Last night, I was lucky enough to make it out to The Monti at Motorco. I’ve been wanting to see one of The Monti’s shows for a long time, but the timing and/or the speed at which the tickets sell out has always been a sticking point. We were on vacation when tickets went on sale, but no matter- I snapped those bad boys up on the road from my smartphone. Not only was this a show I’d been dying to see, but the subject of the night was one of my favorites- food.
I love listening to people’s stories- that’s why I’d been wanting to get to The Monti for so long- and I firmly believe that everyone has a fascinating, inspiring, uplifting, or heartbreaking story in them that can change other people’s lives. That’s the kind of story you might hear at The Monti, and indeed, I was not disappointed by the wonderful stories I heard last night from the storytellers.
But just as important as the stories that were told onstage is the reason we were there in the first place- to support another kind of storytelling, one that’s going on behind-the-scenes right now, one that hopes to be on screen in the future to tell one man’s fascinating story and help change other people’s lives as well.
That story is the story of Alex Sutton, a combat veteran turned farmer, and the storytellers are the folks over at Vittles.
1 MAN, 2 TITANIUM LEGS, 100 CHICKENS
Alex Sutton is a combat veteran with six tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2008 an IED explosion ended his military service and destroyed his legs. Back home in North Carolina, medically discharged and standing on new titanium legs, Alex still possesses a strong desire to serve his country. He believes that he can do this best through farming.
The Farmer Veteran Project (working title) is a documentary film about transition and possibility in the face of pain and trauma. Alex is one of the 1.6 million veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan trying to make a return to regular life, many in rural communities with high unemployment. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture reports that half of all farmers in the United States will retire in the next decade. This film explores the formidable challenges we face as a country. How do we support the wounded? Who will continue to work the land responsibly?
With the steadfast care of his wife, Jessie, Alex fights for a life of purpose. Their story is part of an emerging trend to introduce the regenerative qualities of farming to combat veterans seeking a different way of life.
Please check out this trailer- I saw it for the first time last night, and I knew then I had to support this documentary. The story of Alex and veterans like him, what they need from their country, what they still have to offer us after having already given so much, and where that intersects with the future of farming is an important story. It needs to be told, and Vittles needs your help to make that happen.
You may not have heard of Vittles before, but you likely know at least one of their members and their work. See for yourself: Vittles- Who We Are. Personally, I’m a big fan of Victoria Bouloubasis‘ Indy columns (and, full disclosure, a big fan of Victoria as a person- she’s one of those people you are just always happy to see) and I have a total photographer crush on D.L. Anderson‘s work. Knowing that the people behind this project are serious, thoughtful people who consistently turn out great work makes me doubly interested in helping them on this important project, and I hope that you’ll consider helping them as well.
How can you help? There’s several different options, the first of which was the awesome (and special bonus out-of-season!) The Monti show last night. Next up is a dinner at Vin Rouge next Wednesday, June 20th. I’ve already snapped up tickets for this one myself, and once you see this menu, you’ll want to grab some, too:
• Chilled local tomato soup, peeky toe crab, avocado, basil
• Salad of smoked NC trout, horseradish, fennel, rye croutons, preserved lemon aioli
• Ricotta gnocchi, Johnston County ham, creme fraiche, curry
• Filet of Beef, burgundian escargot, creamed spinach, pont neuf potatoes, Borderlaise sauce
• Chocolate mousse, Maldon sea salt, Argumanto
This amazing menu, plus red and white wine or soft drinks, is $100 per person. For a five course meal at one of the finest restaurants in the area (and my personal favorite!), this is a steal. The best part isn’t even the bargain price or the fact that Chef Matt Kelly is working in so many wonderful local ingredients (as usual)- it’s that 100% of the proceeds are going to Vittles. What a gift from Chef Kelly, and what a treat that you get to do something good while enjoying something so decadent. I can hardly wait!
Last, but certainly not least, you can help Vittles directly by contributing to their Kickstarter campaign. They have some great rewards for donating, including Jeremy Lange’s Pretty Bird series chicken prints! These prints are gorgeous- like Glamour Shots for poultry (and I mean that in the best possible way.) I have mentally hung one up over my desk already.
I’m very excited and honored to help get this great project out into the world! I hope you’ll learn more about the Vittles team and decide you’d like to help them as well.