Bittercreek Alehouse and Red Feather Restaurants have undergone a facelift. Part of the remodel at Bittercreek includes a pretty impressive new photo wall. Co-owner, and creative director, Kevin Kelpe’s vision for the wall encompasses the restaurant’s philosophy of buying local, practicing sustainability and supporting others who do the same. The images highlight some of the people and businesses that supply the restaurant, as well as the community, with noteworthy products and services.
When Kevin asked Steve and I if we would be interested in providing some of the photography, we said yes, and then afterward, wondered for a moment what we were getting ourselves into. Now, after having completed the project, we can tell you it has been one of the most uplifting and rewarding jobs we’ve worked on. We have met and photographed some incredibly nice people in some incredibly cool settings. Good people, with good hearts, doing good things.
Here’s a little info about each of the subjects we photographed:
Kevin Meyers of Flying M Coffee
Kevin Meyers and his wife, Lisa, have a roasting operation located at their Flying M Coffee Garage in Nampa. There, they produce and sell a variety of coffees, including some organically grown. They use a Diedrich 12-kilo (small batch) drum roaster built in 1995 to roast the beans. The process takes less time than one would expect and is fascinating to observe. Roasting occurs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and they welcome people to come watch. Flying M Espresso Blend has been served since 1995 at the Boise location and several other locally owned coffee shops and restaurants.
Jimmy Hallyburton and staff of Boise Bicycle Project
In the words of their mission statement, “Boise Bicycle Project is a community-oriented effort to promote the personal, social and environmental benefits of bicycling.” Their purpose is to give everyone, regardless of income, access to quality bicycles and bicycle education. BBP functions as a bicycle recycling center as well as an educational workspace. They won’t fix a bike for you, but they will teach you how to do it yourself. The space is incredibly textural with every recycled bike part imaginable grouped together and ingeniously displayed.
Jeff Abrams of Radio Boise
Jeff Abrams, station manager and founder of Radio Boise strives to produce and deliver local voices and music to enhance “Quality of Place” in the Treasure Valley. The goal of Radio Boise is to 1) strengthen the cultural health of the region, 2) empower citizens by providing a forum for a diversity of viewpoints and ideas, 3) promote awareness of community-based organizations and services, 4) support local artists, musicians, and cultural activities, 5) offer an effective instrument for community development and 6) compliment state and local educational efforts.
Jeff May of Bar Gernika
Bar Gernika has been a fixture in the Boise community, specifically a part of the Basque Block for over 20 years. The original owner, Dan Ansogui, passed the torch onto long-time employee Jeff May in 2008. Jeff has been monumentally instrumental in developing Boise’s beer culture which continues to thrive and grow.
Carlyn Blake and Staff of Usful Glassworks (formerly Sustainable Futures)
Usful Glassworks, formerly Sustainable Futures, creates artisan glassware from used wine, liquor, beer and soda bottles. Their mission statement reads: “one bottle, one person at a time”. Second chances are their first priority. And it’s not just about recycling glass. It’s also about giving people a chance. Their products allow them to provide valuable job and vocational training to those in the community who need a little help. Their job-training participants include offenders, refugees, homeless, and at-risk youth, among others. You’ll find their glassware in many restaurants throughout the Treasure Valley, including Bittercreek Alehouse and Red Feather.
Mathieu Choux of Gaston’s Bakery
Mathieu Choux, opened Cafe de Paris in 2002. After a few years, the demand for his baked goods became so great that he created Gaston’s Bakery. Gaston’s uses no additives, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. Each product is skillfully made by hand from original recipes crafted by their staff of professional bakers. They bake in stone deck ovens for a true artisan taste. More than 10 varieties of bread are created throughout the course of a day. Many local restaurants within the Treasure Valley feature Gaston’s breads on their menus including Red Feather Lounge and Bittercreek Alehouse. Above, owner Mathieu Choux checks on his baguettes.
Nate Jones of King’s Crown Organics
Nate Jones, of King’s Crown Organics, is a third generation Idahoan and has been farming for over 30 years. He has been a certified organic farmer for over 20 years, growing a variety of crops which are sold at retail stores and markets. King’s Crown Organics also supplies many of their crops to various restaurants throughout southern and central Idaho including Bittercreek Alehouse and Red Feather. Located in Glenn’s Ferry, King’s Crown Organics is one of Idaho’s Bounty’s producers.
Arlie Sommer of Idaho’s Bounty
Idaho’s Bounty‘s mission is “To develop and promote a local, sustainable food system for the communities of Southern Idaho that ensures safe, consistent, fresh, ethically produced and delivered products direct from their producers.” Idaho’s Bounty strives to serve the growth and long-term health of farmers, ranchers, market gardeners as well as chefs, restaurants, families, and consumers by developing a sustainable local network that supports the promotion and distribution of organic, all-natural and fair trade food. Idaho’s Bounty electronically links local producer members with consumer members through an internet ordering system. Farmer members each have a page on Idaho’s Bounty website where they share their stories, and offer products for sale. Customer members place their orders online. Idaho’s Bounty manages the weekly collection and delivery of products in three regions: the Wood River Valley, the Treasure Valley and the Magic Valley. Above Arlie Sommer unloads an order for Bittercreek Alehouse and Red Feather Restaurants.
