Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Community Gardens Bike Tour

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Look no further!  Saddle up your bike and join the first annual Community Garden Bike Tour of Charlottesville! On Sunday, October 3, tour five of our town's amazing community gardens, by bike.

Meet at 1pm at the Bridge PAI, and finish there with good food courtesy of Slow Food Albemarle-Piedmont, cold beverages, door prizes and socializing.

Participating gardens:
UVa Community Garden
Hereford Residential College Mini-Farm
Buford Schoolyard Garden Project
The Haven's PATCH Garden
QCC Farms! Garden of Goodness

The tour is free for kids 16 and younger, $5 for UVa students, and $10 for the general public. All proceeds benefit the Buford Schoolyard Garden Project, the Haven's PATCH garden, and QCC Farms!

For more information, please visit cvillebiketour.blogspot.com

Want to join the tour? Space is limited; to reserve your spot, email cvilleopengardens [at] gmail [dot] com.

The bike tour is made possible by some great sponsors:

Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation
Bike Charlottesville
Blue Ridge Backyard Harvest
The Bridge PAI
Charlottesville Open Garden Project
Community Bikes
Slow Food Albemarle Piedmont

image credit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dave Matthews Band Concert Update!

You may remember a few weeks ago we announced that our friends in the Dave Matthews Band had chosen Local Food Hub as the beneficiary of their VIP concert reception on November 19th.

That was exciting.

Well, now we're back with something even better!  We have a very limited number of super-VIP ticket packages available for our supporters, friends, Facebook fans and blog readers!  That's right, YOU!

The offer includes:
  • a meet-and-greet with Dave himself (!)
  • an exclusive backstage reception hosted by DMB and Red Light Management
  • concert ticket with your choice of reserved seats or general admission floor seating
  • gourmet dinner buffet and beverages
  • parking on site at the venue
  • and a raffle ticket for a great package of signed DMB items
Packages are limited and on a first come, first served basis, so if you're interested, hop to it and email Marisa: marisa [at] localfoodhub.org right now!

Packages are $750 each, and all proceeds will benefit Local Food Hub.

Hope to see you there!

image credit: wittlz/Creative Commons

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Video: Finding a Cure for Hospital Food

When you think about hospital food, the last thing that likely comes to mind is healthy, fresh, delicious food. It's probably something closer to this: mushy, tasteless mystery meats and veggies, pureed beyond recognition. Isn't it ironic that in the very place you go to get well, the food they serve could be so very bad?

But things are changing...at least they are at the University of Virginia Hospital. Together, Local Food Hub and UVA Health Systems (the department that handles food purchasing) have created a unique partnership that is both improving hospital food and supporting local family farms.

Feeding the Change
UVA Health Systems Purchasing Manager Dale Haskins is a personal believer in local food and is a major part of why the hospital has become one of the Local Food Hub’s most successful buyers. With an annual budget of around $600,000 dedicated solely to purchasing produce, Haskins has made a great effort to keep much of that spending local by buying directly from the Local Food Hub.

On any given day, the hospital serves food to all of its patients, 125 children in a day-care program, 225 ‘meals on wheels,’ and operates a full-service cafeteria for staff and visitors.  Produce from Local Food Hub often makes the menu whether through the use of local tomatoes, onions, squash, green peppers or whatever happens to be fresh and in season that day.  Patrons swear that the the food tastes fresher than it used to, and have even marveled about eating the “best tomatoes” they’ve ever had.  In a hospital, no less.  Can you believe it?!

In addition, the hospital also hosts a weekly indoor farmer's market open to anyone passing through,  including staff, visitors, and patients.  The tables are piled high with fresh, local offerings provided by Local Food Hub and sourced from small family farms surrounding Charlottesville.  

Making it Work
Large institutional buyers and small local farms haven't always been able to play nicely.  Often, big businesses can't (or won't) source produce from many individual farms when they can purchase everything from one conventional produce supplier.  And small farms face insurmountable barriers like liability insurance requirements and accounting challenges that prevent them from accessing these markets in the first place. 

