While I was finishing school in the summer of 2006, our family started a new project for the farm, direct marketing the organic rice we grew.After months of preparation, we milled up a small quantity of our organic medium grain rice and began selling it to restaurants and retailers in the greater Sacramento area. With an increasing number of restaurants starting to feature meats and vegetables sourced from local growers on their menus, I figured that it was worth a try to market our own rice in this fashion. Once I began to call restaurants, drop off samples and meet with chefs, it didn't take long for Kru Restaurant to catch my eye as a good potential customer. It was evident upon reviewing the menu that chef Billy Ngo was creating some very interesting dishes and that he might be interested in trying our rice.
After dropping by some samples and talking on the phone, I invited Billy up to the farm during harvest for a tour. Billy visited our farm near Marysville one afternoon, where we took a ride in the rice harvester, walked in our organic rice fields and took a tour of the rice dryer. After visiting our farm, Billy decided to start buying our rice on a weekly basis. Now we are going on four years of working together. Looking back, I have to really applaud Billy for taking a chance in working with our farm. From his view, our organic rice represented an increased cost over conventional rice and we just one more phone call he would have to make each week to order ingredients for his kitchen.
It is refreshing to work with chefs who are genuinely interested in the source of their ingredients and building a long lasting relationship with the family farms who provide them with high quality foods. Clearly, in the past 5 to 10 years, many consumers are finding satisfaction in learning more about where their food is grown, who is growing it for them and how it is produced. As a family farmer, it is comforting to know that consumers are looking to reconnect with growers and better understand the vital role farmers face in the economy and our environment.
For more information on Billy Ngo and his restaurants, visit www.krurestaurant.com and www.facebook.com/redlotusmidtown.
Michael Bosworth is the latest in a long family farming history at Rue & Forsman Ranch, which started operations in 1946 in Sutter County about 10 miles south of Marysville.
After earning a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics at UC Davis, Michael returned to his family farm, which produces both conventional and organic rice.
He created and operates Next Generation Foods, a growing business that provides locally grown foods to businesses throughout Northern California.
In his spare time, Michael enjoys fly-fishing, the outdoors and spending time with his family, girlfriend and his dog, Drake.