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Progressive Pizza

NOFA tries local "pies"

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Pizza-to-go has moved way beyond speedy delivery. The Vermont Farmers' Fare project serves up hot pie topped with peppers and politics. Crafted from local foods, it's intended to encourage consumers to look to nearby farms for fresh products to use in their own cooking. Northeast Organic Farmers Executive Director Enid Wonnacott came up with the concept; staff members haul the traveling pizza oven to fairs and festivals, where they sell hot slices to hungry visitors.

Pizza is a persuasive choice, since pretty much everyone likes it. NOFA worked with King Arthur Flour of Norwich to develop the dough recipe; Duxbury's Red Hen Baking Company produces it. Toppings are updated depending upon the time of year and the venue - a recent version served at City Market's Harvest Festival included a blend of mozzarella and Orb Weaver cheese, braised leeks from Arethusa Collective Farm, and fresh herbs from Project Coordinator Lisa Harris' garden. Regardless of the incarnation, the pizza sells for $3 a slice, or $12 for a whole pie.

The wood-fired oven, which looks like a metal igloo, inevitably draws a crowd; it began making the rounds this past July, thanks to funding from the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Harris and others are crunching numbers to see if they can make the pizza pay for itself - soon, they hope, the Farmers' Fare project will be as sustainable as the farms it seeks to promote.

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