How do we work to build local food buying relationships? We have them speed date! Food Roots, together with Visit Tillamook Coast, hosted a speed dating mixer and panel with North Coast food producers and buyers on September 27, 2019 at the Historic U.S. Coast Guard Boathouse.
This event brought together close to forty local farmers, fishers, ranchers, chefs and other North Coast food buyers to network, share stories, and learn from each others' experiences, and opened doors for new buyer/seller relationships around North Coast grown, produced and caught food.
Executive Chef Jeff Graham from Fort George Brewery in Astoria, and one of the event's four panelists, shared his story of how he was able to increase his supply of locally raised poultry by convincing a small-scale producer to more than double their production for the brewery. Graham invested capital in this poultry farmer so he could make that jump. That type of investment is made on trust and a commitment to grow his local food economy.
Trust was a main topic that came out of the panel discussion. Many small-scale producers rely on handshake agreements with chefs and other wholesale buyers. Therefore it is imperative to build these relationships across our community, and this event helped to do that, while providing a platform for stakeholders to communicate their needs. Additional panelists included Jared Gardner, rancher/owner of Nehalem River Ranch, Kelly Bushnell, North Coast fisherman, and Nate Wrispler, co-owner of Portland-based distribution company, Wilder Land & Sea.