Bringing Terra Madre Home

In 2012, the international Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre world meeting will be held together as a unified event for the first time, displaying the extraordinary diversity of food from all continents and uniting small-scale farmers and artisans from the north and south of the world who follow the principles of good, clean and fair production – food that is defined not only by excellent taste, but also environmental sustainability and social justice.

Slow Food Portland’s Whitney Taylor talked to former  Terra Madre delegate Zoë Ida Bradbury from Valley Flora Farm about her experience at the conference.

The Valley Flora Farm team from left to right: Zoë, Abby, Betsy, Roberto. The kids: Pippin (Abby's son) on the left, Cleo (Zoë's daughter) on the right.

The Valley Flora Farm team from left to right: Zoë, Abby, Betsy, Roberto. The kids: Pippin (Abby’s son) on the left, Cleo (Zoë’s daughter) on the right.

Q: Could you describe what you do in relationship to food and farming?

A: Valley Flora is nestled on the banks of Floras Creek near Langlois, Oregon. We’re a diversified family farm producing over 100 varieties of vegetables, berries and fruit for local restaurants, grocery stores, food banks, our farmstand & u-pick, and a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. As a mother-and-two-daughter trio deeply committed to ecological farming practices, our passion is growing good food with an eye toward the artful. Our love of land, place, fertile loam, and the next generation inspires us to use cover crops, compost and crop rotations instead of synthetic fertilizers and sprays, and to do most of our work by hand – with the occasional help of a couple of tractors and a draft horse. We adhere to all organic practices, principles and regulations, but we are not third-party certified organic. Whether you’re biting into a crimson strawberry, savoring a vine ripe tomato, or heaping your plate high with Abby’s Greens, you’ll know you’re getting the freshest local produce a person can find in this neck of the woods. We love what we do – so much you can taste it.

Q: What did you know about Terra Madre before you went? Were there any surprises along the way?

A: Many friends and fellow farmers had gone and returned with incredible photos and tales of their experiences. I knew it was a big gathering, and a very global one. That proved to be entirely true!

Q: What was your favorite experience at Terra Madre?

A: The most amazing aspect of Terra Madre for me was experiencing the Salone di Gusto – the taste pavilion where you can sample traditional and signature foods from cultures all over the world. It was the place to connect in a very real, very visceral, way with farmers and food artisans from around the globe. I also had the opportunity to participate in a global youth potluck, where hundreds of young people brought food to share. We sampled everything from native brazilian bee honey, to caribbean coctails, to stinky cheeses. It was an eclectic repast, but even  more impressive was the electric energy of all the people in the room – young, energized, and passionate about food from their homeland.

Q: Did the experience change your world and/or local view about farming and global food issues?

A: It certainly added vivid imagery to my knowledge of food, farming, and global food issues. The combination of real people, real food, and real conversations brought these things “home.”

Q: What impact has the Terra Madre experience had on the work you do and the way you eat?

A: Terra Madre helped us realize that the way we eat and the way we farm are in fact rather specific to our locale. Every farmer occupies a unique niched, microclimate, marketplace, etc. Ours is no different.  I also realized just how fortunate we are to have so much infrastructure and community support for what we do. We spoke with farmers from Africa who had to walk two days with their produce on their back just to reach a road – and then travel another day by bus to get it to market. Hearing stories like this put our own “challenges” into perspective!

Q: What advice do you have for future delegates?

A: The Terra Madre gathering is vast and can be overwhelming. Don’t expect that you’ll take it all in; be present with whatever part of it you can absorb, and enjoy that to the fullest!

For more information about Valley Flora Farm, visit www.valleyflorafarm.com.

For more information about Terra Madre, visit www.terramadre.info.

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Terra Madre brings together those players in the food chain who together support sustainable agriculture, fishing, and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity.

Help support Oregon’s 2012 delegates!
come to our fundraiser dinner and silent auction on August 25th
or  make a financial contribution online.
More details here.

Thanks for sharing