I got a fun question to answer on the weekend, and that was a reader asking where to find local food. This is a question I got a LOT from milk customers, or just other random people who are curious. Sure, we all see those small farms and homesteads as we drive by them, or we might see a sign here and there saying "Eggs for sale", but what about when we're looking for some place where we can get as many things as possible from one spot? Or when we're looking for a farm that's in a specific area? So I thought it would be fun to give y'all a heads up on places to check out, as well as answering the direct question of the week.
We'll start off by answering the broader question of, "How do I find local farms" and then get more detailed from there... There are lots of websites that will host listings of local farms; I personally stick with about four sites, since I'm a girl of very little brains (and obviously one who has been watching too many Winnie the Pooh movies lately), and I lose track of places, people, and things when I try to get broader in my memory scope.
Which four would I recommend the most, you ask? Good question. I'll list them from my most favorite link first, and then go down from there. (P.S. highlighted words are active links)
1. Local Harvest ~ I really like local harvest. It's easy to find things on here, it's well laid out, and it's helpful for the farmer and consumer alike. You can search for farms near you, or you can use the cool sidebar and search for specific items (I use this frequently when I'm searching for non-perishable items that can be shipped).
2. Eat Wild. ~ I like Eat Wild because there's usually a good number of listed farms, and those that are listed fit the criteria of the website which is very specific and detailed. The only downside I see to this website is that you have to scroll, scroll, scroll, through the list in hopes of finding a local farm. It's alphabetically listed by farm names, rather than cities, so if you're searching for a farm near you, then get comfy; it might take a while before you see what you want. Other than that, I like it. I've always wanted to be listed on Eat Wild, but my farm has yet to meet the criteria. (I fed too much grain to my high producing milk cows to meet the criteria necessary; and rather than decreasing my grain amount, I chose to just not join. Maybe someday I'll have hardier cows though, and then I can join!)
3. Real Time Farms ~ This website has been so neat to watch as it's grown!! I was the very, very first Oregon farmer to be listed on here. It was lonely. And rather disheartening at the start. But it took off like a rocket and now there's no lack of Oregonian farms! I like RTF because it's fun, easy to use, specific to your searches, and has the option of farms, farmers markets, artisans, and eateries (I guess that's now the posh thing to call a restaurant??).
4. FarmPlate ~ This is another one of those websites that is fairly new but has a good following behind it. I admit that this is the last website I visit when I'm searching for something, although it's not for any reason against the site itself! It's certainly easier to find a farm on here than on Eat Wild, and shows more info upfront than Real Time Farms does. Shucks, the listings even give the exact mileage from where you started your search (e.g. McMinnville, OR), to each farm. I guess I tend to forget this place... Old habits die hard. I've been visiting the other websites a lot longer than I've known about FarmPlate, so perhaps it'll just take a bit more time for the ol' memory to remember coming here before giving myself a headache as I scroll through Eat Wild.
These are my four favorite websites. :) And this is how I generally start finding farms near me. And generally speaking, farmers know each other. So if you find one, but they don't have what you're looking for, there's a good chance that they'll know someone who does.
Having said that, I guess that's my cue to do more than talk the talk! Beth, let me introduce you to some of the farmers in our area!!
1. Cast Iron Farm ~ This is a quick, easy drive to get to in McMinnville. I believe Christine primarily focuses on raw milk these days, and she does the job well. (her dairy parlor is to die for. Seriously.)
2. Everbearing Farms ~ Everbearing Farms is a bit of a drive from you and me, Beth, seeing as it's in Woodburn, but I like this place. This is where my summer flock of sheep came from, as well as Cinnamon the Holstein/Jersey cow. Friendly, helpful folks here, selling vegetables and flowers. :)
3. Oakhill Organics ~ Located on Grand Island (just outside of Dayton), the Kulla's run a year-'round, full diet CSA. I worked here for a short time last winter, and can attest to the fact that they have a wide variety of food that they offer! I have no idea if they have room for 2014 members, but I suppose a body could always ask if they were interested. ;)
4. Kookoolan Farms ~ Okay, in all honesty I don't know a lot about this place. What I do know though is that every time I speak with a local about food, they always instantly know who Kookoolan is. Ditto for farmers. They have vegetables and meats, as well as a small on-site store that they sell cheese making supplies through. They used to offer milk as well, but I believe they just stopped...
5. Working Hands Farm ~ This would be another drive for a person living in Mac... But personally, I think the drive would be worth it. I follow Jess and Brian's blog (ahem, and their FB page... If I did instagram then I'd most likely follow them on there too), and between their stories and photos, I'm intrigued by this pair of hardworking folks and their eye catching farm. I haven't officially "met" Jess and Brian... I saw them at the raw milk tour that was held at Cast Iron Farm some time ago, but I was in too much awe of them to walk up and shake their hands and introduce myself (and yes, I regretted not doing so, afterwards). Offering their customers fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, and honey in a well thought out CSA (I admit... I drool over their handmade wooden boxes that they put shares in.), they also do fun things like movie nights on the farm and other such things.
These five are probably the top five I can think of right off the top of my head. Search around on Local Harvest, Eat Wild, Real Time Farms, And FarmPlate though; you'll be sure to find lots of others in the area that have what you're looking for!