Many restaurants across the city support local farmers with as many purchases as possible, said Crabtree Farms Community Partnerships Manager Avery Patten. A few of them are:
Lupi’s Pizza Pies
Main Street Meats
2 Sons Kitchen and Market
Wine Down Ooltewah
For a full list, pick up Crabtree’s TasteBuds brochure from any of the above restaurants.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Pick Tennessee initiative has focused on connecting consumers to local farmers since 1986, but for the first time, Crabtree Farms is partnering with the program to create connections between local farmers and area chefs.
"This opportunity came at a crucial time, with new restaurants coming to Chattanooga, particularly restaurants looking to be a part of the local farm scene," said Crabtree Community Partnerships Manager Avery Patten.
The two nonprofits' partnership began with a USDA grant focused on bringing more local food into the economy.
"There's no real other distribution channel that focuses on local food and connecting chefs and farmers," Patten said.
But the benefits of the related Eat and Greet event, being held for invitation-holders Aug. 14 at The Gray Dove in Ooltewah, go far beyond the farmer and chef.
According to a 2008 study by former Chattanooga think tank the Ochs Center, if Chattanoogans spent even 5 percent more on locally sourced foods, that would mean an additional $100 million for the regional economy. And as the city has since grown, Patten added, so could that number.
Satisfied taste buds aren't relegated to locals, either. The tourism aspect of a rich local dining scene also translates into additional dollars, with local flavors drawing visitors to sample the city.
Outside of events like the upcoming chef/farmer meet-and-greet, the opportunities to get to know one another can be few and far between, due to the involved nature of each job.
"These chefs and farmers are extremely passionate about what they do, but their jobs are incredibly time consuming and they don't always have time to overlap and get to know one another and to understand each others' disciplines or what the other is looking for," Patten explained.
"But fostering that to create a city that has a strong cultural identity with its food is important. Food is just another way to connect people and showcase our unique city culture and its focus on farm to table."
Patten noted that there are dozens of Chattanooga-area restaurants with an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced produce.
For more information on Pick Tennessee, visit picktnproducts.org. Crabtree Farms spearheads a similar, hyper-local initiative, TasteBuds. Learn more at growchattanooga.org.