by RYAN MOEGGENBERG
Why is it that people buy local? I have found that there are many reasons that people work harder to support local brands. According to a 2017 survey of the Economic Impact of Local Food Producers in Central Oregon, found on the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance website, Economy, 28 farms and ranches generated $1.5 million in sales. The study also mentioned that 97 percent of sales stayed in the local economy whereas only 28 percent of sales of imported foods stayed in the local economy. Some people are concerned with the environment and choose to buy local so that their food isn’t shipped in from Argentina. You may even turn to local produce because you want the highest nutrition or flavor from your food. When you buy from the farmer’s markets your food was most likely picked a day or two before instead of losing nutrients while in transit for weeks.
When I sat down to interview Parker Vaughn, the executive chef and Aaron Junkin, co-owner of Jackson’s Corner, I had one question for them, “Why does Jackson’s Corner invest so much extra time, effort and money sourcing their food locally?” Parker answered, “It’s more about community than anything for us. We value relationships with vendors, local artisans, farmers and ranchers. That has been the biggest drive. We feed people that come here every day of the week that we are on a first name basis with, and it is the same mentality for the people that we work with because we care.”
In addition to purchasing 4-500 pounds of potatoes and 700 pounds of greens per week from Boundless Farmstead, Jackson’s Corner hosts the Boundless CSA pickup at their eastside location every Thursday evening. “David and Megan [owners of Boundless] are what I see as the next generation of farmers, and they are quite possibly the youngest farmers in Central Oregon. I think that it’s important to support them in any way possible so that there is another generation of farmers,” Parker said. They source beets, carrots, herbs and all of the flowers on the tables in both restaurants from Gigi at Windflower Farms as well.
Parker and I talked about one of the biggest gaps in the Central Oregon food community being a beef cooperative. According to Neighboring Food Co-ops (nfca.coop), “A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” Most restaurants don’t utilize all of the cuts from a single steer, and most farmers do not have time to market their beef to several different restaurants. In order to use the many different cuts of beef to use up a whole steer, a co-op could be a solution. It would allow the ranchers to supply chefs with the cuts that they need from a central source that the restaurants don’t have to hunt for. “From a commercial point of view, I have no doubt that the farmers would sell more. If it was easier to obtain, more people would buy,” was Parker’s opinion.
While talking with Parker and Aaron, I asked them a few questions I know some of you have wondered about:
What is your favorite meal to cook?
Parker: I love cooking with live fire. It adds a different element. It adds inconsistency. I like BBQ, wood fired pizza and smoking.
Do you cook the same way at home as in the restaurant?
Parker: Yes and no. Premise wise, yes, but it’s easier to cook at the restaurant because you have everything you need. The level of building flavors in a restaurant is easier because “he who has the biggest pantry wins.” You always have on hand what you need: canned things, pickled things, dehydrated things, compound butters made from vegetable scraps. Doing all of this at once is harder at home.
Do you grow anything yourself?
Parker: Strawberries, tomatoes and tomatillos. I bought the tomatillo starts from Chris Cassad.
Aaron: Chickens, goats and soon expanding to include pigs. (Aaron delivered a dozen of his eggs from home to Parker during our interview.)
What would you say to someone that is starting a restaurant that wants to have 90 percent of what is served to be local?
Parker: Reliance on a middleman like Agricultural Connections is key. Liz was able to tell Jackson’s Corner how much they have purchased every week over the last five years, which was then relayed to Megan and David [Boundless Farmstead] so they would know how much to grow in order to supply the restaurants.
Jackson’s Corner’s commitment to buying local has helped many people spawn small businesses and even entire farms. Jackson’s Corner and Parilla were the first to order from Kombucha Mama when they started their business before they rebranded to Humm Kombucha. Rainshadow Organics is now the sole supplier of beef to Jackson’s Corner which is around 60 head a year. Boundless Farmstead was able to start their first year with three, $7,000 greenhouses because of the commitment from Jackson’s Corner to purchase from them.
