[Market-farming] Restaurant update

Carla Maness manessfarm at gmail.com
Tue May 22 23:22:09 EDT 2012


Richard,
Thank you. You provide valuable insight. I'm really sitting here laughing
at myself right now, for being such a planner, and feeling like a very "by
the book" kind of person, and I'm gathering chef's are more of the "free
spirit" type. We have one restaurant that calls and wants 25 pounds of
asparagus right away. The other emails and lets me know at least a week in
advance what he wants and how much. I feel like I'm dealing with one who
plans and the one who doesn't and I'm trying to juggle that with the
demands of doing 3 market days a week.
I didn't really expect the chef's to commit to any one thing I mentioned we
would be growing this fall, but I guess I expected a little more interest
or some kind of feedback. I'm learning. Slowly, but I'm learning.

Thanks again,
Carla
Perkins, OK

On Tue, May 22, 2012 at 9:02 PM, Richard Moyer <ramoyer at gmail.com> wrote:

> Carla wrote:
>  "I'm in the planning process for fall crops and I sent an email to both
> chefs stating what we would be growing and asking if they would be
> interested in any of those crops. I want to make sure I plant enough for
> our markets and the restaurants, but neither chef will really commit to
> anything. Is that normal?  Do they not think that far ahead?
>
> How do you plan?  We've always done one market day a week, and this year
> we are doing 3, plus the restaurants. I want to make sure I have enough
> produce to get us through until it freezes, but I'm clueless as to how much
> more."
>
> Carla,
> Random thoughts about this ongoing process that I'm still learning:  It's
> a messy relationship because humans are involved, and we sometimes are
> pushed by forces we didn't/can't anticipate.
>
> Agreed with Karen, that asking chefs what you could grow for them is
> valuable.  I ask: what can't you find (enough of) locally?  Then I narrow
> down their wish list to what I can grow or have grown.
> Make sure you are on the same page regarding quality, how the items will
> get to them, and their preferred mode of paying you.  Here, some prefer
> paying every week and others once per month. Make it as easy as possible
> for them, as works for you.
>
> If you still have the energy/sanity, consider growing after frost/freeze,
> with season extension and/or cold hardy veggies.  In my area, the big
> producers for local restaurants phase out in Sept (much of their help
> leaves), which grants space for others to fill the gap Oct, Nov, Dec and
> beyond.
>
> Chefs here are big on seasonal root crops, and fall root crops hold well
> in the ground or cellar, lessening the pressure to sell them quickly.  Many
> greens hold well in the field, too, with minimal protection, and minimal
> watering or pest pressure.  So I don't sweat the details of how many lbs
> they'll want per week on these items.
>
> Remember to give free samples of something you'd like them to try; some
> chefs appreciate the challenge of something unusual, and one brings back
> samples of his best creations.  This creates impromptu sales when they
> realize the possibilities, and has led to increased orders beyond initial
> requests.  This way I can build demand for the crops that did the best, and
> help cover for the ones that did poorly.
>
> In our area, lots of brassicas (turnips, rutabagas, radishes, etc can be
> seeded in early August through Sept, so I don't have to have it all planned
> out now, and can ask chefs during that period instead of now as I plan for
> fall planting.
>
> Also, realize that in many settings, there are forces beyond chefs'
> control, making it difficult for them to guarantee sales of items 4-6
> months out.  They may be at a different job then!
>
> Sometimes an item they wanted you to grow does not work out for their
> menu; make sure you grant them that flexibility.  A good way to check up on
> that is to ask sous or other chefs which of your items are used, and which
> are still in the refrig.
>
> Glad you are on this adventure,
> Richard Moyer
> SW VA  Thankful for some rain
>
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