This is a busy week for the region's small farms. They're part of a yearly outreach intended to connect more local folks with homegrown food products.
The event is called "Seven Days of Local Delights." It's sponsored by the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance and one of its board members is Kate Watson.
"Well we were founded in 2010, so we've been going for some 8 years now," she explained. "We're a non-profit organization and one of our missions is to provide economic stability for the local farmers within a 100-mile radius (of Tallahassee.)"
Watson said the group's farmers do a lot more than just farm. They're also very much into public education and marketing.
"Part of the way we do that is through events like Seven Days and also through workshops that we offer. Our 'Tomato Feastival' is always well attended. We also have an online market, which gives our producers the availability to harvest just what they need to sell to our customers so there's no waste of time, effort or product at that point."
Which Watson said brought the conversation back to the current event, "Seven Days of Local Delights."
"It's an opportunity to showcase not only our local producers, but also the wonderful things that they're growing and harvesting, along with the local restaurants that use our local farmers. There's nothing better than having it come straight from the farm to your plate and that's really where Seven Days got its start." "And what we're trying to do with Seven Days of Local Delights is partly to engage the community to let them know that we exist and there are a lot of options out there, which is something to celebrate," interjected Katie Harris, also an Alliance board member who happens to be one of the group's founders. "And doing it this year in mid-winter is great because it's a slow time for farmers and a time you might think most farms in the country are taking a rest, but not here. Summer is our slowest time actually. There are a bunch of different workshops. Some of them have to do with growing, others with cooking. It really is an interesting gamut this year and we have something every single day throughout the week Feb. 3 through 10 so Sunday to Sunday there's a workshop happening every day. We also have restaurants in the area that will be offering a 'Red Hills Special'with ingredients sourced from local farmers many of which are in our Alliance."
Harris's board colleague Kate Watson added the variety of locally produced food is surprisingly vast.
"You might think that's mostly produce, but we're so much more than that! We offer beef, poultry, pork, mushrooms, honeys, we're selling oysters through local aquaculture, flowers, plants, coffees and cheeses. Sweet Grass Dairy is a member of our alliance so we sell their cheeses through our market and we'll be featuring them as part of Seven Days as well."
And Katie Harris said all of that will be showcased throughout the week.
"There's going to be a tomato workshop at Native Nurseries, raised-bed gardening at IFAS, Kitchenable is doing a cooking class to teach people how to use this seasonable produce, which can be a big challenge because we have such a long green season. There will be a local food swap at our online market location at Northwood Mall. You can make something or bring produce and you trade with other people who've done the same thing. You come with one thing and you leave with a cornucopia. There's going to be a food and forestry workshop using pigs to do both forestry and also bring food to your table. And lastly we'll be doing growing gourmet mushrooms at Play of Sunlight Farm on Mill Street."
For the complete rundown of Seven Days of Local Delights offerings, check out: www.redhillsfarmalliance.com