Local farms, local restaurants

by Kelly Sanderbeck, Communications & Development Director

This article was originally published in July 2008

Patronizing certain local restaurants as well as local grocers is a great way to benefit local farmers. One of these restaurants, The Grange Café, deserves special notice because of its strong commitment to sourcing local organic foods from several PCC Farmland Trust farms.

When Judy Neldam opened The Grange Café in Duvall, Washington in 2007, she set out to be the most completely “local” and largely organic restaurant in the state. She and husband Rod had a good start, as owners of the Grateful Bread bakery in Seattle for 13 years.

They developed relationships with local farmers — such as Growing Things, Thundering Hooves, and Full Circle and included local wines and beers, home-grown herbs and even furniture from local antique stores.

As Judy says, “Sourcing local foods is so out of the norm. Traditional food service relies on large distributors. We go out and get products from local providers that we trust!”

One local farm family that delivers directly to The Grange Café is from Thundering Hooves, operating in part on land owned by the PCC Farmland Trust. Keith Swanson delivers their pasture-finished beef, lamb and pork to The Grange Café and other local restaurants every few weeks from Walla Walla. Keith says, “We’ve never had a restaurant NOT become a customer after trying our meat!”

Thundering Hooves finds that restaurants are a good fit for its operation. Depending on what’s available from the farm, local restaurants readily can adapt their menus, with interesting choices.

Andrew Stout of Full Circle Farm — who purchased land saved by the PCC Farmland Trust — started selling directly to restaurants from the beginning in 1996. He now supplies 60 restaurants, which is about 10 percent of his business.

Andrew likes this arrangement because it’s flexible, pays better than wholesale, and promotes the farmers at the same time. He even uses the restaurants’ used cooking oil to operate his farm equipment!

The Trust will start a restaurant sponsorship program in the future to keep you informed on where to find local organic food when dining out. In the meantime, visit The Grange Café and tell them you’re a Farmland Trust supporter!

Also in this issue

News bites, July 2008

PCC support for fair labor communities, Salmon habitat saved in Ballard, Climate change worse in the West, and more

The gifts of local growers

For those who create their shopping list based on the availability of local organic produce, July is most notable for its steadiness and abundance. Four farm and the farmers who own them are profiled: Rent's Due Ranch, Nash’s Organic Produce, Full Circle Farm and River Valley Organics.

Insights by Goldie: Research and education: critical for a food-secure future

As petroleum costs soar, energy-intensive farmers and ranchers will be considering their options. They may focus on finding markets for their products as close to home as possible before looking in other areas. Non-organic producers especially will have to reconsider their dependence on petroleum-based agricultural chemicals.