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Finding Local in The Back Alley

One of this year's new offerings to hosts this weekend's 11th Annual Bite of Bend is Locavore Alley. No, this isn't the place to buy black market morels.

Located on Minnesota Avenue between Bond Street and the alley near Dudley's, the Alley will feature 22 vendors of locally-produced food, including goat meat, jellies, oatcakes, allergen-free cupcakes and salsas.

Created by Lay It Out Events and Central Oregon Food Policy Council (COFPC), Locavore Alley is meant to support and showcase Central Oregon food producers.

When I spoke with Kate Mitchell of Lay It Out Events, her enthusiasm and passion for Locavore Alley was apparent. "When tasting something in Locavore Alley, you are eating a bite of Bend," she quipped. "It doesn't get more literal than that."

She rattled off the names of nearly all the participating vendors, singling out O-Hana's Salsas as an example of a local business owner that "kicks butt."

She also highlighted Sean's Oatcakes, a one-person business that is working hard toward success in Central Oregon. Started in March 2012 by Sean Sunderland, Sean's Oatcakes uses a recipe adapted from his great-grandmother, Chetwyn. Sean's Oatcakes can be found at the Bend Farmer's Market, held Wednesdays on Brooks Street and the Sisters Farmers Market on Fridays. His oatcakes are also sold at Broken Top Bottle Shop, Chow, Nancy P's, Whole Foods Market and Newport Avenue Market. Sean is enthusiastic about making and sharing his oatcakes. In fact, at the Sisters Market last week, he met two men cycling across the US. They noted the Union Jack flag on his banner and stopped to talk. One of them happened to be from Sean's hometown of Stoke-on-Trent, England; Sean sent them off on their journey with some hardy oatcake samples, perfect to keep the gas tank full when cycling.

Also keep an eye out at Locavore Alley for Lesa Fadness, owner of O-Hana's Salsa. Each week O-Hana's produces 350 to 500 gallons of salsa for the Central Oregon market and Salem. "We love taking care of the people we live with!," exclaims Fadness. In business since 1987, all four of the Fadness boys have worked in the business at some point, whether making or distributing O-Hana's salsas.

Nearby, the Marketplace will have additional local food vendors. Check out Dave Felton, a local resident who liked to cook and eat as a hobby. When results for his homemade cookies and cakes with commercially made vanilla weren't quite up to his standards, he did what few of us would do—he started making his own vanilla. After experimenting with the production process, he liked the results and his wife suggested giving away samp,les as holiday gifts to friends. In turn, those friends thought Dave should sell his vanilla—and Dave's Dirty Vanilla was born. Felton is keeping the vanilla-making as a side venture until next year, when he'll consider expanding production and distribution to natural food stores in Portland. This weekend he's hoping for nice weather where the family will make a day of supporting local business (and dad) by staffing the Dave's Dirty Vanilla booth.

The Locavore Alley will be open 11am-10 pm Saturday and 11am- 7pm Sunday on Minnesota Avenue east of Bond Street.

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