On this week's episode of What's Eric Eating, farmers Scott Snodgrass and Clayton Garrett join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Loam Agronomics, the almost 300-acre urban farm they operate in Richmond and Chef Fest, an event celebrating local produce that's taking place on Sunday, March 4. The conversation begins by discussing how Loam evolved from Edible Earth Resources, the Houston restaurants that purchase produce from Loam, and the challenges associated with farming in Texas.
Beyond meeting the legal requirements for operating an organic farm, Snodgrass explains there are other benefits to operating this way. As he explains, new research demonstrated that focusing on sustainability can even lower operating costs.
For us, it's really a focus on the health of the soil. There's really so much research being done right now, and we're seeing a huge paradigm shift, not just in agriculture, but in horticulture as well. Just as we're learning about the microbiome that exists in our stomachs, we're learning the same thing about the soil. The soil's the great digester. We have to treat it that way and care for those microbes, so they can provide the fertility plants need.
Which, frankly in the end, makes things much cheaper for us than if we were buying chemicals. It makes things safer for our staff and the people who consume our vegetables. We have fewer concerns with toxicity on the farm. In the end, research is starting to show now that if you handle this well, you'll end in a place where your yields are higher than with chemical inputs.
On Sunday, Harvest Green, a nearby 12-acre sustainable farm that's affiliated with Loam, will host Chef Fest. The event has attracted some of Texas' top chefs, including Ned Elliott (formerly of Austin's Foreign & Domestic), Adam Brick (Austin's upcoming Marinas), Andrew Wiseheart (Austin's Contigo and Chicon), Matt McAllister (Dallas' FT33), Jillian Bartolome (Aqui), and Rebecca Masson (Fluff Bake Bar). While many food festivals focus on meat, Chef Fest will celebrate produce grown at both Loam and Harvest Green. Tickets are still available.
Prior to Snodgrass and Garrett joining the show, local restaurant consultant Nathan Ketcham joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include the Houston-centric episode of David Chang's new Netflix series Ugly Delicious, the updated plans to transform the Houston Farmers Market, and the news that Fig & Olive will open soon. In the restaurants of the week segment, the duo share their experiences at Willow's Texas BBQ and Moxie's Grill & Bar, the new sports bar that opened near the Galleria.