Matthew Elliott – Co-founding Farmer
Matthew is an avid outdoorsman with a passion for community and good, fresh food. He grew up spending summers in Kansas working on his grandpa’s farm. There he learned to love small town life and the reward of hard work, farm fresh food and supporting your local small businesses. Matthew has been cruising around north west Denver since 2013 and immediately fell in love with what the neighborhood has to offer.
Throughout college and beyond, Matthew put in his time working in restaurants. He follows chefs with similar approaches to honest, fresh food like Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdain and Giada De Larentiis.
After a major house remodel in 2016, he was ready to plan and garden the backyard. However, he found it difficult due to lack of space and a limited lot. Naturally, he consulted with Chris on vertical garden solutions. Matthew has been in the telecommunications industry for the past 20 years. He had an ah-ha moment while working from home: he was wearing a headset on a conference call and picking his lunch fresh from his garden at the same time. From there they agreed to develop Sunnyside Farmer to bring the freshest, local micro greens to chefs and home cooks alike.
Christopher Schooler – Co-founding Farmer
Christopher has both feet firmly rooted in the land, playing on it, working it, designing it. His ancestors immigrated from the rocky soil of County Cork to the more fertile farmland of the Midwest. Chris spent time on the family farm with his grandmother Stella who was famous for her homemade pies and cinnamon rolls.
One summer day, Grandma asks Chris “what do you want for supper?”
“Fried chicken,” he responds.
“You’ll have to catch one first.” And they proceed to run down a chicken and grandma, who was the gentlest of souls, finishes him off. This is his first “farm to table” experience. It made a lasting impression.
As a youngster this love of the outdoors translated more to sports than the garden: competitive soccer from age 5 through his college years, hours on the ski slopes and bike trails of Colorado. After earning his degree in business from Pitzer College, Claremont, CA, he worked his way around Europe as a ski instructor and mountain bike guide in the Dolomites. He toured India, savoring the sights and aromas and tastes of the local food. He collected spices: cardamom, turmeric, fennel.
Chris returned to Denver to pursue a Landscape Architecture degree. He worked his way through graduate school in the exploding restaurant scene in Denver. He got to know the chefs and observe their skills and craft. He grew to appreciate the contribution of high quality, local ingredients plus careful preparation in creating great food. Always a cook, he began to take it seriously, a trend his family and friends fully encourage. His likes Thomas Keller for his technique and execution and enjoys the cultural aspects of food emphasized by Anthony Bourdain and David Chang.
Sunnyside Farmer is the intersection of all these factors: agrarian roots, reverence for the natural landscape, and appreciation of fine, organic food. All this plus an entrepreneurial spirit and attention to detail. Grandma Stella would be proud.
Matthew and Chris first met in 1993 in Garmisch, Germany as ski instructors for the for US Department of Defense (Armed Forces Recreation Center). Living in Germany made quite an impression on both of them aside from skiing and a few Weißbiers here and there; they both enjoyed tasting the fresh food prepared every day. Europeans tend to visit local butcher shops, bakeries, and farmer’s markets weekly as part of their culture. Fast forward twenty years when Chris and Matthew bumped into each other at Highland Tavern, and immediately started to re-visit their passion for local cuisine and began eating at all the farm to table restaurants.
After quite a few I-70 and ski-lift conversations, a few beers and sessions of ranking their favorite hotspots and dishes, they decided they wanted to be more connected to the fresh food trends happening in the world. After extensive research they found microgreens to be appealing as it is a sustainable method to grow intense flavors and a lot of nutrition in a small footprint.