Friday, July 30, 2010

Pesto, Pesto, Who's got the Pesto?

Calling all chefs, home cooks, gardeners and other local foodies: we need your help!

We're looking for volunteers to help us do some food prep and processing at the warehouse!  We'll be slicing and dicing up any and everything that's in season and in abundance, and using it for sampling, preserving and storage. 

Pesto is first on the list -- other things to come.  Melon balling, anyone?

We'd love to have your help, no matter your level of experience!  Join us at the warehouse to help your local nonprofit and learn to make some tasty, seasonal foods.  Plus, who knows, there might be some extras to take home, too!

Interested?  Dates are as follows (all are Tuesdays):

August 3 | 12pm - 2pm
August 10 | 2pm - 4pm
August 17 | 12pm - 2 pm
August 24 | 2pm - 4pm

Email to sign up and get more information!

image credit: stijn/Creative Commons

Friday, July 23, 2010

Clean Your Plate: Around the Web This Week

You guys are so good!  The mystery bug this week was indeed a wheel bug, a type of assassin beetle, with a wheel-shaped pronotal armor (I think it looks like a saw blade!).  These guys prey upon insects such as caterpillars and Japanese beetles, piercing them with their beak to inject salivary fluids that dissolve soft tissue (ew!).  Because most of their prey are pests, wheel bugs are considered beneficial insects, although they can inflict a painful bite if handled carelessly.

In other news, here's your weekend reading material.  Stay cool!
Enjoy the weekend, folks. And a reminder: follow us on Twitter to get the full scoop!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mystery Photo of the Week

Mystery bug on the farm office window!  Who knows what it is?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Southwood Youth Photography Project: La Finca

Mornings on the farm are generally fairytale fodder: sunlight dappled grass, the occasional rooster call, butterflies and bees flitting from blossom to blossom.

I say generally because on the morning of June 17th, the farm was anything but tranquil.  As the bus rumbled up the driveway -- a cartoon like dust cloud trailing behind it -- the chickens seemed to brace for impact.  The wheels ground to a halt, the doors burst open, and out tumbled half dozen rowdy kids, followed closely by the same number of local photographers, artists and volunteers, and armed with digital cameras, bottled water and an arsenal of turkey sandwiches.

This expedition was part of the Southwood Youth Photography Project, a joint effort between the Bridge/PAI and Albemarle County Schools, which brings students from the Southwood mobile home park together with adult mentors to learn basic photography skills and creative writing techniques.

In past years, the group has explored their own neighborhood, the Rivanna River, and downtown Charlottesville.  This summer, Maple Hill Farm was to be their muse.  Local photographer Billy Hunt, Bridge Executive Director, Greg Kelly, and local writer, John Casteen were among the group, heading up lessons and providing technical guidance.

For the better part of four hours, the kids and their mentors explored the farm through the lenses of their donated digital cameras.  They climbed fences, chased chickens, and lunched beneath the shade of the barn.  When the sun got high and energy levels dropped, poetry and writing lessons ensued.  Just as the day devolved into Frisbee games and group photos, the bus (and its dust cloud) returned for pick up.

This fall, the prints from these budding young photographers will be displayed at the Bridge in a show called La Finca: The Farm, and a printed hardback book will be available for purchase.  Stay tuned for details.

View a slideshow from the day here:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy Birthday to Us!

This week was a big milestone for Local Food Hub, and although it passed without much fanfare thanks to a short week and a major heatwave sapping our energy, we are taking a moment this Friday to wish ourselves a HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY.

That's right: one year ago this week, we opened our warehouse doors for business.  Remember this photo taken on opening day?  Yep, we were really excited then — and we still are!  A lot has changed in the past year, but our mission and our drive has only gotten stronger.  We've grown our staff, expanded our educational programming, and refined our structure and our goals -- and we're proud to say that we have already made concrete steps in changing our area's local food system.

To everyone out there who has helped make our first year a success with your support — financial, in-kind and otherwise — THANK YOU.  We have made it this far because of you, and we look forward to many years of serving our community.

To those of you who weren't sure about us in the beginning, we hope our proven track record of success will convince you!  (P.S. You can still join our local food revolution — and now you can do it online.

In celebration of our 365 days of existence (and our recently acquired 501(c)3 status!), we wanted to share with you some of the progress we've made.
Farm Services and Local Food Distribution
  • We are now working in partnership with more than 40 local farms within 60 miles of Charlottesville. 
  • We distribute food to 45 public and private schools in Charlottesville and surrounding counties, and more than 40 other locations, including UVA Health Systems, Whole Foods, and a variety of local retailers, restaurants, and summer camps.
  • Everyday, we are reinvesting dollars into our local economy, supporting our local farms and businesses and helping to sustain and create jobs.
Educational Farm and Community Outreach
  • More than six acres of certified organic vegetables are under production at the Educational Farm at Maple Hill -- 25% of which are being donated to local hunger organizations.
  • Three full-time apprentices and three part-time high school interns have joined us at the farm to learn the ins and outs of sustainable, organic food production.
  • Food donations are rolling in from our Plant a Row for the Hungry program from more than 30 backyard gardeners in our area (you can still sign up!).
  • We have created partnerships with a wide range of community groups, at-risk youth organizations and individuals, to effect change in our local food system, fight obesity and hunger issues, and spread the word about healthy, fresh, local fruits and vegetables.  
If you haven't renewed your gift to Local Food Hub this year, now's a great time to do so — without your support, we wouldn't be here!

We hope you'll all take a moment to celebrate this weekend with some delicious local food, whether it's peaches, summer squash, or maybe that first sun-ripened tomato.  Thank you, Charlottesville, for a momentous, memorable first year -- and here's to many, many more!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mystery Photo of the Week

I was walking through the melon patch and found the leaves had been sprayed with something that turned them white and spotty. Any guesses as to what substance might have been used? Hint: Think organic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mystery Photo Revealed!

This week's mystery photo depicted a strange, colorful piece of farm machinery... which turns out to be a potato washer!  Nice work, Sharon and Lizzy!  Interested in seeing this thing in action?  Check out our video:

Have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Visit to Singing Earth Farm

Singing Earth Farm is perched just off of Hermitage Road in Waynesboro, Virginia, a faded sign beckoning visitors with promises of flowers and fresh produce. But the humble entrance, a ramshackle, country assortment of greenhouses and pickup trucks, belies a far more serious farming operation just inside the property.

Owned by father and son, Adolfo and Jose Calixto, Singing Earth Farm covers six, lush acres with vegetable production. The hills appear outfitted in stripes of green – tomatoes, peppers, kale, beans, cucumbers, melons, and squash. Rows of cabbage reflect an eerie, neon purple glow, and a field covered in traditional Mexican herbs ripples in the wind, perfuming the air with a heady, green scent, all citrus and cilantro.

With only six people managing Singing Earth Farm, it’s hard to comprehend the level of efficiency that must be at work here. For more than seven years, farming has been their way of life and what keeps their young family afloat, so productivity is not a choice but a requirement. Yet Jose and his father are relaxed, modest and kind, speaking of their work matter of factly, and smiling when I wonder aloud if they employ some kind of time machine to get everything done.

As we walk the fields, Jose’s little girl trails behind us, plucking ripened cherry tomatoes from the vine with her tiny fingers and handing them to us to sample. They are sweet, warm and delicious – the perfect symbol of a fruitful summer to come.

For more photos from Singing Earth Farm, check out this slideshow.