Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?

One of the challenges for me in our campaign to procure only "clean" food is finding folks who are producing local, organic and all natural goods. Rather than calling up the largest restaurant supplier in the country and placing my order for anything the culinary heart desires, we have started building relationships with farmers and producers on a smaller and more personal level. Once we find them, we have to work through the details of supply issues, prices and solutions for shipping, delivery or pick up. This takes time. Now instead of two or three purveyors, we have dozens. On a household level, it is easy to see why so many of us shop at the "super" stores. Getting it all in one place saves time and money. Currently, it just does not make since for most restaurants to operate with multiple purveyors.
Regardless of the tough work, Evins Mill is in for the long haul. The best is not always the easiest when deciding what goes on your plate. The relationships that take all that time to build only have to be built once if they are with producers that are as passionate about their food as I am about preparing it. Once we have our family of producers on board, the process 0f purchasing their products will become as simple and common place as calling the big guys. I know we will not be able to stop using the large purveyors for certain items and during certain seasons, but we can try. It is great to be able to cut out the middleman when we can and know that the farmer is getting what he wants for his product and not what he was pressured into selling it for.
One relationship we have enjoyed for almost eight years is with The Herb Cottage here in Smithvillle. They are great model for what we want to achieve with our new purveyor friends. Susie Yelverton is the owner along with her husband Eddie - a goat farmer after whom my daughter named her prized stuffed goat. Besides being good neighbors, they grow all the fresh organic herbs and cut flowers we use here at the Inn. Susie sells starter vegetable, herb and flower plants in the green houses and is known as the local expert on herbal supplements, of which she carries a wide variety. The Herb Cottage is open Tuesday through Saturday and is a great place to visit during a stay at the Inn. One thing they do not have is a website. You can reach them at 615-597-2926 or click on the link above to google map them.
Forget about the extra work in finding neighbors to supply your food; that just might be the most rewarding part...aside from cooking and eating it! Off to find more neighbors.


  1. Great job to Evins Mills!! How exciting to see the chef's dedication to bringing in as much local, organic and sustainably produced food as possible. I have visited Evins Mills several times and know how good the food is - how exciting to see now how good it is for you!! A big green star to you - salute!

    Andrea George, Director
    Sustainability and Environmental Mgt Office
    Vanderbilt University

  2. Thanks Andrea, hope to see you soon.