Last week, we had the unique opportunity to see one of our local vendors in action! Volcano Veggies held an open house event, with reception held at Humm Kombucha’s flagship store on 2nd Street in Bend. Volcano Veggies’ guests were treated to free kombucha, beer, wine, and snacks; along with a short presentation conducted by owners – Shannon and Jimmy Sbarra. After educating their guests on the company’s background and goals, we headed out for a short walk to Volcano Veggies’ urban farm.
Jimmy’s mother Pam, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, inspired Volcano Veggies. Pam’s aversion to traditional (cancer) treatment led her to begin making and drinking smoothies made with leafy greens. As a show of support, the Sbarras started green juicing as well and got hooked! After learning about aquaponics in Hawaii, the couple began designing and building their own system. After a year of research and development, the Sbarras opened up their shop in Bend.
Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (farm raised fish, snails in tanks) and hydroponics (water cultivation) in a symbiotic environment. Volcano Veggies is one of only three certified organic aquaponic farms in the world! As any gardener in Bend knows, our local climate can be an unpredictable and frustrating challenge to traditional agricultural methods. With this in mind, Volcano Veggies strives to make locally grown, nutritious, organic foods accessible to the Central Oregon community through aquaponic farming.
The “locavore” movement has become an increasingly popular option for those who wish to support local businesses, reduce transportation costs, and know exactly where their fruits and veggies come from! For perspective, Volcano Veggies is only 1.6 miles from Newport Avenue Market, whereas a mass grown branded lettuce may travel over 12,000 miles to get to your table! According to Jimmy, this lettuce will have lost a substantial amount of its nutrients only four days after harvest! As the first vendor to carry Volcano Veggies produce, we, at Newport Avenue Market, are proud to support a local business committed to providing the freshest, healthiest, and environmentally conscious products to Central Oregonians.
In the words of the Sbarras: Volcano Veggies has come a long way from conception to development to production, but the journey continues with the support of customers and retailers (like us!) to provide local and organic produce to our own community, and in the future, use their aquaponic knowledge to create more locally-sourced produce sites across the country!