Lisa’s Real Food Journey

If you ask, you will find that people who truly care about the food they eat always have a story. Because our culture has largely de-emphasized the connection between food and health over the last few decades, many people will go their entire lives never thinking about the effect their food has on their bodies, and will proceed with consuming possibly toxic, nutrient-sparse food day after day. To highlight these stories, we’ve created this series on the Real Food Journey, to tell those stories of how and why we began to shift our own diets. 

Here’s the Real Food Journey of our ’15 Spring Semester Local Food Intern, Lisa Denny: 

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My family’s peach tree, Spring ’15. Blossoms have just set.

I was seven when I ate my first peach. Mother presented the freshly cut yellow-orange flesh of the sweet, common stone fruit in a plain white dish. It came from a tree in our backyard, and yet the snack seemed foreign. I squinted at the sharp, rusty orange ridges where the flesh had parted from the pit, and the downy fuzz on its water-colored skin. I had to face a little fear of the unfamiliar to convince myself to try a bite of what my family was enjoying so much. The furry texture was so peculiar, and then met with a juicy, sweet experience that I had to have again! What a peach!

Navigating through the modern food system, one ponders about the food they eat and why they like the foods they choose. My real food journey began when I tasted something strange and new, and came to find that it was wholesome and delicious, and it connected to me. 

“Clean your plate.” “Don’t ask what it is, just eat it.” These are the well-meaning words from my parents still ringing in my ears. I was raised not to be a picky eater, and to eat hardily. As the youngest child of three, my parents wanted to ensure that I developed a diverse palate, and I was taught to clean my plate, whatever was on it. I was lucky, because our family usually enjoyed wholesome meals cooked from scratch, which were often partly sourced from less than 20 feet away, in our garden.

Our neighbor across the street growing up was a local farmer who would gift us fresh produce from his farm stand. I didn’t understand as a child why the farmer had to sell the land and stop growing food for our neighbors but I know now that the economic reality of farming is harsh. I still miss the sweet white corn from his farm; there’s a Quick Trip where his farm used to be, and they don’t have fresh corn.

I was also fortunate to learn early about the connection between nature and food. We had a small orchard of citrus, apples, and stone fruits, and my parents would grow vibrant gardens in the back yard. In my youth I watched sunflowers sprout from the soil, to be harvested for seeds that would be roasted fresh at home, and enjoyed hot from the oven. I helped harvest peaches and apples for cobblers and homemade applesauce; and most of my afternoons were spent in the highest branches of the citrus trees.

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Fishing with my brother George.

We also learned that food is all around us! My father took us on annual family camping trips at Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim where we would fish river trout to bring home for dinner. We went to berry farms in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest to pick our own berries, mostly filling our tummies instead of buckets; I have fond memories in one thicket, of crouching near the earth and cautiously navigating thorny vines to find the darkest, ripest berries on the vine.

These early experiences in nature connected me to the land and shaped my worldview, in turn adding to an awe-inspiring recipe of what, for me, makes real food.

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Behind the bar at Squid Ink Sushi Bar at Cityscape.

Now slightly older and working in the food service industry as a server and bartender, I’ve found it provides a unique perspective on what people like to eat and what restaurant owners will purchase for their kitchens. In this industry I’ve been fortunate to develop connections with chefs and restaurant owners, and find inspiration in their passion for good food, prepared from the best ingredients, with carefully executed technique and lots of love.

I’ve also come back full circle and now grow my own container garden of herbs and vegetables; an endeavor which, I might add, has also initiated me into a new world of gardeners and farmers who shared their growing tips, surplus produce, supplies, and regionally adapted seeds. The day those first tiny green shoots poke up from the planter is such a rewarding and exciting experience, even more so when the plots are ready for harvest, and fresh herbs and savory vegetables go right from my garden to the kitchen.

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Snapshot of my young herb crop early this year.

One of the most eye-opening experiences in life, though, has been embarking on my academic career at the ASU School of Sustainability. It’s here that I’ve really dug into a deeper understanding of the systems dynamics that connect the environment to human society and our economy.

