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Getting Down on the Farm (s)

August 8, 2010

Every year, State College holds a local foods week—certain restaurants give their proceeds to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Buy Fresh, Buy Local, there are extra farmers’ markets all week long with cooking demonstrations and live music, and, at the end of the week, many of the area’s farms unite for the Central PA Farm Tour.  

The goal of the farm tour is “to connect you with the farms in Central PA offering you the best in healthy, sustainably raised food.  We hope your experience will leave you with an understanding of how critical local and organic food systems are to preserving the beautiful agrarian landscape of rural Centre County.”

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Of course, we had to be there!

This event was actually one of the first things we did when we first moved here at the end of last summer—we were both saying, we can’t believe we’ve already been here for more than a year! Time flies when you’re having fun freezing your ass off in snowpocalypse for four months.  But let’s not think about that right now.

One thing I really like about the farm tour is that there is a big variety of farms to choose from.  They have dairy farms, vegetable farms, fruit orchards, livestock farms– even wineries and cheese farms!

Last year, we went to two farms and a winery that were all close to State College, so this year, looking at the map, we decided to go a little further east and explore some completely different farms!

But first…we met up with friends! At Way Fruit Farm, in Port Matilda, PA, we met up with (who else?) our new besties, Nick and Emily. 🙂 We got to meet Emily’s little sister and her boyfriend as well!

Way Fruit Farms, as you can gather by the name, is largely a fruit farm.  They produced only apples for man years, but have since expanded into other fruits as well.  Still, apples are a pretty big deal around Way Fruit Farm—they grow 21 varieties!  The farm also has a long history—in 1826, the original owners, Martha and Robert Way, purchased the land that became what is now Way Fruit Farm.  Pretty cool, right?

We took a tour of the farm, and learned a lot about the process of fruit farming! Here are some highlights from Way Fruit:

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way fruit farm

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All of these pretty apples served as a reminder that fall is most definitely right around the corner…sigh.

Way Fruit Farm also has a deli, so after our farm tour, we sat down for some lunch before heading out to our next farm.  I enjoyed a fresh veggie sandwich on homebaked marble rye bread:

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Yum!

At this point, we departed from our friends and headed out on our own.  Our first stop?  Triangle Organics, in Aaronsburg, PA. 

Triangle Organics is a small Amish dairy farm that serves as home to cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, horses…all sorts of animals!  They also produce raw milk, which piqued my interest right away.

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When we arrived at the farm, several of the farm animals were available to observe:

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and even hold:

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So cute!  We began talking with Elmer King, the owner of the farm, and he offered to take us over to see the pigs, who weren’t hanging out with the other animals for viewing.  Apparently he’d tried to put a few of the piglets into a pen so that the visitors could see them, but they escaped almost immediately! Smart little guys.

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As Elmer walked us over to the pigs, he talked about the difference between his small farm and the giant, factory farm CAFOs that have become the norm.  He talked about how much smaller his pigs are than the ones raised on factory farms, because on a factory farm, the pigs are basically force fed for the first six months of their lives and then immediately taken to slaughter. 

His pigs were happily resting in an outdoor barn area, with huge, available fields surrounding them and a big mud pit that they can cool themselves off in any time they wish. 

You know,” he said, surveying the scene, “I kill my pigs too.  But I make sure that they lead a happy life before they go.”

Here are some of the happy pigs:

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Very cool farm!

For our last stop, we headed to Stone Meadow Farm, a dairy farm that produces raw milk and cheese, among other things.

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We had a great time sampling some raw milk cheese…yum!  

All in all, Farm Tour 2010 was a great success.  Even though we make an effort to shop at farmers markets and local produce stands, it’s still eye-opening to see the farming process first hand.  It definitely makes you realize how important it is to eat locally.  When we have so many great farms practically right in our own backyard, why would we eat any other way?

