by Beth Hoffman
With the popularity of locally grown vegetables soaring, a new Web site hopes to make it easier for chefs to find farmers in their area — and have produce delivered to their restaurants. The idea behind FarmsReach.com is to provide one-stop-shopping for fresh produce from many farms at once.
FarmsReach launched in San Francisco’s Bay Area last spring; its owners plan to expand to seven other regions around the country.
On the site, a restaurant buyer clicks on the products they want — sending an e-mail to the farmer, detailing the order and where to drop the produce. The direct relationship helps get at distribution problems that plague growers who need a bigger outlet than their local weekly farmers markets.
It’s the height of harvest season in California, and the tomatoes are perfectly red and juicy. Many of us buy heirloom varieties at the farmers market, getting local produce one tomato at a time. But for restaurants and schools, the process is not quite so easy.
Nettie’s Crab Shack, a bright and homey place on San Francisco’s high-end Union Street, specializes in cooking with fresh local fish and produce.
On a recent visit, Nettie’s was serving a prawn salad with heirloom tomatoes from Capay Farms — organic Sun Gold tomatoes picked by hand just a short time ago in the Capay Valley in Northern California.
“The tomatoes really help brighten up the whole dish. They have a burst of sweetness and tartness,” said Nettie’s chef Brian Leitner. He used to spend a lot of time calling farms to get this kind of produce. Or he would shop booth by booth at the farmers market. But not anymore.
Logging onto the FarmsReach site, Leitner sees a long list of produce from farms all around the Bay Area — including Capay Organics, a farm Leitner found on the site. Continue Reading →