Misty Morven

A sizeable group of students braved the gloomy weather this past Friday morning to venture out to Morven Farm for the Dining sponsored garden tour.  Though we all experienced our fair share of mud and rain, we had a great time -- special thanks to Marie, Michelle and Rowan for showing us around!  The overcast skies made the garden pop with color and accentuate the lush greenery in production, so that it actually looked quite lovely.  I think the garden may have even gotten a few more potential volunteers... :)


Everyone learned a lot about the history - both recent and less so (Kluge versus Jefferson) - of the property, and how the garden had gotten its start in its current inception last spring.  We made our way throughout the garden quadrants, taking a look at the corn, the compost pile, the chickens, the okra, the row cover, and the flowers scattered around the growing space to attract pollinators and good insects.  It was an enlightening journey, particularly in our observations of the sheer quantity of produce we saw growing in just a single acre plot.  It takes a lot of manpower to keep that one acre producing so abundantly, but the education and bucolic setting that goes hand in hand with the effort makes the labor more than worth it.

Observing through the umbrellas

Checking out the okra flowers
Rowan explains the "crow disco" set-up

Marie and Michelle show off their hand-built toolshed

The enthusiastic group

For more details about the tour and the garden, check out the news coverage from NBC29!


Local Food Hub Farm Stand Recap

Yesterday's Local Food Hub pop-up farm stand was a success!  The morning dawned rainy and generally grey, but we went ahead and set up under our awnings and were rewarded with sunshine and climbing temperatures by midday.  Emily Manley and Lisa Reeder both came on behalf of the Local Food Hub, and brought with them several bushels of apples and pears for selling and tasting. 

Readying some apples for sampling

Despite the questionable weather, students and staff alike came by to sample and buy fruit, and to learn more about Dining's general sustainability programming.  It was great to see so much interest from so many new faces.  NBC29 even stopped by to do a quick story about the stand:

Lisa Reeder describes the differences between the apple varieties available at the stand

Supporting our local farmers

The runaway hit of the day (truly delicious - and I don't even usually like pears!)

Sampling remnants

Apple season is in full swing

The Local Food Hub motto
All in all, a fun and tasty event.  Don't forget to head to O'Hill tonight for dinner or Newcomb tomorrow for lunch if you liked what you had yesterday: local apples are being featured at their autumn apple bars.  And keep your eyes peeled for the "Local & Seasonal" bull's eye signage in all of the dining rooms; this identifies produce coming from the Local Food Hub and other local sources.


Autumn Apple Bar

A chill is in the air, and it's time to indulge in a favorite fall treat: the apple.  Each dining hall is hosting a local apple + toppings tasting bar this week:

Runk, Wednesday, September 21, lunch
O'Hill, Wednesday, September 21, dinner
Newcomb, Thursday, September 22, dinner

Give it a try!


The 2011 Community Food Awards

The Local Food Hub opened its doors just two years ago, in July 2009, after local vendors and buyers alike recognized that they needed an intermediary to connect them to each other. Large buyers didn’t have the resources or time to call up producers one at a time, hoping to scrounge up enough green peppers to serve in the school cafeteria the next day, and local vendors were relegated to selling their produce at farmers markets or through Community Supported Agriculture shares due to a lack of liability and limitations in delivery capacity. The Local Food Hub connects these two seemingly disparate market shares – the small local farmer and the large institutional buyer – in a single cohesive distribution system.

On September 15, the Local Food Hub partnered with VDACS (the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) to host its first Community Food Awards presentation. The goal was to recognize and honor those vendors and buyers who have made this distribution system such a success, particularly for Virginia’s economy. The speakers and presenters each had different words of praise for the Local Food Hub, but the overarching theme was evident: the Local Food Hub has had significant impact on keeping consumer dollars in the state and on directly benefiting the agriculture industry so as to keep farming a viable enterprise today and down the road.

