The Farmer & The Chef: A New Partnership in Farming and Restaurants

By Nancy Smorch

What a great partnership:  Cynthia Sandberg, owner of 2 acre Love Apple Farms in Santa Cruz County, California, and chef David Kinch of nearby restaurant, Manresa, in Los Gatos, California.

Cynthia grows vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers for Manresa only.  And, Manresa utilizes the variety of produce grown only on Love Apple Farms.  The menu at Manresa reflects what is in season and Chef Kinch is in close communications and on site with Cynthia to better plan what he will be putting on the menu.  This also allows for more control and creativity with their food.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a restaurant-farm team like this in your community?  I would love to have a place like this where I knew where the ingredients came from and how they were grown, and I would love to have such passion and creativity surrounding the food I would eat.

Although having your own two-acre farm and working with a single restaurant may seem too overwhelming and undoable for some, any movement in this direction would serve multiple needs - including the health of the environment and people.

However there are still many ways to get involved in this movement.

Maybe instead of supplying an entire restaurant, you could grow a little extra produce in your own garden and share it with neighbors - maybe even with recipes on how to use the produce.  I have a friend in Holland, Michigan who plants extras in her family’s garden with this very intention.  When I went to visit her this past summer, she shared some delicious tomatoes and purple cabbage.  They even had some delicious apples and pears that were really weighing down their trees, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go back in the fall to share in that harvest, but I’m confident they had an abundance of fruit to share with family and friends.

Maybe also, if space is limited, you could add some raised beds in your landscaping instead of ornamental plants.  We just did an overhaul on our landscaping last spring so we could take advantage of the space around our house.  We had plenty of space to grow zucchini, peppers, potatoes, various herbs, and beets.  It was pretty cool to have it so close to the house - especially the herbs when making dinners.  So maybe you can get enough produce in your landscape to share with friends and family.  But if not, even if you have enough to grow for your own family’s use, that is awesome too!

My point here is, sometimes (I know I’m guilty of this) we see other people doing really cool things, and think, “Oh, I don’t have the time (or resources, or talent, or knowledge, or connections, or WHATEVER) to do what they are doing.”  So we end up not doing anything at all.

What I would like to suggest is that rather than thinking about what we can’t do, maybe we turn that around and think about what we CAN do.  And then, DO IT!  I think what we will find is that the energy of actually doing something builds momentum and with this momentum, more opportunities start showing up.  You feel good about what you’re doing, you are contributing, you are connecting, you are taking part in a miracle (growing food).  Who knows where that will lead, but it’s gotta be good, right?

Anyway, back to the documentary! It will be released on March 9, 2014.  You can check out their website here for updates on its release and to learn more about this dynamic relationship between a farm and a restaurant!