I learned here that many of the mainstream agricultural practices of today are wildly unsustainable. An integrated system of plant and animal production practices is needed to protect our society’s long-term security. Buying food, locally from farms I know use sustainable practices gives me peace, knowing I have helped ensure the economic viability of farm operations, and helped enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

Unfortunately, it seems these days that we are still surrounded by food that isn’t food. The processed food products churned out en masse by global food corporations are becoming more devoid of nutrients and more laden with preservatives, additives, and synthetic flavors. In this system the distance between people and their food is ever increasing. In fact, now the average distance food travels to get to our plates is 1,500 miles!

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One of my favorite breakfasts: organic honey crunch cereal, coconut almond milk, chia seeds, hemp hearts, fresh strawberries and bananas.

I want to eat in a way that encourages respect for the land, the environment and the earth’s natural cycles. I want my kale salad to remind me that there are biotic community interpersonal relationships at play. I want my roasted beets to imitate the complex universe of soil from which it came. I want my banana to revive in my mind that we are all part of an ecological network. I want my peach to taste good.

I am an advocate for localization, especially as it pertains to food. A local food economy enriches the local community and connects buyers and consumers directly to local producers. These connections forge valuable relationships that strengthen community bonds and social infrastructure. People feel connected to the land on which they live, providing a sense of place.

Sourcing closer to home provides the individual with intimate knowledge about their food, impacting lifestyle choices regarding health and happiness. Local food systems promote healthy social, environmental, economic interactions, in turn creating resilient urban communities. As demand for the local food market grows, farmers are enabled to produce closer to home, inspiring time-honored traditions of working with the land, the soil, the climate and the community to engage in food production.

localist

Working the LFA table at the Phoenix Open Air Market.

As a Local Food Systems Intern at Local First Arizona, I’ve enjoyed the wonderful learning opportunity of working behind the scenes on a team of passionate individuals working to create positive change for the local communities across the state. This experience has allowed me to see how citizens can collaborate with each other to transform their local food system, and their world for the better.

Food is an integral part of our lives, our social interactions, and in the big picture, serves as an indicator of the health of the larger community.

Real food nurtures the whole being, providing nutrients conducive to living well, having a healthy physical body, and serving to sustain a sound mind and spirit. Real food is sustainable. Real food is nourishing, healing, and regenerative.

I like to eat close to the earth, packing my diet with greens, herbs, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes that were produced slowly and naturally. When I source and prepare food with this holistic mindset, I feel better in every way.

salad

One of my go to salad recipes: kale, collards, chard, basil, dill, mint, cilantro, parsley, avocado, green onion, radish greens, radishes, heirloom tomatoes, and any other greens and veggies I can find, topped with a garlic apple cider vinegar dressing.

Real food is like a treasured friendship; you know your origins, and look forward to where you’re going. Discovering what real food is requires bravery; you might have to try new things and be a food vagabond to reach your destination. I daily find that the trek is worth the effort, because real food is delicious and your real food journey is the journey of a lifetime.

 

 

Posted in Local First Movement, Local Food, Real Food Stories, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Against the Grain of Conventional Agriculture

By now, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of this iconic vintage rose logo peaking from the shelves of your nearby retail shop, or you’ve heard chatter about Hayden Flour Mills at the farmer’s market. Perhaps you’ve seen the name featured on a menu of your IMG_4244neighborhood eatery, highlighting the restaurant’s dedication to sourcing locally.

Whether you’re familiarized yet or not, allow us to introduce you to Hayden Flour Mills: a humble operation in Arizona on a hearty mission to bring back ancient and heirloom grains.

With just six employees, three years under their belt, and a recent relocation of operations to accommodate their mounting success, Hayden Flour Mills is making (amber) waves in the grain industry.

Here are 4 ways Hayden Flour Mills is going against the grain of modern agribusiness:

1. They are doing things the good old-fashioned way
From manner of farming to the method of milling, it’s back to the basics for the best quality. Founder of Hayden Flour Mills, Jeff Zimmerman, grew up on a farm in North Dakota where he became disenchanted with the emerging prominence of hybridized wheat in America (a term for plants that are cross bred for higher yields in industrialized agriculture). Zimmerman recognized we were losing variety, flavor, and the health benefits of grains in agribusiness endeavors. His solution was to bring back ancient and heritage grains, as well as the lost art of milling.

