News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Keep it local for the holidays

Shopping for holiday gifts and specialty foods will inevitably look different this year as we head into another time of closures and restricted shopping practices. Luckily our local producers and distributors are motivated more than ever to connect Central Oregonians to all our region has to offer during the holidays and throughout the winter season. Farms stands and outdoor markets may be closed for now, but there are many other options for sourcing goods locally, which is not only helpful to feeling more connected to the resilience of our community, but also supports local farmers, producers, artisans, and local economies through these times.

The winter season invites tradition, love, and gratitude into the special meals created and shared during the holidays, and it is also an opportunity to support healthy food systems in our backyard. Here are examples of Central Oregon resources for accessing unique local food and products throughout the upcoming months:

• This season is an ideal time to consider buying a holiday turkey or roast straight from producers in one’s local community. The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance’s Directory features a comprehensive list of local farms and ranches, as well as their hours, locations, and how to purchase their products. The Food & Farm Directory is available in print and online at www.hdffa.org/find-local-food.

• Another resource for local meat and dairy is the Oregon Pasture Network, a program designed to support the growth of pasture-based farming in our state. Farmers in the Oregon Pasture Network raise their animals with their “feet in the field and a view of the sky,” which not only makes for higher quality products, but also makes better use of Oregon’s resources. The Oregon Pasture Network website, www.oregonpasturenetwork.org, features a search engine for any desired local animal products.

• It would be a challenge to source fresh produce all year round in Oregon if not for local company Agricultural Connections, whose mission is to revolutionize the food industry and become Central Oregon’s leader in farm-direct food sales. Like in their name, Agricultural Connections connects consumers to local and regional food through their online ordering platform. Customers can choose to select a bounty through Weekly Harvest Boxes, or order seasonal foods “a la Carte” style. The diverse selection of fruits, vegetables, and more can be found at www.agriculturalconnections.com.

• Central Oregon Locavore, or our “Indoor Local Food Farmers Market,” is another year-round option to source your local goods. The 11th Annual Locavore Gift Faire will be online for 2020, opening for ordering on November 23 and closing on December 8. The Annual Locavore Holiday Gift Faire is one of the best ways to find perfectly unique gifts for friends and family, with items made right here in Central Oregon: www.centraloregonlocavore.org/upcoming-events/holiday-gift-faire.

• For unique gifts and experiences featuring many of the beautiful locales and artisans of Sisters, take part in “Two Weeks of Seed to Table” — Seed to Table’s first-ever silent auction, virtual experience of movie screenings, holiday classes, and more.

Items in the auction showcase the beauty of our region, including a rafting trip down the Deschutes River, brunch for four at local farm Rainshadow Organics, horse riding and gourmet lunch at Cascades Meadow Ranch, and a quality selection of wine, art, jewelry and more from local makers.

Bidding is live now until December 3 at 8 p.m., with all funds raised going directly toward helping Seed to Table continue its mission to provide equal access to locally grown, nutritious foods and offering farm-based experiences and outdoor-education opportunities to students throughout Deschutes and Jefferson Counties.

Alongside the silent auction, Seed to Table will be hosting a series of free virtual events featuring a cooking class with local chef Pam Wavrin, a gardening class with Seed to Table Executive Director Audrey Tehan and Farm Manager Madeline Steen, as well as movie screenings of “Kiss the Ground”and “The Biggest Little Farm.” Access to the virtual events and auction bidding is available at www.seedtotableoregon.org/auction.

By looking local for shopping list items, not only is the beauty of Central Oregon represented in one’s gifts and meals, but also regional makers and producers are kept in mind and supported through a historically challenging season. Having a personal connection to a farmer or maker is a gift in and of itself. With food and products created from local elements and traveling a shorter distance, they’re likely to be more fresh and invite the feeling of more connection into your home. And, especially after a challenging year, connection is what this holiday season is all about.

 

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