In addition to locally owned restaurants serving almost every type of cuisine, the Triangle is also home to a slew of small farms meeting the very specific gastronomic desires of our community. Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm specializes in local bison meat; Chapel Hill Creamery supplies our markets with fresh cheeses; Boxcarr Farms rolls out their harvest off of a food truck.
These farms are among the 40 on the 17th annual Piedmont Farm Tour (carolinafarmstewards.org), the largest sustainable farm tour in the country, April 28–29. Sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market, the tour features farms in Orange, Durham, Chatham, Alamance and Person counties. Tickets are sold per carload and are $25 in advance or $30 the weekend of the tour for all farms, or $10 per farm.
"It's great to have an opportunity to expose so many people to what we do and why we think it's so important," says farmer Jamie DeMent of Coon Rock Farm. This is the fifth year her farm is on the tour. "Watching people see beets pulled from the ground and connect that beet with the pickled or canned beets they've been eating is just great! It's so important to connect people with the land and circumstances their food was raised in."
A newcomer to the tour is Transplanting Traditions Community Farm (ocpyc.wordpress.com), set on 2.5 acres of land managed by the Triangle Land Conservancy. Run by ethnic Karen refugees, all former farmers in their native Burma, it is partially funded through a federal refugee resettlement grant. The farmers earn some of their income through CSAs, which are still available, offering traditional North Carolina produce as well as a diversity of crops such as bitter gourds and even loofah plants.
Kelly Owensby, who has seven years of sustainable agricultural experience, manages the project.
"It has been such a gift for me to be able to work with, teach and learn from the families in our program. I think diversity opens new doors, solutions and possibilities in agriculture as well as communities," she says. "Farming is one of the hardest, most overlooked and underpaid professions, but ironically one of the most important. The tour is a great way to learn more about the dedication and passion that our small Piedmont farmers possess."
The tour is still accepting volunteers, who work one day for a free pass to tour the next day. Visit the website for more information.
A new gourmet food truck honoring family food traditions has begun operating in Durham. Father-and-son team Michael and Mike Alexakis (Pops and Big Mike) serve a Southern-inspired Mediterranean menu from their new MaMa Duke's food truck (facebook.com/MaMaDukesFoodTruck). Mike, the former sous chef for the Federal, christened the truck with his nickname for his late mother. His father, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, brings a Greek twist to Southern favorites. Expect deep-fried shrimp skewered as souvlaki (Greek-style kebabs) and falafel tater tots, homemade tzatziki sauce and MaMa Duke's famous baked beans. Find the truck outside Sam's Quik Shop this Friday, April 27, 4–7 p.m.
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