Parks and Recreation show runners love paying homage to Indy by including tokens for authenticity throughout their hit show, which is based in fictional Pawnee, Indiana. One particular episode features Pacers big man Roy Hibbert picking up the tab for the cast at St. Elmo Steak House, while another shows the cast inside Lucas Oil Stadium taking part in the NFL Play60 event with Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne, among other Colts stars. And during the first season, Bloomington’s Upland Brewing Company logged some airtime with their bottles and beer.
Tomorrow’s episode, called “Farmers Market,” will shine light on yet another Indiana company. This time it’s City Market stalwart U-Relish Farm, owned and operated by Cara Dafforn, who received a call from producers needing assistance.
“They called and said they wanted to buy 20 bags of beans, and I told them that I sold it by the case,” Daffon says. “They went further to ask about signage boards, banners, and table props. So we shipped a lot of that stuff, including linens, crates and [of course] bags of beans.”
The Crock-Pot meal Dafforn cooked up for the show is plainly named “Pawnee Chickpea.” It’s a five-ingredient mix, primarily chickpeas with touches of garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt. The only thing left to add is water. However, the label offers an additional protein suggestion, that one serves it over rice. Sesame seeds are a good accompaniment for vegetarians, and beef for omnivores, Dafforn says.
In light of the TV exposure, she has seen a healthy increase in sales, and on Monday she sold “Pawnee Chickpea” meals exclusively to Kroger, in Fishers, Southport, and Bloomington specifically. The attention forecasts a promising future.
“The concept is it will be a catalyst for a small business to grow,” Dafforn says. “I’m the only employee, and this national exposure has taken my small business to a mid-sized business.”
Viewership could potentially be higher than usual due to Amy Poehler’s recent victory at the Golden Globe Awards, where she picked up a statuette as best actress in a television series (musical or comedy). Tune in Thursday night at 8:30 p.m., and have a remote control ready to pause and look for U-Relish Farm products, as well as a few other City Market regulars.
Dafforn will indeed be watching, full of excitement, as millions feast their eyes on her booming business. “I dreamed that maybe USA Today or The New York Times would come through during the Super Bowl, and that did not happen,” she says. “But this is better I think. I’m a little bit older as a company, my product is more tested and I have more retailers. So, I think timing is everything.”