Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Local Food Hub Calendars are here!

Dear friends,

As you know, we embarked on a tremendous journey a year ago. The result of this journey is an extremely relevant non-profit organization which is already having a tangible impact on our small farms and our community at large.
  • We have created an innovative model which works with small local farms to get their produce into the hands that need it: schools, institutions, grocers and the hungry.
  • We have a licensed produce distribution warehouse.
  • We operate an educational farm where kids, adults, and farmers can learn innovative ways of growing produce and making the most of their efforts.
  • And we run an aggressive marketing campaign, increasing the demand for local foods and the profitability of our farmers.
In just five short months, we have surpassed each and every one of our objectives.

Did you know that if each household in Virginia spent just $10 of their weekly food budget on local food, it would generate $1.65 billion in direct economic impact for Virginia’s economy annually??

Let’s work towards that goal! This year the Local Food Hub has created a 2010 Calendar Guide to Eating, Drinking & Shopping Local. The calendar features gorgeous photography of Virginia’s farms and highlights our area’s retailers and events that sell local products and foods. And there’s a comprehensive tear-out guide for all your local shopping needs.

Local businesses from around the area sponsored all printing and design costs so that every dollar raised can go to our programming. Will you match that effort?

Please consider purchasing one (or 10!) of these calendars as gifts for friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. They are only $20 - a great price for a full-color, 14" x 11" gorgeous calendar. And, 100% of the price goes to fund our programs (which are many!).

With your help we can continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

Please support our work by purchasing your calendar here: http://tinyurl.com/LFHCalendar and telling your friends by email, Facebook or Twitter.

Calendars are also available at the following fine area retailers:
Blue Ridge Country Store
Blue Ridge Eco Shop
Greenwood Gourmet Grocery
Integral Yoga
Jefferson Vineyards
Kenny Ball Antiques
Market Street Wineshop
Milano Cafe
Mona Lisa Pasta
Nelson County Visitor's Bureau
Rebecca's Natural Foods
Seasonal Cook
Sugar Snap Kids
Vivian's Art to Wear

Happy holidays (and thanks for reading)!

- Marisa

Monday, November 9, 2009

Virginia Farm to School THIS WEEK!

We are so excited and proud to support Virginia Farm-to-School Week by supplying 17 regional public and private schools with fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese. Participating schools include: Charlottesville City Schools (Clark, Jackson-Via, and Johnson Elementary Schools), Albemarle County Schools (Greer Elementary, Hollymead Elementary and Sutherland Middle), Greene County Schools (Greene County Primary, Nathanael Greene Elementary, Ruckersville Elementary, William Monroe Middle and William Monroe High), St. Anne’s Belfield, Montessori Community School, Charlottesville Day School and the University of Virginia.

Alan says, “We’re supplying schools with a diversity of fresh produce, including apples, kale, cauliflower, winter squash, potatoes, radishes, lettuce, eggs, cheese and ground beef, all grown and produced right here in central Virginia. By building this relationship between our local schools and farms, we are also providing fresher, healthier lunches, helping to fight childhood obesity, and creating opportunities to teach our kids about biology, geography, health and local economics."

“In addition to helping our kids understand where their food comes from, Farm-to-School week is also an opportunity to support our local farmers, “ adds Kate.

“Virginia schools spend more than $6 million annually on fresh produce – this gives us an opportunity to keep those dollars in our state, supporting our local economy. The Local Food Hub is excited to participate this year and we hope that eventually, local foods will find a permanent place on Virginia’s school menus.”

The Farm-to-School program, developed by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is an initiative seeking to bring nutritious fresh food from local farms to schools. The program promotes a range of opportunities for schools, distributors and growers to work together to increase the volume of locally grown products served in school cafeterias.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Elementary Schools get their first deliveries of Local Food Hub Produce!

The Local Food Hub is now working with the City of Charlottesville Public Schools and Albemarle County Public Schools to get more local, fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables into the hands of our children.

Three City schools and one County school received the USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Snack Program Grant this year and are therefore able to provide better snack options to their students.

On Monday, August 31, the Local Food Hub made its first delivery of local fruit to Greer Elementary in Albemarle County, Virginia. This week’s delivery consisted of approximately 125 pounds of fresh peaches, 72 pints of fresh blackberries, and 72 ½ pints of fresh raspberries, in order to serve more than 530 children each of the two days they will serve the snack.

