Last year we did an Indiegogo Campaign with Blue Lizard Farm in Caliente, NV. They were looking to raise enough money to purchase 5 new hoop houses to expand their production on their small farm and allow them to stay in business.
Sadly the Campaign did not reach it’s goal, but…it increased awareness and one of the Chef’s that Blue Lizard had worked closely with got on board. Chef Roy Ellamar was opening his new restaurant “Harvest” at the Bellagio. This was to be a Farm to Table restaurant and he wanted to keep using Rodney’s wonderful produce from Blue Lizard Farm He spoke to the powers that be at the MGM and with the support of MGM CEO Jim Murren, they helped Rodney get those 5 hoop houses. They also set up transport for the produce. The 2 ½ hour drive to Vegas from Caliente and maintaining his refrigerated truck had been a huge expense that was draining their small business.
We went to see Rodney and check in on how things were going on the farm. It was one of the final days of harvest and the beets, turnips and radishes were all coming in for cleaning. Rodney is currently working with a Work Force program that provides him employees to help on the farm. Joe, who is part of the program was bringing in beets by the wheelbarrow load.
The following day the hoop houses were due to arrive. Yep, 5 more hoop houses will be going up soon. They have the ground prepped for two already. With these new hoop houses they can increase their production and next year they will be in a position to hire some full-time employees in addition to the Work Force people.
After a few hours with Rodney we made the 2 ½ hour drive back to Las Vegas. I was lucky enough to be heading to Harvest for a dinner with co-workers. Sitting down at the table it was a joy to look at the menu and see “Blue Lizard Farm” listed in so many places. Chef Roy Ellamar takes this beautiful produce and elevates it. He takes great pride in knowing where the food he prepares comes from and who is growing it. He has made that 2 ½ trek to spend time with Rodney at Blue Lizard, seeing how the food is grown.
The kitchen at Harvest is in the center of the restaurant with glass walls, so you can see your dinner prepared. All the cooks have headsets, so they can quietly communicate, rather than yelling back and forth as in a normal kitchen. There was beauty and calm in that kitchen as artists and artisans created our meal.
Thank you Chef Roy, Jim Murren and all those who see the worth in supporting small farms. The food is delicious and the stories behind the food nourish more than our bodies.
You can find details on Harvest at https://www.bellagio.com/en/restaurants/harvest.html.
Chef Roy was the readers choice for Chef of the Year 2016 on EaterLV! We concur!
Here is a bonus clip
You can read more about Rodney and Blue Lizard Farm at http://4farm2mrkt.com/members/blue-lizard-farm/
And check out the Video about the farm from Project Hoop House at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jkNHGJMvAY
The video will give you some background on where the farm has come from.