Update on VA Farm to School Week

The 2nd Annual Virginia Farm to School Week is winding down but the dining halls on Grounds are still serving some local produce. Between the three residential dining rooms, you can find Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan and Black Twig apples all from Central Virginia orchards: Dickie Brothers Orchard (Nelson County), Still House Creek Orchard (Batesville) and Henley's Orchard (Crozet), to be exact. How's that for variety?!

On Monday, one of the Dining Educators, Jasmine Drake, and I tabled at OHill to publicize both the Meat Free Monday station and Virginia Farm to School Week. The original plan was to tie the two events together, as Local Food Hub veggies were being ordered for the Meat Free Monday station's Grilled Vegetable Ciabatta. Since we are well into November, though, and the temperature has been steadily dropping, it didn't come as a huge surprise to discover Monday morning that a frost at the end of last week wiped out most of those very vegetables we were hoping to serve.
Instead of coming from the Food Hub, the sandwich's squash, green peppers and zucchini came from a supplier based in North Carolina, probably close enough to be considered part of our regional food system, and not a bad compromise. This naturally might begin to raise interesting questions about the nature of seasonality and the role it plays (or should, if any) in Dining's menu development. Of course, Dining is committed to providing a variety of dishes to students, and at least for now that means that we will continue to serve those foods beyond our ability to procure the ingredients locally. It is the Local Food Hub's hope that with a combination of season extensions (high tunnels, hoop houses, row cover), our community farmers will be able to provide that food all the way into late fall/early winter.

For now, we are still getting winter squashes, potatoes, and apples -- items that all store quite well and will be available as long as supplies last in the Local Food Hub warehouse. I advertised OHill's Grilled Vegetable Ciabatta as containing regionally sourced veggies, but was still able to publicize a stuffed acorn squash dish, roasted red potatoes and apples as all coming from more local, Central Virginia sources. And that was all just during lunch on Monday!

So the next time you eat at one of the dining halls, check out the labels for each dish. You may be surprised by the amount of local signage you see. And if you have any questions or feedback about sourcing, don't hesitate to speak with the dining room manager or executive chef -- you can often find them on the floor during meal time.

1 comment:

  1. The local offerings were truly outstanding. Please keep these delicious and healthy local products coming and phase out the meat offerings. It would be nice to see fewer obese students walking about grounds.