On Tuesday, September 1, the Local Food Hub made its first delivery of local fruit to three City of Charlottesville elementary schools: Clark, Johnson, and Jackson-Via. These three schools will receive approximately 375 pounds of fresh peaches and 450 pounds of ripe watermelon, which will serve over 800 children their morning snack.

All of this fruit was grown within 30 miles of the City of Charlottesville by Partner Producers of the Local Food Hub - and it reached more than 1300 children in our local schools!

The peaches and the berries come from Critzer Family Farm, in Afton, Virginia and were picked the morning of delivery - you don't get fresher than that! Critzer Family Farm has been an active farm and orchard for five generations. Offering some of the best “pick your own” strawberries in the spring and early summer, it’s apparent that having families on their farm is one of the most important factors in what they do.

Whitney Critzer and his wife, Rosemary relish in the fact that what they do brings families together. Not only are their blackberries huge, juicy and bursting with flavor; their peaches delicious, tree-ripened and tasty, but they take pride in showing how working the land can help heal a soul. The Critzers, with the help of Berdy, their devoted staff member, value mentoring the kids that work on their farm. They want to help kids grow up with a sense of integrity and an understanding of the value of hard work.

Barry Wood of Nelson County grew the watermelon on his farm, Wood Ridge. His family has farmed in Nelson County for multiple generations. Barry has been farming successfully for almost 10 years, after moving back to his family homestead. With more than 10 acres planted, Barry grows delicious no-spray corn, galia melons, cantaloupe, watermelon and will have piles of huge pumpkins come late September.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer's Plenty

Man oh man - are the fruits of summer here! We have so much amazing produce coming in the doors these days - it's incredible. We're working on getting this food out the door as fast as it comes in... As of today, August 3, you can find our produce at the Earlysville Market (formerly known as All Good Grocery), Feast!, Cavalier Produce, Hot Cakes Catering, and L's Burrito & Juice and many others later this week. Check out our website for the latest updates on who's got the goods. We're working on getting produce into Reid's Supermarket downtown, the Lovingston IGA Grocery, and some more retail outlets. We also make sure that a good amount of produce gets to our area's food banks & charitable organizations. Let us know where else you want to find our produce and we'll try to get it there!

Just some of the yumminess that's gracing our warehouse:
Corn, sweet white no-spray
Onions, yellow or red candy apple
White & red fingerling potatoes
Purple potatoes
Baby red & Yukon golds potatoes
Squash blossoms
Tomatoes, heirloom slicing, medium & cherry
Yellow & White Tree-Ripened Peaches
Tree-Ripened Nectarines
Blackberries - big and juicy
Raspberries - fresh & ready to eat
Pastured, free-range, non GMO fed chicken eggs - brown and delish!
Quail eggs - beautiful and delicate
Lots of herbs and other produce!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Opening Day!

After months of preparation and hard work, we have finally opened our outfitted warehouse in Ivy!

We started our day with our weekly staff meeting. Kate (director), Eric (operations & accounting consultant), Allison (community outreach), Gregg (legal counsel & public policy fellow), Alan (purchasing, sales & operations), Nathan (warehouse & driver), and myself (Marisa - farmer service & development) all sat around the table and went through our updates.

There were bottles of prosecco, cherries, scones, and orange juice.
We ceremoniously opened the prosecco, but as it was quite early in the morning, I'm not sure that anyone partook. (And if they did - perhaps they did so quietly in a corner!)

Kate handed out a gift to each of us - awesome "team" shirts - all of them with "Local Food Hub" on the front and our names on the back.

We then had a great brainstorming meeting with a couple of our local supporters and shortly thereafter, our first delivery of produce arrived.

It was beautifully apropos that our first delivery came from our first farmer to sign up as our partner. Dick Proutt, from Down Branch Farm, came to us in his pick-up and brought gorgeous squash blossoms, french zuccini, patty pan and other summer squash, and some beautiful herbs.

He and Kate chatted for a while and discussed how he got into farming and what some of his challenges are.

Dick shared with us, "Thank you all so much for what you're doing here. It's a life-saver for me. I'm a woodworker and since the economic downturn, there hasn't been much work. My farm is my only income. You make it easy."

