Restaurant owners want partnership with local farmers

(KATV) Faulkner County - From the farm to the table. Local restaurant owners want to provide customers with produce at the peak of freshness but it can be difficult to find the tastiest foods without the right resources. That's why farmers and restaurant owners in Faulkner County are networking, trying to find solutions.

The Faulkner County Cooperative Extension helps farmers better grow their product but now you could say they're getting in the business of marketing it. They have also started a website anyone can use. Market Maker allows you to search for specific produce in your area.

The Conway Farmer's Market is closed six months out of the year. It's where Chris Jennings, owner of Cross Creek Sandwich Shop goes for fresh fruits and vegetables. She explains, "Sometimes we can only have specials during those times of the year. So anytime I can get the fresh stuff, I'm all about that."

When Jennings advertises fresh home grown specials, it helps business and she's looking for a way to extend the offers. "Yes, it may be a little bit more expensive because the farmers work hard and it's hard to get things because the weather and yeah there is a little more expense in that but it's so worth it."

The better taste is why Jennings is attending the panel discussion, connecting restaurant owners and farmers to talk about ideas on how to work together.

Cody Hopkins, a first generation livestock farmer says it's proven to be successful in big cities. He says, "It would be nice to have a place where I could drop off all my products and have them distributed to restaurants in Central Arkansas."

Kami Marsh with the cooperative extension says the large scale effort will take more planning, but everyone from the consumer to the restaurant owner and up the chain to the farmer will benefit. She adds, "Regardless if it's in a school, or at a farmer's market or restaurant, we want consumers to have fresh grown Arkansas produce."

A sandwich might cost an extra few cents or an extra dollar. It is too soon to say exactly. Details like, if a farmer will become partners with a specific restaurant or will grow a row just for restaurants, that's still up in the air.