Ordering $100 per week from Amazon doesn’t change the price of Amazon stock. That same $100 a week spent with one farm makes their family car payment. Jackson’s Corner has built a thriving fan base around their brand and positively impacted so many families in Central Oregon by caring about their community first.
Testimonials from Local Farmers
I feel such gratitude to Jackson’s Corner for their true dedication to supporting locally grown, fresh and delicious food, which is lovingly prepared by their chefs. They have been incredibly supportive of Boundless Farmstead, from the beginning, purchasing a wide variety of produce. I’ve never heard of any other restaurant, allowing a farm to use their restaurant for a CSA pickup, and encouraging it with meals created with the ingredients from that farm. A loyal following is created, meal after meal, that’s for sure!
Abby Kellner-Rode • Boundless Farmstead
Jackson’s Corner is truly the lifeblood of economic sustainability for much local food enterprise in Central Oregon. They are walk the walkers. They are true to their mission. They are the real [effin] deal. And they do it humbly because it’s what they believe in as a team of humans who understand the implications of every personal and business decision. Ag Connections would probably not be here today if it weren’t for Jackson’s Corner. We absolutely love those guys and would do pretty much anything for them!!
Elizabeth Weigand • Agricultural Connections
Jackson’s Corner doesn’t stop with only food related community support. They were the first full page ad in HomeSpun Magazine. I walked into the Eastside location and Palmer agreed to run an ad with us on the spot after only seeing our marketing packet. I’d like to think that it was my superior sales skills but I know better. Palmer knew more about advertising that I did. I believe that we have had support from other advertisers in early issues solely to be associated with the credibility of Jackson’s Corner. We wouldn’t be where we are without them. They care about us. They care about you. They care about our entire community.
Ryan and Marcee Moeggenberg • HomeSpun Magazine
I still talk about Jay and Jackson’s Corner in many conversations I have about local partners in the early stages of our business. Jay was over the top welcoming in questions that we had from a business perspective. He (along with many in the Bend community) cheered us on whole-heartedly and I really believed that our success was important to them as well. I’ve felt like they were our partners from day one and continue to show up with the same true honesty and authenticity that we experienced in our early days.
Michelle Mitchell • Humm Kombucha
Jackson’s Corner has meant more to the local farming community than any other single restaurant in Central Oregon. They have supported my farm, Rainshadow Organics, since my very first year in 2010. They care deeply about the ingredients that they prepare for their community and that they are sourced organically and locally. They helped me develop my wholesale program of meats, grains, and vegetables.
Their business is successful because of their belief in relationship with both their suppliers and their customers. They have evolved over time with my farm and all of the ingredients that we provide them. We have grown to provide their potatoes, lots of their greens, all of their ground beef as well as other beef cuts. They are foundational to our farm and its financial sustainability. We are tremendously grateful for their commitment, which has allowed us to supply so much more food to the community via farmers markets, CSA, other restaurants, and even the food bank. We are able to grow on the scale that we do because Jackson’s Corner plans with the farmer years in advance, because that’s the way farming works, and they stand by their word
Sarahlee Lawrence • Rainshadow Organics
Jackson’s Corner was one of the first places to put Kombucha Mama on tap in Bend. And certainly became our biggest customer for a timeframe. Aaron was always there to support, open to new ideas, and super collaborative on everything. Jay introduced us to other businesses as well. It’s businesses like Jackson’s Corner that makes businesses like Humm successful. When local companies give local brands the added value of help and front and center placement, it’s a win for everyone.
Jamie Danek • Humm Kombucha
We really appreciate JC buying from our small farm through Agriculture Connections. It’s a great partnership that JC has been willing to pioneer.
Debbie Fields • Fields Farm
It is a great resource to have restaurants like JC support and purchase from local farmers. As this is my first year farming in Central Oregon, I feel privileged to provide this well accomplished restaurant with any amount of produce, large or small. It is a great way for my farm to gain recognition within the community.
Tyler Zajac • Zajac Farms