Today the award-winning nonprofit Farms Work Wonders announced a planned expansion of its existing programming, with the creation of a new restaurant featuring a production kitchen and culinary classroom facilities on Main Street in Wardensville, West Virginia.
Farms Work Wonders is the Wardensville-based nonprofit social enterprise that launched the Wardensville Garden Market in 2016, a working organic farm, bakery and market designed to create opportunities for Appalachian youth. Those opportunities are more than just a paycheck and skills education. The Wardensville Garden Market has a dedicated youth advancement team focused on building individualized plans and providing resources to help local students reach their greatest potential.
“As a twenty-year resident of Wardensville, I’m delighted to see the success of the Wardensville Garden Market and the potential of what the new restaurant holds for our community,” said Jerry Yates, member of the board of Farms Work Wonders and Hardy County School Board member. “My daughters work at the market, and we have seen the skills of so many of our local high school students blossom through the hard work of this organization. The restaurant will be a fantastic way to showcase both our local produce and the talents of our students.”
The new restaurant, expected to open in mid-to-late 2020, will be a full-service, farm-based restaurant featuring the organic produce and award-winning bakery products created by the Wardensville Garden Market. Along with a full restaurant kitchen, it will also house a production kitchen that will serve as a bakery and culinary classroom. Another unique feature of the restaurant will be an exhibition kitchen in the main dining room where customers will be able to watch their food being prepared.
The restaurant facility will be located at 155 W. Main Street, just up the street from the Wardensville Garden Market in a building that formerly housed a restaurant and brewery. When local engineers assessed the current structure, they discovered that it was failing. New plans were prepared with the goal of retaining as much of the original character of the building as possible while making it structurally safe for all. Demolition and construction will begin this week.
“The restaurant is a natural extension of the work we have done over the past three years in Wardensville to bring skills and education to our local high schoolers,” said Mitch Orndorff, another Farms Work Wonders board member who grew up in Wardensville. “We currently employ 72 people, with 45 of them being local high school students. The new restaurant facility will help us to expand those economic opportunities and continue teaching valuable skills through what we call our living classrooms.”
The “living classroom” concept was pioneered by Farms Work Wonders based on the recognition that providing youth with valuable, transferrable skills, in real-life settings, will give these students a critical advantage as they consider longer term education and career opportunities after graduation. To date, more than 60 students have worked at the Wardensville Garden Market and more than $73,000 in scholarship money has been provided to help many of these students attend college and post-high school training programs.
The nonprofit was recently awarded Best WV Nonprofit (two years in a row), Best Regional Bakery (also, two years in a row) and Runner-Up for Best WV Bakery by WV Living Magazine and 2019 Nonprofit of the Year by the Hardy County Chamber of Commerce.
“We appreciate the ongoing support of the local community and surrounding areas as we work to create even more opportunities for our local students,” added Farms Work Wonders President and Executive Director, Paul Yandura. “We invite you to help support our mission by visiting the Wardensville Garden Market, and we look forward to showcasing both the terrific skills of our growing team and some amazing food when the restaurant opens later this year.”