Organizers Gear Up for Fifth Annual "Meet Yer Eats"
It's an annual tradition where people get a chance to see where their food comes from. Next month, you can tour several farms, meet the farmers and learn how produce makes it to your dinner plate.
The people from Market Central are inviting the public to spend Labor Day on the farm. The fifth annual Meet Yer Eats gives you the chance to meet growers from the Saturday farmers' market in Charlottesville at their actual farms.
There are 19 farms participating this year, including some new ones. To participate you have to buy a car pass in person at the Charlottesville City Market, or online then check the map and decide which farms to visit. Many of them offer special programs at specific times, so you may want to plan accordingly.
At Free Union Grass Farm, co-owners Erica Hellen and Joel Slezak produce pastured chicken and duck, free range eggs, and 100 percent grass fed beef. They say it helps their sales when people can meet them, the people actually raising and processing the food.
"I think they really appreciate, you know, the whole process. They see it from start to finish and they really get a sense of what it takes to grow their food and they learn to value it that way," Hellen said.
This is their fourth season of production in Free Union, and their second year of sales at the market, selling both at the Saturday City Market on Water Street and the Meade Park Market on Wednesdays. They say it's a huge component of their profits.
"We really value the opportunity to direct market to our customers so the interface between me and you as a buyer I think is really valuable," Hellen said.
Last year, Free Union Grass Farm participated in Meet Yer Eats and they gained some loyal customers. Hellen said visiting the farm helped people understand how the food is produced. She said a lot of people have heard key words like 'organic,' 'pastured,' and 'sustainable,' but don't fully understand their meaning. Touring the farms gives them a new perspective on these terms.
"It sort of puts the pieces of the puzzle together," Hellen said. "I think they really appreciate, you know, the whole process. They see it from start to finish and they really get a sense of what it takes to grow their food and they learn to value it that way."
If you purchase your car ticket by Sunday, you'll be entered into a drawing for a chauffeured ride to the farms with 12 of your friends and lunch from Market Street Market. The event will be held rain or shine on Labor Day, September 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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