What started as a conversation about farming at neighboring booths every Saturday at the Puyallup Farmer’s Market has morphed into a partnership which allows Arista Pasta to embrace a farm-to-fork mentality at the restaurant.
Arista co-owner Ben Herreid and Drew Constant of Rolling Rock Farm built a relationship that will benefit both entities going forward.
“I said it would be really cool if we could do some sort of farm venture, and he had heard of an opportunity to get a hold of a couple acres of land next to what was Terrie’s Berries,” said Herreid, who opened the restaurant with his sister last fall. “It makes this a really good opportunity because it takes away the risk of him jumping into a farming operation without knowing that everything he grows is going to be consumed. It’s really good for us, so it can be our little farm in partnership with him. Now I can go to the market and sell basil that we produced together.”
Constant comes from a long line of farmers. His family has owned a farm in Graham since the 1950s, but Constant hopes he can be the first one to make a living off of the family’s land.
“We’ve always farmed the land, but nobody has made a living at it,” he said. “I’m the first person to make a stab at changing that.”
Constant and Herreid are borrowing two acres of land to plant their produce seeds, and once those seeds come to fruition, Arista will incorporate it into the downtown Puyallup restaurant’s menu as well as sell the items at the farmer’s market.
“I’m already going there and setting up, and I’m already paying the dues, I might as well have some more stuff for sale,” Constant said.
Seventy percent of what is harvested will go to the restaurant, and the other 30 will be sold at the market.
Constant allowed Herried to pick the seeds, and in a few short months, the parcel located off River Road that is currently covered in sod will help Arista fulfill a goal of being farm to table.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Herried said.
“You’re supporting the local economy and you’re keeping farm land as farm land,” Constant added.
The land hasn’t been farmed in nearly 10 years, so the fertile land will produce basil, eggplant, Tuscan Kale, Summer Squash, onions, edible flowers, cabbage, carrots and more. Constant’s farm in Graham has soil that is not conducive to growing vegetables, so this allows him to farm it and have a few extra items at the Puyallup Farmer’s Market this spring.
“It’s beneficial for him because he can have access to vegetables that are within five minutes of his restaurant,” Constant said.
Herried and Constant both agree the farming partnership is a step in the right direction to allow customers to indulge in produce grown and harvested in their own backyard.
“I hope it will produce really healthy, clean food,” Herried said. “It brings awareness to local farming and agriculture that is happening around here because you go up to grocery stores and there is plenty of shipped-in produce, but there is plenty growing right here in the valley that people can purchase. Even if they come out here for dinner and they see that we are using a local farm, maybe it’ll sink in.”
What is produced at the farm will hit plates at the restaurant once harvest season begins.
“It can all be cut and served in the same day,” Constant said.