Nov 1&2: Farm-to-Menu Mixers seek to build relationships, understanding, and business success

Nov 1&2: Farm-to-Menu Mixers seek to build relationships, understanding, and business success

image f2 menu mixer header genericThis post highlights the Farm to Menu Mixers coming up on November 1 in Thomas WV and November 2 in Lewisburg WV, organized in collaboration with the Greenbrier Valley Local Foods Initiative, Future Harvest CASA, and the Potomac Highlands Food and Farm Initiative. Registration info below.


Earlier this year VC2 launched a restaurant outreach project in partnership with the Greenbrier Valley Local Foods Initiative in the Greenbrier Valley, and the Potomac Highlands Food and Farm Initiative in the Tygart Valley, as an effort to open doors to more opportunities for farmers interested in selling their fresh or value-added products to restaurants. Restaurant sourcing of local products in not an entirely new concept in West Virginia, but with many small farmers still in growth mode, finding the right amount of product at the right time can be a challenge for restaurateurs and chefs.

Thus far in 2015, VC2 has co-hosted a webinar titled, ‘Putting Local on the Menu’ which aimed to introduce restaurant owners and chefs to a ‘Local Foods Cost Calculator’ tool that could help them better manage their local food budget and pricing. We have also supported a regional promotional campaign titled, ‘Local Food First’ in partnership with Greenbrier Valley Grown – the Greenbrier Valley’s premier local food branding and certification program.

To round out the year and the restaurant outreach pilot project, VC2 is co-organizing two regional “Field Days” in partnership with our local lead organizations, with additional support from Future Harvest CASA out of Baltimore, Maryland. These events will include a star-studded local foods panel comprised of chefs, restaurant owners, and farmers – all poised to answer questions and provide practical advice for selling farm to menu. Each event will also feature a local food meal and plenty of time for networking. The panel discussions will be led by Patti Miller: long time local foods advocate and co-owner of Panorama at the Peaks restaurant in Berkeley Springs.

“This is a chance for food & farm entrepreneurs to get together, listen and learn from a panel of experts as they shed light on the in-and-outs of sourcing local products,” states Greenbrier Valley Local Foods Initiative representative, Kim Forte.

“One of the goals of the Farm to Menu Mixer is to support restaurant owners, managers, chefs, caterers, and wholesale buyers who wish to source locally or want to expand their current local offerings”, Forte continues.

Event information

Please visit the event registration sites online for additional information including contact information for the organizers, directions to the events, bios for the panelists, how to register for each event, and more:

Farm-to-Menu Mixer in Thomas, WV on November 1 2015, more info and register here.

Farm-to-Menu Mixer in Lewisburg, WV on November 2 2015, more info and register here.

Please note that the event in Thomas, WV includes a $15 cover charge for the local foods meal from Buckhannon-based restaurant and caterer The Market Bistro that will be served. The event in Lewisburg, WV is FREE but food must be purchased on an individual basis. It will be locally-sourced at the Hill & Holler restaurant!

Our approach

The Value Chain Cluster (VC2) Initiative provides hands-on business development and coaching services to strengthen local food and farm businesses in four regions of West Virginia. The core strategy of the program is to build profitable, equitable, supply chains that create jobs by moving more local food from farm to table.

Responding to the requests and needs of our local partners is key to our approach. We regularly draw on the expertise of our local lead organizations as the “boots on the ground”, to collectively design our trainings, events, and individual technical assistance projects. For example, with this Farm-to-Menu project, working with local partners during the planning stages (and along the way) helped us all to narrow the focus of the project; thus allowing VC2 to support whatever was most needed in a particular region.  Our local partners’ knowledge of the community and which local farmers and food entrepreneurs might be willing to share their real-life experiences with selling farm-to-restaurant was critical to pulling together a meaningful event.