Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category

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Volunteer Farm to Help Stock Food Bank

The World Foundation for Children is setting up a volunteer-run farm in Culpeper County to provide meat and vegetables to the Charlottesville branch of the Blue Ridge Food Bank, Nate Delesline III writes in the Culpeper Star-Exponent. The organization has leased 100 acres for the next decade. They plan to start small, growing ten acres of potatoes, and move up from there. A couple of similar projects have been underway in the Shenandoah Valley for a while now, run by the same organization, reputedly with great success.

What’s Your CSA?

Erika Howsare at C-Ville Weekly points out that it’s that time of year to sign up for Community Supported Agriculture programs. So it’s time for that annual discussion topic: Will you be signing for a CSA this year? Which one, and why?

Last year my wife and I decided that we’d skip the CSA and buy directly from farmers, and became regulars at the Farmers Market. Though we were happy with that decision, we were also really happy with Horse and Buggy Produce, who we worked in in 2006 and 2007. I think we’ll go the same route this year. We’re establishing a few new beds this year, and we’ve already gotten seeds sprouted for broccoli, lettuce and basil, and we got the peppers and tomatoes started last weekend. But it’s hard to beat the convenience of a CSA.

Food Prices Climbing

Lori writes:

Last night, we were up at Christian’s on Pantops. The signs were all gone and they had little hand written signs announcing that the individual slice prices were going up by a quarter and $1.00 for a pie. I know that there was an article in Sunday’s Progress about Bodo’s raising their prices slightly (and still losing money on it). One of my friends thinks that the farmers are going to be making money, money, money but they don’t seem to remember (or know) how much gasoline is used.

(I’m suddenly remembering reading about the days of the Weimar Republic where people walked around with wheelbarrows full of money so they could buy a loaf of bread.)

It’s not just Christian’s, of course — prices are going up everywhere. Seth Rosen wrote about this in a pair of articles [1, 2] in the Progress this weekend. Bodo’s is taking the cost their bagels up $0.10/apiece, since the price of flour has tripled — it’s not enough to even things out for them, but it’s an improvement. Local schools are having a tough time providing food for the kids. The food bank has seen demand climb, and food stamp cases are up 10%. My wife and I went to buy a bag of grain for our horse at Southern States last week, and the price had doubled (and the quality reduced).

Remember that your standard factory-farm fertilizer is petroleum-based — your food is literally bathed in oil, and at $118/barrel, that fertilizer is getting expensive. The price of diesel has doubled, so our food economy — premised on the notion of cheap, fast transportation from California, Mexico, Chile, or New Zealand — is getting pricy along with it.

Turning Morven Into a Working Farm?

In the current (soon-to-be prior) issue of C-Ville Weekly, Jayson Whitehead writes about a pretty cool idea: turning Morven into a farm to grow food for UVa. John Kluge donated the 7,400 acres to UVa in 2001, and the university has been trying to figure out what to do with the land that they haven’t sold off. Urban & Environmental Planning graduate student Anne Bedarf has pitched her idea to the UVA Foundation (which owns all of UVa’s land), and they’ve been receptive.

I considered attending Asheville college Warren Wilson after high school and was pleased to find, when I visited, that they had their own farm for just this purpose. Yale does the same thing.

Pick a CSA, Any CSA

It’s that time of year when a young man’s thoughts turn to picking out a Community Supported Agriculture program. Like many readers, I’ve gone with Horse and Buggy Produce (not a true CSA, but more of a local farming aggregator for farmers who don’t want to run their own CSA) for the past couple of years, and ought to get off my duff and sign up again. And many friends speak highly of Best of What’s Around. For a review of all of the options, Cathy Clary provides a listing of seven area farms and explains the concept in the current C-Ville Weekly, while Erika Howsare airs some sour grapes about Horse and Buggy from local farmers.

The schtick, for those who aren’t familiar, is that you pay a big chunk of change up front — $150-$675 — to a local farmer to pick up a big box of fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and herbs every week. They’re often (but not necessarily) organic, and “local” might mean grown right in Albemarle or from as far afield as the valley. Some CSAs require that you pitch in a few hours to help work on the farm. And some will let you pay extra for a weekly bonus supply of beef, chicken, unpasteurized milk or flowers. (I did the chicken and milk last year, and now I’m totally ruined.)

Now’s your chance to convince people to discover that Mexican stuff they’re buying at Food Lion is crap. Does anybody want to offer any specific recommendations for a CSA?



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