We are developing a sustainable local food distribution model right here in Charlottesville, Virginia. By working together with farmers, eaters and our community, we are addressing three major issues in our nation’s local food system: distribution, supply, and access.
It was a dreary day, but that didn’t stop people from touring the farm, petting animals, and buying plants and packaged food. We arrived late in the event in a misty rain, and were impressed by the number of cars in the lot.
Stop 1: the chicken yard.
“A happy, healthy chicken produces even healthier eggs for us to eat!” Amen. These chickens were living the life, other than having small children chasing them around. But they didn’t even seem to mind that. They had run of a big yard, with a large, wheeled henhouse that could easily be moved to a new patch of grass.
Notice how the chickens are under the house–that was to avoid the enthusiastic clutches of the children racing around their yard. These two hens were captured, but seemed happy to sit in the boys’ laps and be petted! Tame chickens = happy chickens = happy eggs?
The chickens weren’t the only animals getting loved on. In a pen down the hill were two pygmy goats and a baby cow. Children and adults both were lined up to enter the pen and commune with the animals. Giving people the opportunity to meet the types of animals that produce food for them is a great way to get them thinking about where their animal products actually come from.
We were happy the goats (presumably) couldn’t read the sign in front of them at the truck selling local goat meat kabobs and burgers!
We walked a signed route through the crop fields and ogled the sprouting produce, but were most impressed with a sign describing a farming apprenticeship program the Local Food Hub offers at their educational farm. A husband and wife team are apprenticing on the farm, cultivating their own plot of land, and learning on the job before striking out on their own. The farm provides them with support, in equipment and advice.
The Local Food Hub is one of the things that makes the Charlottesville locavore scene so healthy and vibrant. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for their next community food event!