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For dinner, we through together a quick (almost) raw salad with some of the fresh produce we gathered along the way:

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Raw green beans, yellow tomato, toasted almonds, and fresh basil, plus salt + pepper and olive oil + balsamic vinegar.  Yum!

I also experimented some more with my dehydrator last night.  This post is already twice the size of Moby Dick, so I’ll save it for another post in the near future…but here’s a preview:

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Yummmm!

Hope you’ve had a great weekend!

24 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2010 1:51 pm

    i like that farmer! i mean, i do eat meat, but i want to make sure that the animals i eat are treated very well before they are slaughtered. it sounds like that guy is right on track!

    • August 8, 2010 1:55 pm

      Yeah, he was really cool. He also jokingly put one of his little kids in an animal cage while we were there, which I found hilarious.

  2. August 8, 2010 1:57 pm

    I lived there for 4 years and never knew about this! Maybe because I went home during the summers? looks like you guys had a blast, i love central pa!

  3. August 8, 2010 2:30 pm

    How cool!
    That baby chick is so freaking adorable 🙂

  4. August 8, 2010 2:53 pm

    This looks so fun!! A lot of the “local” produce in Philly-area grocery stores actually comes from central PA, so it’s cool that you got it directly from the source. My heart is melting over the pigs and chicks 🙂

  5. August 8, 2010 3:13 pm

    Beautiful shots, girl!

  6. August 8, 2010 3:23 pm

    That looks like such a fun day. And such pretty pictures.

  7. August 8, 2010 3:27 pm

    Beautiful pictures!

  8. August 8, 2010 3:42 pm

    I was so in tune to the ag scene in central Pa … because I covered it. I need to learn about Florida ag (outside of oranges). Ag Progress Days should be in two or three weeks, you guys might like it! Google it … it’s hosted by PSU and it’s right on the Centre/Huntingdon county line …

    • August 8, 2010 6:39 pm

      Yeah, we just saw an advertisement for that last night! I think we’re going to try to go!

  9. August 8, 2010 4:04 pm

    This makes me want a pet pig when I grow up. It’ll be like Babe, Pig In The City!

    • August 8, 2010 6:39 pm

      I actually exclaimed, “They look like Babe!!!” when we saw the piglets. I think the farmer was amused.

  10. August 8, 2010 4:21 pm

    Such great shots, Anna!

  11. August 8, 2010 4:56 pm

    My dad and step mom live right near the Way Fruit Farms! We love it there — great yummy fresh fruit! 🙂

  12. greensandjeans permalink
    August 8, 2010 5:52 pm

    Elmer is the best name for a farmer EVER

  13. August 8, 2010 7:23 pm

    Awwwwww, I love all the animal pics! SO precious. 🙂 That veggie sandwich looks delicious, too!

    Jenn

  14. August 8, 2010 8:06 pm

    How fun! I would love to do something like that. We have a local grocery store that carries locally made raw cheeses. Very interesting flavors. Not bad, but definitely different.

  15. August 8, 2010 8:19 pm

    I am not even sure where to start! This post is just breath taking! That sandwich looks so fresh and full of flavor! What a great day Anna! Thank you for sharing it! Have a great evening.

  16. August 8, 2010 9:36 pm

    this is my favorite post to date! I love the EVIDENCE of how wonderful eating local is and seeing it first (or I guess second) hand. beautiul pics!

  17. August 9, 2010 12:24 am

    What a fun thing to do! The pictures are gorgeous! I can tell the weather is just gorgeous! And that chick…omg!!! I just wanna kiss it!

    P.S. Very jealous you have a dehydrator 🙂

  18. Ginger permalink
    August 9, 2010 12:43 pm

    What a fun day – Beautiful pics!! That is a gorgeous area!

  19. actorsdiet permalink
    August 10, 2010 12:00 am

    i love your dress! and that sandwich looks SERIOUSLY amazing.

  20. August 10, 2010 1:43 am

    Glad you guys had such a good time! We met Elmer two years ago and thought he was just great. Fantastic photos, too — especially that first shot!

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