Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SFKT ends the 2014 season with three farm tours, picks back up in 2015 with Blue Bell Farm and Sullivan Farms

Slow Food Katy Trail's 2014 Farm Tour Series is officially closed for the season, a little earlier than originally planned. We've had a great time visiting seven fascinating farms this summer, and some of you have been right there with us all the way, from those who have their own gardens or small farms and want to pick up tips from the pros, to folks who make it a priority to eat good, healthy food and want to see exactly how it's grown or raised. And the goats, free-range cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs and donkeys were always a hit with the kiddos!

Here's just a quick glimpse at what we experienced during our June, July, and August 2014 tours.

Several families took advantage of the June 1 tour of Goatsbeard Farm to give their children a taste of the farming life. This little girl was ecstatic about petting the goats—can you tell?! Visitors to Goatsbeard also got to tour their cheese-making facility and sample some of their award-winning cheeses, including the Franklin Island Feta that took 2nd Place at the American Cheese Society Conference in the Goat Feta Category this August. Way to go, Ken and Jenn Muno!

It was a glorious day at Altai Meadows on June 1, and the grass-fed, free-range cattle were happy to show off for an appreciative audience. Jeff and Augie Cook also showed us their chicken operation, compost and mulch piles, and many fruit and vegetable beds.

On July 13, Sarah and Craig Cyr (left and middle) told farm-tour visitors how a desire to supply their restaurant, The Wine Cellar & Bistro, and feed their family turned into a passion. With help from Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA), the Cyrs have turned their farm into a twice-a-month gardening school for the public. Participants not only get hands-on experience, but garden-fresh lunches prepared on site by chef Craig and wine selected by sommelier Sarah. Liberty Hunter of CCUA (right) explained her role in the project.

John Corn of Mighty Acorn demonstrated his "lay-down" planter, which he built for around $70 from two old bicycles. On the July 13 tour he and wife Sandy Gummersheimer shared a wealth of information about how they grow the premium produce they sell at the Columbia Farmers Market. 

On August 3, Dan and Laura Pugh shared what they've learned about raising sheep, bees, chickens and produce over the past few years of life on their small diversified farm, and told us what's in store for their Columbia Farmers Market customers in the coming years. 

At Terra Bella Farm on August 3 I was so fascinated by host Margot McMillen's tour that I failed to take a single picture, but their barn quilt is still just as striking a landmark for passing motorists as it was in this 2013 shot. We learned about the farm's historic buildings, their use of solar energy, the heritage wheat project they started from 5 grams of heirloom wheat (but isn't available to the public yet!) and the other grains for bakers and bakeries like Uprise Bakery, the produce they grow for local restaurants and the Brick District Farmers Market in Fulton, and much more.

On August 3 at Bluebird Composting, our final stop in 2014, Rana Bains showed us just how his premium blend organic compost is made. Chelsea and Jessica took us through the fabulous produce growing outdoors and in the high tunnel, including a munching tour of their cherry tomato rows, and we saw lots of extremely free-ranging chickens eating very well with the scraps to be found on a compost farm!

We're looking forward to the 2015 growing season, and we hope you'll join us on next year's tours. We'll be kicking off the season with a visit to Blue Bell Farm and Sullivan Farms, both in the Fayette area, at a date and time to be announced after the first of the year. (See these vendor profiles of Blue Bell Farm and Sullivan Farms on the Columbia Farmers Market web site for more information about each farm.) We'll be compiling our full list of farms and tour dates over the winter, so be sure to check back here when you're looking for tour info next spring. Be sure to "like" the SFKT Facebook page for the most up-to-the-minute information about Slow Food Katy Trail activities, and just about anything else that's important to lovers of good, clean and fair food.

Blue Bell Farm in Fayette, one of the farms on the 2015 Slow Food Katy Trail Farm Tour. (Photo by Matt Jernigan)
Bill Sullivan with one of his heritage pigs. Sullivan Farms is another one of the farms to be featured in the 2015 series of farm tours. (Photo by Matt Jernigan)

About Slow Food USA

Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. We reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We seek to inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.

About the Slow Food Katy Trail Chapter

Our chapter is a gathering place for people who have a passion for safeguarding local farms, regional and multi-cultural food traditions and for supporting foods grown sustainably and with affection. Our events are venues for building food culture and community. 

Through local-foods dinners, potlucks, tastings, films, farm tours, volunteer days and work with local elementary-school children, Slow Food Katy Trail engages with our community and the broader Slow Food movement. We partner with local and national activists, chefs, farmers and organizations already working for direct change to our food system. We encourage you to join us in our effort.

We heartily welcome new members and new energy for the cause. To learn more about the national organization or to become a Slow Food Katy Trail member, please visit www.slowfoodusa.org and click on Donate, then Join/Renew.

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