March 16, 2008

Food - Local Systems, Farmer's Diner

Why Local Systems?
The Farmers Diner shortens the road from the farm field to the diner plate. The current commercial food system is a mess. The Farmers Diner follows a simple design: buy great ingredients directly from area farmers and prepare great meals for local customers. Why would a Vermonter eat lamb from New Zealand? This makes no sense environmentally, agriculturally or economically.

The Farmer's Diner makes it easy to eat locally, which is sustainable for communities as well as the planet by combining time-tested restaurant-chain basics
with socially responsible economics and operations.

How it Works:
• A regional pod of five diners will create an annual market of $1,200,000 for local and regional farmers and producers. A "pod" is a group of diners that share purchasing and preparation by a central commissary that makes purchasing, delivery by farmers, and initial processing much more efficient than if each diner did it alone.

• The Farmers Diner buys the best-raised local and regional farm products, with a preference for the highest quality, closest-by products. Beef must have access to the outdoors and pasture as a principal part of their feed ration and may not be raised with added hormones nor antibiotics. The local area pork that we purchase is raised without added hormones or antibiotics and are raised outdoors or on deeply bedded packs. These practices eliminate improper waste management and focus farmers on husbandry and not industrial management.

• In-season vegetables, when not available from area organic sources, will be sourced from area growers who use Integrated Pest Management systems, thus reducing the amount of harmful chemicals and poisons released into the environment. When local or close-by regional produce is not available, The Farmers Diner currently uses an area produce company supplying typical commercial vegetables.

• Using the Department of Commerce multiplier for dollars spent in local communities, it is estimated that the $1,200,000 spent by a 5-diner pod in local agrarian communities will translate into an economic force of approximately $6,000,000 annually. This will encourage other farm and distribution-related services to be created.

• Each pod of five diners will help maintain and create new farms. With each farm or local processor supplying $30,000 - $120,000 worth of food to The Farmers Diner this translates into 10-40 local farms or other food businesses more secure in their economic viability.

• Using the pod commissary model for processing local produce will help farmers to diversify their operations and receive better compensation without the time requirement of coordinating processing and distribution. This will assist farmers in moving towards polyculture (multiple products) and away from sole dependence upon commodity monoculture.

Our method for creating more The Farmers Diner restaurants will be pretty simple. In each new market area we attract a local group of farmers, business leaders, investors and others who care about viable communities. The Farmers Diner provides the local partners with technical and financial resources in launching and managing a pod of new diners in their area.

This model allows The Farmers Diner to leverage its core business processes, technology and management expertise across multiple locations with significant economy of scale. This will allow us to increase benefits to employees, pay profitable prices to local farmers and provide a good return to our investors.

+ supports and sustains local agriculture
+ creates jobs
+ strengthens communities
+ less need for current food transport system = less carbon
+ increases transparency of where food comes from (listing sources on menus)

Other restaurants with menus built around locally harvested foods:
Chez Panisse:
The White Dog Cafe:
Local 121:

Farmer's Diner website:

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