Take a bite into the festivities at Foodfort

Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

Promising five days of organized chaos, Treefort offers the Boise community a spring break experience like no other. Choosing where to go and what to do might produce a headache, but every choice is worth it, especially taking a bite out of the Foodfort festivities. 

One of the many “forts” available to the public, Foodfort centers around the celebration of food from regional chefs and other names in the industry from outside the state of Idaho. This year at Foodfort, the events were as follows:

  • A Night at Miss Kims
  • Eat and Greet: Chef Ji Hye Kim
  • Eat and Greet: Chef Hugh Acheson
  • Street Eats
  • Taste Buds: A Vegan Lunch with Hugh Acheson and Dough Martsch 
  • Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em: a bbq with Tuffy Stone

The sponsors of Foodfort are The Boise Co-Op, Snake River Farms and the Teff Company. 

Tyler Schnur, the marketing director of the Boise Co-Op, spoke about Foodfort and the contributions the Co-Op provides to Foodfort events.

“How are we going to support the local economy?” is the main question Schnur sought to answer on a specific and broad scale. One avenue for supporting Foodfort is through sourcing ingredients locally for events such as Street Eats, which took place at Zoo Boise on Thursday, March 23. 

Another way to expand the Co-Op reach and support the local community is through multiple tunnels of collaboration. The Co-Op partners with thousands of vendors in the greater Boise area and seeks to uplift the Boise community through programs like the community fund.

“Local for us is a 150-mile radius around our store plus the state of Idaho. That’s where we go first to bring on new vendors,” Schnur said.

New vendors are the creatives in Boise crafting homemade soaps, jewelry, biodegradable totes to organic produce, and even heirloom mushrooms. Schnur said that during COVID, people became creative and started pitching new product lines to the Co-Op. 

“We have our same community in terms of vendors. We have probably added 50 or more vendors since last year,” Schnur said. “What we have noticed in change is definitely the demand.” 

For instance, a small mushroom farmer will sell 10-20 pounds of lion’s mane in a day at the Co-Op versus selling the 10-12 pounds throughout an entire week prior to COVID and the uptake of the Boise population. These smaller-scale farmers have to make more deliveries or double their footprint of production. The growth curve has not been slow, to say the least. It’s good for business, but also demanding.  

[The Boise Co-Op, located on 888 W Fort St.]
Elise Ledesma | The Arbiter

The Teff Company, another sponsor for Treefort, told The Arbiter in an email interview from Royd Carlson (part-owner) that their goal is to aid local farmers with a sustainable product to provide income and conserve resources. 

“Teff is a low-input crop, which means growing teff requires less investment by farmers and also helps to shield them from the high costs or risks that can be part of growing other crops,” Carlson wrote.

The Teff Company, along with the Boise Co-Op, is passionate about uplifting local chefs, including some who have worked with Teff in the past or use Teff in their main ingredients. 

“We are happy to be able to return the favor a little bit and support the event,” Carlson wrote. 

These Foodfort sponsors seek to foster a positive impact as a whole, from individuals to restaurants. 

El Korah Shrine, located on 1118 W Idaho St., was the venue for “Taste Buds: A Vegan Lunch with Hugh Acheson and Doug Martsch.” Around 100 people attended, sitting at round tables with happy faces awaiting their vegan three-course meals.

Chef Hugh Acheson welcomed his guests after a short introduction about the delicious vegan feast he prepared for them: “Long live Treefort. Let’s do this.”

Doug Martsch, singer and guitarist for local indie rock band Built to Spill, strummed three songs and crooned out his vocals with tranquil notes. The main course of the lunch was cabbage, which is a versatile vehicle for many versions of dishes in the vegan diet.

Foodfort Director Dave Yasuda was at the lunch event, serving guests alongside Hugh Acheson and the volunteers. 

According to Yasuda, Boiseans can take action to support regional agricultural sustainability by staying educated on the value of organic versus local produce. 

“As a consumer, you need to be educated. People focus on organic, but if I’m going to be buying an organic tomato in January, it’s not local,” Yasuda said. “And at the height of the season, if it’s August or September and you are buying a tomato, you are better off getting it local because anything shipped from Mexico or California is not going to be as good as it is here.” 

Yasuda went on to explain how the growth of the Boise area has been good for the food industry economy as a whole since line cooks are paid more than they were several years ago. Despite that change, prices for eating out have also increased since 2019. He gave simple advice for supporting restaurants: it’s easy as pie. 

“It’s a financial balance: I was dining out more before than I am now because the cost is higher. But I want to support people. If you want to support restaurant workers, be sure to tip,” Yasuda said.

Appropriate tips are around 15-25% on average

“Go to local markets,” Yasuda said. “We are really fortunate in season. There are some awesome farmers markets.” 

The local markets such as Boise Farmers Market and Capital City Public Market are a hop, skip and a jump away. 

Yasuda also likes to visit other spots in Nampa to meet people and see the mercantile and fresh produce available. The plethora of markets is incredible: Meridian, Emmet, Eagle and Fruitland all have farmers markets at Bosieans’ fingertips.  

Treefort has arrived and has departed from the city scene, but more mouth-watering events are sure to come next year.

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