With sustainable food, the relationship between consumer and farmer is of utmost importance.
The two-day TasteBuds Farm Tour on Sept. 21 and 22 aims to help build relationships between the two by allowing an up-close experience at 20 area farms and homesteads.
Car passes for the weekend are $20. Farms will be open 12-5 p.m. during the tour.
Each farm will feature a 30-minute to hourlong guided tour by a host farmer. Guests will learn more about the farmers' processes and where the food is grown. Kids will have an opportunity to visit with various farm animals. In addition, each farm will feature a stand selling locally grown products.
Andrea Jaeger is programs coordinator and administrator of food programs for Crabtree Farms, which is leading the event.
She said this is the perfect time of year to visit local farms.
"It’s not too hot," she said. "And it’s also a really good time for farmers. Things have slowed down, and people are putting fall crops into the ground to get ready for Thanksgiving. It’s just a little bit slower."
Many of the participating farms offer a form of CSA (community-supported agriculture) from early spring to fall. Jaeger said this is a great opportunity to ask questions about how your food is grown.
"It gives you an opportunity to see how the farmer operates and if they’re growing the way you’d like," she said. "It also helps farmers with planning."
The variety of farms being featured is diverse. Every farm is a different size and may have a specific focus, such as dairy or vegetables.
Pickett’s Trout Ranch, for example, is primarily focused on aquaculture. The farm provides trout to local restaurants and marketplaces. Lavender 'N' Rust Herb Farm is a "teaching farm" with a focus on herb gardening, potpourri, cooking and kitchen cosmetics.
"There’s just a lot of excitement about local food right now," Jaeger said. "We do see a lot of people trying to incorporate local food in their diets. They want to know their farmers ... know how their food is grown. There are a ton of farmer’s markets and winter farms bringing fresh food year-round."
The tour is in need of volunteers to serve as farm hosts during the weekend. Jaeger said volunteering is a great way to get involved in the programs.
A volunteer is required to show up at a farm of their choosing and provide guidance and information to visitors. Interested parties are encouraged to sign up in teams of two for the event.
Now in their fifth year of production, TasteBuds is a regional source for local food within 100 miles of Chattanooga. Each issue highlights farms, farmers, artisans and more associated with the distinct flavors of the Chattanooga region.
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