edible endeavors

HUB FOR LOCAL GRUB
DROPP program provides restaurants with local, farm-fresh foods.

WRITTEN BY SARAH PARKS
PHOTOS BY CANDICE VIVIEN

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Mary Rubin, DROPP warehouse manager, helps Nicole Sallaberry, coordinator for DROPP, sort produce from area farms

Whether they’re buying microgreens for their salads, cheese and eggs for their appetizers, or fruits for their desserts, restaurant managers all over Northern Nevada — including at Liberty Food & Wine Exchange and South Creek Pizza — in growing numbers are shopping through DROPP for fresh, locally grown ingredients to include on their menus.

DROPP, or Distributors of Regional and Organic Produce and Products, is the Great Basin Community Food Co-op’s regional food hub. The program provides a wholesale hub for business and restaurant owners looking for fresh, locally grown produce and products.

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Sallaberry organizes local food at her warehouse in Sparks

Since it began as a small operation in 2012, DROPP has grown to source ingredients from more than 100 farmers and distribute to dozens of restaurants in our area. Last year, DROPP distributed about $650,000 in local and organic products to community partners and members. DROPP also delivered $250,000 to the co-op’s departments. Between the restaurants, members, and store departments, that amounted to $900,000.

“Originally, we made this for (the co-op’s) store to make it more efficient to buy from local producers, and then all these restaurants just came to us,” says Nicole Sallaberry, the coordinator for DROPP. “So right now, the main focus is the store and our wholesale customers, which are food trucks, restaurants, caterers, and a couple of private schools that we work with.”

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Christina Rosenkranse of Bee Here Now farm drops off fresh produce with Sallaberry

Mutually beneficial

DROPP has grown to be a communal one-stop shop where local farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, artisans, and crafters can provide farm-fresh ingredients to any restaurant, business, or organization seeking to purchase local and organic wholesale goods.

Besides providing delicious, fresh ingredients, DROPP benefits both farmers and restaurant owners in other ways.

“We are able to aggregate all these orders together into one stop for the farmer,” Sallaberry says. “Rather than having to drive all over and deliver to every single restaurant, it is one delivery and one invoice.”

Similarly for the restaurant owner, it’s not necessary to call 10 different farms to coordinate deliveries; they simply place one order with DROPP once or twice a week, and it will be delivered directly to the business.

Restaurants also receive the added bonus of learning everything they want to know about the farm and farmers, from their growing practices and how they take care of the soil, to where they are located on the map and whether they are certified organic.

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Nancy Meyer from Maryalice’s Sprout Farm drops off sprouts at DROPP as Sallaberry takes inventory

Healthy, responsible food production

Sallaberry encourages buying locally, as she says that supporting local farms who are good stewards of the land, water, and wildlife will help to shape the landscape of our region.

“I think it is super important that we put our resources, and vote with our dollars, toward cultivating the local agricultural areas and being good stewards of the land so we have a good food supply and a stable local economy,” Sallaberry says.

When locally grown produce or products aren’t available, DROPP orders from United Natural Foods Inc. and Veritable Vegetable, distributors of natural and organic foods in Northern California.

“There is a lot of demand we can’t fill with our local food supply,” Sallaberry says. “So until we can fill these gaps with local producers, we use these to fill in the gaps so we can continue to build our relationship with restaurants.”

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Carrots from Desert Farming Initiative are delivered to the DROPP warehouse in Sparks

Sarah Parks loves going for brunch at restaurants and businesses that use fresh, local ingredients in their recipes.

Individuals and families can build their own CSA-type boxes by visiting Shop.dropp.coop/subscriptions.

DROPP Program
1275 Kleppe Lane, Stes. 24 and 25, Sparks • Dropp.coop

For details about being a local vendor, visit Dropp.coop/grow-for-dropp.

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