“No Farms, No Food.” The bumper sticker that serves as a calling card of the local food movement that is alive and well in Connecticut. However, an upcoming event is the northeastern region of the state is providing a different twist to that phrase. Know Farms, Know Your Food provides an opportunity for residents of the region to know the people who run, own, and operate their area farms.
After being digital last year due to the pandemic, the Know Your Farmer Fair is coming back to Willimantic on Saturday, March 19, 2022 from 10am to 1pm at the Elks Lodge: 198 Pleasant Street. This local favorite is being organized by Grown ConNECTed, a project out of UConn Extension, and Grow Windham.
Jiff Martin, a food systems educator at UConn Extension within the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, recommends the event for anyone new to the region who wants to learn about local food and farms. “This event is a fantastic opportunity to figure out which farms and farmers markets are near where you live, meet the farmers you might choose to buy from, plus learn about a few of the businesses and community-based projects in the region committed to growing and supporting local agriculture.”
This event provides a unique opportunity for the community to meet and build relationships with the farmers behind the local flavors of Eastern Connecticut. Many of the farms featured at the fair partner with the Grown ConNECTed program to raise awareness about local agriculture around the state. There will be plenty of variety at the fair – from operations that grow fruit and vegetables, to those that raise meat. The featured producers use various production methods including organic, sustainable, and animal welfare approved.
Tastings are included in the event to highlight the flavors of local products and how dynamic they can be when attendees utilize them at home. Attendees will enjoy tastings from local restaurants such as Stone Row and NOJ Marketplace & Kitchen (both from Willimantic) who will use products from the farmers to showcase the freshness and flavor of products raised in Eastern Connecticut.
Stephanie Deason from Mansfield has attended in the past and loved connecting with farmers for herself and for her job as food service director at Mansfield Public Schools. “I thoroughly enjoy attending the Know Your Farmer Fair to not only see farmers we currently work with but talk to others who may not yet have their ‘foot in the door’ with selling wholesale to schools,” says Deason.
With close to 30 farms in attendance at this year’s event there will be plenty for folks to take home and experiment with, as many farms will be selling products that are available during this season. The event is set up similar to a farmers market, where visitors can walk from table to table getting to know the farmers and the different ways they serve the community.
Libby Tarleton from Russos Roots in Canterbury loves that this is the heart of the event. “We’ve participated in the Know Your Farmer Fair since its inception and we appreciate the chance to connect with customers, new and old, prior to the start of the growing season,” Tarleton says.
To learn more about this event and farms that will be involved, visit www.grownconNECTed.org/knowyourfarmerfair for more information, or visit the Know Your Farmer Fair Facebook page.
Know Your Farmer Fair is a project of Windham Community Food Network and is put on with the assistance of Grown ConNECTed and other community organizations. Grown ConNECTed is a program out of UConn CAHNR Extension that focuses on connecting farmers with residents in Northeastern CT.
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