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 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

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

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

David Slutzky
(Rio District & Chairman) Office: (434) 989-5888 Email:

Ann Mallek (White Hall Distict) Home: (434) 978-1150 Email:

Kenneth C. Boyd (Rivanna District) Office: (434) 977-9981 Email:

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.