Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oregon Farm Loops: Do you want to know where your food comes from?



Vintage Farm House at Boondockers Farm
When you think of Oregon you probably think of two things: first, the beautiful green forests and second, the hip town of Portland.

So that leaves a lot of land to be covered. And what many don't realize is that land is often agricultural. Increasingly, Oregon farmers are moving toward organic and sustainable farming methods. Increasingly, urban restaurants, the best ones, look to those farmers for their ingredients.

It isn't surprising, then, that true foodies want to know more about where their food comes from.  Over the last ten years, the wine business as well as the business of touring and tasting those wines, has boomed in Oregon. 

One way to get out there and experience Oregon agriculture is through a self-directed Country Farm Loop like the one in the Molalla area, not all that far from Portland.

Via their interactive map, you can plan a day or a weekend in the country. You can plan stops at an alpaca farm, a U-Pick berry farm, farms where you can see the animals up close and personal and farms where you can learn about sustainable farming practices. 

I've been to a couple of places along this loop and always like the drive through the countryside. There is always something new to discover. Most recently I spent some time out at Boondockers Farm. Owners, Evan Gregoire and Rachel Kornstein are more than happy to show you around. But be sure and call first. 

At Boondockers, on beautiful pastureland, you'll find out about the rare heritage poultry raised there. They have Ancona, Saxony, and Silver Appleyard ducks. But what is unusual is that these ducks, free to roam enclosed pastureland, are guarded by beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs.

Evan and Rachel are knowledgeable and creative. Talk to them awhile and you'll learn how they farm and how they raise their animals. These farm animals are raised for eggs and meats and they are provided with a very good life. This is reassuring. 

With a small cadre of interns, the farm provides more than you would expect... Heirloom vegetables and seeds, cattle, chickens, turkeys, hogs.  You'll find some of the farm's bounty at farmers markets in Portland and other items are headed for high end restaurants. 

Places like this are where your food comes from if you shop and dine in the right places. The closer to the source, the better. 

With the weather warming up, it's an excellent time to get out in the countryside and experience The Molalla Country Farm Loop. Go wine tasting, talk to the farmers, do a little shopping and come home a more informed food enthusiast.