By the end of this year, Canopy Farms will be growing produce for all of Eighty Ate Hospitality’s businesses in our own aquaponics greenhouse next door to Tao Yuan. It’s been a long time coming.
I joined the Tao team back in 2013, ready to take a vision that Cara and I shared– a farm, in partnership with the restaurant– and bring it into reality. Cara and her mother, Cecile, had been working hard to get their first restaurant off the ground, and it was beginning to pay off. Tao Yuan was coming up on its 1 year anniversary of being open, Cara was starting to be recognized on the national stage, and plans were forming for a second restaurant in Portland (BaoBao Dumpling House). The farm was part of the next phase of the vision, and I was thrilled to be a part of it all.
I have to admit something here, before I go any further: I wasn’t necessarily hired for this job based on skill and experience alone (although I like to think that had something to do with it!). My appointment at Tao had a bit of a nepotistic twinge to it, if you take into account that I was a long-ago dubbed an “honorary Stadler,” with my own slot on the family chore chart and everything. Cara and I grew up together, and stayed close friends all the way from pre-school through the twists and turns of early adult life as we both began our careers. We both focused on food– her on preparing it, and me on growing it. We had dreamed of working together in these obviously synergistic roles, and as Cara grew her business, she had kept this vision in mind. She and her parents had bought the lot adjacent to Tao with their purchase of the property, and it was here that the plan for an aquaponics greenhouse would take shape.