Dinner in July

Dinner in July

From Atelier Farm

The whole point of the dish is to pop warm cherry tomatoes in your mouth—you can tell how sunny it has been that week by how sweet the tomatoes are. The flavor of the dish stands on the flavor of its basic ingredients, which is why I like it, as I really feel as though I’m savoring the farm.

Ingredients, Quantities By Feel

  • Summer Squash
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

Pasta

Spiralize summer squash into noodles using a spiralizer. Heat skillet to medium heat and add two teaspoons of olive oil. Toss in squash noodles and saute for several minutes until they become soft

Sauce

In another skillet, warm over low-medium heat: whole cherry tomatoes (cut some of the largest cherry tomatoes in half for a bit of saucey-ness), ripped basil and minced garlic. Stir to mix ingredients and warm through.

After warming, add olive oil and salt to taste and mix with the squash noodles. Enjoy!

Atelier Farm

Atelier Farm

by Christina Saylor

Atelier Farm, located off Preddy Creek Road in northern Albemarle County is lovingly owned and operated by farmer, Austin Mandryk. Austin named his farm after the French word atelier, meaning workshop or studio, and his farm feels just like that — an open air studio where Austin creates and organizes his next work of art of the season. It is beautiful to behold the bounty and variety of flavors and colors of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers he coaxes his land into producing.

Austin, calls his farm “beyond organic” and “pro-biotic.” Austin’s methods include using living mulch, no-till cover crops, beneficial bug borders, and weed and vermicompost teas, all in a loving and attentive effort to promote all life to flourish in balance on this 5-acre plot. A a result, Austin is bringing the overused, fallow land back to health. He is providing fresh produce that his CSA members can eat with a good conscience, while also renewing the ground that nourishes us.

Atelier Farm sells both summer and winter CSA free choice shares, with each season lasting 6 months. The winter season focuses on fresh spinach, root crops, dried beans, popcorn, winter teas, and a variety of herbs like dried spices, hot pepper, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. The summer CSA adds fresh fruit like watermelons, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, a diversity of greens, all the usual suspects of summer—there are 100 varieties of tomatoes—fresh culinary herbs such as mint, basil, and cilantro, healing herbs like ashwagandha and burdock, and exotic specialties like husk cherries, shiso, and Thai winter melons.

A trip to pick up your share at Atelier Farm turns into a restorative journey in itself. Listening to Austin’s philosophy and vision for his future farm—which he is always planning for—and watching his passion for ‘creating’ encourages you to connect with the land and the food it provides. Summer CSA shares are still available. If you are interested in becoming part of this community, you can join at www.atelier.farm/pay/summer.

International Rescue Committee: New Roots Program

International Rescue Committee: New Roots Program

by Christina Saylor

The key to the success of the New Roots program of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Charlottesville has been the ability to blend social support to refugees with the region’s vibrant agricultural heritage to create community synergies and bring us all closer to the food we grow and eat. The New Roots Program in Charlottesville is part of a national effort of the IRC, and organization that was founded in 1933. The IRC in Charlottesville is the only local resettlement agency and provides essential services that support the successful integration of eligible immigrants.

New Roots strives to create a sense of community integration that revolves around our shared interest in the production and consumption of fresh food. To meet that goal, the program consists of multiple interconnected initiatives that work with New Americans in our community to support their health and wellness, community connection and household economics through food and agriculture.

The highlights of these efforts include the New Roots-operated community program that serves more than 60 families at 8 locations. New Roots also educates people and provides material support, facilitating the acquisition of new skills to adapt peoples’ previous farming experience to take advantage of local micro-production opportunities.

New Roots staff operate the Michie Market neighborhood farm stand where graduates of the Micro Producer Program can sell their produce and earn supplemental income (all income from the sales goes directly to the farmers). New Americans who participate in this program say that it instills them with a sense of pride because they are involved in providing something of value to the local community.

These farmers also have the opportunity to sell their produce to local restaurants, an innovative company called Small Axe Peppers and other outlets. New Roots provides support through other avenues as well, including advocating locally for a more just and healthful food system and funding matching incentives to New Americans which boosts their purchasing power when shopping for fresh food at participating locations.

