Chaco Supported Agriculture

Sunday, June 5th is your last chance to sign up for Seattle Tilth’s CSA. Earlier this year Seattle Tilth’s Food Hub Manager asked Chaco Greenwood to become a CSA pick-up site and we were excited to accommodate. We’re glad to offer a space for interested community members to pick up their farm fresh produce. Check out Seattle Tilth’s website for more information on how you can become a member and support their incubator farms.


What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture is an incredible way to build capital for farmers at the beginning of the farm season. By purchasing your share of produce early in the season, farmers receive income at a time of year when they don’t yet have anything to sell. By purchasing a share of their output ahead of time, the farmer can purchase seeds to put in the ground that will eventually become your cornucopia of summertime- barring environmental disaster. Yes, investing in a CSA is an agreement of trust and will. You are signing up to go along with the roller coaster ride of Mother Nature. But this is exciting! This might mean one year green beans are a plenty and the tomatoes are juicy, or another year it’s mostly kale and cabbage. You just don’t know. We always hope for the best.

An exciting element to Seattle Tilth’s CSA is the support it builds for an aggregate of important community programing. A bulk of Tilth’s CSA contents comes from many different farmers at their Auburn incubator site, which is meant to support new, immigrant, or limited resource farmers. There is also produce grown by the Youth Garden Works program. Buying a share of Tilth’s CSA not only ensures fresh produce for you throughout the season, it also means jobs, growth, and development in our community and stewardship of the land.

Pick-up at our location will be Thursday afternoons (4-8 pm), from June to October. Most other questions can be answered at Tilth’s CSA website.


farms csa
In lieu of Seattle Tilth and Food Hub photos which are plentiful on their website, here pictures from a recent tour I did in Europe. Farms are lovely all around the globe!


Farmer's Markets
Rouen Farmer’s Market

Did you know at Chaco, our employees can also opt-in to support our local farmers? Through what we call Chaco Supported Agriculture, employees (only) can sign up for organic, weekly produce to be picked up directly at work. It offers us the ability to have purchasing power and buy produce from farmers through the Puget Sound Food Hub, even when it’s not what we’re cooking up in the kitchen. The Food Hub is a great non-profit, cooperatively run network that helps farms sell and distribute their goods through an aggregate format that allows for easier sales and distribution. The benefit to the farmer is selling directly to grocery stores, universities and restaurants like us, while we see that the benefit for us as consumers is fresher produce and knowing more about where our food is coming from.


Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe
Commissary Kitchen

Proudly Serving Happy Valley Sprouts

Microgreens are quite a buzzword these days but what ever happened to sprouts?

Now that its springtime, these warm, longer days are urging me to put on the gardening gloves and get out in the yard to plant some tiny pea plants, cilantro, and mustard greens. It’s hard not to clip these little greens and put them on my sandwich. While microgreens are a labor of love and dirt, sprouts can be as simple as an overnight jar on a counter- it’s a shame that so many people shun them from fear!


Like any raw food, sprouts can be prone to hazardous bacteria such as salmonella, e. coli, and listeria. However, these outbreaks are rare, and the outcome of sprouting is an endless list of health benefits that I encourage you to look into if you’re looking to get a little more mineral nutrition into your daily diet.


In our kitchen at Greenwood, we sprout buckwheat, lentils, fenugreek or other seeds for specials or events such as our Valentine’s Day Dinner. However 99% of our sprouts are clover sprouts from Happy Valley Sprouts in Bellingham.


house salad

Happy Valley Sprouts tests every batch of sprouts they produce; they have never had an incident of food borne illness or sprout recall in 25 years of business. They deliver to us directly, so there’s no middleman. We benefit from this direct from the farmer relationship by getting fresher sprouts for a better price (which we are able to pass on to customers). Our direct relationship allows us to call Happy Valley Sprouts whenever we need to adjust our orders depending on how quickly we’re going through sprouts, and they adjust their growing batches accordingly, which leads to a fresher product! Every week, Happy Valley Sprouts delivers their product in large flats, which we save and return, cutting down on packaging and plastic waste. They’re able to sanitize and reuse the flats multiple times. Yay for reusing!


If you’re wondering how you can get more sprouts in your diet, beyond daily Chaco consumption of course, try out the EasySprout Sprouter that we sell in the cafe. Sprouts are highly nutritious and easily digestible. Visit the International Sprout Growers Association for more information on varieties, history, and nutrition values.


If you’re unsure whether or not you have time for sprouting in your life, check out this video below to see how it’s done.


Happy Sprouting!

The Community Bowl Program; Why We Moved the Scale

In 2013, we began offering the Community Bowl at our University café location. The idea was to have a full sliding scale meal option at a suggested price, available for free once per day per customer. The sliding scale was adjusted this April, continuing as the same grain bowl, but now with a donation minimum between $2-9, above that is still considered a donation to the program.


daal bowl (3)

The Community Bowl was created as a nutrient dense bowl (rice, beans, carrot, cabbage, kale, garlic tahini, and toasted sunflower seeds) that would hold well- along with an orange or banana that theoretically could be saved for later*. It was created so that people without regular access to whole foods could get something healthy once a day, regardless of their ability to pay.

When you look at this program in a bubble, it was extremely effective. It is a healthy menu item at a busy café that was available for 3 years for free in part because it was subsidized by the community; there continued to be a lot of donations, and Chaco as a business was not losing money on the program. When you pop the bubble, and look at Chaco Canyon as a whole and what we are trying to create, this program looks quite different. We have a stated mission of having zero impact on the environment, and we balance every business decision with our people (including our community), the planet and our profits in mind. What it comes down to, is that this program on a daily basis confronted our desire to be sustainable. Every day, we would have people walk away from their tables or from the café after ordering a Community Bowl, which would then sit unattended or waiting to be picked up, and would be either not eaten at all or partly eaten in a bus tub.

Looking at the amount of food not being consumed and wasted daily, we needed to rethink this program. By assigning a real dollar value, we have given our customers a sense of personal value for the food we provide. We did not think $2 would be an unattainable height for most, though we knew some would no longer be able to use the program. We have seen the effects of this recent change and are still seeking a better answer.

Perhaps if more businesses began offering sliding scale options, more cultural norms would be established, and there would be less friction and hostility on the front lines of these interactions. As a society we need to acknowledge where we are not meeting the needs of our most vulnerable populations and work together to strengthen our communities. We at Chaco Canyon Café continue to create structures and space for this discussion every day.

*The community bowl at Chaco Canyon Cafe Bakery in Greenwood is our daal bowl and does not come with fruit.