It’s a novel concept, a timely one and, for a number of people, a dream come true: Nourishing “fast farm food” from a drive-through window. Gentle Harvest will celebrate its grand opening on September 17 in Marshall, and everyone’s invited.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a finicky foodie, fed up with fast food or even one of its diehard enthusiasts, you can be passing through in a hurry, urbanites enjoying an outing or live in the area. Gentle Harvest’s menu contains lots of palate-pleasers. Real food, sourced locally, cooked with care, available to pick up at the drive-through window or eat in if you like to savor what you sample. Sandy Lerner of Ayrshire Farm and Hunter’s Head in Upperville has nurtured this idea for many years, and now’s the time.

Last November, Lerner bought the building that met her criteria, especially for location and size. The former Marshall Bank turned out to be a neat, complete package with its own 44-space parking lot, front and back entrances, drive-through window, bank vault and plenty of space inside. The building sports a new exterior look; the interior has been completely renovated. It sits in the heart of Marshall, a cozy Main Street USA town that offers convenient I-66 access with two interchanges, one at each end of town

Gentle Harvest’s menu includes Build-a-Burger – beef, turkey, veal, chicken or turkey, or vegan patty, and all the fixings. Jacket potatoes with all sorts of toppings, Ayrshire Farm beef/pork hot dog, Ayrshire sausage, baked and oven-fried chicken. Breakfast items such as savory sausage muffins, egg sandwiches and wraps, waffles, egg-white bowl. Sides include baked sweet potato tots, fresh fruit, Ayrshire bacon, and more. The Kids’ Menu offers burgers, hot dogs, oven-fried, gluten-free chicken strips, kid-sized entrées and sides. There will be Kombucha on tap, real fruit juices, coffee, hot and cold teas, lemonade, and more, such as Furry Foodie raw dinners for dogs and cats.

“It’s a new concept, fast farm food on the go and it’s something Sandy has wanted to do for years,” said Sully Callahan, who joined Lerner’s team near the end of 2015 to oversee Gentle Harvest’s Operations Management and Marketing Strategy. “We’re seeing people moving toward this out in California and scattered throughout the U.S. I’m in my early 30s and I’ve always been into organic and knowing where my food comes from. For a lot of my friends with young children, having healthy options on the interstate is something they’re yearning for, and I’m really excited to be part of bringing Gentle Harvest to them.”

Lerner knows the market for real food. After moving to Virginia in 1995, she bought Ayrshire the following year and embarked on a mission to promote the benefits of local, humanely-raised meats and organic produce while farming sustainably. The Home Farm Store in Middleburg was successful and profitable, but it closed in early August to make way for the new venue.

Gentle Harvest brings an entirely new dynamic to Lerner’s quest to supply consumers with ‘good for you’ food. In addition to dine-in and drive-through, Gentle Harvest is a market with products from Ayrshire Farm as well as local vendors and producers. The market will showcase Ayrshire Farm certified organic/certified humane meats, local wine, beer on tap, coffees, non-perishable goods, jams, jellies, spices, etc. The upstairs lounge will provide customer seating with wifi.

Make plans to check out what’s cookin’ at Gentle Harvest on September 17: 8372 W. Main St. in Marshall.

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