Sometimes it’s nice to be noticed — especially when you’re doing something right.
It’s long been established that our little part of Virginia has a deep connection to local food and farms — Forbes did name us the “locavore capital of the world” back in February of 2011, after all. But this time, the attention is coming from the folks on Capital Hill!
On Friday, March 16, a group of Senate Agriculture Committee and USDA staff piled into a big ol’ bus (stocked with a lot of snacks!) and made their way down to Charlottesville for a tour of Local Food Hub’s warehouse and educational Farm. They also met with owners of Vanguard Ranch and Saunders Brothers Nursery, and toured Bellair Farm in Albemarle County.
It seems our model, which supports small farms, feeds the community, and powers the local economy, is making waves among the movers and shakers in DC these days. It must have something to do with the 70+ farms, 45 public schools, and thousands of community members that we’re working with every day!
Officials were looking to explore a successful food hub model, learn about the challenges facing small-scale farmers, and gain a better understanding of how the 2012 Farm Bill might address some of these issues.
“As we look forward to writing the next Farm Bill, Chairwoman Stabenow is focused on expanding market opportunity for all farmers. We are grateful for the opportunity to visit Local Food Hub and hear about some of the successes and practical challenges the operation faces in sourcing locally,” said Jacqlyn Schneider, a staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.
This isn’t the first time that folks at the USDA have taken a notion to our work, though. Included in the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass publication and highlighted multiple times on the blog, the USDA has called Local Food Hub “a model for fostering long-term sustainable development and community engagement through agriculture.”
Jim Barham, Agricultural Economist with the USDA AMS, said “I have been closely studying regional food hubs for several years now and what Local Food Hub has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time is quite remarkable. It is a testament to the great efforts of Local Food Hub, the strong commitment and dedication of the farmers they work with, and the growing demand from consumers for locally grown food.”
We think Jim really summed it up perfectly. Local Food Hub provides economic opportunity for small farms and good, fresh, local food for school kids, families, hospital patients, and the community. And we couldn’t do it without all of you — the people who grow, buy, and eat these delicious, local fruits and vegetables. Who wouldn’t want to come from DC to check that out?!
We were honored to host this energized and inquisitive group, and excited to show off the great things our community has made possible! Thanks for visiting, y’all!