By Jen Risley
We feel inspired – inspired by you: the eaters of the Monadnock Region. Three-quarters of you answered our 2010 survey and said supporting local businesses and agriculture is very important to you. This inspired us to move forward with a program that will empower you to put your money where your mouth is: The Monadnock Menus Program.
The Monadnock Menus Program has a full plate of goals – to create a community where local food is easy to find, increase the number of restaurants and cafeterias serving local food, and encourage more of us to choose local food wherever we happen to eat. As we develop this program we glean ideas and resources from other programs such as the Vermont Fresh Network, New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection, and Monadnock Matchmaker Event.
Vermont Fresh Network
Founded in 1995, the Vermont Fresh Network (VFN) brings farmers, food producers and chefs together and encourages them to build partnerships. Participants throughout the state join by making a “handshake agreement” to buy from or sell to a number of VFN members on a regular basis. VFN then fosters these relationships by creating materials to help eaters identify members (a dining guide and window decal), hosting dinners at member restaurants to showcase farmer-chef connections, and offering a Matchmaker Event to introduce more wholesale buyers and sellers to one another.
New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection
In our state, we have the New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection which hosts Growers Dinners highlighting the products grown and processed locally at restaurants throughout the state. In 2010, there were five dinners including a benefit for the New Hampshire Food Bank. Wouldn’t it be great if a restaurant in our Monadnock Region hosted a Growers Dinner in 2011?
Monadnock Matchmaker Event
For two years, the Monadnock Matchmaker Event connects local farmers, chefs, retailers and distributors in our region – think of it as speed dating for farmers. Last year 60 local food wholesale buyers and sellers, volunteers, and interested community members came to the event to develop new and stronger relationships and bring more local food to you.
Now it’s time for Monadnock Menus to move forward using the momentum gained from the work above plus the work of many other individuals, organizations and businesses who make our local food system stronger. Stay tuned for phase two of Monadnock Menus – and keep your eye out for the Monadnock Menus sticker in some of your favorite restaurants in our region.
Monadnock Menus is a volunteer based program working with the community and local restaurant owners to enhance and establish relationships between consumers, farmers and restaurants to promote the use of locally produced products.