The Farmer’s Diner is an interesting idea – a diner that buys local produce and meats to serve in their restaurant there by supporting local farmers. I like the idea of supporting our local economy rather than sending money further afield. Unfortunately something went amiss somewhere along the line. I don’t know the whole story, by far, but what I do know leaves a funny taste.
I’ve never actually eaten there for the simple reason that the menu sounds too much like what we cook at home so it seemed rather odd to go there when I could easily make the same meal and often do. For the price I can eat at excellent Italian or Chinese restaurants near by. But I can see that it would have its appeal and certainly don’t hold that commonality against it. I would think it would sell very well with the tourist crowd who want a taste of Vermont.
I’ve never actually done business with them either although the buyer for the Farmer’s Diner had said they were very interested in our pigs, being as how we raise our pigs on pasture. This lack of a relation is not for the lack o trying though. For the past year we’ve been working to get something together but it has been a bit of a moving target. At first they said they would buy any and as many pigs as we could supply. They weren’t offering all that great a price, but I figured I would give them a try with our winter batch of pigs and see how it was to work with them. So I saved out one pig from the batch for them so we could see what it was like to work with each other. When it came time to go to the butcher I called them up to let them know I had their pig ready. They told me, “Oh, no, we need groups of at least ten pigs from you at a time.” Ah, okay, that wasn’t what they had said before. New rule. The next time I contact them the number has jumped to 50 pigs at a shot. A few months later it was back down to ten – they explained they had to bring the quota back down because nobody has that many local pigs to offer. Given the shortage of pigs this spring I can understand that. In any case, consistency in the rules of the game would be nice. Perhaps this was a red flag. I’m learning.
I’m not going to raise 50 or even ten pigs for them without some form of commitment and a deposit. Turns out that is a very good thing. When I spoke with their buyer today, he told me the diner is closed. But he hoped they would be reopening. But he wasn’t sure. But he would check into it and get back to me. But the Vermont Smoke & Cure* part of the business was still going. But he mentioned that another farmer had delivered pigs to the smoke house but had yet to be paid. Lotta butts there – puts my ram to shame. The Farmer’s Diner and Vermont Smoke & Cure goes on my cash prepaid list of buyers. I can’t take that sort of risk.
They have a nice idea with the local products angle. They’ve got a good spot in the middle of Barre town on main street. From their press release and what they told me on the phone, I take it they have, or at least had, big expansion plans for both the diner, opening up more locations, and smoke house by adding a slaughter house and butchering which was supposed to have happened by now. We could use another butcher in the area. That would be great from my point of view. I hope they pull through this but I won’t be earmarking pigs for them without hard commitment and cash in hand. Lessons abound.
This isn’t a rant or a diatribe but rather an observation. A musing but not amusing. I’m just glad I didn’t get my bacon burnt. Sometimes one gets lucky and can learn without the pain. Hopefully the people at the Farmer’s Diner will be able to pull their fat out of the fire, put their house in order and get cooking again.