Central Oregon Farm to Table Tours: Where does your lettuce come from?

 

salad

I was taken with the fresh greens in our salad and asked how long ago they were picked. The answer? This morning!

On a warm spring afternoon, I toured the Central Oregon countryside with Chef Bette Fraser of The Well Traveled Fork who leads culinary tours taking you to the source of healthy food in the Bend area.

One of our stops was Maragas Winery where wine tasting and tales of the Maragas family history kept us entranced. Later, out in the vineyard, we learned about the adaptations needed to grow grapes in Central Oregon. By then, we had worked up an appetite and were treated to a lovely lunch, prepared by Chef Bette (who also has a catering business). Most of the ingredients were sourced locally and, on our culinary tour, we would get to visit some of those sources.

I was particularly taken with something rather simple… the lightly dressed lettuce salad. I guess I’m not used to freshly picked lettuce on my luncheon plate because I found the taste amazing. The dressing brought out the fresh flavor of the varieties of lettuce perfectly. I could taste the subtly wild flavor of the leaves and smell the delicate aroma of the herbs. I enjoyed each course and then was pleased to find out that we were headed to Redtail Farm where Heidi Moir, farmer, had picked the lettuce leaves and herbs just that morning.

We said farewell to our hosts at the winery and drove down a country road with a view of a chain of beautiful snow-capped mountains. We turned down the dirt road leading to Redtail Farm. Past the chicken yard and the pen of happy pigs enjoying fresh water, we found Heidi.

Red Tail Farm

Farmer Heidi Moir of Red Tail Farm

Heidi showed us around the farm and told us of future plans to expand herb plantings. Redtail Farm is all about sustainable farming. Their goal in farming is to honor the land and animals with integrity, creating sustainability that will improve the land over time. As we toured, I was taken by the beauty of the lettuce that was growing in protected beds. These were the beds that produced the lettuce I enjoyed so much at lunch. We learned how the lettuce was grown and fertilized the organic way.

Heidi showed us the artfully arranged produce in containers awaiting her regular customers… varieties of lettuce, herbs and freshly dug onions.

Each week Heidi takes orders and gets the produce ready. She delivers and some customers arrive to pick up their “arrangements” from Heidi’s cooler. During the winter months they have greens such as spinach and salad mix available, and starting in the early spring they have an array of greens, herbs, and meat for purchase.  They email their contacts the list of weekly produce and meat available and from there you can place your order.

Lettuce

The lettuce bed at Red Tail Farms

Heidi picks only what is ordered. Since Red Tail Farms is only eight miles outside of Bend, you can get on her list and order when you are going to be in the area.

Touring farms and enjoying the bounty of the region is a wonderful way to experience an area. In Bend, Oregon you will have the opportunity to tour with a knowledgeable and personable chef. The Well Traveled Fork has a long list of places that welcome their small groups of visitors.

 

 

More Information

The Well Traveled Fork
Visit Central Oregon

Photography copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography

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