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Austrian mill, left

Stone milling is one of the major elements that makes Hayden Flour Mills something special. Unlike industrialized metal mills that reach high temperatures and kill off natural bacterias and nutrients, stone mills crush the grains below 135 degrees F., resulting in nutritious and flavorful flour.

As with any great craft, the industrialized IMG_4259process is no match for the quality that comes from a miller’s understanding of the grain as it sifts through his hands. It is tedious work, especially since a lost art means lost instruction, or in their case, foreign instructions for replacing broken parts on an Austrian mill. But the superior results are worth it!

 2. They know fresh is best
Flours here are milled as the orders roll in. The result? Wholesome, fragrant, nutty flours that truly smell alive. Trust us, we took a whiff.
There’s no sitting in storage for months at a time becoming rancid and bitter, as is the norm with most flour you’ll find in stores. What’s more, just a “hop, skip, and a jump away” the Sossaman fields grow the grains that Ben, the Master Miller, grinds.

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Jonathan, miller’s assistant at work

 3. They are all about community
Hayden Flour Mills wouldn’t be what it is today without the local support and partnerships that got it here. Long story short, Jeff Zimmerman connected with Chris Bianco, the notorious chef of the Bianco restaurants. With similar pursuits of change for the better in our food system, they partnered up and the back room of Pane Bianco became the starting grounds for Hayden Flour Mills. Today, their facility is found on Sossaman Farms, which not coincidentally, is where the majority of their grains are grown.

IMG_4291Back in 2012, Steve Sossaman joined in on the Hayden Flour Mills mission- a fitting partnership considering the history of Hayden’s namesake from the Tempe, Arizona mill, along with the Sossaman family that has been farming in Queen Creek since 1919. Of the 800 acres of farmland (mostly alfalfa), 30 acres are now dedicated to growing heritage grains, but with the company’s success, that acreage is set to increase.

In the first few years, it was local chefs and restaurants that were the biggest champions of Hayden Flour Mills. They recognized the exceptional quality and became regular buyers. Transparency, collaboration, and communication became key to the operations. Customers gained personalized feedback about the crops, catered to the needs of the products they would make. The bridge between the farmer, miller, chef, and the public was being built, along with the brand.

By 2014, Hayden Flour Mills products were in demand from over 100 restaurants and retailers. One mill just wouldn’t cut it. 200 lbs of flour per hour was the max production capacity. With the acquisition of two more mills, it was time to move to the larger space at Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 12.34.28 PMSossaman’s. The main mill now produces 700 lbs per hour. In a general day, two mills are in operation. A third is dedicated to gluten-free grains.

The company’s partnerships reach beyond restaurants and retail. For two years, on the site of Phoenix Renews, the group nurtured the growth of heirloom grains for the sake of community involvement. They hosted educational events where the public could share in the process of planting and harvesting. In the future, Hayden Flour Mills hopes to expand its reach by opening up the mill for educational tours.

4. Their red, white, and blue grains are more “green”
You know the Arizona joke about how “it’s a dry heat?” We might not thrive in it, but wheat sure does. Hayden’s most popular selling White Sonora wheat originated from Europe and was brought to the southwest in the 1600s where it adapted to the arid climate. In comparison to modern resource-intensive wheat production, White Sonora is a hearty, drought tolerant grain that requires little water.

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Blue Beard, a heritage grain that turns purple when mature

Hayden Flour Mills is all about agro-diversity. They grow over 10 varieties of heirloom grains including Red Fife, Blue Beard, Durum Iraq, and Bronze Barley. More variety means diverse flavors to experiment with, but also, it’s a continuation and celebration of Arizona’s unique heritage. In the words of Native Seeds/SEARCH, one of Hayden’s community partners, “The resiliency of our food system depends on agricultural biodiversity, as farmers can draw on the myriad genetic combinations as raw materials to develop new varieties better adapted to an uncertain and changing environment.”

