Waste Not, Want Not: Helping Local Farmers Sell Produce After Losing Restaurant Business

Deep Ellum garden plots
Deep Ellum garden plots FARM
Like everything else, the food system, both local and at-large, is having to adjust to the challenges we’re facing in light of restrictions that have been handed down due to the coronavirus.

There are reports of thousands of gallons of milk going to waste at large dairy farms and entire onion harvests being buried. Local farmers who provide produce to area restaurants are also struggling to find ways to get their sustainable local produce to dinner tables. Some are left with freezers of beef and stacks of eggs, the latter of which are already being thrown into compost piles. 

For instance, Falster Farms, which raises Hereford and Red Angus cattle, recently had an order for a whole cow — which they raised, fed and butchered — canceled after a restaurant that was set to open in early April had to back out. The Falsters understand the predicament the restaurant is in. 

"This is really an opportunity to connect consumer and producers, and hopefully people learn about the importance of local and sustainable agriculture." – Hyiat El-Jundi

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So, Falster Farms contacted FARM, a Dallas nonprofit that at times works as a conduit between veterans and a sustainable, nutritionally dense food system, to see if they could help them sell it.  

FARM was founded by veterans who turned to organic farming as a way to heal after their military service. They have large garden plots in Deep Ellum where they grow vegetables and sell to the public through their online store.

They also work on training veterans on agricultural therapeutic rehabilitation and connect veteran farmers to local restaurants. It’s a win-win; they give returning military members a way to reintegrate into society through farming while also attempting to help a distressed food system.

And, now their role has expanded. 

“A bunch of veteran farmers sell to restaurants that are out of business now, so they're losing income,” explains Hyiat El-Jundi the executive director of FARM. “We had people calling to try to off-load their eggs, meat and vegetables.” 

Through FARM’s online store, which has new products added to it every day, customers can select local farm fresh produce, eggs, beef and dairy. Soon, FARM should also have vegetables from their own plots in Deep Ellum. 

"This is really an opportunity to connect consumer and producers, and hopefully people learn about the importance of local and sustainable agriculture," El-Jundi says.

Each week orders need to be placed by Wednesday at 6 p.m., and pickup is on Saturdays at their farm in Deep Ellum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It’s a completely touchless transaction, and there’s no need to get out of your vehicle. They ask that you have a box in your trunk, and they’ll load your order for you.

FARM, 700 S. Good Latimer Expressway (Dallas Farmers Market)
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.