We also received produce from Rob Brown's farm, Roundabout Farm, and Meadow Run Gardens.

All in all - a flawless soft launch to the Local Food Hub.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Many Hands Make Light Work

Many folks turned out for the first farm workday last Wednesday, July 1st. In just a matter of hours we were able to lay drip irrigation, plant 100's of seeds, mulched the field with hay, put up row covers, and put the other field under cover crop. Thanks to all of our hard workers - we did in a day what could have easily taken a week.

Also, it was Martha's birthday ~ so we felt very honored that she chose to spend her special day with us out on the farm. Happy Birthday, Martha!

Their will be plenty more opportunities to come out and enjoy the outdoors while learning a piece of farming ~ so stay tuned! We'll post here as soon as the next opportunity comes up....

Hope to see you all out on the farm really soon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Part-time workers needed immediately!

We're looking to hire part-time farm hands immediately!

Get paid to learn how to organically farm vegetables in a supportive and educational environment. Steve and Adrianna Vargo of Quail Spring Farm are heading up our educational garden this year and we really need some help!

We are looking for some hard-working and motivated folks to help keep up with the daily tasks out at the farm for approximately 12 hours a week (4 hours on Mon, Wed, & Fri). The farm is located in Louisa County - just off of I-64 (exit 136). Pay starts at $8/hour.

Work starts this Wednesday, July 1st and continues into the fall.

Email resumes to marisa@localfoodhub.org - don't delay!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get Your Hands Dirty & Learn Some Stuff!

Are you looking for hands-on experience on a small, organically grown farm?

The Local Food Hub is looking for volunteers to help us plant our educational garden in Louisa County (just 20 minutes from Charlottesville).


Volunteer opportunities begin, Monday June 29th and will continue into the fall.

We are looking for 6 volunteers for Monday, June 29th and Wednesday, July 1st for 4+ hours beginning at 8:30 am.
Please bring your own lunch, water will be provided.

Exciting opportunities to learn how to lay irrigation, direct sow, build row covers, make hoop houses. Here’s the slated schedule:

Monday – 6/29 8:30 – 1:00
6 volunteers for 4+ hours
laying irrigation & direct seed-sowing

Wednesday – 7/1 8:30 – 1:00
6 volunteers for 4+ hours
Hay mulching
Teaching how to build the row covers and installing what time permits

Work with Steve and Adrianna Vargo of Quail Spring Farm.

Directions will be sent as soon as you sign up!
Please contact Allison at Allison@localfoodhub.org.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lifting the Food Hub

There are many things that go into getting a food hub up and running.

Our warehouse space is coming together. We've painted and steam-cleaned our office and moved in some office furniture. The phone & internet are up and running. Call us at 434-244-FARM (3276).
Alan is holding down the fort out there - and getting the refrigeration spaces up and running. Lots of things are going on! Roofers, plumbers, refrigeration specialists, movers, etc.

We've also been out to a few farms recently and have begun signing up partners.

Here you'll see Dick Proutt at Down Branch Farm with his herb patch. Dick is a master carpenter and a true craftsman. You can see how beautiful his work is, here with his greenhouse. Dick and his wife have been farming for years for their family but have decided to try farming commercially on a larger scale this year. We are lucky to have him on board!

Gail Hobbs-Page at Caromont Farm had us out for a visit to show us her farm. We started in the dairy and then made our way out to visit the pigs, the milking does, and the baby goats.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Join the effort!

There are many ways that you can get involved with the Local Food Hub and the local food movement.

1) Grow food. Contact the Local Food Hub at 434-244-FARM (3276) to register as a partner producer or citizen gardener.
2) Contribute financial support. Contact the Local Food Hub at 434-244-FARM (3276) in order to support the ongoing services and programs of the Local Food Hub.
3) Volunteer. Contact the Local Food Hub at 434-244-FARM (3276) and tell us what aspects of the local food system interest you and how you’d like to help. We will add you to our Citizen Support database and match you up with organizations or farms in need of your services.
4) Seek out and eat local food. Ask for locally grown food where you shop and dine. Business owners will hear this demand and see the value in purchasing more locally grown food.

