Jessica Palmer

The Fresh Harvest

The Fresh Harvest

by Beth Miller-Herholtz

What if you could get locally sourced, fresh food delivered right to your door? And what if you could choose products from a variety of producers who use the most sustainable farming methods? And what if you knew that the products you chose were raised and grown by local farmers? If you’re like me, you’d think you found a little bit of heaven on earth.

That’s just what Matt Coyle and Dr. Jerry Engh have created in their new collaboration called The Fresh Harvest. When Matt started working at Dr. Engh’s family farm, Lakota Ranch, he saw the difference eating food raised without using antibiotics, GMOs or grain made in his and his family’s overall health. As a world-renown orthopedic surgeon who has also raised prize-winning Devon cattle for over 50 years, Dr. Engh has seen the benefits of good nutrition first hand, both in his patients and his own family. Together, they began to think how they could expand beyond the farmer’s markets and help both local consumers and the local farming communities.

The Fresh Harvest began with 12 producers and 100 products in April 2018. Today, the online hub has over 40 producers and 500 products and continues to expand! Matt leads the operation and has worked with his team and his producers to reduce food waste. Everything comes in and goes out on the same day. They do all that they can to ensure freshness and as Matt said, “to connect people with their farmer.”

There’s no subscription fee or minimum order. All you need to do is place your order online using their website or app (The Fresh Harvest) by 11:59pm on Sundays. Each order is collected and coordinated in the early part of the week so that by Thursday, The Fresh Harvest team can package your selections and deliver the same day. All products have been picked, baked, and even juiced the day before delivery. You can also choose your preferred point of delivery: your own doorstep (no delivery fee for orders over $150), or for free delivery at Powell Wellness Center in Culpeper and the WARF in Warrenton.

Local. Fresh. Delivered. That’s a little bit of heaven on earth. That’s The Fresh Harvest.

Piedmont Beef Study

Piedmont Beef Study

By Kristen Markley with Health Care Without Harm and Jessica Palmer with Piedmont Environmental Council

Over the course of 2019, Health Care Without Harm and The Piedmont Environmental Council will be working together on a project to assess market access for sustainably produced Virginia Piedmont beef.

To get started, Health Care Without Harm will conduct an assessment of the institutional demand for the product. The assessment will focus on the collection of information from hospitals, colleges, and universities in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia.

Meanwhile, PEC will conduct a supply-side assessment to provide an in-depth look at current and potential beef-sector production and gauge farmer capacity for expansion and interest in selling to a captive wholesale market. The study will span the area from around Charlottesville to Loudoun County.

When paired together, the projects will highlight possibilities for institutional purchasing programs and possibly provide a pathway to expand and support Piedmont beef sector businesses. If you are a beef producer in the Piedmont region, please consider taking PEC’s survey: https://www.pecva.org/beef.

Let There Be Fruits & Veggies

Let There Be Fruits & Veggies

By Paula Combs

Food brings people together. But healthy food is sometimes hard to come by. Despite Loudoun County’s reputation as a wealthy community, a surprising number of children in the county live in households with limited access to healthy food. The consequences can be stark for these children, as their development, ability to learn and overall health is directly related to the quality of their diet.

The Piedmont Environmental Council’s Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows was founded with two ideas in mind: to connect residents to Loudoun’s vital agricultural economy and to provide locally grown fruits and vegetables for its food-insecure families.

Now, it is time for those ideas to blossom, or rather… to be planted.

Starting this spring, the northwest corner of Roundabout Meadows will be the hub of activity. We have eight acres surrounded with deer fencing, and on approximately two of those acres, PEC’s community farm manager, Dana Melby, will work with volunteers to begin planting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, radishes, beets, turnips and collards, from mid-March to the beginning of April. Then, after the last frost, crops such as tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, green beans, summer squash, watermelon and cantaloupe will be added.

“We will also be implementing cover crops to help improve our soil quality and increase the soil’s nutrition,” Dana explains. “Cover crops improve soil health, as well as attract pollinators and beneficial insects. They also help reclaim land that was previously fallow, allowing it to go back into production.”

The fruit and vegetable crops at the Community Farm were selected with the help of our partner, Loudoun Hunger Relief (LHR), who identified the needs of the local community.

Feeding America reports that approximately 13,390 Loudoun County residents live in food-insecure households, defined by a chronic lack of access to sufficient nutritious food, in 2018. LHR serves many individuals and families in need, including over 1,000 families living without permanent shelter in the county. Nearly half of the people LHR helps are children who lack sufficient, nutritious food. To date, over one million meals have been distributed through the organization!

