Farmers, growers and food producers from Tarrant County and beyond were brought together by Charlie Blaylock, Cowtown Farmers Market member and Shine’s Farm Stand owner, and Micheline Hynes, Tarrant County Food Policy Council President and Tarrant Area Food Bank Nutrition Services Manager, in downtown Fort Worth at the Food Bank offices for the first of three planned meetings between farmers and local food service businesses.
Restaurant chefs and food buyers, pop-up dinner planners, and others interested in buying their ingredients straight off the farm were on hand to meet with a dozen farmers and food producers. Shine’s Farm Stand, JLH Dorper Lambs, Latte Da Goat Cheese, Sunflower Farms (my own farm business), and several other producers looking for local customers, provided samples, current inventories, and prices on a wide range of foods available for the buyers. Omni International Hotels - Fort Worth, was in attendance with their executive chef, and food buyer, speaking with all the producers about our inventories and available foods.
The meeting’s organizers opened up a question and answer period where many ideas were floated, and several questions were answered. Specifically, farmers now know that most area chefs were unaware of their products, and would very much like to know where we are located, what we produce, how we can deliver the goods, and at what price. A shared website between producers and chefs/food buyers was suggested, as well as face-to-face meetings at restaurants and offices with samples in tow.
Bringing home the concept of just how much better locally sourced, natural foods is for the consumer, Chef John Croatti prepared lunch for the crowd, including lamb raised a stone’s throw from Fort Worth in Azle, courtesy of JoLynn Hutchings of KJL Dorper Lambs, in a dish known as Lamajun, or Armenian flatbreads with ground lamb, chilis, tomatoes, and topped with cucumber garlic yogurt sauce. It was paired quick pickled Hakurei turnips, middle eastern tomato salad, and mixed greens dressed with lemon and olive oil, veggies courtesy of Shine’s Farm Stand.
The meal was excellent, the meeting was informative, the outcome was productive, for me with three possible new customers for Sunflower Farms, and more perspective buyers and opportunities for all the farms. The goal of bringing fresh, locally raised and grown food to the plates in Fort Worth, Texas was bolstered immensely. On July 16, 2018, local farmers will meet again, this time to include more pop-up chefs, party planners, and event organizers. If you are interested in attending, please contact Charlie Blaylock or Micheline Hynes.
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