2011 Community Food Awards

September 21, 2011

This piece is cross-posted over at the C-Ville’s Green Scene. Thanks for having us!

On any given morning in mid-September, the Local Food Hub warehouse is a place in motion: bustling bodies, beeping forklifts, and boisterous farmers, unloading endless crates of the season’s finest local apples, fresh-picked sweet corn, and summer’s last heirloom tomatoes.

But last Thursday morning, the movement ceased, if only for a few hours, as we took time to honor and thank farmers, buyers, and community members that make such endless motion possible.

 

Guests arrived at Local Food Hub’s Community Food Awards to find a warehouse transformed: rows of white chairs lined the floor, mums and hay bales scattered about the bay doors. Filtered through the hum of refrigerator units came the voices and guitars of event MC Terri Allard and Local Food Hub farmer Steve Vargo.

 

As the program — co-sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, the City of Charlottesville, and the counties of Albemarle & Nelson — began, those lucky enough to secure a chair settled while the rest of us leaned on walls, doorframes, steel beams. The roster of speakers included Mayor David Norris, Nelson County Economic Development Authority Chairwoman Emily Pelton, and Local Food Hub Board Member Lisa Colton. Each shared personal perspectives on our work united by a common thread celebrating the power of community.

 

Marisa Vrooman and Kate Collier, Local Food Hub directors, presented the awards. They first honored farmers–Whitney Critzer, Richard Bean, and Jose Calixto–for their commitment to agriculture and local food. Jose, a shy guy rarely seen without his baseball cap, beamed as he accepted his award, and Whitney’s speech was an easy crowd favorite.

 

Customers were also recognized for incorporating local food into menus and product lines: representatives from Integral Yoga Natural FoodsUVA Health System, and Charlottesville City Schools all accepted awards to great audience applause.

 

But to celebrate local food completely you must also consume it. The event concluded with a toast of sparkling grape juice from Oakencroft Vineyards and a beautiful buffet of local foods prepared by school chefs and their cafeteria staff.

 

As lingering guests departed, the warehouse slowly resumed speed. Chairs were folded, stacked, packed. The forklift darted through plastic flaps and onto the delivery truck. The phone began its endless ring. And around the corner came a muddy pick-up, stacked high with boxes of the season’s first sweet potatoes.

The 2011 Community Food Awards:
Agricultural Endurance Award: Whitney Critzer, Critzer Family Farm
Community Mentor Award: Richard Bean, Double H Farm
Partner Producer of the Year: Jose and Adolfo Calixto, Singing Earth Produce
Institutional Leader Award: UVA Health System
Small Business Big Impact Award: Integral Yoga Natural Foods
Trailblazer Award: Alicia Cost and Sandra Vasquez, Nutrition Services Charlottesville City Schools

 

Check out some other stories about the 2011 Community Food Awards:

 

Thank you, Local Food Hub supporters!

Our Sponsors