This year New Roots is enhancing an existing community partnership of 4 years with Bellair Farm CSA. Bellair will continue to lend greenhouse space to the farmers at no cost and will now also provide land for the farmers to sow their crops. Bellair Farm CSA is very excited for the development because it presents opportunities to everyone to learn new farming techniques and practices. Bellair will also host cooking classes for the community where the farmers can share their regional cooking knowledge. The farmers will sell some of their produce as add-on shares to the CSA and Bellair will also purchase a portion of their harvests to complement and increase the variety of produce that Bellair provides to its members.

Bellair CSA members will be able to purchase this produce and support local New American farmers and the IRC during the CSA pickup at the farm on Saturdays.

Buy Fresh Buy Local and Making Connections

Since 2006, PEC’s Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters have provided free marketing opportunities for local farmers through our annual guides and have connected multitudes of families to the fresh, local products grown and raised in the Piedmont. In 2018, PEC staff conducted interviews and focus groups with our Buy Fresh Buy Local partners and released local food producer and community surveys to identify barriers within the Piedmont’s local food system. These surveys help inform how PEC’s programming can tackle those barriers and create opportunities to strengthen local agriculture around the region

More than a third of our partners responded that the guide provides significant promotion for their products. Many also cited one of the consistent challenges as advertising products and expanding their product buyer base. Issues with pricing, finding time to develop new market relationships and connect with community members hinder farmers’ ability to grow or fully establish their business.

Our surveys gleaned information on how consumers use the annual Buy Fresh Buy Local guide and their local food purchasing habits. Most consumers received their guide in the mail (57%) and are using it to find area farmers markets and restaurants and retailers that use local products. When asked what would encourage them to purchase more local food, it came down to convenience and information.

PEC has taken this information to develop events and programming to fill in these marketing gaps. We have hosted local food showcases, buyer and seller mixers that allow local producers to connect with a range of buyers—from small café owners to public school food service directors and national grocery chain produce buyers.

In the spring of 2019, PEC launched the refreshed BuyLocalVirginia.org website that will provide a much needed online presence for our chapter partners.

New Digital Collaboration

Piedmont Environmental Council logo

Virginia Cooperative Extension Logo

Market Maker Logo

To enhance this online hub for local food information, PEC is excited to announce our partnership with Virginia Tech and MarketMaker. MarketMaker is nationwide and centers around a virtual information-sharing platform that brings fresh and local food to consumers. PEC’s well-known and growing Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters bring an already established network of local food producers, while MarketMaker provides online market connections that will strengthen local food market purchasing.

This collaboration targets local food producers (i.e. farmers, value-added producers, specialty beverage makers) and local food buyers (i.e. chefs, grocery store managers, institutional food service directors, wholesalers, aggregators and distributors). Through this partnership, PEC is supporting development of a streamlined, centralized state-wide local food inventory that provides food producers and buyers access to Buy Fresh Buy Local branding, Virginia Grown branding and the MarketMaker online connection platform all within the same database.

Willowhawk Farm

Willowhawk Farm

by Brittany Croll

As you pull into the gravel driveway leading to Willow Hawk Farm, the sign reads “Caution: animals at play.” This intentionally small operation is a labor of love for Ashley and Greg who own the 18-acre farm.

Ashley described herself as a “fiber person” who wanted to try raising sheep. Together she and Greg have embarked on a journey that now includes producing roving (not twisted) yarn typically used by hand spinners, natural and dyed finished (twisted) yarn, fleeces, lamb meat and free-range eggs. The pastured-raised sheep are mostly Romney, which is a “long wool” breed with mild flavored meat. Willow Hawk’s flock averages 30-35 ewes, with new lambs each year. In addition to the sheep and their two guardian Great Pyrenees, they have about 18 chickens to produce the eggs and several farm cats that serve as the official greeters.

In addition to the sustainability ethos that Greg and Ashley adhere to, what really sets Willow Hawk Farm apart is their commitment to community. For the past 17 years Ashley and Greg have served as a host farm for the Temple Hall Non-Owners Sheep Club, which is a Loudoun County 4-H program. As part of this program, the group will learn and experience all things about raising sheep and compete in the Loudoun County Fair in the summer. Many of the kids will participate for multiple years becoming part of Ashley and Greg’s extended family.

