Charlottesville Area

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.