Posted in Agriculture, Farm to Institution, Local First Movement, Local Food, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Simple Mother’s Day Brunch Recipes

What better way to show appreciation for the important women in your life than to prepare a healthy, seasonal brunch? Arizona is unique in that this time of year we have the luxury of enjoying beautiful tomatoes and sweet peaches while still enjoying spring delights like greens, onions, and potatoes. You can find local sources for fresh baked bread, bacon, farm fresh eggs, beet greens, heirloom tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and even peaches, honey, and pecans by searching Good Food Finder and visiting your nearby farmers market.

Egg, Bacon, and Beet Green Sandwiches

Ingredients

8 slices whole wheat, rye, or pumpernickel bread, lightly toasted
4 eggs
4 slices of bacon
1 bunch of beet greens, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 tbs shallot, peeled and thinly sliced (about one medium)
Salt and pepper to taste
Mayonnaise (optional)

Directions

  1. Fry bacon over medium heat, flipping often to ensure evenness, until just beginning to foam. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  2. Remove all but one teaspoon of bacon drippings from pan. Reserve remaining drippings. Return to medium heat and add the shallot, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes until just starting to brown.
  3. Add beet greens to pan and stir until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place beet greens in a bowl and set aside. Add 2-3 teaspoons of bacon drippings back to the pan and return to medium heat. Add eggs one at a time to pan. Cook 1-2 minutes per side to achieve your desired doneness.
  5. Assemble sandwiches with mayonnaise on bottom piece of toast (if using), then bacon slice, topped with fried egg.

Tomato, Onion, and Potato Gratin

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced crosswise
2 pounds gold potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1-1 1/2 pound tomatoes, preferably heirloom or roma that are very ripe, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbs fresh thyme, minced
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly drizzle olive oil into a 9×9 inch square or oval glass baking dish with at least two inch sides.
  2. Layer onions, potatoes, and tomatoes in that order so they are overlapping. In between each layer season lightly with salt, pepper, garlic slices, and thyme.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and white wine. Add enough vegetable stock to fill the dish half way up the sides. Cover with foil.
  4. Bake for one hour, pressing mixture down half way through bake time to ensure moisture permeates throughout.

Roasted Peaches with Honey, Cinnamon, and Pecans

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2-3 pounds ripe peaches, stones removed and sliced into wedges
3 tbs butter or coconut oil, melted
2 tbs honey, brown sugar, or agave syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts, roughly chopped
1-2 c fresh ricotta or plain yogurt (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a 9×9 inch glass baking pan, layer peaches and pour over butter, honey, cinnamon, and pecans. Toss to combine.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until peaches are caramelized and pecans are toasted.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh ricotta or yogurt, if using.
Posted in Good Food Finder, Local First Movement, Local Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 Conversations on What’s Working Locally in AZ

BALLE2014Wed-44The 13th annual BALLE Conference is coming to Phoenix this June 10-12. The BALLE Conference is the national forum for visionary local economy connectors who are making a difference in their communities. We’re planning to bring hundreds of business owners, social entrepreneurs, community funders, policymakers, conveners, network builders, and local economy leaders from around the country to Phoenix as visionary thought leaders and practitioners share their wisdom and experience advancing the emergence of a new economy that’s just, fair, and healthy for people, place, and planet.

At the conference, there will be 8 key conversation tracks that you can participate in, covering working models that increase economic inclusion, build community wealth, change what ownership looks like, and more. These are the most cutting edge, innovative, and important conversations happening in Localism right now – led by the brightest lights in the movement and their respective fields.

