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Upper Valley event connects people with food - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Upper Valley event connects people with food

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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. -

The 13th annual Flavors of the Valley took place in White River Junction Sunday -- an event that brings consumers together with the farmers who make their food.

For the last 13 years farmers from all over the Upper Valley have gathered together to break bread, or share any of the various products they make or grow with the people who eat them.   "We want to know the face behind our food.   We want to make sure our food is high quality and we want to keep our landscaping working -- here in the Upper valley, in New Hampshire and Vermont," said Becka Warren with Vital Communities, the agriculture-focused non-profit that puts on the event.

Every one of the 52 venders have a connection with local food.  "We grow the carrots to our carrot cake.  We grow the strawberries for our strawberry habanero," said Nancy Warner with Potlicker Kitchen, a jam-making business.  Along with samples, products are also for sale, Including this company's specialty. "These guys have no fruit in them.  They are just beer or wine," Warner said.

It's just one of the dozens of businesses diversifying their locally sourced goods. "I knew that I could make wine jelly but I liked the taste of beer, so I was like, why can't I do that," Warner said.

And it's not just about the food.  Chris Hall has been spinning wool into yarn for a half a dozen years. "When I'm watching the Red Sox, I spin.  When I am watching the News Hour, I spin," Hall said. He has raised sheep for two decades.  The yarn comes from 11 animals.  "They like the fact that it is natural color, no dying," he said.

Nova Kim with the Wild Food Gathers Guild educates the public on the world around us.  "Step out your back door and eat forever more because literally people are walking on food," she said.
The Guild does not grow or produce anything -- they simply pick it.  "We collect 150 varieties of wild mushrooms in the state of Vermont -- about 150 different varieties of wild greens and roots, nuts barks and berries."

And they say with federal regulations tightening on picking wild foods, they are teaching courses at the Vermont Technical college so others can become experts.  "That deep knowledge can leave in one generation if there isn't someone to teach that next generation," Kim said.

Like the next generation of farmers, or business people with a local connection to agriculture -- education is what Flavors of the Valley is all about. "It's important the public know what's available, where they are, what kind of produce and products they provide -- meat, vegetables etc.  -- so it is an integral part of the whole community," said Richard Neugass of Norwich.

A community that's coming together around food.

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