Want to eat more local food? | VailDaily.com

Want to eat more local food?

tomatoes on the vine and a cut one
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The butcher, the baker – even The Hen House Maker – will attend the Local Food Expo from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College to sell the fruits of their labors to eager “locavores.”

Presented by the Vail Daily – in partnership with Colorado Mountain College, Slow Food on Campus and the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability – the goal of the Local Food Expo is to connect local food producers with buyers and increase Eagle Valley’s access to local, sustainable food.

“People are busy – especially chefs. They don’t have time to research where to find locally raised, grass-fed beef,” said Cassie Pence, one of the event’s organizers. “This is an opportunity for people to meet many farmers and ranchers all in one location. And hopefully, people walk away with not only product but new relationships that allow them better access year-round to the local food that’s being grown and raised right here in Eagle County and along the Western Slope.”

Farmers, ranchers and local food businesses will gather to showcase everything from veggies and community-supported agriculture shares to raw milk shares, cheese, honey, elk, eggs, grass-fed beef, lamb, bison, chicken and heritage turkeys. There’s even food-growing services on display.

The Hen House Maker, aka Jared Staber, will sell his chicken-coop-construction services. He’ll design and construct a hen house for you to raise chickens and eggs.

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Chris LaVenture, from LaVenture Farms in Gypsum, will be at the Local Food Expo selling consulting services. LaVenture Farms grows for local restaurants, predominately Larkspur in Golden Peak, and LaVenture will offer her experience to those of you who have land and want to start your own vegetable garden or hobby farm.

Two farms that offer CSA shares also will be there: Borden Farms (Hotchkiss) and Osage Gardens (Silt). In a CSA program, community members commit to buying a full season’s worth of produce in the spring, prepaying for their “share” of the farm’s harvest. CSA members share in both the costs of farming and the risks, such as uncooperative spring weather. CSA subscriptions provide the farmer with a secure market. They help with the farm’s cash flow, allowing the farmer to fix a tractor or whatever he or she might need to do to keep operating.

Customers get a better price on produce and develop a relationship with their local farmer. This relationship helps you learn more about the local miniature seasons (such as cherry season, apricot season and heirloom-tomato season).

Borden offers a traditional CSA with lots of variety, while Osage offers a free-choice CSA. Rather than giving you a once-a-week box of preselected produce, you can choose fresh produce and other foods that you want and your purchases are paid for from your weekly share amount with a built-in discount.

In addition to the CSAs, you also can ask the ranchers about purchasing a cow share or gather some friends together and buy the whole cow.

The Local Food Expo will also feature 30-minute mini educational workshops starting at 5 p.m., discussing various food-centric topics from growing tomatoes at high altitude to the basics of canning.

There will be Big Bs juices and some prepared food for sale on site, including a variety of “sliders” and smoked salmon wraps.

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