Thursday, December 31, 2015

Local food resources

You can find information on Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salons (now in their sixth year!) and myriad other events on the main MarensList events blog.  The second Sustainability Salon (as well as the fourteenth and fifteenthtwenty-sixth and twenty-seventh, thirty-eighth and thirty-ninthfifty-first and fifty-secondsixty-secondsixty-third, and sixty-fourth) focused on food -- growing it, and sourcing it locally.  Afterwards, Maren put together a list of many such local sources:  CSA farms, farmers' markets, grassfed and humanely raised meats and dairy, natural foods suppliers, bakeries, and advocacy organizations.


East End Food Co-op has a great selection of local organic produce, along with a fairly comprehensive selection of natural and organic groceries.  There's also a vegetarian deli with prepared foods.

Marty's Market is a locally-owned supermarket-scale natural foods market, cafe, and coffee bar in the Strip District.  (update:  sadly, Marty's closed last year!)

Schwartz Living Market on the South Side is an indoor marketplace, eatery, and venue for classes, workshops, music, and films -- all in an old supermarket building undergoing seriously green renovation.

Whole Foods (not locally owned) has a store in Eastside, which is what they're calling East Liberty next to Shadyside.  Or something.  Amazon now owns the Whole Foods chain, which apparently means the prices will go down some, but I don't know what if anything will happen to their standards for humane livestock practices and such-like.  Still, there are some things that they carry that other local purveyors don't.

Frankferd Farms:  Originally a farm and grain mill, now a solar-powered grain mill *and* a regional organic and natural food wholesale distributor.  You may have purchased their wares at the East End Food Coop, or eaten their ingredients in products from Allegro Hearth Bakery in Squirrel Hill.  Individuals can visit their storefront in Saxonburg, and order for delivery.  In Pittsburgh proper, the delivery minimum is $250, but folks can group orders with or without a formal buying club, with individual minimum of only $35.  They also put out monthly sales flyers, both by paper mail and online.  I have a few extra catalogues, so just ask when you're here for a Sustainability Salon (or look for a stack on the literature table).

Wild Purveyors, a shop in Lawrenceville, has all kinds of locally-grown, -foraged, and -crafted foods from farm, field, and forest.  House-made delicacies, artisan cheeses, pastured meats, local produce, and all manner of wild foods in season.

Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery is a small, community-oriented business committed to increasing access to healthy, fresh food by providing strong vegetable, herb and flower starts to home gardeners, community gardens, nonprofits, schools and retail markets.  This little oasis sits on two reclaimed vacant lots in Wilkinsburg, near Pittsburgh’s East End.  They specialize in heirloom varieties of tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings and also grow produce that is provided weekly to their "Mini-CSA" members.  They carry hard to find vegetable varieties as well as seed garlic, asparagus crowns, raspberry canes, cover crop seed, seed potato, and organic gardening products such as potting soil and fertilizers. 

Kretschmann's CSA farm (Don and Becky have been here for more than one Food salon; this photo shows them accepting an award at the annual PASA conference) has one of the (if not the) largest CSAs in the region, with year-round in-town deliveries of herbs, veggies, and fruits, as well as cheeses, meats, locally-roasted coffee, and other produce from other local growers and purveyors.  They've been growing organically near Zelienople since 1971.

Blackberry Meadows Farm not only has a CSA program but also a grow-your-own version where they provide seedlings and supplies for backyard gardeners.  Greg Boulos will be speaking at the 38th Sustainability Salon.

Penn's Corner Farm Alliance, a group of local farms with a collective CSA, also à la carte preorder "farm stands".  You can even order online here.

Clarion River Organics, another multi-farm cooperative, is signing up members for 2015.  I just got word that they take food stamps, as well.

Who Cooks For You Farm can be found at farmers' markets including East Liberty (Mondays) and Squirrel Hill (Sundays), on the menu at Legume Bistro, and at your house via their CSA program.

Our friends at Farm to Table Pittsburgh have a searchable listing of CSA farms, more than I've shown here:
  http://farmtotablepa.com/local-food-guide/category/csa-provider .
Farmers' markets abound;  three that I frequent are at Phipps Conservatory (Wednesday afternoons), in East Liberty (Monday afternoons) and in Squirrel Hill (Sunday mornings):  Farmers at the Firehouse, run by Slow Food Pittsburgh and often featuring cooking demonstrations and tastings.  
Not all the farmers' markets are run by Citiparks, but the ones that are will be listed on 
The Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip is host to many great local and regional producers on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays year 'round as well as occasional events and soon a community kitchen. Vegan and vegetarian delights, artisanal cheeses, pastured eggs and dairy, fine woodworking, garden plants and accessories, fresh pasta, wines... (update: O dear, another Strip natural food emporium has closed its doors!)

Another enterprise put together by the Slow Food folks is the Laptop Butcher Shop, through which individuals can place orders with local farmers for local pastured, humanely-raised meats, which are delivered via the Farmers at the Firehouse market every so often.  A typical lineup includes goat cheese from Lake Erie Creamery, Wil-Den's Fresh Air Pork, lamb and rabbits from Pucker Brush Farm, meat and eggs from the Farmer's Wife, and wild salmon straight from Alaska.

Gina Anderson of Starry Sky Farm raises pastured lamb and chickens in Butler County.  She's currently taking orders for half or whole lambs for the fall;  you can get on the Starry Sky mailing list:  email farm@wholechoice.net or call 412-450-8242 / cell 503-956-4736.  