The Local Food Hub is a non-profit service organization designed to support local food producers with the services they need to solidify them as competitive, profitable, and recognized businesses. We provide unbiased information to help producers become more productive and economically vital. We provide the networking resources necessary to actively engage our citizenry and make productive use of their time and energy. We coordinate charitable food donations from producers and citizens and deliver this fresh product to the organizations that feed low-income populations.

Because we are not driven by profits, we encourage producers to continue their direct-to-consumer and existing client relationships. We want producers to participate on any level that is beneficial to them. The Local Food Hub is designed to fill gaps identified in the regional food system. We are opening sales to larger buyers who are mostly inaccessible due to logistics, major volume and insurance requirements.

We will soon have an outfitted warehouse located in Ivy, Virginia, which will serve as a licensed distribution center that provides the liability insurance required for sales to grocery stores, distributors and institutional buyers. We have centralized pick-up points in surrounding counties, where producers meet our refrigerated truck for transportation of their goods. We are making an immediate and on-the-ground impact for both food producers and those who wish to purchase more local food.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's Official.

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of local citizens and local foundations, we have raised our start-up funds and the Local Food Hub will be opening this summer. We're now starting our annual campaign to raise the funding that we need to operate for the next year.

We have just officially hired our start-up team.

Founding Director – Kate Collier
Kate grew up on a farm in Fauquier County and brings extensive food industry experience to the project. At the young age of 11, she began rolling out shortbread dough in her mother’s hilltop bakery. Kate is a long-term supporter of the local food movement and an advocate for small farms and local food producers in Central Virginia. Her innovative perspective on the food industry, life-long experience in marketing, food sales, and distribution has helped bring success and profitability to her and her husband Eric's business, Feast!. Her strong relationships with local farmers, a keen business sense and an understanding of the issues facing small-scale food producers helps inform our vision and mission.

Farmer Services and Development Director – Marisa Vrooman
The daughter of a large animal veterinarian, Marisa is no stranger to the farm. She worked with her father for many years and spent much of her childhood visiting small, struggling farms in upstate New York. She has witnessed the decline of the family farm on a very personal scale, seeing her family members struggle to hold on to their land. She is convinced that in order to revive our rural economies, we must begin to revive our agricultural heritage. Her family currently has a small farm in Amherst, Virginia where they raise Maremma guard dogs, sheep and grow wine grapes.

Director of Operations – Alan Moore
Born and raised in tidewater Virginia, Alan and his young family have deep roots in Central Virginia. After graduating from UVA, he served as the Director of Operations for Jefferson Vineyards. After graduate school in Charleston, he helped found and served as the Program Director for Lowcountry Local First a non-profit organization working to revitalize the agricultural economy, environment, and community in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. He has an understanding of the many pressures faced by our local growers. His experience in developing entrepreneurial programs that promote economic development, preserve our agricultural heritage, and better connect our farms to our tables is an invaluable asset to the Local Food Hub.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Building infrastructure and networks to support expansion of local agriculture

A successful local food system is one in which consumers have access to healthy, affordable, locally-grown food, and farmers have reliable and efficient access to markets. Institutions such as hospitals, schools, restaurants, and social service agencies are also able to count on a steady supply of local food. The benefits of such a system include a stronger local economy, improved public health, better land use, and decreased fuel consumption.

A key component of such a system is a “hub” where food can be aggregated and delivered or processed as needed. In Virginia, demand for local food exceeds supply and one of the biggest barriers to increasing the economic sustainability of local agriculture is the lack of infrastructure to distribute farm products efficiently from the farm to the table. Many farmers express a willingness to expand operations but lack an efficient way to get their product to buyers. Institutional buyers, on the other hand, indicate their readiness to buy more local food if supplies are reliably accessible for a reasonable cost. It is most evident that neither farmers nor purchasers favor the time consuming routine of having to deal individually with multiple outlets and/or clients.

The Local Food Hub is an organization that addresses the growing demand for local foods and supports expansion of local agriculture. It provides infrastructure and networking resources currently not available in order to deliver more local farm products efficiently from the farm to the table.

The Local Food Hub incorporates successful elements of established local food system models from the Intervale in Burlington, Vermont, ACENet in Athens, Ohio and ALBA in Salinas, California.

