Scot Laney doesn’t fit the usual mold for a farmer: he wore suits and ties for years before starting his own ranch, he grows cattle feed hydroponically in a greenhouse he built himself, and he uses ponds instead of chemicals to mitigate pests on his land. During a time when “family farms” are more of a novelty than a reality, Scot’s wife Irene and two children Hannah and Ryan are as involved in the everyday ranching business as Scot himself. To call this farmer unique would be an understatement.
Scot’s philosophy is unusual, too. On Laney Family Farms’ About Us section of the website, he writes that he and his family believe that “buying Oregon food isn’t just hipster feel-goodery reserved for those with expendable income. It’s a meaningful step in an important connection between food, friends, community and family.”
In an effort to make “the highest quality local food available to the widest audience at the lowest prices possible,” Scot collaborated with other sustainable Oregon producers to start a local distribution program. Eat Oregon First brings together Laney Family Farms’ beef with other Oregon producers’ poultry, eggs, seafood, pork, flour, and grains to sell and distribute under one label. For everyday shoppers this may not sound like a novel idea, given the plentiful farmers’ markets and grocery stores selling local products, but to a food service provider like Bon Appétit Management Company, this is revolutionary.
Laney Family Farms raises cattle that can supply ground beef to a Bon Appétit client account such as Lewis & Clark College. But our chefs want local eggs, pork, fish, and vegetables as well — and that is something that Laney Family Farms just can’t provide, at least not without dramatically branching out. Scot isn’t interested in raising chickens – he says it’s “like having 3,000 Barbara Streisands in your backyard” — and he has no interest in dealing with that many divas on a daily basis!
So in the case of Eat Oregon First, Scot leaves the chicken farming to Matt Hogan at Misty Meadows Farm, and together they sell their products to our chefs under one label, as a combined order, in a single delivery. It’s a great deal for the farmers, because they can save money on transportation expenses and spend more time doing what they do best, farming. It is a great deal for our chefs, because they can place single orders for multiple high-quality, local products and only deal with one delivery truck.
Bon Appétit’s Portland area teams are thrilled to be working with the Laney family and all the other producers of Eat Oregon First, and we are grateful for their efforts to make it easier for our chefs to get local and sustainable products into our cafés.