FOOD

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Islands Food and Farm Festival features local food, music

Attendees can take the bike ferry for free

Festival attendees explore the grounds during last year’s Lake Champlain Islands Farm and Food Festival. PHOTO | JASON FAGGA

Festival attendees explore the grounds during last year’s Lake Champlain Islands Farm and Food Festival.
PHOTO | JASON FAGGA

By Colin Flanders
The Essex Reporter

The third annual Lake Champlain Islands Farm and Food Festival will be held this Sunday, Aug. 30, at Health Hero Farm in South Hero.

The festival, which runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., will include a tour of the farm, tastings of local food — including pizzas with toppings from the farm — environmental interactive exhibits as well as live music from the Missisquoi River Band.

Those planning to attend the festival will also be able to ride the Island Line Bike Ferry for free, and the ferry will remain open until 7 p.m. Local Motion will be providing bike safety education, helmet decorating, while RISE VT will be offering bike smoothies.

Tomatoes from Blue Heron Farm on display during last year’s Lake Champlain Islands Farm and Food Festival. PHOTO | JASON JAGGA

Tomatoes from Blue Heron Farm on display during last year’s Lake Champlain Islands Farm and Food Festival.
PHOTO | JASON JAGGA

The festival’s inspiration stems from a belief that the mainstream notion of farming is still big dairy farms said Hannah Noel, who along with her husband, Eric, is a part owner of Health Hero Farm.

“I think that the agricultural landscape has really changed in the last couple of decades to include so many kinds of farming — smaller farms and niche products — and I think that still people aren’t aware of what’s happening right in their backyard,” Hannah Noel said.

After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1998, Hannah said she and her husband “changed everything to organic,” becoming acquainted with the farmers around their Indiana home.

“We were organic consumers first, organic farmers second,” Hannah Noel said. They returned to Eric Noel’s family dairy farm at the end of 2003, and proposed to his parents they diversify the farm, certify it organic and alter the type of cattle they raised.

Health Hero Farm now produces organic vegetables and grass-fed beef cattle, while also running a multi-farm Community Supported Agriculture shares program that collects products from various farmers on the Champlain Islands and Franklin County.

Hannah Noel said that while the event’s set up is similar to a farmers market, it has that “festival-feel” which has inspired past attendees to come for the entire afternoon.

“It’s a fun way to spend the whole day. There’s enough to do to go through at a relaxed pace and experience everything,” Hannah Noel said.

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