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Friday, October 2, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Soul Food Farm's Rise from the Ashes

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 12:34 PM

click to enlarge Monday's benefit at Cafe Rouge has been nixed. - ARTHUR PERLEY
  • Arthur Perley
  • Monday's benefit at Cafe Rouge has been nixed.
The day after a Bi-Rite raffle raised over $8,000 (plus a $2,000 company match) for Soul Food Farm, poultry farmer Alexis Koefoed sounded almost surprised by the level of support the figure represented. "I didn't realize that Slow Food Farm had traveled so far into people's houses," she told SFoodie. "I think it shows that it's important for people to be able to connect with their own personal ideas and values," she said, referring to Bi-Rite customers who bought raffle tickets -- even those for whom Koefoed's prime birds might prove too pricey for regular purchase.

At the same time, Soul Food Farm's blog announced Wednesday that a benefit scheduled for next week at Berkeley restaurant Café Rouge was canceled, due to what the blog called "unforeseen circumstances and slow ticket sales." Refunds are available for those who shelled out the $50 admission price to the October 5 event.

Wednesday also saw Soul Food Farm's fund-raising auction go live online. Auction swag includes a lunch with Chronicle Books' cookbook super editor Bill LeBlond (feel free to pitch your book idea), an autographed Michael Pollan library and tickets to his sold-out November 4 City Arts lecture, and dinner for two at the kitchen table at Chez Panisse. Bidding closes at 4 p.m. October 10, and winners will be announced at a benefit party at Pizzaiolo the next day.

Early last month, a fire destroyed two chicken houses and several hundred baby chicks at Soul Food Farm, and scorched dozens of acres of pasture. In September, volunteers spent a weekend constructing four chicken houses at the Vacaville farm, which raises pastured chickens and eggs for a handful of high-end Bay Area retailers and restaurants.

Meanwhile, Koefoed tolds SFoodie that, while she's been able to supply customers like Bi-Rite and Prather Ranch with chickens and eggs, a painful two-week squeeze will start in the last week of October. That's when chicks burned in the fire would have reached maturity. "Half a month's income went up in smoke," Koefoed said about the two-week gap. "I'm not sure what's going to happen then for us." She said that only three customers -- Bi-Rite, Prather, and Chez Panisse - would get chickens.

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