Barbara Swell

Native Ground Books & Music

Maker: Chef

My West Virginia grandmother, Maudie, taught me to make pies and biscuits and to garden, can, and hang my laundry to dry in the fresh mountain air. Standing elbow-to-elbow at her big white enameled drainboard sided sink is where I learned how to cut a sugar cookie, what seeds to plant, how to get (and keep) a man, and that rum doesn't count as alcohol if it's drenching your fruit cake.

When I was 21, I moved into what would become a long succession of off-the-grid 19th century dilapidated farm houses in rural southwest VA, complete with chickens, pigs, bunnies, bees, and a donkey. With a well bucket in one hand and a chainsaw in the other, I made myself a home-spun life. Inspired by those homesteader years, the women in my family, and my many elderly Appalachian farm women friends, I've spent a lifetime learning about old timey cooking, home-making wisdom, and heirloom gardening and gathering.

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2019 Schedule

Over 20 immersive signature events are featured throughout the weekend! Tours, dinners, parties, foraging and more await.


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This inspired, friendly and free-spirited food scene tucked in the mountains of Appalachia has been called “Foodtopia,” but the locals just call it home. Plan your trip now.

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Learn more about the vision and values that guide Chow Chow's work to celebrate and enrich the foodways of Southern Appalachia.

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