Local Food Hub services include:
· Planning Support for Growers -At the beginning of each season, representatives from the Local Food Hub will hold meetings with buyers and growers. From these meetings, a record of buyer demand is developed, which will inform grower planting and pricing requirements. This guidance will help small farmers develop a working business model.

· Food System Networking -The Local Food Hub will develop a database of organizations and citizens involved in food system issues. It will facilitate community connections in order to accomplish concrete local food system goals by organizing the wealth of citizens' knowledge and enthusiasm for local food. The Local Food Hub will work with local professionals and small farmers to develop sustainable business plans.

· Rentable Refrigeration & Freezer Storage Space -There is demand from farmers and institutions to store additional product that they do not have space for in their facilities. This will help enable volume purchasing and year-round product availability. It will also explore the feasibility of offering an outfitted meat-curing storage unit in order to support value-added cured meat production.

· Liability and Trace-ability Coverage -The Local Food Hub will comply with food safety regulations and offer insurance coverage and clear trace-ability that many larger scale purchasers consider essential.

· Delivery and Consolidation Services -The Local Food Hub will have refrigerated trucks that pick up from farmers at central locations throughout the region. Hub staff will consolidate products and food donations and deliver to buyers and charitable organizations, saving farmers the time and gas it takes to deliver to many small accounts, while at the same time addressing the volume requirements from larger buyers.

· Processing Facilities (Phase 2) -Any acceptable produce that cannot be sold fresh will have the capacity to be preserved through basic cooking or freezing. This will increase the yield potential on farms and get more locally grown food into the food system. A canning, bottling and labeling line to provide full co-packing services is planned.

The timing is right for the Local Food Hub as converging local trends (mirrored nationally), including heightened concern for food safety, growing interest in healthy eating and lifestyles, preference for better tasting and more nutritious foods, and people’s desire to “know where their food comes from” create great economic opportunity.

The financial logic of expanding local production and distribution is clear. It is well known that money spent on local food stays in the economy and has a multiplier effect. Studies show that in areas with strong local markets, the family farm and rural economies are reviving. A 2008 report by the Virginia Cooperative Extension found that more than $50 million would be reinvested in agriculture and local independent businesses in the Thomas Jefferson Planning Region if households in the region spent just $10 a week of their food budget on local food. Currently households spend less than 1% of their household budget on local food.

The Local Food Hub assists in the following Economic Development goals:
· Maintaining a strong and sustainable economy
· Increasing the economic vitality of the area’s rural communities
· Increasing support for agricultural businesses
· Supporting the regional economy
· Increasing residents’ ability to become self-sufficient

The Local Food Hub works aggressively toward these objectives in several ways.
First, the purpose of the Hub is to stimulate the healthy growth of the regional economy through expanded farm productivity and new business formation, in both agricultural and food-related enterprises, along the value chain between growers and end consumers. Second, by expanding markets for regionally produced foods the Hub will help landowners make their land financially productive and fragmentation and development less attractive. Furthermore, Hub activities directly contribute to the self-sufficiency of our community by substituting local foods for imported foods. Finally, people with access to land will be able to supplement money coming into their household by growing food and selling it to the Hub. They will be able to do this with relatively low up front investment and may choose to do it in a part-time or full-time capacity.

In summation, the Local Food Hub addresses many growing concerns of our community. Not only does it help the area’s economic growth by assisting farmers and local businesses, it will enable individual households to supplement their incomes. It will help reduce waste and fuel consumption. The Hub will help enable land conservation and preservation efforts. By de-centralizing the food system, the local food movement and the Local Food Hub will help ensure our area’s food security and our area’s future generations of farmers.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We're trying to outfit our office

Hey there friends!

So we've got this office space donated to us at the Main Street Market ~ and it's wonderful!  But here's the catch ~ it's completely unfurnished.  Does anyone out there have any office-y type things they're looking to unload?  If so, please call me ~ Marisa, at 960-0155.  I have a truck and can arrange to pick up any large items.  

