“With these amazing videos, we can help farmers market themselves effectively and continue to build the momentum in restaurants,” says Jolene Cook, project manager at Neon Agency in Reno. Cook is the former general manager and wellness buyer at the Great Basin Community Food Co-op in Reno.
Created by Jolene and Steve Cook, creative director at Neon Agency, the Meet Your Farmer program involves a series of videos that are shot by Reno photographer Asa Gilmore and feature farmers who grow specialty crops. The original program and videos began in 2015 with an in-store app accessible at the Great Basin co-op. The app was the first of its kind to launch in any American grocery store, and now the program has now evolved into a social media campaign to encourage the Reno community to share their own edible experiences at several participating restaurants with the #meetyourfarmernevada tag. Each farmer also will have his or her own hashtag.
The program is funded by the Nevada Specialty Crop Block Grant Program under the Nevada Department of Agriculture. The grant’s purpose is to raise awareness about specialty crops, which include produce (minus corn), honey, and flowers. Eggs and meat are not considered specialty crops, but several of the farmers still produce these items. A total of 25 farmers and ranchers were part of the original video series, and 10 farmers are working with local restaurants for the 2018 event.
The videos are available to view on the NDA’s YouTube channel and the Meet Your Farmer website. They include interviews and tours with Jacob’s Family Berry Farm, Nevada Fresh Pak, Avanzino Farms, and Hidden Valley Honey as well as other local producers.
Sprout Farm video from Meet Your Farmer
“This program is also to show that these are the farmers’ livelihoods, their passions, and they love it and produce this amazing food, and you get the pleasure of eating it,” Jolene says. “It’s kind of a miracle.”
Several of the farmer/restaurant partnerships also are matches made in heaven. The Pizza Collective at the West Street Market will be using basil from Lattin Farms in Fallon on its pies, Reno’s Liberty Food and Wine Exchange is serving pea shoots from New Harvest Farm in Reno, and pungent mint from River School Farm will be served at Thali at West Street Market.
Albert Sindlinger of Al Bees and Sierra Nevada Honey Company currently raises bees and honey in 14 areas around Pleasant Valley and Washoe Valley. Al Bees is a longtime partner of the Reno, Truckee, and Squaw Valley Coffeebar locations and will continue the partnership for the Meet Your Farmer program.
Al Bees in Reno
“Because of the variety of flowers and plants, the honey from each location has a totally different flavor and color,” says Charles Nash, ranch manager at Al Bees.
The Reno, Truckee, and Squaw Valley Coffeebar locations use Al Bees honey for several of their products, including the seasonal lavender lemonade, jasmine rose tea latte, house-made granola, and honey water for sweetening coffee and tea drinks. For the September Meet Your Farmer event, Coffeebar will be offering its honey-laden energy bites and lavender-honey drinks.
Jasmine rose tea latte from Coffeebar is made with honey from Al Bees
“Our goal is to put back into the community as much as we take out of it,” says Leah Chew, Coffeebar creative director. “Being able to work with as many local producers as possible just creates a business that is sustainable and creates a community that helps each other.”
Any specialty crop farmer or restaurant who would like to join the Meet Your Farmer program can contact Jolene Cook at Jolene@thinkinneon.com.
For details, visit Meetyourfarmernevada.com.
Meet Your Farmer September Farmer/Restaurant Event
Sept. 13, 2018
4 – 8 p.m.