My friend Peter Merriman invited me to sit in yesterday as a New York television crew taped a story about his restaurant. Here's his Waimea restaurant.
Myself (left) and Peter Merriman.
Lunch at Merriman's
If you look closely at this next photo, you'll notice that Merriman's landscape is edible. They grow herbs, lettuce, sugar cane, lavendar and artichokes. The chef walks outside several times per day to get fresh herbs to cook with.
More of the edible garden.
Many years ago we heard through the grapevine that Chef Peter Merriman was offering to purchase vegetables directly from local farmers. This was unheard of then. In those days, farmers could only sell through distributors, who based the farmer's price on the cost of imported produce.
Peter was the first to pay local farmers more than what it cost to get produce from the mainland. Not only that did he pay farmers well, he also told them, "I want to see you guys drive up in a Mercedes one day." The farmers stepped up and grew all kinds of stuff for him.
Twenty years ago, on Christmas Day, I was lying around reflecting on things. And one thought kept nagging at me: What a special thing it was that Peter was doing for Big Island farmers. I looked up his name up in the phone book and I called him.
I said, "You don't know me, I'm a banana farmer on the Hilo side of the island and I won't benefit from what you're doing for farmers on the Kona side. But I want to tell you how much I appreciate what you are doing for the small farmers. Thank you."
Yesterday Peter told me: "I remember that day many years ago. It means a lot to me."
It means a lot to me!