For some, the phrase “farm-to-table tour” might bring to mind meandering through a bucolic rural scene with a glass of wine and arriving at a well-dressed table for a multi-course meal. But if you head out with Get Dirty Farm Tours, you’ll want to leave the white linen behind and pack your rubber boots.

Founded in 2013, Get Dirty Farm Tours is a joint venture between agriculture researcher Lane Selman and culinary educator Blake Van Roekel. Their mission is to connect the farm-curious food lover with the farmers, ranchers and craftspeople of Oregon. The two women chose the name to underscore their hands-on approach.  “It kind of alludes to the idea that you are going to get a little more involved. You are going get a little dirty,” Selman says.

Get Dirty got its start when Van Roekel asked Selman to talk to some of her cooking students about local agriculture. Their response was so enthusiastic that the two decided to take it a step further. “We thought — how about we take people out to a farm?” Selman says.

With her connection to multiple organic seed and vegetable farmers and Van Roekel’s network of animal farmers, they had an impressive list to draw from. Their monthly themed tours include visits to two farms and a catered lunch. The goal of each trip is for participants to connect with and learn from the farmers. Selman says people love having the one-on-one time with producers.

For the Get Dirty partners, the payoff is seeing people comprehend the true cost of organic, local farming.  “It really clicks for them,” Selman says. “It’s really great when people are standing there talking to the famer and come to it on their own. They say ‘I want to support this farm and this is why it costs what it costs.’”

Recent tours have included Big Table Farm and Quail Run Creamery, both in Gaston. An upcoming tour on June 21 will visit Jacobsen Salt Company and JAndy Oyster Company on the coast. During that trip, participants will wade out into the oyster beds to harvest and eat shellfish. “We call it ‘get dirty’ for a reason,” Selman says with a laugh.

During the summer, in addition to the monthly tours, Get Dirty is offering Portland urban farm tours once a month from June through September. The company also creates custom tours by appointment. So if you are food curious, get and out and get dirty this summer! You never know what you might learn. As Selman put it, “Some of the most creative and innovative things happen when people are deciding what to eat.”

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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  1. Jim Duffy says…

    I am visiting at end of season to see how well they grew some of my chiles!

    Written on June 19th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
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