If you follow the local food scene, you're probably already familiar with Feeding Crane Farms, a new boutique organic farm in within the city limits (in Natomas) that focuses on growing for local restaurants.
The small urban farm has big plans. I recently caught up with Mike Ward to learn more. Ward, you may recall, was the talented chef de cuisine at Lounge on 20 where he was best known for his amazing charcuterie plates. When the restaurant went under, he quickly landed a job at Feeding Crane Farms in a newly created position - culinary development manager.
That was back in May. Since then, Ward has been very busy - working, planning, dreaming.
First up are plans to launch two product lines featuring locally made food products, including sauces, jams, jellies, preserves and a line of cured meats. In order to do that, Ward says, the farm is also in the process of acquiring a commercial kitchen. For food production, that's a crucial step. A commercial kitchen must pass the same kind of stringent inspection done at a restaurant. Wards says details are still being worked out, so he wouldn't reveal the location, saying only that it is downtown. The chef also says Feeding Crane is in talks with several grocery stores about carrying the food products.
Wards says Feeding Crane is hoping to use Kickstarter, the online source for raising venture capital by getting regular folks to make relatively small pledges, to bankroll a portion of the product lines.
"We're trying to raise upwards of $100,000," Ward said. "We're swinging for the fences and, honestly, we're going to knock it out of the park."
There's more. The personable Ward says he is in talks with the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op to teach cooking classes there. A couple of the classes he has in mind are 1. "real" farm-to-table cooking ("I want to show people there is a way to do farm to table and still make it look beautiful") and 2. molecular gastronomy.
Stay tuned for more information on those classes.
Feeding Crane Farms has begun selling CSA boxes to the public. In fact, one of my neighbors was on her way to pick up her box last night at a building the farm owns at 20th and N streets. Feeding Crane hopes to create a market on that site. For more information on ordering your CSA box, go to www.feedingcranefarms.com.
Those are, indeed, significant plans. We'll continue to keep our eye on Feeding Crane Farms as things develop.
Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.