Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Agri-Tourism.... Key to Lancaster County PA

You know.... They say Lancaster County is the Garden Spot of the World. I use to think, "how self boasting to claim yourself the garden spot of the "World". Such a self-proclaimed remark should have something to back it up I thought. And me and my city-boy lifestyle, having grown in the suburbs of both Baltimore and Boston did not at first look beyond the Giant Grocery Store.

Lancaster County... A great place to live!
However, being the Innkeeper here at the Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast, I've discovered soon after opening our doors that Lancaster County's self proclamation may have some validity after all.  You see, cooking breakfast for our guest in the morning, I am always looking for fresh produce to serve. Nothing better than local  fresh picked spinach or asparagus in the spring. Or what about garden ripe tomatoes of every color to make fresh chutneys or accompaniments like fried tomatoes. And let's not forget about the fall! The choices of fresh apples and pears locally grown.... let's just say the offerings are dizzying.
Lancaster County Farm Stand

So cooking breakfast one day, I discovered that I was short of fruit and I needed spinach. What was an innkeeper to do? Well, as always go to Giant! That would solve the problem. Being a city boy, if you can't find it there, you don't need it. However on the way, I soon discovered that I was gonna be really late for breakfast if I drove all the way down there. What was I to do? Help!!!

As I started to fret, I pulled over on the side of the road at this little farm stand to collect my thoughts. Nervous as all get up, I got out of the car and looked at the farm stand for assistance to ask if they knew of a closer grocery store, being new in the area there may just be something a bit closer. Then before the words could come out of my mount, I noticed that they had fresh berries, melon and hand picked spinach. Lights were going on all over the place in my head. My menu was decided and I placed my order to the young Amish man behind the counter. Certainly though this was going to cost me and all I had in cash was a five dollar bill. Surely a bag of spinach for the egg dish, a fresh rhubarb and some wonderful strawberries were going to be more than I bargained for. Ka-ching, the total was 4.25... Really, I $till have .75 cents to spend?
Wow... It looks so good!

So that is when I began to realize that this claim of being the "Garden Spot" has more validity than I could ever understand. It really is that important to our area how we sustain ourselves with the local fare. With things like Lancaster County Farmland Trust, PA Preferred, the outreach campaign of Buy Fresh - Buy Local,   local farm stands/markets and  local co-ops dotted all over the place, it is easy to see that farming is paramount to Lancaster. And tourists hoping on the rails of Culinary and Agri-tourism are beginning to realize the bounty of freshness that Lancaster County has become known for. I like to call it Lancaster Fresh.
Lancaster Fresh

Lancaster County is ripe with opportunity for just about any epicurean to immerse themselves into a culinary weekend filled with great knowledge, great fun and a super tasty experience.  You'll clearly see why I'm on board with that self proclamation. It really is the truth!