Here's what we're looking for:
- Desks
- Office chairs
- Filing cabinet     
- Bookcases or shelves   
- Sofa or loveseat   
- Long table for informational displays   
- Coffee table or side tables
- Lamps
- Computers
- Printer 
- Trash bins, recycle bins

- Reams of paper
- Envelopes
- Stapler
- Hole punch
- Paper clips
- Post-its
- Pens & pencils
- Notepads
- Cork board or bulletin board
- Hanging file folders
- Manila folders
- Labels

So as you can see ~ we're operating bare bones right now.  We'd love any items that you no longer need.  Gimme a call!  960-0155  

Thank you again so much for your interest and support! 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Local Food Hub Supporters Start Letter Writing Campaign

Dear Local Food Hub Supporters,

Recently two Local Food Hub supporters, Elizabeth Birdsall and Karen Beauford, put together a letter writing campaign to introduce the Local Food Hub project to members of our community and ask for their financial support. I wanted to share this letter with you and let you know that it is yielding immediate results. Our community continues to be generous and supportive of the Local Food Hub mission. Thank you all!

Fundraising support letter follows:

We write to ask you to join us in making an infrastructure investment in our community by becoming a founding patron of The Local Food Hub. As citizens of the Thomas Jefferson Planning district interested in improving our community’s fiscal and physical health in a meaningful and lasting manner that benefits all area residents, we cannot think of a more timely and important project than The Local Food Hub. Conceived and established by Kate Collier, co-owner of Feast!, The Local Food Hub is a new non-profit organization whose mission is:

-To increase the availability of locally grown foods to all area residents
-To improve the efficiency of our local food system
-To support current farms and incubate new ones
-To increase farm income and maximize year-round local food availability

The Food Hub will reach these goals by:

-Providing centralized distribution, consolidation and warehousing at a licensed wholesale facility that is a large and dependable customer to local farms of all sizes

-Offering networking services that facilitate community connections to accomplish concrete local food system goals

-Establishing processing services for the production of sauces, condiments and preserves

Customers and beneficiaries of Local Food Hub products will include grocers and restaurants, but also senior centers, schools and food banks. The Local Food Hub will re-establish a sustainable local food system that will bolster our economy, better our residents’ access to nutritious foods, preserve our region’s farmland and diminish the carbon foot-print of the meals we consume. If you are concerned about the industrialization and globalization of our country’s food system, supporting The Local Food Hub is a great first step in reversing those trends.

According to its business plan, The Local Food Hub will be a self-sustaining non-profit by it’s fifth year, but in the meantime it needs our direct financial support. The organization is currently raising the last of its start-up funds. $165,000 of starting funds has been secured through foundation grants, private donations and in-kind contributions. This auspicious start will allow the Hub to occupy its space and become marginally operational in time for this growing season. However, The Hub requires an additional $65,000 to complete its start-up needs and ensure that it makes a meaningful impact in its first year of operation. Please help us reach that goal by making a fully tax-deductible contribution today. To learn more about the Local Food Hub, please contact Marisa Vrooman, Director of Development and Membership, at vavavroom@mac.com or 434.960.0155


Elizabeth Birdsall and Karen Beauford

Monday, February 23, 2009

Request for Information

We are compiling a Local Food Resource List.

If you know of some local groups or services that should not be left out, please send in your list.

Some areas we need help on are:

-Community garden plots (where are they?)

-Groups working on the "Farm to School" issue

-Gardener/grower training classes, mentors

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fasten Your Seat Belts ~ Here We Go!

Marisa here...

Since our last posting, Kate and I have been on the biggest roller coaster ride of our lives.  The pure deflation and hopelessness that we felt after the Board of Supervisors failed to vote on our project has turned to sheer excitement and hopefulness.

Our community has stepped up to the plate in a MAJOR way.

The local foundation that had offered to match all municipal dollars we raised continues to be supportive.  They have now offered us $50,000 in outright support and another $50,000 in matching funds to any other philanthropic dollars we raise!  Way to go!

We then put our noses to the grindstone and with this momentum went out there and raised an additional $62,000 in a matter of a week!

Folks, we are only $58,000 away from reaching our start-up costs!  After that, we'll start to work on raising our annual fund, which will support our services and shortfalls we expect for the first few years.

And another GREAT thing ~ we've also received an in-kind donation of a fundraising office at Main Street Market.  We plan to open those doors the last week of February.  So PLEASE stop by and see us.  Office hours will be from 10 am - 5 pm Monday - Friday.  We'll be in the tower to the left of Feast!

We are so excited that this project is really happening!