Check out the important conversations we’ll be having at this year’s BALLE Conference:

BALLE 2015 local-firstRLOCAL FIRST 3.0
This track represents the intersection where land use and planning meets local ownership and culture, and the importance of measuring what matters. We’ll hear how community foundations are partnering with local first networks to strengthen entrepreneurial innovation,  and get an update on the BALLE Quick Impact Assessment. – Track & Session Info


BALLE 2015 soil-naturePSOIL & NATURE
This track will dig deep into the ways we can better feed us and feed the soil in which all life depends. We’ll focus on two regions that are trying to feed themselves: a big initiative that has brought together policy and partnerships that include farmers, Cornell University Extension, investors, and farm incubators around an intention to feed NYC locally. – Track & Session Info


BALLE 2015 localist-policiesYLOCALIST POLICY
Organizers for economic justice are finding common ground with new economy economic development. In other words, not just rights in an old system, but a new economy that works for all. One example featured in this track is the great work happening between Kentuckians for Common Wealth, which is organizing for political power. – Track & Session Info


BALLE 2015 innovationPINNOVATION FOR GOOD
Community entrepreneurship is not a solo sport and this track is all about building a winning team. We’ll see how Detroit is bringing together all the right players to support an ecosystem for community entrepreneurship and community economist Michael Shuman will share his research. – Track & Session Info


BALLE 2015 community-capitalOCOMMUNITY CAPITAL
Forging partnerships between investors, local financial institutions, community foundations, and the business organizations that support and strengthen Localist entrepreneurs is critical. In this track, we will be exploring how to map, connect, and grow that capital ecosystem in your place. – Track & Session Info


BALLE 2015 shared-ownershipYSHARED OWNERSHIP
Dansko and Tanka Bars will walk us through a company transition to employee ownership and Project Equity will show how to scale employee and cooperative ownership more broadly. City governments are increasingly cultivating the conditions for more public and community ownership, investors are joining together to invest together, and more. – Track & Session Info


BALLE 2015 opportunityOOPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
Building from Gandhi’s concept of swadeshi and Martin Luther King’s teachings that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together, there is a convergence of movements underway calling for less corporate control and more to community control. - Track & Session Info


BALLE 2015 magic-soul-inspirationRMAGIC & SOUL
Etsy.org, a brand new foundation endowed from Etsy stock, will focus on developing an open-source curriculum and “regenerator” to build a different kind of economy rooted in well-being. Founder Matt Stinchcomb is coming to Phoenix for input from our community. – Track & Session Info


It’s a huge opportunity to be able to attend the BALLE Conference here in our home state, we hope that you can join the conversation and help shape solutions to build strong local economies in Arizona and across the nation. Register before May 1 to save $100! We look forward to seeing you at #BALLE2015!

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Repost: Keeping it Local with Merit Foods

tucson-foodie-logoThis post was written by Edie Jarolim, and was published on Tucson Foodie

Tucson Foodie is a proponent of the local food scene in Tucson, Arizona. With a focus on quality content on Facebook, Twitter, and through the Tucson Foodie website, their goal is to bring you current, food related information and to encourage a healthy, fun, and entertaining dialog online. Tucson Foodie also organizes food related events at restaurants and venues in Southern Arizona. You can find the full story at Tucsonfoodie.com/2015/03/20/keeping-it-local-with-merit-food

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Photo Credit: Miranda Morrison, Merit Foods

Merit Foods might be the most successful Tucson grocer you’ve never heard of.

You can bet that many of your favorite local restaurants and caterers are loyal customers, however. And now the word is getting out: Home cooks can also take advantage of this bulk distributor’s discounts.

Since the 1960s, when Irving Sadowsky founded the poultry business that morphed into Merit, the family enterprise has been a part of southern Arizona food service circles. A member of the Tucson Originals and the statewide Local First Arizona, Merit is known for its fresh, high quality products, from hand-butchered meat to fresh vegetables, as well as for associated dry goods like paper plates. Some 500 dining rooms, hotels, casinos, and retirement homes as far south as Nogales, Arizona, and as far north as Black Canyon City depend on the company’s reliable, fast delivery service.

More on this story at Tucsonfoodie.com/2015/03/20/keeping-it-local-with-merit-foods 

 

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The Quality Beef Moooooovement in Cornville

Franch1-2or the past several years, a food movement has been sweeping the nation – or, at least, the Arizona region. Arizona residents have been placing a huge emphasis on knowing where their food comes from – which is incredibly important, if you think about it. You know your doctors and your dentists by name, so why shouldn’t you also know the people who are helping you put food on your table? That’s the theory behind this week’s feature, the Tres Hermanas Ranch in Cornville.