Clay and Josie Erskine of Peaceful Belly Farms
Clay and Josie Erskine’s motto for their Peaceful Belly Farms is “local food for local folks.” Nestled in the Boise foothills in Dry Creek Valley, the Erskines cultivate 70 acres of ecologically sustainable, urban-certified organic crops and have a CSA program with 160 members. (CSA stands for community-supported agriculture; a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers). In addition to growing their vegetables free of chemicals, the farm employs cover crops, composting, drip irrigation, companion planting, and chicken pasturing, while abstaining from the use of genetically modified seed. They donate 1,000 lbs of food annually into the local food bank and other outreach programs. The farm also offers classes and workshops on how to grow healthy food and how to cook with fresh local food. And it hosts an on-farm dinner series called Farm to Fork. Clay and Josie believe in the importance of raising food with love and care. Their entire farm staff functions as a family and they all take pride in bringing sustainable, healthy food to your table.
Mike and Marie Heath of M & M Farms
Mike Heath, of M & M Heath Farms, was first introduced to the concept of farming without the use of chemicals when he was working as a conventional farming consultant in Malaysia and the South Pacific. He was there to advise others about farming, but as it turned out, he was the one who was learned something from them. Mike utilized the concept when he returned to Idaho and has been farming organically since 1982. In 1990 M & M Heath Farms was one of the first to receive an Idaho organic certification. Mike states “We went organic and stayed organic because we believe in its health and ecological benefits.” The 500 acres he farms produces more than a dozen potato varieties, a wide range of vegetables and organic beef, pork, chickens and other poultry as well as organic seeds. Mike and his wife, Marie (hence the name M & M) are pictured above.
Bill Stoltzfus of Cloverleaf Dairy & Creamery
Cloverleaf Dairy is part of a small but significant national trend leading away from the highly industrialized dairy model. Owner Bill Stoltzfus and his wife, Donna, concentrate on managing a small herd at their farm about 4 miles outside Buhl and bottling the milk for regional distribution at their Creamery in town. Stoltzfus has been in the dairy business since the early 70’s and is nationally known for his humane dairy practices and his award winning herd of about 80 Holstein cows, all of which have names. While the dairy isn’t certified organic, they strive to keep everything as natural as possible. They do not use rBST, (a synthetic growth hormone). While antibiotics are not usually used, they will administer them if it means saving an animal’s life. Stoltzfus’ processes his milk at the Creamery, which houses a storefront and a bottling plant. His whole milk is not separated, and therefore has nothing more done to it other than pasteurizing. By law he is required to pasteurize and homogenize the separated milk products (2% and skim) and fortify them with vitamins. The creamery produces and sells whole, 2%, skim, & chocolate milk, (all in reusable glass bottles), half & half, cream, butter, and 24 flavors of ice cream.
Leo Ray of Fish Breeders of Idaho, Inc.
Leo Ray, owner of Fish Breeders of Idaho settled in Hagerman in 1971 to raise warm water fish, specifically catfish and tilapia. He utilized the area’s natural geothermal springs, which he considers “a tremendous energy resource.” Over time Ray expanded his operation to include cold water trout and sturgeon. Ray is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and successful fish producers in the country. At his warm water operation, a wooden warehouse with long tanks filled with geothermal water nurse fry for 3 to 4 months. After that they are moved to the outdoor terraced raceways. The water cycles through the system and then runs through a rocky brook where it is cooled and filtered before being discharged into the river. At his cold water facility, the raceways have a total exchange of clean, clear water every five minutes. No antibiotics or chemicals are used and the fish are given a special diet that is free of any land-based animal protein. Fish Breeders of Idaho’s staff controls the entire process from egg through production to processing, and distribution, assuring their customers the finest quality product.
The Ballard Family Dairy in Gooding, Idaho started as a dairy with a only few Jersey calves. As time passed and the herd grew, they decided to expand their operation to include artisan cheeses. After extensive research, consultation and study, they designed and built a dedicated cheese facility on their farm and in Spring of 2004, created their first batch of cheddar. Today, all their cheeses are created in small handmade batches to ensure the finest quality and richest taste. From the barn to the table, they control every aspect of production in order to provide their customers with the safest and best tasting product on the market. Ballard Cheese offers a line of 7 different flavored curds along with 7 varieties of cheese. Two notable offerings include their award winning Truffle Cheddar and their Golden Greek (halloumi style grilling cheese).
Homestead Natural Foods
Homestead Natural Foods provides grass-fed beef, pork and chicken that have been raised in natural pasture using sustainable agricultural practices. They believe an animal’s diet is correctly balanced when they consume natural forages without grains. Homestead Natural Food’s cattle are born to mother’s milk and raised in green pastures. Their animals are not given antibiotics, hormones or stimulants allowing them to grow at their natural pace. Pictured above from left to right are Bill Gale of Mesquite Cattle Company, Debbie Wilsey, of Wilsey Ranch, (both producers for Homestead Natural Foods), and Stacie Hines, Kitchen Manager at Bittercreek Ale House.
Sweet Valley Organics
At Sweet Valley Organics sustainability is their #1 focus and they take that pretty seriously. They use geothermal hot water to heat their greenhouses in the winter. They catch rain water, use on-farm sources for composting and worm castings to put as much back into the soil as possible and they and make their own fuel by using oil they retrieve from the restaurants they supply and running it through a biodiesel processor. SVO is a 100% certified organic family owned farm. Actually it’s owned by three families headed up by Chris Florence, Chance Morgan, and Geoff Neyman. In addition to a variety of crops, SVO raises organic chickens.
Bittercreek Alehouse & Red Feather Restaurants Staff
What can I say. Staff extraordinaire!
Steve and I were honored to have been given the opportunity to photograph this rich group of exceptional human beings. It was an extraordinary experience meeting these people, learning about what they do, and making some new friends in the process.