Several weeks ago I participated in a "class" through the local public library. This is the first time I have participated in one of their classes and it was a great experience. It was actually a chartered bus tour of local farms. This was for "Locavores" who prefer locally grown food, and support the producers who grow that food sustainably and, as much as possible, organically. Wikipedia description of "Locavore" or "Localvore" here.
I was going to go with a friend, but she ended up not able to attend so I enjoyed a "me only" day which included about 15 other ladies and 1 male bus driver! The day started at Keating Farms, near Bennington. This farm is a certified organic farm with crops of asparagus, whole grains and legumes. Jim and Sue Keating were wonderful and enjoyed sharing their story with us. They explained the process of becoming a certified organic farm, shared what products they produce and sell locally, and everyone enjoyed a sample of Jim's home-made apple cider. It was the best apple cider I have EVER had! Unfortunately they are not allowed to sell the cider due to FDA rules, as there would be many "hoops" to go through to "legally" sell it. Their products are available at the local co-op in town. There is also a new local restaurant, Wood Fashion Cafe, that uses local produce and meat. Keating Farms hamburger buns being one of the items used!
The next stop on the tour was Smoky Hill Winery, north of Salina. This was not the first time I had been to the winery, but this time I was lucky enough to see where they make the wine and age the wine! Smoky Hill Winery is not organic, which means they use chemicals on the grapes. This is definitely a down side for me, especially when the tour guide mentioned you can not grow grapes without treating them with chemicals. I find this incorrect, as there are organic wines out there, so it is possible! Here are a few pictures from the winery.
|Smoky Hill Winery Corks being used as flower bed cover..very creative!|
|Barrels of wine--aging.|
|Producing the Wine--this area had TONS of gnats and smelled of very strong yeast!|
After the factory tour we went into the gift shop and wine tasting area. I tasted several wines and enjoyed looking around the gift shop.
Our next stop was Thelander Acme Ranch, east of Salina. Check out the picture on their homepage, it makes me want to live in the country! They produce chickens (for meat) and eggs, a variety of pork cuts, cured sausages and bacon. This was my favorite stop, as I have been trying to find a local farmer to purchase chicken, beef, and pork from which are raised in the pasture and do not use hormones or antibiotics. I had all kinds of questions for them! In the next few weeks I will be posting about how to find local farms to buy produce from, what questions to ask, why local is better, and much more!
Here are some pictures I took on the tour of their farm.
|This is how pigs should be raised, free to roll around in the mud!|
|"I just got done rolling in the mud"--I have the best life.|
|How fun to have animals roaming around your backyard!|
After we finished touring Acme Thelander Farm we headed to McPherson to eat at Amic’s Mediterranean Bistro. I had the Matisse Chicken salad which had mandarin oranges, pineapple, celery, green pepper, sugared almonds & honey yogurt dressing served on a bed of mixed greens. It was REALLY good! Anytime you can eat at a locally owned restaurant I recommend it. They are MUCH better then the fast food and sit down chain restaurants that seem to overtake our towns. Local restaurants are wonderful treasures, so go check out one in your area this weekend!
To finish our day we went shopping! After lunch we visited the The Cook's Nook. The owner did a short demonstration of all the new products they have in for the season. My favorite, which I purchased, was a Prodyne Fruit Infusion Pitcher. We get really sick of drinking water, since that is about all we drink now, so this is a great addition to our kitchen. So far I have had lemon water, lime water, and orange water. You cut up the fruit of your choice, put it in the center tube, fill pitcher with water and enjoy! The fruit lasts for about 1 week, so it is VERY economical way to have flavored water. There were LOTS of other things I wanted, but we have to stick to the budget! If you are ever in the McPherson area and love kitchen stores, you need to check this store out!
Do you have any local farms you purchase produce or meat from? What about local restaurants, have you been to any good ones I should know about?
Have a great weekend, we are going to a Halloween party tomorrow night so be looking for pictures of our costumes next week!