The 6th Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection (Farmer+Chef) will be held on September 16, 2015, from 12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the Tucson Convention Center. Organized by the Local First Arizona Foundation, Farmer+Chef is a comprehensive event with an eye toward building wholesale business relationships between key players in the local food economy. “The ultimate goal of the Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection is to bring more local foods to Arizonans,” said Kimber Lanning, Executive Director of Local First Arizona Foundation. “Whether those foods are in your home, at a local restaurant, on retail shelves, or in your community's school, we want to make it as easy as possible to source local food products. The best way to reach this goal is to build relationships between Arizona's food producers and purveyors. The Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection serves as a great venue to bring these parties together.”
Farmer+Chef Comes to Tucson for First Time
Paul Moir of SLO Restaurant Concepts in Tucson and Flagstaff, a speaker at last year’s Farmer+Chef Connection, described the event as a one-stop shop with a wide variety of producers featured. “Given the busy schedules of our people, The Farmer+Chef Connection gives our chefs and soon to be chefs a great opportunity to speak face to face with the farms and producers they buy from every week," said Moir. "It’s also a chance to meet new producers they may not have otherwise found.”
This is the first time that the event is taking place in southern Arizona, having been held in Phoenix for the past five years."Tucson is very pleased to host this event," said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. "We have a strong local food culture, from growers to restaurateurs - part of why I formed Tucson's new food commission, to expand on the opportunities inherent in our local food scene."
The Impact of a Strong Local Foods System
According to research, the benefits of sourcing local foods are numerous. “Locally produced foods are often healthier and more sustainable, and they contribute directly to the local economy,” said Lanning. “When more restaurants, hospitals, and schools are sourcing local foods, it improves the health of our bodies, our environment, and our economy.”
A 2015 study by the Illinois Public Health Institute and the Crossroads Research Center found that local food procurement had an impact on creating jobs and generating incomes, among other health and community benefits: “In each locale studied, local food trade increased, resulting in greater sales for selected farmers, more widespread local food commerce, greater visibility for local foods and local farmers, and marginally higher employment, not only for growers but also within distribution systems. The process of local food procurement itself resulted in job creation.”
Farmer+Chef will hold programming to help attendees acquire the tools they need to build relationships and facilitate local food partnerships:
- The Suppliers’ Marketplace is an all day vendor fair featuring a variety of local food products from across Arizona. Producers, distributors and value added processors will line up with displays,samples of their products and wholesale information. Food buyers can meet local food producers to learn about their businesses and what is produced and set upnew business relationships.
- Breakout sessions will occur in tandem with the Suppliers’ Marketplace, offering attendees a customizable experience. Sessions and panels will cover a diverse array of topics important to building up local food supply chains and establishing successful farm to table relationships. With a heavy focus on industry tools and skills, Farmer+Chef breakouts will equip attendees with a new toolkit, and prepare them for success in the Suppliers’ Marketplace. There will be two main tracts to this year’s event: one for those wishing to purchase more food locally, and one for local food producers. n updated schedule of sessions will be available at http://localfirstazfoundation.org/azfarmerchef/ in the coming weeks.
- Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection will close with a Local Foods Reception for attendees that features locally sourced appetizers and Arizona-produced wine and beer. The reception will take place from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Registration for the Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection is now open. General admissionis $10, which includes access to all event programming including breakout sessions, guest speakers, supplier's marketplace, and end of day reception. Food suppliers are also able to purchase a vendor package for $75 which includes two general admission passes plus a table at the Supplier's Marketplace. Members of the public are invited as well and are encouraged to join us for the end of day reception at 5:00 pm. Registration is now open; attendees can register at http://localfirstazfoundation.org/azfarmerchef/.
The Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection is presented by Local First Arizona Foundation, Edible Baja Arizona, Edible Phoenix, Good Food Finder AZ, Slow Food Phoenix, and Tucson Originals.