Chris Eley and his wife Mollie moved from Chicago to Indianapolis two years ago to open Goose the Market, an Old World deli, in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Chris, a chef who has worked in restaurants and hotels from coast to coast, now serves a different clientele by providing a local marketplace for downtown residents.
Mollie and Chris Eley, owners of Indianapolis’ Goose the Market, are passionate about feeding their downtown neighborhood—and about buying fresh meat and seasonal produce from Indiana farmers.
Just as he did when he was a chef on Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue, he turns to local producers for meat and poultry. "At Goose the Market, we start with quality meat," Eley says. "People ask us why our meat tastes so good. We don’t do anything special to it. It’s just quality meat, and that’s what we strive to provide."
In buying direct from farmers, Eley establishes a relationship with those he buys from and even visits their farms. He purchases dry-aged beef from Fischer Farms in southern Indiana, lamb from Viking Lamb in eastern Indiana, and pastured chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pork from Gunthorp Farms in northeastern Indiana.
Eley and producer Greg Gunthorp, a 1990 Purdue Agriculture graduate, first connected when Eley was in Chicago. "Chris Eley was a chef at one of the restaurants that I was selling to, so I had already established a relationship with him before he built his market in Indianapolis," says Gunthorp, whose family enterprise raises and processes about 40,000 Cornish Cross chickens, 10,000 Pekin ducks, 1,000 Duroc pigs and 600 turkeys each year on a 65-acre farm. "Now Chris is one of my largest Indiana customers."
Learning how to grow
Small farms like Gunthorp’s are becoming increasingly prevalent, and the number of businesses that want to deal directly with farmers is also growing. The Purdue Extension Small Farms Team has developed a curriculum to help farmers, whether they’re transitioning from one business to another or making changes on their small farms to meet consumer demands.
"When I was starting to direct sell our meat, there were a lot of headaches," says Gunthorp, a fourth-generation farmer who transitioned from selling on the commodities market to direct selling in 1998. "I didn’t realize how many regulatory agencies there were in this country—zoning, Department of Transportation requirements, and local, state, and federal requirements. I learned things the hard way."