Tres Hermanas is suring up PureLifeBeef, 100% grass-fed cattle. These cows do not eat corn or grain. The beef at Tres Hermanas is not subjected to hormones, steroids, pesticides, or herbicides. They graze on irrigated grass pastures, lounging in the shade of Sycamore and Cottonwood trees on a wide, open field. What does this mean for you? Well, for starters, it means that the beef you get from Tres Hermanas is healthy and all-natural. You’re getting beef the way that it was meant to be consumed – without the inflammation, disease, and chemicals that are commonly byproducts of grocery store meat. Additionally, Tres Hermanas cows are raised in an ethical, happy environment with impeccable standards, so you can feel good about how your hamburger got to the table, too. To learn more about the beef at Tres Hermanas, visit their website here.

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Tres Hermanas Ranch (that’s Three Brothers, if your Spanish is rusty!) has been running out of the Northern Arizona region for over twenty years. Originally established in 1984, Tres Hermanes has long been hailed as one of the most beautiful places in the Corneville area. It is located in close proximity to Page Springs fed Oak Creek. The ranch is run by Arizona natives, Ernesto and Isabel Castro. The operation is family run down to the core – the Castro’s have even employed their three daughters and seven grandchildren on the farm for the past several years, which means that you are getting all the love and quality that comes with being part of a family.

NOTE: If you would like to reserve a beef package, orders will be starting up again in June 2015. The farm is sold out until that time. In the mean time, you can call ahead for individual cuts of meat. Orders can be placed here and will be processed as soon as possible.

Posted in Farm to Institution, LFA Member Spotlight, Local First Movement, Northern Arizona | Leave a comment

Dining Out for Life is Good Food for a Good Cause


Dining Out for Life
 is an annual event inspiring local restaurants in Phoenix and Prescott to raise funds in support of the fight against HIV and AIDs. On the last Thursday of April every year (next Thursday!), restaurants sign up to donate all or portion of their nightly proceeds to organizations pursuing the cure and care of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDs.

On Thursday April 30th, you can help by dining at any of the following participating restaurants.

To learn more about Dining Out for Life or view participating restaurants in other states visit their website at www.diningoutforlifeaz.org.

Participating Local Restaurants

Phoenix

Barrio Cafe

Mazie’s Cafe and Bistroguest-check-FIGHT-AIDS-crop

Pizza People Pub

FEZ Restaurant & Bar

Bliss ReBar

HULA’s Modern Tiki

The Vig

Cibo

Sierra Bonita Grill

Switch

Tuck Shop

Vovomeena 

Prescott

El Gato Azul

Participating restaurants are donating anywhere from 10% to 100% of the night’s profits to The Southwest Center for HIV/AIDs Research or Northland Cares. You can see how much each restaurant is donating by viewing the Dining Out for Life website here.

Posted in Excellence in Localism, Greater Phoenix, Local First Movement, Local Food, Northern Arizona, Restaurants & Dining | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Libations

Known as the friendliest and original wine bar in Scottsdale, Terroir Wine Pub is a great location for engaging in deep conversation, taking in the lovely desert spring weather outside in their tranquil patio complete with a waterfall, and enjoying a glass or two of wine imported from around the world. Terroir offers 30 continuously rotated wines by the glass, as well as a large selection of beers, cheeses, chocolates, and cigars.

Terroir

Terroir is conveniently located in the Scottsdale Seville Center at the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Indian Bend. More than just a wine pub, this charming neighborhood bar offers weekly events, wine storage, a private meeting room, special order services, in-house tasting, wine storage consulting and much more. Terroir is best known for the friendly staff who are knowledgeable and passionate when it comes to wine and finding the right pairing of wine that matches your palate or craving.

You can even check out owner Brian’s weekly podcast on the internet radio program, Good Libations every week on Fridays at 1pm MST when he spotlights the value wine section of the show. At Terroir, the wine list changes almost every day and the unexpected is sure to arise when you stop by. Its diverse client base and warm hospitality provides a memorable, engaging evening out that begins with a simple pour of wine. Plan your visit to this Scottsdale staple soon!