We're organizing a fund-raising letter and will be sending that out early next week.  We're hoping for a big response to help close that gap.

If you are interested in making a donation, we would love to have your support.  The PEC is acting as our fiscal sponsor until we get our 501(c)(3) determination letter.

We can accept donations by check and credit cards.  
  • Checks should be made out to:  The Piedmont Environmental Council with the "Local Food Hub" in the memo line and then mailed to:  
The Local Food Hub, c/o Feast!, 416 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903

Or you can deliver them to us in our new fundraising office!

  • To make a donation by credit card, please contact Karen Lamond at the PEC at (540) 341-0175 Ext. #4 and state that you are donating to the Local Food Hub.  Also, please then follow up with an email to localfoodhub@me.com and let us know that you have made the donation and in what amount, so that we can log it in our books.
We greatly appreciate all of your support and look forward to seeing your faces in our office! We can't wait to serve our community and help get more fresh, nutritious, local food into our schools, institutions and grocery stores!

~ Marisa & Kate 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Board of Supervisors Fails to Vote

The Local Food Hub suffered a set back today. The Board of Supervisors failed to vote on our proposal.

The morning started off wonderfully as many supporters showed up to speak knowledgably and eloquently in favor of funding. Their clear and heartfelt presentations brought a tear to our eyes and gave us great optimisim. Even the two speakers in opposition stated their support of the concept, but stated they didn't like the idea of municiple funds being allocated.

When the Hub proposal came up on the agenda, the Supervisors started to debate again the Guidelines they had set at last month's meeting. This philabuster went on for 45 minutes and our request to address the Board was denied. They acknowledged that we were the "guinea pigs" as we were the first organization to apply for the monies which have been sitting in the fund since 2006. Then Supervisor Boyd declared they had taken enough time on this agenda item and it was over...

We left the auditorium to be greeted by tv cameras and a swarm of press. "What now?" they all asked...

That is a question we pondered over a martini lunch at Hamilton's where Marisa and I sat at first in stunned silence. As our drinks took effect, we began to digest the morning and our new reality of a big project with great support and little funding. The public support made it clear that this community project is bigger than just us. People see the merits of this plan. Many people took time and energy to compose letters, call their government officials and sat through hours a beaurocratic banter to have their voices heard. We can't let this first set back stop our efforts... But the reality is, this project won't happen without funding. It won't happen without at least $250K in start-up money. If funding doesn't come in the next month, the project won't happen this year and momentum, qualified staff and our energy may be lost.

Next steps are:
-rest, recover and see what the press coverage brings
-meet with our matching fund foundation next week and see what they are willing to commit and how soon.
-reach out to more potential donors and see if any are willing to put up seed money now
-keep our minds open and see what the fates have in store for The Local Food Hub

We welcome your ideas and advice on how to handle the next steps.

We thank you so much for your activism and encouragment. We are hopeful.

with highest regards,
kate, marisa and G.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Board of Supervisors Meeting Specifics

Hello Friends,

The Local Food Hub is on the Board of Supervisors agenda on Wednesday morning. If you would like to take part in the public comment period please come and sign up to speak by 8:45am. The meeting is being held in the big room at the Albemarle County office building off of McIntire Road.

If you feel qualified or compelled to speak to any of the following topics, it will help The Local Food Hub cause:
Why you think this is a useful application of taxpayer money:
- more healthy food in our schools, restaurants and institutions
- a good use of our areas natural resources, conservation of land, environmental issues
- economic benefits that will keep $ in our area, tangible and intangible benefits
- in these tough economic times, families with access to land could supplement their household income by growing good food for us all
- small farms are disappearing, the average age of farmers in VA is 59.5, need to offer training and support services to encourage the next generation of farmers
- farming jobs are good jobs even if the average income isn't always $42K making them officially "high-wage" jobs
- will promote and sustain our rich agricultural heritage
- we need to insure our area's food security

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Local Food Hub Update & Action Request

Dear friends:

After a year of research and planning, the start up of the Local Food Hub is close to becoming a reality.

Nelson County Economic Development has already pledged money to support the project and we are up for a vote before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, February 4th to defend our request for monies from its Economic Opportunity Fund.

We have a private foundation that has pledged matching funds for all municipal monies we are able to secure, so a "yes" vote from Albemarle County would effectively fund the start up of the project and assure that the Local Food Hub will begin making a positive impact immediately.

