Fill Your Pantry, an annual post-harvest event sponsored by Ten Rivers Food Web and Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, seeks to establish a regional food economy that benefits farmers, consumers, and the local community. As Jen Christion Meyers, Ten Rivers Community Food Organizer explains in the video, the idea is for farmers to sell their storage crops, such as dry beans, rice (yes, there is a farmer growing wild rice in the valley!), and grains that are grown in the Willamette Valley to be purchased directly by consumers in bulk amounts for use throughout the winter months.
While many of the dozen or so farmers participating in this Fill Your Pantry event in Corvallis, Oregon also sell at local farmer’s markets, this event represents for some a major percentage of their annual profits.
The Willamette Valley is one of the top agricultural production zones in the world. Over the past several decades, much of this fertile valley has been devoted to growing grass seed that has followed the increased demand from the national boon in the residential real estate markets. Since the more recent downturn in real estate across the country, beginning in 2007, grass seed growers in the Willamette Valley have been transitioning to growing staple crops, such as edible grains, dry beans, and other food crops.
This is only the third year for the Fill Your Pantry event, but this is a model for other communities throughout the country to adopt. By finding additional ways to connect farmers directly with customers, these types of events help promote the reemergence of local and regional food economies that our modern industrial-based, global food system has largely replaced.