By Kristy Luckily
Like most farmers, Jennifer Urich rises before dawn to tend to her crops; unlike most farmers, she transforms the fresh produce into gourmet eats, which she sells out of an upcycled shipping container.
Farmer x Baker, a 160-square-foot, window-service cafe, debuted at the end of July in Aspinwall Riverfront Park.
Open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with Sunday dinner served from 6 to 9 p.m., the place specializes in wholesome, affordably priced food. The menu changes weekly, but customers will always find an array of biscuits, bagels, salads and sandwiches.
Urich sources seasonal ingredients from Root and Heart Farm, her five-acre plot of land in Gibsonia, and from other local and midwestern growers, including Tiny Seed Farm, Freedom Farms and Frankferd Farms.
“I my not be fine dining, but I’m fine ingredients,” says Urich, a former landscaper with a passion for baking. “We have such a bounty in this state. It’s exciting for me to be a champion for these farmers.”
Together with Chef Jesse Barlass, of Colonia at Smallman Galley and Station, she’s giving Pittsburghers a unique dining experience.
Patrons can take their meal or cup of coffee to go or relax in a seating area shaded by large canopies. For now, the spot is BYOB, but Urich hopes to offer beer and wine (and a special boater-friendly menu) in the near future.
Weather permitting, Farmer x Baker will operate until December, when Urich will start to winterize the shipping container, which boasts electricity, running water, a convection oven and a natural gas range.
For years, she’s been interested in shipping container construction and its modern, minimalist design. The mother-of-two wanted thought about launching a food truck, but the fast-paced concept didn’t gel with her lifestyle.
She wanted a stationary facility by the water, but didn’t want to shell out big bucks — and create an even bigger carbon footprint — on a brick-and-mortar store.
Last November, after doing several pop-up events at the site, she approached Aspinwall Riverfront Park’s board of directors with her idea.
“They liked it because of the environmental aspect” she says. “Our partnership makes sense; it’s a platform to talk about sustainability and sourcing locally.”
Urich signed a three-year contract with the park and began designing her dream eatery. Her husband, Rob Weaver, a professional iron worker, constructed the container.
Farmer x Baker will hold a grand opening celebration on Aug. 25, featuring live music and a culinary collaboration with Black Sheep BBQ.
Everyone, from hikers, bicyclists and kayakers, are invited to stop by the waterfront spot, eat good food and enjoy the beautiful view.