Last week, I had the most amazing creamy and fresh Frischkäse I ever had in Berlin, I ate it directly out of the glass, I spread it on sliced Kohlrabi, I had it with currant jam on fresh toast, I finished the whole jar in less than 3 days. Where did I get that wondrous dairy product, you ask? From Erdhof Seewalde, a farm about 90km north of Berlin, that delivers their produce to many of Berlin’s Michelin star adorned restaurants, but isn’t big enough to be present at Berlin’s farmers’ markets. Did I drive there just for a glass of fresh cheese? It would’ve been worth it, but I didn’t, it was way easier: I got it at Food Assembly.
It’s an idea that came to Germany from France two years ago: a community organized project to connect farmers with city-gourmets, making it possible to shop produce from different vendors online, and pick it up a certain date of the week. It works as follows: a dedicated and passionate community member decides to start and host a new assembly, invites farmers to join, sets up the new assembly on the main website, and then starts to organize the weekly sales. On the consumer side of things, it’s even simpler: you subscribe to up to three different assemblies, check their weekly offerings, order and pay them online, and then go to the weekly event to pick them up.
The producers that join the Assembly usually aren’t big enough or have enough staff to join the weekly cycles of farmers’ markets, which means they’re small ventures, focussing on either vegetables, dairy or meat. Which also and most importantly means, they’re really good at what they do. Like the Erdhof Seewalde (I would also and totally recommend their rhubarb, but the season is almost over because of the drought and so you’d only be disappointed you can’t order it…), or the Gärtnerinnenhof Blumberg, of whom I bought the delicious Kohlrabi, both of them are available at the Food Assembly in Mitte.
When I asked Eva, host of the assembly in Mitte and owner of café Diderot where the weekly events happen, why she’s doing it, she instantly answered because she loved the project. She enjoys the networking, the keeping in touch with the farmers and meeting the neighbors. There’s only a small provision for her, and hosting can amount to a lot of work, but you’ll understand why this is so enjoyable once you’ve done it. It’s something quite special to receive a bag full of produce from the people who actually grew it, to talk about the lack of rain that lead to the rhubarb being quite thin this season, the state of the herbs and vegetables, and all the things you always wanted to know about the produce you’re eating.
There are currently nine assemblies in Berlin, many of them share producers, so it makes sense to join the one near you, you can find a map of them here. I love this project a lot, so please try it (and then make it a thing to get your weekly groceries from a Food Assembly!) Support your local farmer!