Janette Wesley, Convivium Leader
A Greenville native, Janette Wesley works as an artist in the field of oil painting. Historic places, good food and wine, travel and art are her passions. When the Earth Market is in full swing, it is an exciting place to be, and in which to be involved. Janette and her family own a small vineyard in Cortona Italy, and are in the experimental stages of wine production. The farm Azienda Agricola Sant'Andrea also produces a small amount of "spremuta" or fresh squeezed olive oil, the step before the commercial grade extra virgin olive oil. At Sant'Andrea, there are many rare and endangered historical varieties of fruit trees, and a vegetable and herb garden that was design not only for the pleasure of the table but also for the making of tradtional liqueurs, well made by her husband Renato Vicario. The gardens are open freely to the guests who stay at the villa while the family is away. Janette has a small family organic garden at home in Greenville, and fresh herbs and sesonal vegetables are always growing at the backdoor. In painting, the landscape is a primary focus, as "I feel that the landscape is everything. It is who we are, what we eat, what we wear, and how we live together. It is most worthy of our care and consideration."
M. Linda Lee, Co-Chair
Joe Augello and Linda Lee
A native of Virginia (the D.C. suburbs), Linda moved to Greenville in 1992 to take a job as an editor with Michelin Travel Publications. In this role, she traveled the U.S., editing and writing Michelin travel guides, and bringing back edible souvenirs of the places she visited. During the last five years of her tenure with Michelin, she wrote and edited parts of the North American collection of The Michelin Guide, the acclaimed red-covered restaurant guide. Her travels to and meals in New York City, San Francisco and Wine Country, Los Angeles and Las Vegas whetted her appetite for writing about food.
Linda left Michelin in late 2009 to pursue a career in freelance writing. Drawing on her Michelin experience, she specializes in food and travel writing, and is a regular contributor to TOWN magazine. One of her first food memories in Greenville was at the state farmers’ market (the only market in town at the time) shortly after she moved here. She remembers asking for arugula, and getting some pretty puzzled looks. In the years since then, Linda has supported the Saturday downtown market from its first days on Court Street, and is thrilled to see how much the market has grown in both popularity and number and variety of vendors—not to mention the presence of arugula when it’s in season
A New Jersey native, Joe moved to Greenville almost 19 years ago to work at the new BMW manufacturing facility. He is a Vehicle Distribution Manager for the BMW plant in Greer and is responsible for the global distribution of all the vehicles produced in South Carolina.
Joe has demonstrated his support of Slow Food Upstate with perfect attendance to all slow food fund-raising dinners and by volunteering at the USA Earth Market. With his degree in Marketing, Joe has expressed interest in promoting the local Slow Food convivium by promoting and assisting to form new corporate partnerships.
Debbie Cooke the founding chapter leader in 1999, discovered Slow Food while serving as an artist-in-residence for the University of Georgia's International Studies Program in Cortona, Italy. When she returned home, she contacted the international office of Slow Food, and in 1999, the South Carolina Convivium was formed. Covering the entire state, the South Carolina Convivium was one of the first Slow Food groups in the United States. In 2000 she was invited to California to attend the first Slow Food national event where the Manifesto for Slow Food USA was written. Cooke enjoys cooking, studying, and learning about food and its traditions. She teaches photography at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, SC.
Vantage World Travel is owned and operated by Italian born Renato G. Vicario in
Sales from Renato's book, "Italian Liqueurs" help to support Slow Food Upstate.
Lil Glenn is a lover of fresh food, the smell of freshly tilled black soil, and rolling terrain of the Upstate. Assisting the community in the sensitive growth of Greenville is a passion for me. While owning a boutique real estate firm located in the heart of downtown I served on commissions and boards through the years. I participated in the www.lilglenn.com. maturing into a neighborhood city while supporting local farming and restaurants. You can contact me through
Mary recently retired from a long career in the health care profession. She is a registered nurse and a certified case manager. Over the span of her career in health care she worked in variety of environments including: hospital psychiatric head nurse, weight loss and diet consultant for a weight loss center and, for the last several years, as a certified case manager. She is a past board member of the South Carolina Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (SCARP).
“I enjoy cooking, traveling, reading and wine. I am a member of the American Wine Society (AWS) which is a national wine appreciation and education organization. In 2012 my husband and I served as the vote counters/tabulators for the AWS national election. We have attended AWS national conferences and recently returned from the 2012 conference in Portland, Oregon which we combined with a week of winery tours in the Willamette Valley.