To address food insecurity and combat high rates of child obesity, diabetes and hypertension, local anti-hunger efforts are increasingly focusing on providing more produce. PEC plans to donate 100 percent of the Community Farm’s fruits and vegetables to LHR and other food pantries in the county.


“With the tremendous help of our volunteers, we will be able to deliver fresh food to those who need it most.”

Dana Melby, PEC Community Farm Manager

“Loudoun Hunger Relief is thrilled to be partnering with the Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows. Produce is so important to good health and farm fresh produce is even better. We’re excited to provide locally grown, fresh produce to our neighbors in need,” says Jennifer Montgomery, Executive Director of Loudoun Hunger Relief.

The Community Farm will engage volunteers to help produce local food, which will have a meaningful impact on healthy food access in Loudoun. The long-term goal is to scale up production and volunteer programming over the next 5 years.

“I’m so excited for all that is to come this growing season,” says Dana. “With the tremendous help of our volunteers, we will be able to deliver fresh food to those who need it most.”


Interested in Volunteering at PEC’s Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows?

Help us with planting and harvesting healthy food for Loudoun residents in need! Previous experience is welcomed but not required, as on-site training will be provided.

Be prepared to work outside in variable weather conditions, get your hands dirty while doing a good deed, and learn about your local agriculture community. All ages are welcome, but children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Check the calendar on our website for upcoming volunteer opportunities and events.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact PEC’s Community Farm manager, Dana Melby, at [email protected] or (540) 347-2334 ext. 7068, or visit https://www.pecva.org/farm

Happy Family Ranch

Happy Family Ranch

by Beth Miller-Herholtz

Southern Fauquier County is known for its farms, and you’ll find one of the finest at the end of Elk Run Church Road in Midland, Virginia. It’s called the Happy Family Ranch, owned and operated by Roberto Melendez and his family. Not only are they dedicated to producing fine meats, including grass-fed beef and pork, but they are also dedicated to educating others about what it means to bring the farm to the table.

Established in 2013 initially as a land investment, it became a working ranch when the couple of goats Roberto bought for his parents quickly expanded to include potbelly, Mangalitsa, & Heritage Yorkshire hogs, 80 prized Wagyu cattle, & a variety of fowl. I sat down with Roberto in early March to learn more about their vision for farm to table meats and their experience as first time famers.

“I drew a lot of inspiration from others in the county and from my own heritage. Respect for the animal is a top priority, and we work hard to make sure they are fed and cared for with dignity. We’ve collaborated with the local Co-Op, the USDA, and now PEC. Thanks to a grant from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), we’ll be expanding and improving our infrastructure. Producing award-winning meats requires clean water sources, non-GMO food sources, and room to roam.”

You’ll also find the Happy Family Ranch food truck making its rounds at local breweries, farmers markets, and other events. While I was at the Ranch, I sampled the street taco and hamburger—from farm to fork is a delicious experience! I finished up my tour in the retail shop, which is clean and ready to welcome visitors. Soon, there will be an outside gathering area where you might take some time to appreciate both the view and the animals. “Farming never stops. It teaches me something new every day,” said Roberto. “I love how it brings people together.”

Visits are encouraged, so drop by the Ranch at 12507 Elk Run Church Road, Midland, VA and select your meats in the retail shop. Find them also at the Manassas and Warrenton Farmers Markets. Visit them online at www.happyfamilyranch.net, or follow them on Facebook.

Blueberry Crisp

Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients For The Filling

  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds fresh blueberries, rinsed & well-drained
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp lemon zest zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/8 tsp generous pinch of salt
  • 8 Tbsp 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds divided

Directions

Toss blueberries with 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp lemon zest and set aside.

Whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, 3 Tbsp flour and 1 tsp ground cinnamon and toss with the blueberries just until evenly coated. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Combine and mix 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1/8 tsp of salt.

Add the diced cold butter and smoosh with your fingers until the butter is the size of peas.

Add 1/2 cup oatmeal and use your hands to make large crumbles. Add 1/2 cup of the sliced almonds and mix to combine.

Spread the topping over the fruit and cover evenly, then sprinkle 1/2 cup of almonds over the top. Bake 40 minutes at 350˚F. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving with a scoop of Moo Thru vanilla ice cream!