The Boston Local Food Festival is an event that focuses on local and sustainable food initiatives. Entering its third year, the event will take place on October 7th at the Rose Kennedy Greenway, overlooking Boston Harbor. As one of several Boston area food bloggers chosen to cover the BLFF, I will be writing a series of posts that highlight various enterprises that use and support local foods and sustainable business practices. I know I have expressed my interest in increasing the amount of local foods we consume in my own home, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart.
My first assignment was to cover Ula Café in Jamaica Plain. I used to live in JP, and it’s perhaps one of the more progressive-minded areas of Boston. There is a great focus on supporting community endeavors and sustainable practices in the area as a whole, so it’s little wonder that Ula Café has taken those goals as their own. Located in the historic brewery at 284 Armory Street, Ula opened their doors in June 2007 with the goals of running a café focused on using locally grown foods and other sustainable business measures.
But what struck me is that they approach these admirable but somewhat lofty goals with a realistic vision. I spoke with Korinn Koslofsky, who started the cafe with business partner Kate Bancroft, and she was very open about the need to combine the sustainable measures with what also works best Ula Café as a business. They are part of the charter group of the Sustainable Business Leadership Program, and as such, have undergone several audits to see where they can improve their efforts in this direction. They take all of the recommendations very seriously and do their best to comply, but they also recognize that they can’t employ all the measures if it means pricing themselves out of business altogether.
Ula Café was part of the BLFF last year, and Koslofsky expressed to me just what a pleasure it was to take part in such an event. Jamaica Plain is simply a neighborhood of Boston, but it can often feel like a town unto itself. Living and working there can mean not getting out into the other parts of our fair city very often, so it was great exposure the little cafe. It was also a wonderful opportunity to network with new vendors of local and sustainable products, and to talk with other business owners about how they approach these goals.
Ula makes almost all of the food on the premises, in the small back kitchen, even going so far as to make the applesauce used in their apple cake. They try their best to procure locally-grown produce, but as we live in a region where the growing season is short, there are some food items that come from other parts of the country. As an individual who eagerly anticipates her local farmer’s market months before it starts, I understand this viewpoint. I can appreciate the pragmatism with which Ula Café approaches keeping their sustainable business in business.
I did not get a chance to visit the premises before this assignment was due, but I look forward to seeing the Ula Café folks at BLFF on October 7th, and tasting their wares.
For more information on the Boston Local Food Festival and its mission and goals, please visit their website at http://bostonlocalfoodfestival.com.
Also check out Ula Café’s new website and blog at http://ulacafe.com/.