Agraria, a new restaurant in the posh Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., is owned and operated by the North Dakota Farmers' Union. It cost nearly $4 million to launch. Every ingredient in every dish is produced by American family farmers.
Robert Carlson, a wheat and barley farmer, is president of the farmers' union and the catalyst for the restaurant. Agraria, a name suggested by another North Dakota farmer, means "from the land."
"Farmers aren't all about getting federal money," Carlson says. "We're also about doing things to help ourselves... The ultimate way to add value to your product is to put it before the consumer in a restaurant."
One typical menu item, linguini fruiti de mar, includes pasta made from North Dakota durham flour and shrimp from a family-run fishing outfit on the Gulf Coast.
It doesn't hurt that the restaurant's location is likely to attract political power players. But Carlson says launching the eatery in the nation's capital "really has nothing to do with lobbying," adding "it has a lot more to do with the fact that Washington, D.C., really never has a recession."
He says he hopes the restaurant is the first of many across the nation.