I became aware of the Slow Food movement in 2010 on a trip to Italy and attended the Salone del Gusto. I was immediately convinced that I wanted to be a part of this very worthwhile organization and joined on-line on the spot."
Anna Kate HippAnna Kate Reid Hipp, a 1963 graduate of Mary Baldwin College where she served on the Board of Trustees for 25 years and Chair of the Board for 5 years, is a native of Arkadelphia, Arkansas. In 1963 she married Hayne Hipp. The Hipps moved to Greenville from San Francisco in 1969.
Anna Kate's current board memberships include Brookgreen Gardens, The Southern Environmental Law Center, the Pawleys Island Beautification Trust, TreesGreenville, the Greenville Community Foundation and the Carolina Foothills Garden Club. Anna Kate is an instrument rated pilot with 3000 hours of flying including seven all-women's cross country air races. Anna Kate and Hayne have three children and five grandchildren.
Donna Johnston is a marketing representative with the Community Journals and TOWN Magazine. Community Journals publications like the Upstate Foodie Guide and the FoodieFEST event have put her in contact with farm and restaurant operators across the Upstate. Through her relationships with restaurateurs and farmers, her awareness about and interest in local food has grown.
Donna is an avid gardener and loves the feeling of Carolina dirt on her hands and harvesting her own vegetables. She also enjoys entertaining friends and family and takes pride in her talents in the kitchen.
Her personal passion, combined with her professional experience, has led her to Slow Food Upstate and she is excited about furthering their mission in our community by serving on the board.
A rretired professor at Clemson University in the Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences, she is the Director of Didactic Program in Dietetics. Her research is focused on Food Systems Sustainability, and she has published numerous articles in over 20 professional journals and was instrumental in organizing the first Slow Food on Campus chapter in the state of South Carolina, Slow Food on Campus at Clemson University.
Her work with the chapter on campus has helped to develop a planting of rare apples typical of the southern USA, which is supported from a grant from Slow Food USA.
An educator for the Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, part of the Greenville County School System where the primary mission of the center is to foster enhanced learning and growth opportunities through educational excellence and high quality instructional programs for students, teachers, and the general public.Vivian Portunato Besides an avid cook, participant at Slow Food Upstate events, and members cooking classes, and a faithful volunteer at the Earth Market Greenville, Vivian brings a wealth of business knowledge with her vast experience in finances. Currently she is the Senior Auditor for Advance America. She has in the past been a volunteer at Open Arms Hospice
Earth Market Producer and owner of Bio-Way Farm
Chris Sermons was elected to serve as an official delegate to the Slow Food International Congress in 2012, and attended the Salone del Gusto, and Terra Madre. He participated as a speaker at a workshop conducted by Slow Food Upstate at Terra Madre regarding the Earth Markets and the potential in the USA. Certified Organic since 2006, permaculture has played a prominent role in the evolution of Bio-Way Farm. Defined as an ecological design system for the creation of regenerative human habitats, permaculture seeks to emulate diversity, stability, and the resilience of natural ecology. Practices at Bio-Way include a developing forest garden, a strong reliance on perennial vegetables such as asparagus, and the propagation of useful plants in the farms micro-nursery. Farm manager, Chris Sermons, earned his Permaculture Design Certificate in 2010 and continues to find new ways to incorporate permaculture into both the short and long term goals of the farm. Chris Sermons’ goal continues to be practicing holistic stewardship of the land while minimizing environmental impact. Sustainable farming methods practiced at Bio-Way include solar irrigation, cover cropping, crop rotation, minimal tilling, composting, and providing natural habitats for beneficial insects.
Dr. Nancy Walker
Ph. D. Genetics and Plant Breeding, (1982) Clemson University (retired)
M.A. Theology, Erskine Seminary (2002) Owner, Walker Century Farm
“My husband and I own and live on a working farm in northern Anderson County. Our son Clifton and colleagues Kelli and Kevin Porter also live on the farm and work with us. We produce grassfed and grass finished Red Devon beef, pastured heritage pork, and honey. In May 2012 we opened a market on our farm where we sell our products, local produce, and other grocery items.
