On April 4th just before the start of Sierra Harvest’s annual Soup Night, more than 45 local food buyers and producers participated in a networking event with the intention to create more farm-direct relationships in Nevada County. Participants engaged in meaningful conversations around seasonal availability, pre-planning, communication, commitments, and pricing. Producers swapped their planned availability for the seasons with buyers who brought their menu plans and everyone left with a contact list of buyers and producers in attendance.
There were producers from more than 20 farms and ranches who offer a range of products including vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, flowers, and herbs. Well established farms like Mountain Bounty, Riverhill, Back2Basics and Starbright Acres as well as new farmers on the scene like Son of Something Farm, Lush Leaf Micro Greens, and New Leaf Grown all turned up to meet potential new buyers.
In addition to a great producer turn out, there were food buyers from over a dozen local restaurants, grocery stores and institutions in attendance. Restaurant owners from Wild Eye Pub and Meze Eatery brought their menu plans and produce needs for the season, handing them out to farmers and discussed varietal details. Chefs from South Pine Café, Diego’s, Stone House, Thirsty Barrel, The Ham Stand, and Gourmet Kitty Productions were among the buyer’s crowd. The produce buyers from BriarPatch Food Co-op and SPD Market were also in attendance.
Sandra Higareda of Higareda Family Farms emailed the next day stating, “I want you to know that I appreciate the connections made at the networking event and thanks to Aimee Retzler for introducing me to John Painter of SPD Market. Today I delivered a case of parsley for them to look at my quality, so I appreciate the work Sierra Harvest is doing to connect farmers with local business. It was a success immediately”.
What started as a conversation in December of 2018 on how to engage more Nevada County restaurants and food buyers in purchasing locally, has turned into a series of gatherings attended by over a hundred local folks invested in creating a stronger local food economy. Contact Lauren Scott, Sierra Harvest Procurement Specialist, for more information on the ‘Putting Local on the Menu’ series. Lauren@sierraharvest.org (530) 265-2343.