North Woods Ranch (Oliver has been to Salons, and spoke at one some years ago) is up in Marshall Township, with grassfed beef, pastured pork, honey, and maple syrup. You can find North Woods meats at the Co-op, at the ranch, and now, delivered to our house for local pickup! If you're going to eat meat, this is the way the animals should be raised. Oliver and Jodi also post adorable photographs of critters in the woods on Facebook and via their email list. Update: Oliver and Jodi have decided to leave ranching, and sold their animals to other local humane farmers, like Pittsburgher Highland Farm.

Cherry Hill Ecological Farm -- Will McGee and Gretchen Oat also raise grassfed beef and pastured pork at their farm in Albion, PA up near Erie, and deliver regular shares, sampler boxes, and à la carte orders to Pittsburgh (also with a monthly visit to our front porch).

Joe Rush of Rushacres Farm, who delivers to several locations around the 'Burgh every two weeks, with grassfed meats (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, duck, and turkey), raw dairy, eggs, and goodies like honey, jams, apple butter, maple syrup, and apple cider:

Weatherbury Farm, located 45 minutes southwest of Pittsburgh in Avella, PA, sells grass-fed beef and lamb and hosts visitors on the farm as well.  Their newest venture, taking off later this summer, is producing estate flours (think wine – from seed to processing everything occurs on the farm).  That will be followed by the production of pasta made from their grains (hard wheat, emmer and spelt).  They also hope to open an on-farm store to sell their and neighboring farms' products. 

The Burns family's Heritage Farm, a couple of hours east, also delivers to our area, including a stop at the East End Food Co-op (and you can find their products at the co-op through the week).  Fruits and forest-foraging pork, pastured poultry, grass-fed beef, vegetables, and eggs.

Further east but still in Pennsylvania is The Family Cow, which delivers raw dairy, grassfed meats (and nitrate-free cured meats), herbs, produce, and home-canned goods, to Swissvale, Ross Township, and Green Tree.
Also, right across the road from Don & Becky Kretschmann is the Lewis family's farm, with grassfed beef and pastured chickens for farm pickup.
Many of these farmers have periodic email newsletters that will keep you posted on what's available as the seasons roll around the year (or in the case of this winter, are skipped entirely).

Pick-Your-Own farms -- Here's a directory of all the U-Pick farms in Western Pennsylvania. Everything from apples, peaches, and pears to blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and grapes -- and pumpkins in the fall.

You can buy dairy, eggs, and meats from many of these producers at the East End Food Co-op as well as breads from Allegro Hearth and MediterraSpring Creek organic tofu from nearby West Virginia, raw milk from Frank White, eggs from The Farmer's Wife, off-grid NuWay Farms, and Blackberry Meadows Farm, beef from Ron Gargasz, lamb and goat from Clarion River Farms, flours from the Frankferd mill, and cheeses from many local dairies.  Many of them, and lots of others, will be at the Farm To Table conference this Friday and Saturday!

Grow Pittsburgh works in many realms (community gardens, urban farms, school gardens, gardening classes, and more) to help more people grow more food in our city.  Check them out at 
http://www.growpittsburgh.org

Slow Food Pittsburgh sponsors talks, demos, and classes at various venues around town.
   http://www.slowfoodpgh.com

The Pittsburgh Canning Exchange helps connect canners and create new canners by coordinating events and sharing resources for learning, planning, and trading.
   http://canningexchange.org

Hazelwood Food Forest has transformed a space on Second Avenue into a lush, productive permaculture garden.  Join other volunteers on Tuesday evenings, and see what it's all about -- see the web site for more information!

The Farmer's Table presents elegant dinners at local farms several times a year, using meats and produce that are local (or even produced on-site) and naturally grown.

PASA, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, hosts farm field days and networking gatherings through the year and, each February, a fantastic educational conference in State College.  Their Buy Fresh, Buy Local program is another way to connect with local producers.  
http://www.pasafarming.org/
  http://www.buylocalpa.org/

The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council is a consortium of individuals and community organizations working to make the local food system more equitable and sustainable.
http://www.pittsburghfoodpolicy.org

In less than a decade, Food & Water Watch has become one of the leading food-system activist organizations around the country, with victories from Starbucks (eschewing rBGH in the dairy they use) all the way to the EPA (regulating per chlorates).  Their latest campaign focuses on the abuse of antibiotics on factory farms, the biggest contributor to the loss of effectiveness of many such drugs to treat human diseases.

GMO Free PA is working on the state and local level to educate consumers and policymakers about genetically-modified foods, and advocate for mandatory GMO labeling.

There are quite a few local food blogs you can browse or follow to find even more regional food resources, amazing recipes, and new insights.  Among my favorites are
        http://withthegrains.com
        http://brazenkitchen.com
        http://foodunderfoot.com
        http://legumebistro.blogspot.com
        http://www.loveandwildhoney.com
        http://thismanskitchen.wordpress.com
        http://www.whocooksforyoufarm.com/blog
        http://www.kretschmannfarm.com/blog
        http://blackberrymeadows.com/about/
        https://birdsongbread.wordpress.com
   
This is just a broad sampling off the top of my head of the many fantastic local food resources in our agriculturally rich region;  I hope it's useful!  I'd love it if you let me know about connections you make as a result.  Many of these outfits can also be found on Facebook.

We talked a little about gardening during the salon in March;  I'd also be open to hosting more detailed workshops, if there's interest.

Be well, eat local, share food, and grow your own if you can!

-- Maren.
  

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