2011 Community Food Awards program

The crowd assembles

Party favors, Local Food Hub-style

The refrigerated delivery truck

 Three farmers, or ‘partner producers’, were recognized first. The Community Mentor Award, for promoting the current and next generations of farmers through leading workshops, PVCC courses and more, went to Richard Bean of Double H Farm. The Partner Producer of the Year Award, for not merely just consistency and quality of product, but an ability and willingness to go above and beyond in delivery quantities, was presented to Jose and Adolfo Calixto of Singing Earth Produce. (I can attest to their reliability, as much of what UVa Dining purchases from the Local Food Hub originates at Singing Earth Produce.) The Agricultural Endurance Award, for longevity of farming and for carrying on despite the obstacles that may arise, went to Whitney Critzer of Critzer Family Farm.

Next, three buyers were acknowledged. The Small Business Award, for purchasing significant quantities of Local Food Hub product and for advertising it so clearly, went to Integral Yoga Natural Foods. The Trailblazer Award, for working creatively to find ways to bring local food to a sector of our population that doesn’t have easy access to it, went to Alicia Cost and Sandra Vasquez of Charlottesville City Schools Nutrition Services. And the Institutional Leader Award, for getting local products into an institutional niche (the hardest market for local producers to break into), went to the UVa Health System.

MC Terri Allard welcomes the audience

VDACS rep Robins Buck says a few words (complete with props)

Keynote speaker (and LFH Board Member) Lisa Colton makes her remarks

Marisa Vrooman hands Jose Calixto his award

The award recipients are acknowledged

It wouldn’t be an event truly celebrating local food without a sample of some of the delicacies being touted throughout the morning. The formal presentation concluded right around noon with a toast of sparkling grape juice from Oakencroft, and then a delicious buffet of local foods that had been prepared by local school chefs and their cafeteria staff. What a perfect (and beautiful – it was truly a feast for the eyes as much as it was for the taste buds) way to conclude this uplifting event! Bravo to our community for making the Local Food Hub a reality and a success.

Readying the toasts

Everyone helps themselves to the bountiful spread


Morven Kitchen Garden Tour - RSVP now!

The Morven Kitchen Garden is a 1-acre plot for growing, learning, experimenting, and embracing the joys of a carrot freshly plucked from the ground. In 2001, philanthropist John W. Kluge gave this 7,379-acre property (which was once purchased by Jefferson himself) to the UVA Foundation for educational purposes. Morven is now a central hub for interdisciplinary research, seminars, retreats, and innovative UVA courses – and of course, home to the Morven Kitchen Garden.

Located on a one-acre plot which was once organically cultivated for John Kluge, the Kitchen Garden offers a hands-on learning opportunity to study food production cycles, design sustainable agriculture technologies, and develop a better understanding of the social, environmental, and economic implications of our daily food choices.

See the Morven Kitchen Garden Project for yourself on this UVa Dining-hosted tour next Friday, September 23rd. The tour van will depart from the O'Hill loading dock at 10:30 and you will return to Grounds between 12:30 and 12:45. Space is limited; RSVP to Kendall Singleton at kendall.singleton@virginia.edu.

For more information about the Project, see the garden blog at http://morvenkitchengarden.wordpress.com/.


Local Food Hub Farm Stand on Tuesday, 9/20

Next Tuesday, September 20th, the Local Food Hub will be hosting a pop-up farm stand at the UVa amphitheater during lunch time (11am to 2pm), as a supplement to the food trucks Dining currently has stationed in and around the ampitheater every weekday.  The Food Hub will have a sampling of fresh produce from their partner producers available for purchase, along with a wealth of information about the great services they provide to area farmers and to institutional buyers like UVa Dining. 

We're in the height of the Virginia Grown season right now, so keep your eyes peeled for signs of Local Food Hub-procured food items in the dining rooms over the next few weeks. 


Meat Free Kick-Off Recap

Monday's Meat Free Monday kick-off event at O'Hill was a success!

Thanks to everyone that stopped by the info fair and sampled a local cherry tomato, signed up for the Green Dining mailing list, or spun the nutrition wheel and answered a question about eating a plant-based diet.  I hope there were some useful takeaways, and that some of you are feeling inspired to incorporate some of those healthy eating tips into your college diet, or to get involved with some of the groups represented at the fair.

As always, get in touch with me or with UVa Dining's Nutritionist, Paula Caravati, if you have any questions about the Meat Free Monday station or other sustainability and nutrition initiatives.