'A Seat At The Table' menu at Raleigh Convention Center helps local women, BIPOC-owned farms

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Raleigh Convention Center's executive chef has a vital connection to local farms with his "A Seat At The Table" menu.

Locally-sourced produce and other ingredients come from small farms owned by women and BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) like Sweet Peas Urban Gardens in Raleigh.

"When you just walks around on this farm you see things growing," said Chef Paul Evans. "You try 'em, you eat 'em, and you come up with new ideas!"

Tami Purdue is Sweet Pea's owner, and welcomes the business from Chef Evans.

She's worked for decades promoting locally grown produce with "Interfaith food shuttle, Alliance Medical Ministry. Raleigh City Farm, and several other folks who were very interested in Raleigh having accessible food to people who need it. Everybody needs healthy food!"

The chef's menu is a lifeline for those small farms affected by coronavirus concerns that shut down many local restaurants. The convention center is a short drive from Sweet Pea's location in the city of Raleigh.

Perdue grows tasty greens from seed, inside a recycled storage container.

"I was the first grower of microgreens and the first person to offer microgreens to restaurants in Raleigh, in 2014," Perdue said. "I beat everybody, and I made enough money to buy my shipping container, I can grow about three tons of microgreens in there! That's what started my journey. And that's what's gotten me fired up about all of this."

Her microgreens wind up in some of the colorful salads served locally.

Chef Evans used some on Wednesday to create is version of a caprese salad with goat cheese and edible flowers. It's a tasty way to help small farms pivot successfully from the pandemic.

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