Each year, Fair Food coordinates a daylong visit for our member businesses to a couple area farms and food producers. Chefs and buyers join us for a day of connection, learning, and networking.
Fair Food provides local sourcing support and other benefits to our member businesses, which include restaurants, private chefs, caterers, retailers, institutions such as hospitals and schools. In turn, our members support our work financially and help us realize our mission of bringing local food to the wholesale market and supporting sustainable agriculture in our region.
One of those member benefits is an invitation to this annual farm tour.
This year, chefs, buyers, and artisans from Fair Food members The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia/10Arts Bistro, Tria, Long Cove Foods, Obis One Black Garlic, Elixr Coffee, and Mariposa Co-op attended, as did farmers Joel and Elaine Steigman from Small Valley Milling and representatives from The Reinvestment Fund, Hazon Philadelphia, and The Enterprise Center.
Our group met in Doylestown, PA at Castle Valley Millon a perfectly crisp fall day. The mill, which has been in operation since 1730 and uses authentic pre-industrial equipment to make flour, cornmeal, grits, and other products from heirloom, non-GMO and certified organic grain varieties that are locally grown (like Small Valley's gorgeous purple corn). Owner Mark Fischer and his son led us on a tour through their mill, located across the driveway from their home on the beautiful Neshaminy Creek.
After the tour, we set up our potluck picnic table for lunch. We brought along breads made with Castle Valley Mill flour from another Fair Food member, High Street on Market, that's been getting a little attention for its stellar bread program. Other highlights were vegan caesar salad with vegan scrapple croutons and pickled mushroom relish from Will Ternay of Long Cove Foods; black garlic-mushroom phyllo bites from Lisa Lloyd of Obis One; ginger-orange buttercream sandwich cookies from the Ritz's accomplished pastry chef, Stephen Wilson; and Jamison Farm slow-cooked lamb shoulder and Koch's turkey salad by our Executive Director, Ann Karlen (plus a ton of other delicious contributions). After lunch, we did something new this year: a drawing full of ingredients that any local-focused chef would love, featuring artisanal ingredients from Subarashii Kudamono, Parable Flavors, Vera Pasta, and more.
Our caravan packed up and hit the road for our last stop, Blue Moon Acres Farm in Pennington, NJ. Farmer Scott Morgan knows every inch of his certified organic land, from the barrier meadow he uses to keep an adjacent neighbor's lawn fertilizer from affecting his crops to the banks of the creek that a small crew of pigs are gradually clearing of invasive plants and overgrown brush. Blue Moon keeps the region rich in immaculate organic salad greens and vegetables, plus specialty items like fresh ginger and -- something new in New Jersey -- rice. Scott and the owners, Jim and Kathy Lyons, are working on finding the varieties that grow best in our region. As their rice business scales up, costs will come down -- and soon, we hope to stock locally grown rice at the Fair Food Farmstand.