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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Columbia Farmer Walker Claridge Featured at Farm Aid Press Conference

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Walker Claridge, center, with St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, far left, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, near left, and fellow Missouri farmer, Rhonda Perry, right.
  • Walker Claridge, center, with St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, far left, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, near left, and fellow Missouri farmer, Rhonda Perry, right.
A rural Missouri farmer who provides produce to some of St. Louis' critically praised restaurants was a featured speaker at today's Farm Aid press conference at Soulard Farmers' Market.

Walker Claridge, a 34-year-old first-generation farmer from Hatton, Missouri, said his farms in Calloway County provide food to The Crossing, Liluma, Yia Yia's Euro Bistro, Acero and Saint Louis University's Fresh Gatherings Café, among other eatieries. Claridge can also be found on Wednesdays at the Maplewood Farmers' Market, selling his produce.

Food blogs and conscious diners are focusing more than ever on locally grown produce and locally raised livestock, and it appears Farm Aid has followed suit by highlighting Claridge's local distribution of food from more than 140 farmers in Missouri. He operates the Root Cellar, a Columbia-based local grocery, and plans to open Broadway Brewery, a micro-brewery and local-food restaurant, also in Columbia, this August.

Claridge has been to several Farm Aid concerts with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and characterized the concert as a place for like-minded individuals to share ideas about local farming. Missouri ranks second in the nation in the number of independent farms, behind only Texas.

Farm Aid takes place on October 4 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Slated to headline the concert are Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson and Neil Young.

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