Written by Somlynn Rorie

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Banking Locally: Venue Projects and Gateway Bank

The Newton Front

The Newton at 3rd Avenue and Camelback is one of Venue Project’s concepts.

In celebration of Community Banking Month this April, we are profiling some of our community banking members and their local business clients!

At last year’s speed dating event for local businesses and local financial institutions, Venue Projects, a local redevelopment and construction firm, was matched up with Gateway Bank, a community bank based in Mesa. “We attended the banking event last year and met James Christensen, president of Gateway Bank,” said Lorenzo Perez of Venue Projects. “James has personally come out to see our projects and is excited to lend us the funds for our next development. Community banks understand the local climate and are much more likely to fund infill projects for local companies. We bank locally and have been very pleased with our relationships.”

According to the Institute of Local-Self Reliance, one of the top reasons for banking with a community bank or credit union is that you keep decision making local:

At local banks and credit unions, loan approvals and other key decisions are made locally by people who live in the community, have face-to-face relationships with their customers, and understand local needs. Because of this personal knowledge, local financial institutions are often able to approve small business and other loans that big banks would reject. In the case of credit unions, control ultimately rests with the customers, who are also member-owners.

The experience with Venue Projects and Gateway Bank illustrates just how true this is. If you’re interested in personalized banking on a local level, join us for our meet and greet with local financial institutions on April 29! Click here for more information.

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Local First Charmed by Glendale’s Cottage Garden II

IMG_5940Visiting downtown Glendale anytime soon? If you’re in the market for charming and unique gifts for yourself or a friend, look no further than the Cottage Garden II! Located just off the main drag of historic Glendale, Cottage Garden II features beautiful jewelry, clothes and artful accessories. If there’s one thing that Local First Arizona can recommend, it’s to explore all that Glendale has to offer. Take yourself off the beaten path and wander down a side street where you’ll find a plethora of charming boutiques and antique shops stacked full of great show pieces perfect for your home.

Local First Arizona made our way to Cottage Garden II for our April Evening Mixer. Owner Carol Migray pulled out all the stops to showcase the best that Glendale has to offer. The Spicery provided delicious deli sandwiches on incredible rolls and Linda of Papa Ed’s graciously gave generous ice cream and sorbet samples.

IMG_5944Local First Director Kimber Lanning warmed the room noting an exciting upcoming local banking event we’re hosting on April 29th. Community banks and credit unions will be gathering at the Hotel Valley Ho to talk face-to-face with local business owners about how to easily shift their dollars back into the community. Here in Arizona, 96% of all our money is held in national banks with headquarters outside of our state. Local banks and credit unions are funding more infill projects and providing local business loans when the big guys don’t.

“We attended the banking event last year and met James Christensen, president of Gateway Bank. James has personally come out to see our projects and is excited to lend us the funds for our next development. Community Banks understand the local climate and are much more likely to fund infill projects for local companies. We bank locally and have been very pleased with our relationships.” – Lorenzo Perez  & Jon Kitchell, Venue Projects

Learn how you can shift your money into a local bank or credit union Wednesday, April 29th. Click here for more details and to RSVP for our free informational meet & greet!

IMG_5941Among the attendees were our newest members, Bob and Sarah of Spinning Wheel Antiques. After years of collecting antiques from estate sales, the two decided to open their very own shop. We’re excited to welcome them as business owners and as Local First Arizona members!

Even after we packed up our registration table, members stayed late to continue networking. We’re grateful to Carol at the Cottage Garden II, Linda with Papa Ed’s Ice Cream and Matt from the Spicery for hosting another successful mixer. Join us next month as we head to Phoenix Ale Brewery! Click here to register for May.

Thank you to all attendees:

Affiliated Children’s Dental Specialists
Arizona Correctional Industries
Blue House Boutique
Cottage Garden II
Danzeisen Dairy
DePaul Creative
Float Balloon Tours
Glendale Women’s Club
Q-tsie
Sole Sports Running Zone
Spinning Wheel Antiques
Surprise AZ Web Services
The Tole Shop
Papa Ed’s Ice Cream
The Country Maiden
The Spicery

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