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Last-minute gifts for farm-to-table food lovers

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Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 07:00:32-05

Last-minute Christmas shopping? Or looking to keep it local?

Farm-to-table gifts do double duty in supporting local farmers, chefs and environmentally conscious businesses. Following is a sampler basket of local/sustainable holiday gift ideas.

The Material Goods

The Chocolate Bee, which opened in November in Northside, combines the products of local chocolatier Chocolats Latour and Bee Haven, which manages some 30 bee hives in the area. Get creative combining Latour’s sculptural confections — robot-shaped chocolate figurines, for example — with a variety of artfully packaged honeys and honey-based jams and beeswax creams and candles.

Honey Sweetie Acres makes luxurious, long-lasting artisanal soaps and other beauty and bath products from the milk of their herd of prize-winning Nigerian dwarf goats. For the gift season, Honey Sweetie sells limited-edition, holiday-themed soaps, such as frankincense and myrrh and "silver and gold" bars. Products can be shipped or purchased at area farmers' markets (check their website for locations). A benefit of buying in person: The owners bring their kids — the goat kind, that is — to the farmers' markets.

Canning supplies: While these are not necessarily made in the area, they support farm-to-table’s mission to keep food local by making it possible to preserve the fruits of your kitchen garden or of your area grower. Speaking of double duty, homemade canned or jarred goods make lovely gifts. Your present of a starter canning kit may come back to you in a pack of pickled peppers.

Gift baskets: Feeling creative? You can really have fun making your own gift basket. First, get a gift basket (go to Michaels or any place that sells nice baskets) and some decorative nesting and ribbons. Then, head to a farmers market open in colder months — Findlay Market will do fine — and start compiling: local jams and other preserves, coffee, a bottle of wine, nuts, Madhouse vinegar, even dried, fancy mushrooms. Wrap in plastic (or don’t wrap) and voilà!

For the people on your list who don’t necessarily need more stuff but do love food or new experiences, there are too many local possibilities to do justice, but to name just a few:

Send your loved (or liked) ones out to a lovely meal. Many farm-to-table restaurants in the area offer gift certificates, including some that do not advertise certificates on their websites but will mail them or issue them in person.

Among the many other farm-to-table establishments that offer certificates are Bouquet (519 Main St., Covington; 859-491-7777 after 1 p.m.), The Rookwood (1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams; 513-421-5555), Orchids at the Palm Court (35 W. Fifth St., downtown; 513-421-9100; $25 minimum); Wildflower (207 E. Main St., Mason; 513-492-7514) and Dutch's (3378 Erie Ave., Hyde Park; 513-871-1446).

Down On The Farm

Some people love to get out and do. For these folks, a farm visit could be just the thing Santa has in mind.

Gorman Heritage Farm offers certificates good for almost everything the farm provides visitors, from general admission to gingerbread-baking classes, horse-drawn carriage rides, preschool story hour and gift-shop purchases.

Turner Farm: If you have a flower lover on your list, Turner has a program of classes beginning in late spring, including Ikebana and other flower-arranging workshops. For $50, you can purchase a flower gift certificate, which allows the recipient to cut a total of 250 stems from the farm’s flower fields over the course of the blooming season.

For the person who has everything, including a wall-to-wall weekend schedule, consider a donation on their behalf to one of the many worthy organizations that address hunger, food waste, the environment — and sometimes all three. There’s a list of many here.

Similarly, if you've wrapped up all of the individuals on your list but are still in the giving mood, consider a gift to the community by volunteering at a nonprofit urban-farming project or food-pantry farm. There are too many to list here, but, as an example, 500 Gardens in Madisonville aims to install 500 kitchen gardens in Madisonville and relies on volunteers to build raised beds, chicken coops and other starter tasks.

Happy giving!

Contact Jenny Burman at jburman323@gmail.com or on Twitter, @JennyBurman.