Hundreds Stock Up on Locally Grown Staples
30 October 2010 /?php comments_number('No Comment', 'One Comment', '% Comments' );?>
A large outbuilding at A2R Farm was buzzing on Oct. 23rd, 2010 as hundreds of shoppers stocked up on staple crops at the first annual Fill Your Pantry Market. The event was co-sponsored by the Ten Rivers Food Web and the Southern Willamette Valley Bean & Grain Project to provide a venue for local farmers to sell directly to consumers.
A2R Farm is one of many farms in the Willamette Valley transitioning from conventional exported grass seed to organic bean, grain and seed production. Owners Mike Robinson and Clint Lindsey farm 800 acres just south of Corvallis off Airport Road.
The message to local farmers was clear: there is high demand for their crops in Corvallis.
Eighty customers pre-ordered bulk foods for pickup at the market, but the large majority of patrons came to shop on-site. Eleven farms – most members of the Southern Willamette Valley Bean & Grain Project – sold a variety of grains, flour, dried beans, frozen meats, canned seafood, honey, garlic, onions, potatoes, root crops, and more. All of the participating farms are located within a 50-mile radius of Corvallis.
Cooper Boydston, of Open Oak Farm outside of Brownsville, sold rutabagas, beets, turnips, daikons, and winter radishes packed for storage in sawdust in 4-gallon buckets. He said he was initially uncertain whether they would be able to meet the customer demand for root crops. “We were worried we wouldn’t have enough [to fill the pre-orders],” he said, “But they were all in good shape.”
“This type of event is a complement to weekly farmers’ markets,” said event organizer Chris Peterson. “The bulk of the farmers at this event harvest their crops once a year. [Their crops] can be stored much longer, as opposed to farmers’ markets, where most of the food is fresh, harvested at least weekly, and is more perishable.”
Stasi Kasianchuk, a graduate student at OSU, said she attended the event to stock up because the Corvallis Farmers’ Market will soon be closing for the season. She bought 20 lbs of bread flour grown and milled at Stalford Farm in Tangent. “We’ve been making our own bread and we go through [the flour] really quickly,” she said. She was also excited about the opportunity to support farms she wasn’t previously familiar with.
Event organizers plan to hold a second market in Eugene in February to coincide with the grand opening of Hummingbird Wholesale’s new facility. In future years, they plan to streamline the process with lessons learned at A2R Farm, having separate pick-up lines for customers who pre-ordered, pre-weighing bags of grains and beans for walk-in clients, and posting products and prices higher for easy reading. “We were overwhelmed with the response,” said organizers Cheri Clark and Harry MacCormack. Customers in long lines took the opportunity to visit with friends, enjoy music by local artists When Picks Fly, and sample wine and beer from Oregon Trail Brewery.
The event was planned, in part, to address a critical gap in the local food system – the lack of storage infrastructure. The turn-out proved that many customers are willing to fill that gap by storing bulk goods in their households. It also provided an avenue for farmers to sell large quantities of storage goods directly to customers, building community relationships and shortening the distance food travels from farm to fork.
“This event proves that local food is more than a passing fad and people are planning beyond a weekly trip to the farmers’ market,” Peterson said.
If you are among those planning ahead, you can already mark your 2011 calendar for the 2nd Annual Fill Your Pantry Market, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 6, 2011.
See video from this event: