Local Food Events Sprout Up in Eugene

Look out for several events focusing on local food

Dorian Crow of Wildcraft Cider Works prepares to press apples at the Eugene Cidery. Photo: Todd Cooper.
Dorian Crow of Wildcraft Cider Works prepares to press apples at the Eugene Cidery. Photo: Todd Cooper.

You might hear the cluck of chickens in certain Eugene backyards. As for turkeys, forget about it: Raising turkeys, as some backyard farmers may know, is prohibited in the city code.

As more people get behind raising, growing, eating and drinking local, an issue like fowl ownership inside city limits becomes a greater part of the conversation.

Next week, look out for several events focusing on local food, including a food law symposium at the UO School of Law on Feb. 6 and the Local Food Connection conference at LCC on Feb. 2, which will include the debut of The Fully Fermented Tour.

The food law symposium, entitled “Cropping Up: Exploring Food Rights in Your Backyard and Around the World” will address topics ranging from urban farming to international food rights.

Alexandra Hoffman, a second-year law student and co-organizer of the food law symposium, says she encourages community members to attend in order to help spark conversations with local officials, legal experts and food advocates. “The way the panels are structured is very Q and A,” Hoffman explains. Attendees, she says, will learn “why the rules are the way they are and what they can do to change it.”

Local panelists for the UO event include Bill Bezuk, owner of The Backyard Farmer in Eugene; Kristie Brown, land use analyst for the city of Eugene; and Harper Keeler, director of the Urban Farm at the UO, as well as various experts in food rights and food law. The $5 admission for community members includes breakfast, lunch and appetizers, with a happy hour to follow.

The keynote speaker is Eric Holt-Giménez, the executive director of Food First and an international food advocate, and he says his talk will focus on food rights. “The food poor people in this country are forced to eat is unhealthy,” Holt-Giménez says. The reason behind this, he argues, is “the capitalist food system, which is governed by profit motive.” He notes the local food movement is gaining support, but more work must be done. “There are structural injustices that will have to be addressed,” he says.

Over at LCC, the Local Food Connection conference on Monday, Feb. 2, includes workshops on topics like regional food branding, local food purchasing and agri-tourism.

The Fully Fermented Tour, a walking tour exploring local wine, beer and cider, will happen in conjunction with the conference. The tour is a project of Oregon Folklife Network and will take participants behind the scenes with local businesses that work with fermentation. “The best way to learn is by asking the people who do it,” says Josh Ehlers, organizer of the event.

The stops on the tour are Oregon Wine Lab, Territorial Vineyards and Winery, WildCraft Cider Works, Hop Valley and Oakshire Brewing. The cost for the tour is $60. Conference participants have priority, though Ehler says they plan on making the tour a regular event.

For more info on the tour see wkly.ws/1wv; for the LCC Local Food Connection Conference go to localfoodconnection.org and check out wkly.ws/1ww for the UO’s food law conference.