of leaves)

Pine nuts, walnuts, or pecans (½ cup or to taste)

Olive oil (start with ¼ cup but add more if it’s not pastey enough)

Salt to taste

That’s it. Blend in a food processor or blender. You can also add parmesan cheese or try a squeeze of lemon juice. Try the pecans or walnuts toasted, too. Yum!



Mother-Daughter bond through Volunteer work!

Stacey and her daughter Hayley started volunteering for E.A.T. South's Good Food Day program last Spring and play an integral role to the program's success. This month, they share the ins and outs of volunteering for Good Food Days!

E.A.T. South: Tell me a little about yourselves--why are you in Montgomery, etc

Turner Women: Hayley and I have been in Montgomery for just a year now. Our family is currently stationed at Maxwell AFB after spending seven years overseas with the military, the last two living in Turkey. We enjoyed our overseas adventures and especially loved Turkey with all of its wonderful fresh vegetarian food and friendly people. Hayley is a homeschool student and currently starting her junior year of high school. She is passionate about the environment and loves teaching children to explore the outdoors. I love that Hayley and I get to spend time together while volunteering at E.A.T. South and enjoy seeing her lead groups of children. My four other children also like to visit the farm to feed the chickens and see what is growing during each season. 

ES: How did you get involved with E.A.T. South

TW: We love to eat organic and local whereever we live and explored the Montgomery area looking for opportunities to volunteer after we moved here. We were thrilled to find such a beautiful urban farm that also used its facility to teach children. Volunteering to be Good Day Facilitators seemed a natural step to help share our love of organic food with the local community and also to help us learn more about sustainable farming.

ES: What do you like about being a Good Food Day Facilitator? 

TW: The kids are the central part of what we love. Their enthusiasm to be outside and to learn about plants and animals is contagious. I love watch them when we tell them they can pick up a handful of dirt to smell or ask them to taste a fresh herb, they are hesitant for a second, and then jump right in experiencing all the best E.A.T South has to offer. I also enjoy seeing the adult chaperones come away with new information they had not know before, now ready to share with others.   

ES: Any fun anecdotes from a field trip?

TW: My best memory is from a kindergarten class I had when I first started leading Good Food Days. While asking the class what five things plants need to grow, one young boy shared that plants needed love. Of course they need love! It was not on my list, however, it was a great reminder that plants do need our care and attention if they are to grow and flourish. I now state my question a bit different and, of course, added love in my lesson plan. One of Hayley's favorite parts is watching the kids help their teacher pull out a carrot. The carrots at E.A.T. South can get quite large, and the excited response from the kids when they see what emerges from under the dirt is fun to watch. 

ES: For people who don't know what Good Food Day is, what would you like them to know about it?

TW: Good Food Day is amazing! You can see the excitement of the kids as soon as they get off their buses. Having the kids spend a morning exploring all aspects of an organic farm from composting to chickens to plants can be life changing. Seeing how food is grown and eating it right from the plants puts in place a link that they will carry through a lifetime. 

ES: Anything else you want to share?

TW: It is an honor to work with Beth Anne, Caylor and all the other volunteers and staff. The dedication they have to making E.A.T. South successful in so many different ways has been amazing to watch. Montgomery is lucky to have such a gem right in its backyard and we look forward to seeing many more families and students come and explore the farm!

Interested in becoming a Good Food Day volunteer? E-mail Beth Anne at! 


Educator Spotlight: Dawn Ellis


Educator Spotlight: Dawn Ellis

Dawn partnered with E.A.T. South about 2 years ago in an effort to build upon her classroom garden. Since then, her garden has grown to be an invaluable teaching tool for her students.

This garden has been a huge asset to student learning. My students are not only able to learn academic skills but also life skills.
— Dawn Ellis, Peter Crump Elementary School

E.A.T. South: What is your name, School where you teach and number of years you've taught?

Mrs. Ellis: Dawn Ellis, Peter Crump Elementary School, 8 years

ES: What made you decide to become a teacher?

DE: Since I was a child, I have wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t until I was in college and working with students with disabilities that I realized that special education would be my focus.

ES: How and Why did you get involved with E.A.T. South?

DE: Two years ago, my class took a field trip to EAT South after starting a small container garden at school. There, we met and worked with the fantastic staff for Good Food Day. Relationships were formed with the organization to equip not only our class garden, but also the teachers of our school with professional development. The following year, our class was selected as SPROUTS classroom, where an EAT South staff member implemented standards based lessons in the garden.

ES: How long have you been using a garden in your classroom and how do you use it?

DE: We have had a garden for 4 years. The students help take care of the garden as well as use it for an outdoor classroom to teach standards based lessons.

ES: What have your students eaten from the garden? Any favorite recipes?

 DE: The students have helped grow carrots, turnips, radishes, corn, watermelon, blueberries, and various herbs. We have made radish dip and used the carrots to eat it with. That was a class favorite. We have also eaten the turnips, blueberries and made pesto from the herbs!

ES: What has been your greatest accomplishment using the garden in your classroom?

DE:The greatest accomplishment from using the garden has been students retaining skills taught in the garden and are able to transfer that knowledge into classroom assignments. From identifying parts of a plant, to identifying lines and angles, the students are able to have real hands-on experience while learning outside therefore their knowledge deepens.

ES: What has been your greatest challenge using your garden in your classroom?

DE: The greatest challenge of the garden has been maintenance.

ES: Do your students have a favorite lesson using the garden?

DE: One of my favorite lessons in the garden has been teaching about the parts of the plants and lifecycle of plants. Students are able to see firsthand the growth and changes and also identify the different parts or stages. The students are able to pull up the radishes when they are ready and say “The part we eat is the root. It is red. The leaves and stems are green.”

ES: How has the garden impacted your students' learning?

DE: This garden has been a huge asset to student learning. My students are not only able to learn academic skills but also life skills.

ES: What advice would you give a teacher who is thinking of starting a school garden?

DE: My advice would be start a committee at school with other teachers, gain administration support, find a location with water access, and start small. There are several businesses that will partner with schools to help build a garden.

ES: What has been your greatest resource in your work with garden education and how?

DE: Community involvement has been the greatest resource in both the development and implementation of a school garden. 

Thinking about starting your own school garden? Contact