Potter Hill Farm supplies Twigs Cafe with organic vegetables.
The following Q&A is from wheretoeatboston.com’s e-newsletter, which you can sign up for here.
Central Massachusetts local food hub Lettuce Be Local is dedicated to the environment, health and community by directly connecting traceable ingredients from local farms to chefs, schools and buyers. Owner & Chief Lettuce Officer Lynn Stromberg makes the farm connections to Twigs Cafe at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. This month’s featured Straight To The Plate restaurant has a commitment to and love for everything local. Chef/manager David Bigelbach shared Tower Hill’s approach.
Lynn: In your farm-to-table history, what’s your favorite experience, product or creation?
David: I support any and all farms, and my favorite thing to do is help out small family farms that are working very hard to get us good products. I think that, similar to teachers, farmers/herdsmen/cheesemakers are often undervalued and not nearly as supported in the U.S. as they are in other countries. I feel helpful if I can connect and buy directly from friends and neighbors.
Q. What local products are you currently working with and where are they sourced? What are your favorites?
A. I’m trying to use 100 percent local products all year, and if it’s not grown here I’ll buy it from a company that buys organic or sustainable and produces locally. I love Jim’s Coffee, Taza Chocolate and Spindrift seltzers. For fruits and vegetables we use whatever is in season, so recent specials feature asparagus, pea tips, kale, arugula, mixed greens and rhubarb. Our favorite locally-made products include all local cheeses, syrups from Old Friends Farm, sriracha from The Kitchen Garden, cider products from Carr’s Ciderhouse (we use a combination of their cider syrup and cider vinegar to make a New England “balsamic”) and cold pressed oils from Full Sun in Vermont.
Q. Sourcing local farm ingredients on a day-to-day basis is full of unknowns — what particular challenges are you facing or have you overcome this season?
A. For us, location is the biggest challenge. It makes sense for a farm to deliver vegetables if they go to a city with large farmer’s markets or many farm-to-table kitchens, but there aren’t many other kitchens around here doing what we do. That’s where Lettuce Be Local really makes it happen for us — if not for their work I would be lost. Being able to purchase just a few items from a bunch of different farms at the same time makes it possible for us to choose sustainable, local and seasonal. Through them I met Spring Ridge Farm where we get eggs, chicken and pork, Potter Hill Farm for fantastic organic veggies, and Lilac Hedge Farm for more chicken, pork and beef.