To experience Willow Hawk Farm firsthand, attend their Spring and Fall Farm Days. Ashley conducts spinning and dying demos, enthusiastically explains the in-depth hand dying process, the young lambs are in pens for visitors to pet, and the 4-H kids provide tours highlighting the bank barn which is built into the hillside on the property. They also make sure that the tractor is out for visitors to sit on, which is usually a favorite activity.

When asked what is one thing Greg and Ashley would want people to know about their farm, they replied nearly simultaneously, “We have happy lambs!”

Bee’s Wing Farm

Bee’s Wing Farm

by Mitra Kashani

Everyone needs a little soul food, and that’s just what Bee’s Wing Farm provides! Nestled in the valleys of Bluemont, Virginia, Bee’s Wing Farm is a newly blossoming flower farm owned and operated by Chelsea Belle Graves.

Chelsea is a young and hopeful farmer with over ten years of experience tending to the earth. With the help of her parents and husband, Chelsea brought Bee’s Wing Farm to life at her childhood home in Bluemont in 2014, and now grows over 40 varieties of flowers, berries, herbs, and greenery, and creates hand-curated bouquets for every occasion.

Originally, Chelsea had aspirations to become a vegetable grower, but later realized that with flowers, “… I was nourishing a different part of people. I tell folks we’re selling soul food…they recognize that their eyes and their heart need to feast on that. I got over not growing carrots anymore.”

Bee’s Wing Farm uses all organic and gentle practices in their growing, stating “in an effort to care for and respect the land we do not use any synthetic pesticides or herbicides. We know that the soil is the soul of our farm and care for it through cover cropping, compost and integrating our livestock and cropping systems.”

The farm also houses a walk-in cooler, allowing customers the opportunity to experience flowers that are picked at their peak freshness. There are a variety of ways to experience the blooms of Bee’s Wing Farm: as a bride or groom on your wedding day, as a CSA share member where you receive a fresh bouquet every week, at a local farmers market (this summer, the farm will be tabeling at Reston and Berrysville farmers markets) or at a local wholesale shop, like Jenny’s Salon or Petite LouLou.

As Chelsea mentioned, “When you’re choosing local, you’re supporting people living the dream, helping them sustain this life whether its through a $2 stem at a farmers market or a CSA share.”

Goat Cheese Egg Melt

Goat Cheese Egg Melt

from Catoctin Creamery

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese

Instructions

Beat together 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of milk and a little salt and pepper.

In a small pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add a clove of fresh garlic pressed and 1 tablespoon of basil once cooked a little, maybe 20 seconds (Note: can add any other vegetables or cooked meat that you like at this time – I like to add a little cooked ham most of the time)

Then add the egg and milk mixture above.

Once bubbly but when the eggs are still liquid, add 2 ounces of chevre goat cheese, and mix together. Once the eggs are fully cooked, take off the heat and eat!

Promoting Piedmont Agriculture

Five organizations in the Piedmont region are working together to support targeted local food marketing efforts through a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant.

Culpeper Downtown Farmers’ Market

The Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market continued to build on the success of the FMPP grant for the 2018 season. New marketing efforts to better inform the public of the Grand Opening Celebration of the market led to one of the most well attended days in the market’s decades long history.

Promotional efforts supported special events programming like various customer appreciation days, children’s nutritional cooking classes and a National Farmers Market week celebration. Increased advertising of the market through signage, posters, postcards, informative vendor and special event guides, traditional print and social media have been key to maintaining a strong customer base while also reaching new market attendees.

The Market’s ability to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits was promoted throughout all marketing material which resulted in a doubling of SNAP usage during the 2018 market season from the previous year.

Madison Farmers’ Market

Madison Farmers' Market logo

Madison Farmers’ Market is excited about the upcoming year. Some changes in Virginia laws allow more flexibility in what we can sell. We are also looking forward to having some breakfast type items, homemade bone broths and more.

