Bentonville eatery Oven and Tap quickly carved out a name for itself in the farm to table scene after opening in May of last year. The restaurant locally sources all ingredients and frequently changes the menu, sometimes daily, to match what produce is coming out of the ground. Oven and Tap is now ready to go beyond simple farm to table by teaming up with Cobblestone Farm who brings a mission element to urban farming.
The Cobblestone Farm Project works to bring a mission element to their local farm based in Fayetteville. The farm works to donate between 50-60% of the produce grown to local hunger relief efforts, while at the same time providing quality products through restaurants, farm shares, and relationships with restaurants like Oven and Tap.
“I actually started off buying produce from them at the farmer’s market before the partnership,” Oven and Tap owner and chef Luke Wetzel tells us.”Their initiative is much more than grow some food and sell it at the farmer’s market. Their hunger relief, education, and community involvement efforts really made them exciting to us. When they stopped by the restaurant saying they were looking to use up the other 50% of the crops we quickly partnered with them.”
The Cobblestone Project was founded in April 2008 by a small group of NW Arkansas families who were committed to putting their faith into action with the hope of making a meaningful difference in their community according to their website. Initially the produce was available through their farm share program, or CSA, that allows people to buy portions of the produce harvested from the farm throughout the growing season. This food purchase, along with larger farm sponsorships, like their sponsorship from Walmart, helps fund the work the farm does in the community.
Last year Cobblestone was able to donate 15,000 lbs of produce to local hunger relief alliances, this year they hope to increase that to 20-25,000. The new initiative to partner with restaurants like Oven and Tap help increase the total amount they can offer.
“Chefs like Luke are helping to drive the local farm to table movement by adjusting his menu sometime daily to reflect the seasonal nature of local produce,” Cobblestone representative Dominique Schulenburg tells us. “He bases his menu on what we are harvesting at the moment. We often call him up and say we have something being harvest this week, at best a two week notice, and he is creative enough to build some fantastic dishes around the produce for his menus.”
Cobblestone’s produce is all naturally grown, and follows organic standards. The produce is not certified organic due to the extensive certification process. “We grow the produce to organic standards, but with our mission focus the extra work to become certified is cost prohibitive,” Schulenburg says.”
The lack of certification is an easily acceptable tradeoff thanks to their high food quality and overall community mission for Oven and Tap. Cobblestone hopes to increase the availability of the produce by using hydroponics to produce during the non-growing season.
“They are working on some really beautiful produce throughout the season. Obviously the best time for produce is summer, but they have built a few growhouses to allow them to produce later into the year,” Wetzel says. “It is very exciting for us, with them being part of the greater good, it matches what we are after. They are doing a wonderful job with what they do.”
Oven and Tap works with a number of other local producers to fill in the meat, fruit, and other needs of their menu, the community partnership with Cobblestone however is a special one for the restaurant. Cobblestone products are already in place with the restaurant that you can find at 215 S Main St in Bentonville, AR.
If you are interested in Cobblestone, you can check out their produce at the Fayetteville and Bentonville Farmer’s markets, or you can join their harvest share program.