Local Food Hub helps to connect buyers and farmers in a way that benefits both.  By purchasing food from local farms for a fair price, and then selling and distributing to institutions, restaurants and markets, Local Food Hub has created "one number to call" for local food while also supplying the required liability insurance, traceability, and refrigerated delivery.

When large buyers like UVA Hospital keep their spending local, it can have a big impact on the economy. According to a recent report by the Wallace Center and the BALLE, every dollar spent at a local business can have two to four times the economic impact of a dollar spent on a non-local business by generating jobs, income and wealth.

Supporting local farmers has been one of the best takeaways from this partnership, and it is at the core of what the Local Food Hub strives to accomplish. Alan Moore, head of sales at Local Food Hub raved about working with Dale and the hospital. “It has been a pleasure seeing firsthand how UVA Hospital really believes in supporting its local community and has been such a steadfast supporter of the Local Food Hub,” Moore said.

Not only has the partnership between UVA Health Systems and Local Food Hub been successful, it's also providing a model for how large institutions can move away from imported, industrialized vegetables and towards a sustainable, healthy local food economy that benefits patients, farmers and the community alike.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Homecoming: Exciting News!

The sad news: Dave Matthews Band is taking 2011 off from touring.

The happy news: They're wrapping up their 2010 tour schedule with a homecoming!  The band will be returning to their old stomping grounds of Charlottesville for two concerts scheduled in November at the John Paul Jones Arena.

The even happier news:
We are thrilled and excited to share with you that Local Food Hub has been named the beneficiary of the Friday, November 19th VIP pre-concert reception!  As part of the promotion, special VIP ticket packages will be sold through the band's fan club site -- and all proceeds from those sales will go towards the work of Local Food Hub.

On behalf of our local farmers, our local community and our local kids, all of whom will undoubtedly benefit from this honor, Local Food Hub would like to extend an enormous thanks to the Dave Matthews Band for their support!

More information on the VIP tickets can be found on the Warehouse website.  VIP packages are available to Warehouse members and are listed as separate event listings on the Request Tickets page.  The VIP Packages are $275.00 per person (plus applicable convenience and handling fees) and include a concert ticket (choice of Reserved seating or GA Floor Standing) access to an exclusive hospitality area with a complimentary gourmet buffet and beverages and a limited-edition souvenir laminate.  Members may request up to 4 regular priced tickets and 4 VIP Packages for each of the Charlottesville shows.  Please note there will be no dedicated VIP viewing area on the arena floor.

image credit: FromTheNorth/Creative Commons

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to Your Roots

Last week, we worked with JABA to host a fantastic group of Scottsville-area seniors to the farm.  The trip was part of a larger program that will allow seniors in Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa, and Nelson counties to visit local farms and farmer’s markets, promoting healthy eating and aging with opportunities to exercise and socialize. Indeed, many of our visitors spent their childhoods on farms around Virginia, so it was a real pleasure to hear their experiences (and advice)!  We hope they come back soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Grow It Year Round!

Summer is winding down, but that doesn't mean you have to pack up the garden and twiddle your thumbs until spring.  It is possible to grow food year round, you just need the right techniques! 

Join us on Thursday, September 9th for a season extension workshop, led by nationally-acclaimed sustainable agriculture guru, Anthony Flaccavento.   From low tunnels to high tunnels, pre-fab kits to original designs, learn strategies and crop choices to improve your yields, access new markets, and keep your garden going strong through the cold weather.  Cover cropping and soil amendments will be discussed, and you'll be able to check out the newly built 30'x72' Farm Tek high tunnel.

When: Thursday, September 9, 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Where:  Maple Hill Farm, 7129 Scottsville Rd, Scottsville, VA
How:  Free for partner producers,  $35 for general public

Please RSVP to marisa [at] localfoodhub.org or (434) 286-2176.