The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 23, 2014

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RAFFL offers farm tours throughout the growing season

RUTLAND-The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) is a local organization committed to expanding the availability and accessibility of local agricultural products in the Rutland area. They hope to grow the economy as well as develop healthier, well-informed consumers, by increasing appreciation of local farms and farmers.

A new project this year invites people to visit local farms and "get to know your food." Every month a farm specializing in a different product will act as a host to visitors who want to learn more about how food gets onto our plates.

Elizabeth Theriault, community engagement coordinator for RAFFL says, "in order for there to be farmers, there have to be people buying their food and who are investing in their businesses. We do a lot of outreach to the community to try and get people more aware of local farmers, what they are producing, why it is valuable, why it is good for them and why they should care."

Visiting a local farm and sampling what they have to offer is a great way to win over some people who might be on the fence, Theriault says.

The first farm tour is this weekend, April 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Tangled Roots Farm in Shrewsbury. Tangled Roots will invite guests to learn about 'the secret lives of mushrooms.' Started just a few years ago by Maeve Mangine and Lucas Jackson, the farm is well-known in the region for their natural shiitake and other mushrooms. They use biodynamic agricultural practices. The shiitake mushrooms are produced in sugar maple logs in a shaded hardwood forest and it seems like an ideal use for the property. They also produce goat dairy products and raise chickens and pigs.

"This is my family's land," Maeve Mangine says. "We don't really have any open land so this was something that made sense for us."

Mushrooms that have been adapted to mass cultivation and shipped hundreds, even thousands of miles to get to our Vermont tables are a far cry from the outdoor grown shiitakes at Tangled Roots Farm. Mangine says there is "a huge difference, they are so much more flavorful and have a more meaty texture. They don't have the water content that commercially produced mushrooms have so they don't cook down as much. When you buy a pound of mushrooms at the supermarket you end up with a half a cup when they are cooked. These mushrooms retain a lot of their bulk and texture."

6--TANGLED-log -piles --by -Nathan

Other farms that are offering tours through RAFFL include Breezy Meadows, rice farm and orchards, which is another recent upstart in Tinmouth, Second Nature Herb Farm in Wells, Two Dog Farm, specializing in organic berries, in Danby, Wellsmere Farm, in Wells, and finally, Yoder Farm in Danby.

Culinary workshops will be sponsored by RAFFL every month in addition to the farm tours. The purpose of these workshops is to teach people how to eat locally on a budget and how to make the most of our local ingredients when they are in season. The topic of the first workshop will be Greens, Beans and Grains and it will be at the PegTV studios on Friday, April 19.

For more information on RAFFL and their farm tours visit rutlandfarmandfood.org

Registration is required.

Photos by Nathan Allen