Three years ago, two of our founders started a concessions company to bring organic and local food to music festivals all over the country. From Bumbershoot to Electric Forest to Bonnaroo, we trouped around the country meeting organic grass-fed cow raisers, vegetable farmers, and potato farmers on their farms or in Wal-Mart parking lots (seriously) to bring only the best most responsibly-sourced food to festival-goers. Every summer, we loaded up the truck and hit the road to serve organic grass-fed burgers, organic gluten-free soy-free veggie burgers (thank you to everyone at Whole Foods across the country for making those random "20 cases of Sunshine Burgers" orders happen), fresh-cut curly fries, fresh-cut sweet potato fries, and seasonal side salads (dressed in Mom's garlic vinaigrette) to hungry concertgoers. As we crafted our menu, we realized we needed a drink option that would pair well with our "new American" menu - something better than the sugar-saturated lemonade available everywhere else. A friend recommended a ginger-mate-limeade recipe, and as gourd-and-bombilla-carrying members of the mate enthusiast club, we were excited to give it a try. After some experimenting, we came upon the perfect brew that was not only delicious, but also really perfect for keeping festies (ourselves included!) hydrated, dancing, and happy during a long four days of body-shaking bass and pelting sun. The drink's popularity grew, and soon people were visiting our stand ten or more times per weekend to get their mate fix. We knew we were on to something, and were excited to figure out how to share the benefits of the wonderful herb with as many people as possible.
As the summer of 2014 came to an end, we returned to the city one member stronger and were invited to participate in our first local LA event, a recurring Saturday-morning farmers' market. As we crafted our menu, we delved into a discussion of who we really were as a company and who we wanted to be. The idea when we started out in 2012 was to be an online participant in the local food revolution, creating enough content to keep people interested in our adventures (we did get full access to some of the largest music festivals in the country) and constructing a bridge between the festival world and the local food movement. By traveling so often and meeting so many people doing hugely important work local to their communities, we were excited to put people in touch on a national level and start a national conversation about food and farming through a unique lens. We succeeded in that mission, to some extent - the reality of running a self-sustaining mobile restaurant meant that the huge online presence we were hoping for wouldn't quite exist without a team solely dedicated to telling our story. (If you have a thousand pounds of potatoes to cut and fry, how will you do that, document it, and travel 12 hours to do it all over again?) We would need a different model that allowed us to accomplish both goals of sharing our passion for food and advancing our mission to shape a better food system. After much talk, we decided, since so many people love our mate - and we can source just about everything we need organically and local to LA - we'll offer fresh energizing ginger-mate limeade every Saturday morning, and hopefully have enough time to talk about our travels and the importance of local food in the meantime. The response to the drink was incredible, and we quickly grew into more farmers markets and more blends. We figured out what worked and what didn't, and now, a year later, we are ready to share our story with all of you. We've sold the catering equipment (not to say you won't see us slinging grass-fed burgers ever again-it could definitely happen) and are focused on creating a community of erva lovers big enough to help us build a sustainable yerba mate farm in Florida (where it's humid enough to grow). We want to bring the amazing effects of yerba mate to people all over the country, and create a drink that is 100% grown, harvested, and crafted in the U.S. We have hope that if enough people start doing things (business) a little differently and commit to creating big change in their own communities, we can all look forward to a brighter, happier future. A farm will allow us to lower our carbon footprint considerably, and create well-paying jobs for people in Florida and all over the country, as erva becomes the new afternoon pick-me-up and our distribution capabilities expand. We aren't perfect and our idea is not to present ourselves as such - we want you to become a part of our true story: in this blog we'll fill you in on our successes and our challenges, share some footage and insight from our past travels, and hope to have you join the conversation! Thanks again for reading, and have a great day - cheers!