When I learned about Slow Food a few years ago I quickly saw how the philosophy and mission of this organization is in line with the goals and objectives we have on our farm. We raise heritage animals in ways that are sustainable environmentally and economically. Our market focuses on South Carolina products thus helping support the local economy.
I studied ethics at Erskine Seminary to gain knowledge and expertise so I could address concerns related to molecular genetics, the release of GMOs into the environment, and into the human food supply. I taught a bioethics class for the seminary from 2002 until 2012.
Personally, I am a mother of two grown children (Clifton a mental health counselor in Anderson and Dee who is a faculty member at MUSC) and a grandmother to two grandsons who love to visit the farm and are indulged in every way possible when here. I am an avid vegetable gardener, producing and preserving through canning and freezing most of the vegetables we use throughout the year. I support other local producers by purchasing their fruits and berries.”
Greenville is in the Piedmont region of northwestern
With a metropolitan population of just over 600,000, the city sits between
In terms of food,
But that’s not the end of the story of
Social life in the Upcountry centered on food and farming. Corn shuckings, sweet potato roastings, and preserving parties made fun out of the work of survival. To romanticize that way of life, however, would be to dishonor the realities of those early residents. Most were poor and farm life was hard and precarious. Until almost the mid-20th century, educational opportunities were limited or non-existent for most. No one would want to re-create that reality today; indeed, “progress” here has been largely defined by distance from it. But that has also meant losing many things well worth reviving creatively in the very different culture the Upcountry has become. These include connection to and stewardship of the land, a sense of community based in cooperation and conviviality and sustained by local production and artistry; and an understanding of foodways grounded in those things as central to life and culture and worthy of attention and nurture.
Cotton eventually caught up with the Upstate. (It was grown here but never on the scale of other parts of the South.) From the Civil War to the mid-20th century, cotton milling and textile manufacturing dominated Upstate culture. Farming communities dwindled as children of farmers poured into the mills seeking employment and began living in mill-owned villages. In more remote parts of the Upstate, with colorful names like “
Industry didn’t come just to the mills though. Farming became agri-business in the 20th century. Cash cropping tobacco and soybeans and industrial meat and dairy production replaced growing vegetable crops for local consumption. Peaches became a viable cash crop and a distinctive source of pride for the region. By the century’s end, however, peach trees were being removed to make way for residential development. Some orchards remain, but the vast majority of peaches grown here wind up in canning facilities and very few in the hands of local children.
The economy of the Upstate waxed and waned throughout the last century; mostly it got tough for manufacturing and tougher for farming. The recent economic boom is a source of both wealth and pride for this community (although it is important to underline that poverty and chronic hunger still exist here).
And as the city and region look toward the future, more and more of its citizens are asking what we might have lost in all the gains. Happily, food is at the center of this reflection. Pellagra may not threaten, but there’s increasing concern about the high incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cardio-vascular disease that are, like pellagra, linked to a monotonous industrial diet. We may eat cheaply and plentifully, but many people are questioning whether we eat well, not only in terms of physical health but also environmental and cultural. There is more concern about where and how food is grown, and how animals, laborers, and land are affected. More concern about the loss of local foods and family and community gatherings around the table. Concern among many newcomers from “slower” places or strong ethnic heritages about how they (and the children they are raising here) will eat. Eagerness among many—from twenty-somethings to retirees—for a different way of living expressed through a different way of eating. And in general, there are many more who are asking what how we eat might say about who we are and who we will become. There is a growing hunger, in other words, for something slower.
And there is much hope that it can be fed well here despite the dominant food culture. That hope manifests itself in the return to elements of our early food heritage—in the resurrection of an 1845 Grist Mill, the preservation of heirloom seed and “living history” vegetable gardens. In regional artisans who are reviving the “lost arts” of wood-fire baking and meat curing. In local restaurateurs and chefs—as well as home cooks—dedicated to co-producing with local food artisans and farmers to reintroduce seasonal, sustainable, slow eating. Indeed our greatest hope lies in the growing number of these local heroes, who have risked building their lives around working and sustaining the land to feed the community well. Large-scale agribusiness dominates now, but perhaps a different future lies with the 20,000 farms under 200 acres that dot the State. Just in the area of
So with hunger, heritage, and confident hope, we enthusiastically seek to found a Slow Food convivium that provides—in the truest sense of that word—a space for the “feasting and living together” of those seeking and providing sustenance that is “better, cleaner, and fairer” in