Oh what a glorious day!
Today we took a fantastic trip to Maple Hill Farm, which is the certified-organic educational farm connected to the Charlottesville Local Food Hub. Local Food Hub is a community supported nonprofit organization striving to “improve small farm viability and increase community access to local food.” Local Food Hub enables small, local farmers to sell their produce and meats to large, wholesale markets. They run a local food warehouse, where locally grown produce, meat and eggs are aggregated and distributed to public schools, hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, and other larger markets around our region.
In their words, “by creating “one number to call” for local food, we enable public schools, hospitals and retailers to easily purchase local food in large quantities.”
Aside from being a sustainable local food distribution center, Local Food Hub operates an educational farm, Maple Hill Farm, which is where we visited today. In addition to growing their own beautiful organic fruits and vegetables at Maple Hill, Local Food Hub runs farm education classes and workshops at the farm. At any given time, these classes might include a tutorial about a new and successful method of trellising tomatoes or how to build your own inexpensive hoop greenhouse.
Maple Hill donates twenty-five percent of their produce to local food banks such as the Haven and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. The other seventy-five percent goes back into the warehouse distribution center.
This morning we were lucky enough to get an inspiring, in-depth tour of the Maple Hill grounds by Educational Farm Manager, Steve Vargo, and Director of Marketing and Communications for the Local Food Hub, Emily Manley (both pictured below). Emily told us about the ins and outs of managing a local food distribution center and bridging the connection between local farmers and consumers. Steve led us on a eye-opening walk around the farm, stopping to tell us all about what they’re growing, what sorts of seasonal issues they face from time to time, as well as a bunch of other fascinating information about their plowing techniques, method of irrigation, etc.
If you want to check out more about the Local Food Hub and Maple Hill Farm (and you really should because they are doing some totally rad things there!)…visit: http://localfoodhub.org/