Farms, Big E chef teaming up to promote locally-sourced food

BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Along with the popular fried Oreos and cream puffs, this year, the folks at The Big E hope you will also try some of the locally-sourced meals served up by the fair’s chef.

Didn’t know The Big E had a chef? Tonight, we introduce you to him and how he has become fair’s ambassador for local farms, local farmers, and eating farm-to-table.

The Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown has been around for generations.

“We’re five generations. I’m four, my kids are five. This farm is 150 years last month,” said Mike Austin with Austin Brothers Valley Farm.

The Austin’s farm is one of 16 farms in New England featured by The Big E this year and Big E chef Bill Collins.

“This farm is 150 acres. We produce dry hay for a lot of local sheeps and horses. We keep about 100 head of cattle here,” Austin said.

Collins told Western Mass News that he’s here to get a first hand look and to promote The Big E’s buy local, farm-to-table initiative.

“My job is really to just raise awareness about local product, how great the product is here in New England, and the fact that we should be buying local and supporting these local jobs in our communities,” Collins said.

Collins is creating 17 dishes, one for each day of the fair, featuring a farm a day that he will cook up in the Farmer’s Market building, just steps from the world famous fair food.

“It’s ying and yang right? I think the fried Oreos and fried Twinkies, you know. People want to come to the carnival and get that. I think it’s awesome that that’s available, but I also think it’s really great that they’re taking a second to say ‘Hey, look at this area that we’re in and let’s put some focus on it,'” Collins explained.

After all, the first Eastern States Exposition in 1916 was designed to promote new farming methods and establish competitions among farmers.

Austin is happy to help carry on the tradition.

“It’s actually more than excitement. It’s an honor that they would contact me that my product is quality enough to be at The Big E,” Austin said.

Collins noted, “We live in an agricultural area that needs to have, you know, a little bit of a spotlight on it and what a great event to do it at when we see a million-and-a-half people.

For more information on what Collins and The Big E are serving up at the Farmer’s Market building and when, CLICK HERE.