CH@T: The grand re-opening of ‘The Plant’ focuses on its local regenerative economy

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The Plant in Pittsboro is a diverse 17-acre eco-industrial park located on the east side of downtown which, since 2004, has been envisioned as a “sustainable industrial plant” — and a host location for epic events, the promotion of local resilience and the home for native plant species, fuel, food, beverages and more.

This week, we speak with Tami Schwerin about The Plant’s grand re-opening — a celebration set for 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15. Schwerin has been creating things in Chatham County for almost 30 years. Her fellow workers at Abundance NC describe her as a person with an “utterly contagious” vibrancy, as well as “a fearless visionary, community builder, and cartographer of the impossible,” and someone who sees “in pure potential.” The Plant is located at 220 Lorax Lane in Pittsboro.

The Plant has blossomed and bloomed in a number of different iterations over the years. Tell us about the “Grand Re-Opening.” In what place is The Plant now that prompts this event?

We have spent the past year engineering and planning with the Town of Pittsboro and the county to put in stormwater pavers down Lorax Lane. This accomplishes two important things: it handles the intense rains and is good for water quality, and it creates a beautiful place for gathering, for kids to play, for weddings and birthdays to happen.

So what will this particular event feature?

On June 15 we are celebrating this intense project. It will be a showpiece for this area and Mayor Cindy Perry is coming to cut the ribbon, the Paperhand Puppets will parade, DJ OS will be spinning tunes and we’ll give out a few awards to our amazing contractors and team. We hope everyone will come ready to dance, celebrate and we’ll also have Lilly Den Food truck open for their amazing food.

You’re known for hosting an eclectic array of events year-round. What’s your event lineup looking like these days?

We have so many fun things happening ... let the revelry begin! A 5-star dinner to discuss the purple martin birds on site, PepperFest is in the works, and of course Death Faire in November. We have a lot of small and large events such as laughing yoga, memorial services, weddings, graduations and lots of local music. This is the fun stuff.

We’ve visited a lot over the years about changes at The Plant, many of those built around new businesses there. Tell us about a few “secrets” about The Plant and The Beverage District that folks who haven’t been there in a while might learn about?

Our common theme here at the Plant is local regenerative economy. Our mix of tenants are committed to using local food and products, to keeping the dollars in the community and providing the highest quality drinks and food possible. We are now becoming a food hub with Copeland Springs Farm (farm to fork food), Lilly Den Farm Meats and Eats, Metal Brixx cafe and Fair Game Beverage Kitchen.

There is also local coffee, jewelry, hemp products, men’s hemp clothing, an art gallery and of course our wonderful beverage folks: Fair Game, bmc brewing, Starrlight Mead and Chatham Cider Works. We kind of have it all. What’s beautiful is watching everyone collaborate and work together.

Another new “thing” is the Farmers Market. Is that up and going?

The Pittsboro Farmers Market started meeting here last Thursday. We are thrilled to host them!

Lots has happened since the pandemic started two-plus years ago. Where do you see The Plant in two years?

COVID gave us an advantage because we took that time to build and create our dream place. We will keep going and keep refining the customer experience so people who come feel welcome, safe, connected and maybe learn a little about nature, art or culture. Food will have a much bigger role here — events, celebrations, the sky’s the limit! We are just getting started!

And finally ... what’s the story behind the hat that your Plant partner Lyle Estill wears?

Years ago, Lyle’s hair was in an awkward state, and he went into the kid’s dress up box and grabbed a felt top hat to keep the hair out of his eyes ... he never took it off and it has accidentally become his signature. It fits him to a tee!

For more information, search for “Steel Toes to Stilettos Grand Re-Opening” on Facebook.


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