We are opening an online store! Visit it at www.localline.ca/madison-fresh-market

The website can take pre-orders with Saturday pick ups in Madison or Monday afternoon pick ups in Culpeper. We specialize in bringing you fresh, local food by farmers who know you by name!

The Piedmont Environmental Council

Piedmont Environmental Council logo

The Piedmont Environmental Council’s Buy Fresh Buy Local program has used the FMPP grant funds to design, print and direct mail the annual Northern Piedmont guide to over 75,000 households in the region. The grant also covered the Farm to Table Showcase in the fall of 2018. This event was an opportunity for local producers to set up tables with their products and meet a wide-range of buyers with the intent of helping develop market connections.

This year, we are excited for the final event of this grant! The Flavor of the Piedmont will take place at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton on September 8, 2019. This day starts with a local food buyer-seller event and ends with a local food tasting that is open to the public. Visit www.pecva.org/events for more information and tickets!

Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission

Purely Piedmont logo

The Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission continues its “Purely Piedmont” marketing campaign to promote the region’s locally-grown foods and beverages. Look for their booth at local festivals, billboards proclaiming “Local Tastes Better,” and commercials airing on Comcast this summer.

The Purely Piedmont regional label program is entering its second year. Similar to the state’s Virginia Grown program, producers who register their products with the program will receive free labels with the Purely Piedmont logo to affix to their products, in addition to digital versions of the logo to incorporate into their own marketing materials.

Keep an eye out for the Purely Piedmont label at local markets, verifying the product was grown in Virginia’s Northern Piedmont. Visit www.purelypiedmont.com for more information.

‘Tween Rivers Trail

'Tween Rivers Trail logo

The ‘Tween Rivers Trail has continued to support and expand its efforts in marketing to potential customers, both in- and outside our region, as well as growing the number Trail member locations. Free workshops are offered quarterly on topics designed to support agri-tourism businesses and provide networking opportunities with other Trail members. A quarterly newsletter for the Trail allows the Trail members to learn more about one another as well as any important information and upcoming events or workshops. Trail member interviews continue to allow us to understand how each business functions and the best ways to support Trail members. Since the grant award, the ‘Tween Rivers Trail has grown to 85 Trail locations! Learn more at www.tweenriverstrail.com

PATH Foundation

In line with Buy Fresh, Buy Local’s initiatives to connect consumers with healthy, local products, the PATH Foundation is proud to fund Commit to Be Fit and Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health — two programs that enhance nutrition, physical activity and overall health in Fauquier and Rappahannock public schools. Both programs are tailored to the needs of their students and communities.

FRESH

Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health, otherwise known as FRESH, is an innovative program bringing a culture of health and wellness to Fauquier County Public Schools. FRESH engages 20 schools in a wide variety of initiatives, such as increasing physical activity in classrooms, providing new recipes and training to cafeteria workers, and creating after-school clubs that focus on fitness, nutrition and wellness. With over 2,600 student participants, and their sights set on increasing the program’s scope and outreach, FRESH continues to support and promote health in Fauquier County.

Commit To Be Fit

Commit to Be Fit is focused on improving health and wellness in Rappahannock County through community engagement and school initiatives. In two years, the program has offered more than 450 community workshops on topics like eating healthy on a budget and injury prevention, as well as one-on-one health coaching. In Rappahannock County Public Schools, Commit to Be Fit has improved nutrition by introducing salad bars, horticulture class produce and other new menu items to school cafeterias. Commit to Be Fit remains a pioneering and useful resource for Rappahannock County residents of all ages.

For more information, please visit www.pathforyou.org

Time to plant your garden!

Order seeds through Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and support The Piedmont Environmental Council. Thirty percent of the proceeds go to our Buy Fresh Buy Local program when you purchase these seed packages:

Welcome to the Garden Pollinator Collection

Welcome-to-the-Garden Pollinator Collection

Support your pollinators with this special collection of 12 old-fashioned single-blossomed heirloom, open-pollinated flowers and herbs.

Virginia Heritage Seed Collection

A specially priced collection of 12 varieties rich in flavor and history, all associated with Virginia and the Appalachians.

Visit their website at www.southernexposure.com