The skies were grim and the ground wet but the class was happy to take a field trip this morning to the Local Food Hub’s educational farm, Maple Hill. Emily Manley and Steve Vargo gave a wonderful and very informative tour of the farm and the inner workings of the Hub. We learned a little bit about everything from pest control and asparagus growth to USDA grants and the Hub’s recent teaming up with Charlottesville’s branch of the International Rescue Committee.
The demand for local food is high in Charlottesville and the Local Food Hub is pioneering new distribution models to link small farmers to large institutions like hospitals and schools. In fact, UVA Dining is one of the top buyers for the Hub and students enjoyed seeing one of the farms that they’ve probably eaten food from right in O’hill or Newcomb dining halls on campus.
We even got a special appearance by a usually feared farm critter – a snake! Steve has a truly impressive store of information in his brain on bugs, pests, snakes – any crawling, flying, or slithering thing you’d find on a farm. He found a black rat snake hanging out in the barn and brought it out for students to see.
Maple Hill is a great family farm and a wonderful resource for teaching the community about food and the Local Food Hub. We’re lucky to have them just down the road from Morven. Tomorrow is the Barbecue in the Garden! We’ll be celebrating the second year of the Morven Summer Institute. We also will have a lunchtime look at future plans for student residences on site for the institute (fingers crossed). Our second week is off and running!