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Well-Seasoned | Local Foods week offers host of activities, culminates in farm tours

Local Foods Week has activities this week that encourage residents to get out and explore the different foods produced across Centre County.

Locavores in Centre County will be in hog heaven Saturday as Local Foods Week kicks off with a festival devoted to sustainable and organic farming. Day two of FarmFest, hosted by Pennsylvania Certified Organic, is in full swing at the Grange fairgrounds in Centre Hall, with a 5K race commencing at 9 a.m. and a 1-mile fun run/walk at 8:30 for less competitive physical fitness fans. Registration for both events starts at 7:30.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, FarmFest opens to the public with educational sessions on organic farming and sustainable living, live music, a homemade and homegrown market, children’s activities, a silent auction, art in action courtesy of the Farmland Preservation Artists, a book nook with author book signings, and plenty of delicious local food.

Local conservation organizations will be represented with displays and hands-on activities for all ages.

Spring Creek Homesteading will have sessions for the general public on cover cropping in the home garden, pollinator gardening, canning summer fruits and raising backyard chickens.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology-National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service will sponsor educational sessions for farmers that will feature small-scale equipment, intensive market vegetable production, soils that sustain crops and forages, and high tunnel production.

All sessions are free, and there is no admission or parking fee. The event is kid-friendly and dog-friendly, with multiple gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan food options available.

This year’s FarmFest is the second annual event. Last year’s festival attracted more than 2,000 attendees.

On Sunday, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture will sponsor a Bike Fresh, Bike Local ride through Penns Valley. Three different routes are available — 25-, 50- and 75-mile options — to suit all levels of experienced cyclists. The ride will end at the Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, where lunch and refreshments will be served.

We are lucky here in central Pennsylvania, with seven local farmers markets to choose from on a weekly basis. Between Aug. 3 and 10, all the farmers markets will have special promotions to thank their loyal shoppers and to encourage more people to check them out.

The Boalsburg Farmers Market will host its third annual local chef challenge, the Golden Basket competition, once again this year on Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Nine chefs from local restaurants will compete to prepare the best main dish and two sides out of ingredients they find at the market. Judges will score each dish on taste, texture, presentation and creativity. The public is invited to come and see the creative juices flowing as chefs choose the best from the surrounding vendors’ tables to create their masterpieces.

There will also be a Buy Fresh, Buy Local table at each market selling $15 per vehicle passes for the Aug. 10 farm tours, which will be the grand finale of the week.

The tours take place between 12:30 and 5 p.m. for the general public, but early purchase of the pass allows you to visit the farms as early as 10 a.m.

This is a great advantage, as the farm tours are very popular and the crowds can be significant. It’s a good idea to take a look at a map and plan your outing so you can maximize the number of farms you can see. There are 17 farms on the tour this year, so don’t even think about seeing them all.

Interested in seeing the cave where Goot Essa ages its cheeses? Then you will be headed to Howard.

Care to catch the breathtaking view of Tussey Mountain from a fragrant, fruit-filled vineyard? Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery will be on your list.

Want your children to see the cutest collection of chickens, dairy heifers and pigs? Over the Moon Farm in Rebersburg is over the top.

Check the list of farms on the tour and prioritize. You have a week to look at a map and make up your agenda.

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