It's been a a little over a week since we released our Harvest Edition and we are just so grateful for ALL your love. Seriously. To keep the good times going, we're sharing this profile of farm-to-food truck Humble Plum. Their effervescent spirit and holistic approach to nourishment will warm your heart (and belly!) Enjoy.
WORDS: NICOLE STANTON
IMAGES: PETER HANS WARD
Gosh, their lemonade has some heart. I met the men of the Humble Plum at Carbondale’s Mountain Fair -- a small town, Colorado fair complete with wood splitting competitions and fire dancers. Their purple booth, menu scrawled in chalk, tapestry-draped tables, and a crew of friends bustling in the kitchen. I had their mint beet lemonade and was hooked, coming back three times over Mountain Fair weekend. Their whole menu was dang intriguing, though. “Elevated Elixirs” served alongside raw goji berry chocolate and “Mountain Mac.” After Mountain Fair I discovered that the Humble Plum crew makes and serves their exceptional, locally sourced food out of a up-fitted Blue Bird school bus, painted purple.
The project started four years ago, at the University of Michigan. At its conception, the Humble Plum was far from a large purple bus operating out of a small mountain community. Peter, co-founder Humble Plum, was in an entrepreneurial course where he and a friend came up with an idea for a web-based community tool to access the local food network. He describes it as a “where can I get this” kind of site -- but for all locally sourced products. Peter has his eyes and ears and heart aimed toward his community always, it seems. At the start of our interview he just gushed about the Roaring Fork Valley, a community he and I now share. Since moving here last summer, he’s just been in awe of how everyone is super engaged. “People read the local paper, and are interested in starting dialogues about community issues -- it’s just awesome.”
After the web idea took root, Peter and his friends realized it needed to be about human to human connection. They landed on the idea of a mobile option -- an empty, mobile container with the ability to use food to bring people together wherever it goes. “We imagined hosting dinners in the middle of the woods, really connecting people to their place. To be honest we sold ourselves the vision before we had the money,” Peter admits. The money came soon, though, when their class decided to fully sponsor the start of Humble Plum Kitchens. The university gave them the space, they snagged a Blue Bird bus off Craigslist, and off they went.
Peter and his friends built the bus in the summer of 2013. “There couldn’t be anything too extreme, and it was all pretty bootleg. We asked Blue Bird for the plans of the bus interior, and spent a ton of time thinking out the design. In a space that small, you have to be intentional with every inch of the space -- ceiling, floor, all of it.” Since then, and since landing in Carbondale, the Humble Plum has been sticking to working community events. Peter is keen on sticking to the bus’ original intention, and they’re doing a dang good job at it.
Humble Plum Kitchen is now a staple of the Roaring Fork Valley food scene, an icon, I’d say. Peter, and the head chef Hayden, are drawn to Carbondale in particular because of its access to local, organic agriculture. “It’s all just right there.” Some of Peter’s good friends grow most of their food, and he continually emphasized how much of a community production this project really is. Their popularity thus far has been all word of mouth. Peter, Hayden, the “workhorse” Chad, and the totally positive response of the Roaring Fork Valley community has brought the Humble Plum great success, and will be the key to its growth moving forward. I am most certainly excited to see their big purple bus around town this winter, serving up Hayden’s carrot-ginger soup -- yum!