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Editorial: Heart of the harvest

October 12, 2011

Looking ahead to this weekend's Harvest Fest, a warm welcome goes out to visitors and vendors, and for locals, a reminder that the event is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the bounty of our county (details on pages A9-10).

The weather outlook looks damp, but there will be tents, and Harvest Fest happens rain or shine. The event has a little something for everyone, from fresh fruit to a beer garden to a wide variety of Gorge artisans.

Timed with the 2011 harvest and accompanying celebrations, there's a new and enjoyable way to explore Oregon's rich diversity of farms and farmer's markets, in he warmth of your home.

The Oregon Farm Explorer (http://oregonexplorer.info/farm) maps Oregon's rural and urban connections through an exploration of farms and markets using a variety of data collections, mapping tools, stories and other resources.

"The Oregon Farm Explorer presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about the bountiful food produced in Oregon," said Anita Azarenko, head of Oregon State University's horticulture department, "including what is raised here, where it is produced, and where to find it."

The site allows visitors to find local, fresh, farm-grown produce, meats and cheeses with the Farmers' Market Finder and its interactive maps, as well as to learn about agricultural and horticultural crops and the livestock and dairy industries that support Oregon's economy.

The site highlights the Oregon Century Farm andch Program and can trace the spread of agriculture through the establishment of farms and ranches. A specially designed viewer maps farms and ranches that have received century and sesquicentennial awards, and provides detailed information by county.

The Oregon Farm Explorer was developed as a collaborative effort of the OSU Libraries, Oregon University System's Institute for Natural Resources and the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.

It gives a well-rounded big picture of the vital connection of the farmer to Oregon consumers, and is an excellent embellishment to the information on the Oct. 14-16 Hood River Harvest Fes, at the Chamber of Commerce website, hoodriver.org,

"Relationships are the heart of farmer-to-consumer commerce," writes Peg Herring on the Explorer site. "Keep that in mind when you drive through rural areas and come upon the least-sophisticated method to bring home local vegetables or flowers. Bless the trusting farmer and remember to leave your payment in the jar."

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