We write today to ask for your help. Unless the Board members hear from a great many concerned citizens, they may choose to take no action, therefore disabling our efforts to secure matching funding from a private foundation and bringing our positive momentum to a halt.

We need your phone calls, letters of support and / or attendance at this meeting. We ask that you please flood the Supervisors with emails and phone calls before our meeting on Wednesday, February 4th. We are told that Ken Boyd, Dennis Rooker and Lindsey Dorrier may need the most convincing.

Below is a brief description of the Local Food Hub project and an example of an email that you can send to your designated Board member (or all of them if you please!)

What it is:
The Local Food Hub is a non-profit organization that offers local food purchasing, processing, wholesale distribution, warehousing and essential services to farmers in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District to address the growing demand for local foods and support expansion of local agriculture. This distribution system will put healthy and fresh food into our schools and our senior populations and help bring economic growth to rural communities. The Hub provides infrastructure and networking resources currently not available. These services include but are not limited to:
* Planning support for growers
* Small farm business planning
* Delivery & consolidation services
* Liability and trace-ability coverage
* Rentable refrigeration and freezer storage space
* Food system networking

Local Food Hub’s Mission:
* To increase the supply of locally grown food in Albemarle County
and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District by building a licensed
wholesale facility that is a large and dependable customer to
local farms of all sizes
* To improve the efficiency of our local food system by providing
centralized distribution, consolidation and warehousing
* To incubate new farms and support current ones by providing
business development, networking and planning services
* To increase farm income and maximize year-round local food
availability by providing processing services

*The Local Food Hub will not duplicate established models of direct to consumer sales, i.e. Community Supported Agriculture, Farmers’ Markets, buyers clubs and on-farm sales. It is designed to fill gaps in the existing infrastructure and provide services that will help generate local supply and meet local demand.

Quick & Easy Email template:
If you would like to use this existing template, please copy below and paste into a new email ~ or please feel free to write your own:

I write this letter in support of the Local Food Hub, which will provide much needed facilities in Albemarle and its surrounding counties. This is a community effort that will enhance the economic and social benefits of a local food system.// It is imperative to our local economy, our food security, our environment and our community's health that we invest in the necessary infrastructure needed to support and build a local food system. The Local Food Hub will address many of the barriers that we now face.

One of the greatest challenges for our farmers is getting their fresh product to market. The Local Food Hub will provide area growers with much needed assistance for the transportation, storing, and processing of produce.

Please vote "Yes" to their request for funding thus enabling the Local Food Hub to collect its committed matching funds.

Thank you for supporting agriculture and our local economy.



Board of Supervisors Contact Information:

Lindsay G. Dorrier, Jr. (Scottsville District) Office: (434) 286-9399
Email: riverstreet4444@yahoo.com

Dennis S. Rooker (Jack Jouett District) Office: (434) 977-7424 Email: dsrooker@earthlink.net

Sally H. Thomas (Samuel Miller District) Office: (434) 295-1819 Email: sthomas@albemarle.org

David Slutzky
(Rio District & Chairman) Office: (434) 989-5888 Email: dslutzky@albemarle.org

Ann Mallek (White Hall Distict) Home: (434) 978-1150 Email: amallek@albemarle.org

Kenneth C. Boyd (Rivanna District) Office: (434) 977-9981 Email: kboyd@albemarle.org

Please act today to secure the future of the Local Food Hub! Also, if you know of local food supporters and can send this email on, please copy, paste and get the word out! We'd also love to add them to our email newsletter list so they can be kept abreast of our efforts.

We appreciate your time and help!

Thank you!

Cheers to many years of good, fresh, local food,
Kate Collier & Marisa Vrooman


Welcome to the Local Food Hub blog. This moment marks the beginning of the the Hub's internet presence.

It's a big week for the Hub. Albemarle Board of Supervisors meets Wednesday to decide on the Hub's funding request. Their decision will have an immediate impact on the Hub's direction. Plus, the Hub has a pledge of matching funds for municipal support received, so the Board's decision is especially important to securing the start-up capital needed to get the Hub's real work started.

The next three days are all about getting citizens to voice their support for the project to the Supervisors. This blog will provide all the information you need to get involved.