Local farmers connect with restaurants through Puget Sound Food Hub

Small farmers are getting some help on their journey to restaurant tables.

Small farmers are getting some help on their journey to restaurant tables around Puget Sound.

At the Grange Café in Duvall, you can read where your food comes from – like the Goose and Gander farm, which reads more like an art book in real life.

"Our farm grows about seven acres of vegetables," farm owner Meredith Molli told a crowd touring her farm. "Where we're standing right now could be under eight or 10 feet of water. This whole place is a lake."

Like most small farms, business brings with it a variety of challenges as colorful as the crops.

But Mother Nature isn't the only issue.

"They're just too small. They don't have the trucks. They don't have the infrastructure. They don't have the volume. So, if we can get them to where they can pool everything together, support each other and work together, they can sell as unit," said Puget Sound Food Hub General Manager Terri Hanson.

It's why Goose and Gander is one of more than 50 small farms that belong to the Puget Sound Food Hub. The co-op connects food growers with food sellers like restaurants or businesses like Amazon. The buyers got a chance to tour the farms Monday.

Buyers can select a farm and order online. Farmers bring their product to one location and the Food Hub delivers for them.

"Locally-sourced animals, well-cared for animals. As a butcher, I've seen a lot of abuse over the years, and we don't want any part of that. We want this to be guilt-free eating for our customers," said Falling River Meats butcher Darron Marzolf.

The Food Hub doesn't just help farmers, it also helps chefs like Chris Lobkovich.

"For me, the biggest thing is the logistics of it. As much as I'd love to have the time to come out every week and visit the farms, the Food Hub helps the small farms distribute and it helps the chefs get into the small farms," he said.

At Cherry Valley Dairy, only about 25 cows are milked a day compared to thousands at larger farms. They're also pastured, which means the dairy tastes different depending on season.

"So, because we have a variable product in small quantities, it's really important for us to have a story about how our product is different," said dairy manager Annmarie Stickney.

Last year, Puget Sound Food Hub quadrupled in business. 

Copyright 2016 KING


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