Connecting Entrepreneurs with Local Food

Just a brief intro from Mrs. Green – I am an avid localist & support locally owned businesses in every way I possibly can.  Even though this blog contains information pertaining to an event in Tucson, the concept is global. I am proud to use our social media platforms to support events/movements like this one. 

The 6th annual Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection is coming to Tucson this September to unite farmers and chefs throughout the state with the goal of building a more sustainable food ecosystem. Organized by the Local First Arizona Foundation, Farmer+Chef is a comprehensive event with an eye toward building wholesale business relationships between key players in the local food economy.

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Building a sustainable food system starts with local food producers. The goal of Farmer + Chef Connection is to bring together local food producers prepared to transact at a wholesale level with restaurateurs, hotel owners, and other wholesale buyers from around the state.

Local food is, arguably, at the center of the Buy Local movement across the country. In one study outlining the place of food in the Local Movement it has been concluded that as our food chains become stretched physically further we experience very tangible issues such as loss of rural agricultural resilience and dislocation of community.1 By pulling together local food wholesalers and those seeking local products Farmer + Chef Connection seeks to limit the distance produce and local goods travel to reach the table and facilitate a lasting relationship between  farmers and buyers.

In the current food system, a small number of large national chains purchase the bulk of wholesale agriculture. This means that a farmer could be receiving fewer processors and retailers bidding on their goods which leave the farmer with a shrinking share of the profit2. The foundation of Farmer + Chef focuses on connecting the farmer to buyer directly to break this pattern and providing Breakout Sessions to learn about sustainable food solutions and the benefits of sourcing locally. This event is open to local entrepreneurs, all food service businesses, farmers, and the general public.

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The root and meat of The Farmer + Chef Connection is the Supplier’s Marketplace. This local food show boasts an all-day vendor fair featuring some ofthe best local food products Arizona has to offer. The Marketplace will include local producers and distributors lined up with displays of their products and armed with wholesale information. Attendees this year include Blue Sky Organic Farm, Caduceus Cellars, Sonoita Vineyards, Top Knot Farms, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company, and many others. Throughout the Supplier’s Market, buyers talk directly to the experienced producers to find out what is and will be in season locally throughout the year. This would be the time and place to make future procurement relationships to locally source produce and goodies in any food service establishment.

Sourcing locally can even benefit the quantity of business coming in the door according to a study from Sustainable Connections that showed 58% of local citizens are ‘Thinking Local First’ more often3. The study found that citizens in the Northwest [where the study was conducted] are not only aware of local initiative programs and their “Think Local, Buy Local, Be Local” message but are making changes in their purchasing behavior because of it. This is a topic that will be delved into further during one of the day’s Breakout Sessions. In addition to procuring connections with local producers at the Supplier’s Market, there will be Breakout Sessions offering attendees presentations and discussions on a diverse array of topics, such as Marketing Your Localism and Maximizing Your Connections. Other topics will include introducing attendees to the process of forging large institutional business relationships and ways in which people in Arizona are practicing waste diversion.

These breakout sessions will be presented by experts in their field and cover subjects that are important to building up local food supply chains and establishing successful farm to table relationships. With a heavy focus on industry tools and skills, Farmer+Chef Breakouts will equip attendees with a new toolkit, and prepare them for success in the Suppliers’ Marketplace.

In addition to opening remarks from the City of Tuscon’s Mayor Rothchild and Local First Arizona Foundation’s Kimber Lanning, Farmer + Chef Connection willbe featuring two keynote speakers who play a very important role in the local food industry:

Derrick Widmark, who is the founder and owner of Diablo Burger (Flagstaff and Tucson) and Good Oak Bar (Tucson), will be speaking. Derrick applies the philosophy of actively partnering with local farmers, ranchers, bakers, cheese-makers, brewers, vintners, and other producers to source as much as possible from within a 250-mile radius of the restaurants. Derrick has also worked with the Diablo Trust, whose mission is to ensure the long-term economic, social and ecological sustainability of the Diablo Trust land area by providing a forum for active community participation in a collaborative land stewardship process.

Megan Kimble, who is currently the managing editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local food magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands, will also be speaking. She is also the author of Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food, a memoir of her year-long journey of eating only whole, unprocessed foods, intertwined with a journalistic exploration of what “unprocessed” really means, why it matters, and how to afford it.

(Note from Mrs. Green’s World: Megan Kimble was interviewed on our national radio show and to hear more about her fascinating year of eating unprocessed, whole foods simply follow the link)

At the end of a successful day the vendors, attendees, and speaker are invited to gather and celebrate the success of the Supplier’s Market with a Local Food Reception at the end of the day featuring locally sourced appetizers and Arizona wine and beer.

Event Information:

When:

Wed, September 16,
Main event: 12:00 – 5:30 PM
Reception: 5:30 – 7:30 PM

Where:
Tucson Convention Center
260 S Church Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701

General Admission: $10
Vendor Package: $75

Register:http://localfirstazfoundation.org/azfarmerchef/

Citation:

  1. Feagan, R. (2007, February 1). The place of food: Mapping out the ‘local’ in local food systems. Retrieved August 3, 2015, from http://phg.sagepub.com/content/31/1/23.short
  2. Mitchell, S. (2011, December 1). How Walmart is Devouring the Food System (Infographic). Retrieved August 3, 2015, from http://www.ilsr.org/infographic-walmart-food/
  3. Sustainable Connections. Study Shows 58% of Local Citizens are ‘Thinking Local First’ More Often. (2006, November 6). Retrieved August 3, 2015, from http://bealocalist.org/sites/default/files/file/Results of poll of TLF impact.pdf