Carver Brewing Co. chef Dave Cuntz has the rare opportunity to choose from a diverse list of fresh, local produce and let his imagination feast on the possibilities of new dishes.
“It’s an awesome thing for a chef to have,” he said. “It’s the ability of farm-to-table. I call them twice a week, pick whatever they have available, and it’s delivered right from the farm.”
Carver Brewing Co. recently started purchasing produce from Twin Buttes Gardens, a local growing company founded in 2008. The crops coming in this summer mark the beginning of a relationship between the two companies.
“It’s been a year in the making, and it’s an awesome thing we’re enjoying,” Cuntz said. “You can tell the difference. People have been noticing it.”
Chad Goodale, outreach and distribution manager for Twin Buttes Gardens, said the farm had previously been operating only on about 2½ acres in the Twin Buttes development, mostly distributing through the Community Supported Agriculture program, a locally based economic model for food distribution.
Recently, Twin Buttes reached the point where growers wanted to expand the CSA, as well as the wholesale market, but the company was simply out of land. That’s when Twin Buttes decided to grow its acreage.
“We felt like there was more demand we weren’t able to meet,” Goodale said.
Gabe Edgars, Twin Buttes agricultural director who retired last year, began speaking with Jim Carver, owner of the namesake brewery, about leasing Carver’s approximately 2-acre field – less than a mile north of Bread on East Animas Road (County Road 250) – that had been vacant for the last 15 years.
Carver decided the best use of the land would be agricultural, and he started leasing the field to Twin Buttes in late spring 2014. Growers immediately began tilling the land and planting cover crops in preparation for 2015.
“Jim expressed interest in purchasing produce, and we started selling to them this year,” Goodale said. “It’s the beginning of what I feel like will be a really good relationship.”
Cuntz said he tries to use Twin Buttes’ crops for his menus as much as possible, especially on daily specials. He orders about 40 to 80 pounds of produce a week.
Goodale explained the advantages of a local grower providing produce to a local restaurant, which include food security, freshness and a lot less food waste. He said all of Twin Buttes’ greens are harvested the day they are delivered, so within a couple of hours, they’re cut out of the field and delivered to the restaurant.
“Carver’s is a busy restaurant and goes through a high volume of food,” Goodale said. “When you establish a good relationship with a restaurant, you can dial in crop planning, so I expect we’ll be doing a lot more with that next year. We’re really excited about that relationship and working with chef Dave and Jim.”
The nearly doubling of Twin Buttes’ CSA operation acreage provides an opportunity for expansion. The CSA program added 12 members this year, but Goodale said the garden hopes to hit 100 members within the next two years.