ONTARIO — The Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor & Convention Bureau is pleased to announce the completion of the Four Rivers Farm & Garden Trail, a project that connects visitors and residents with the local agriculture community. A wide variety of farm and garden products can be purchased directly from the growers at farm stands, farmers’ markets and small farms and ranches across the Four Rivers area.

Starting in Ontario and routed through Vale, Nyssa, Payette and Fruitland, the self-guided driving tour offers an informative and scenic way to learn about what is growing locally and to stock the refrigerator or decorate the home and property. Included are places farm visitors can pet animals, buy fresh eggs and purchase fruit and vegetables at the peak of nutrition and flavor.

The brochure includes information about the 26 participating proprietors, photos and a map. Included are businesses that feature locally grown food and products, such as Second & Vine Bistro and Andrews Seed Company. Historic sites along the route are also highlighted.

“The Chamber of Commerce Visitor & Convention Bureau has been working with a committee of growers and community leaders on this project for over year,” said John Breidenbach, CEO of the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce. “We created the committee when the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association offered assistance in developing and promoting agritourism experiences.”

After the committee laid the groundwork and identified a project, Travel Oregon came to town in April 2018 and presented an agritourism development workshop that provided the technical assistance and a grant to help complete the project. In addition to the grant from Travel Oregon, the Ontario Chamber and Payette Valley Food Connection contributed funds and the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association (EOVA) provided assistance from the organization’s agritourism specialist, who coordinated the project.

“This was a team effort by a number of people and organizations, and we couldn’t have completed it without all of their assistance,” Breidenbach added. “The Payette Valley Food Connection provided information about a lot of the farm stands and growers that were incorporated into the project. Their knowledge of local food producers was extremely helpful.” The chamber of commerce scouted the route several times, communicated with the participating proprietors and provided most of the photos.

The brochure project is the fifth to be completed by the EOVA. The Cove-Union Farm Loop in Union County, Whisky & Rocks Farm Loop and River to Hills Farm Trail in Morrow and Umatilla Counties, and the Wallowa County Barn Tour share the purpose and brochure design. The next steps in completing this project are signs throughout the route, helping drivers find each participating location, and promoting the activity through Travel Oregon and the EOVA.

While one purpose of the project is to help people connect with fresh agricultural products, it is designed to draw visitors and provide an activity that encourages them to spend several hours exploring the area, learning about a key industry. Ultimately, the goal is to put money into the local economy.

Breidenbach urges residents to stop by the chamber at 951 S.W. Ninth St. and pick up a map, then get out and discover what is along the route. And, encourage visiting friends and relatives to do the same.

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