Last night, we held our 2014 Community Food Awards and 5th birthday celebration at our warehouse in Ivy, VA. On a cool and windy evening, a generous crowd of our farmers, customers, family, friends, and supporters gathered around our loading dock to cheer on the award winners.

Selecting award recipients is always a tough decision. We work with so many wonderful growers and customers that deserve recognition for their commitment to supporting our local agricultural economy and partnering with Local Food Hub in this effort. Difficult as it was, we are happy to announce the following award recipients:

Partner Fruit Producer of the Year: Awarded to Dickie Brothers Orchard, Nelson County, honors Local Food Hub partner producers and farming families who excel at consistently and reliably delivering local produce packed in accordance with the highest standards.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains for over 260 years, cool mountain air accounts for the exceptional taste of their apples and other fruit. The family-run business is well known for its modesty, commitment to high-quality products, and resourcefulness in stewarding their family’s long standing farming tradition. 

Partner Vegetable Producer of the Year: Awarded to Walnut Winds Farm, Pittsylvania County, honors Local Food Hub partner producers and farming families who excel at consistently and reliably delivering local produce packed in accordance with the highest standards.

D.J. Livengood operates a true family farm, with his wife, Melanie, handling the bookkeeping and marketing, and his parents often making product deliveries to the Local Food Hub warehouse. D.J. would modestly describe their operation as a “small” farm, but the quantity and consistency of produce has given us the opportunity to expand our work with larger customers. 

Pioneer in the Field: Awarded to Wenger Grape Farms, Augusta County, recognizes a Virginia farmer who has demonstrated innovation in food system development through their work with Local Food Hub.

Third-generation farmers Wendy Hochstedler Wenger and Mark Hochstedler grow delicious Concord and Niagara grapes on over 40 acres of land. They have overcome environmental challenges over the years, built a reliable labor system, and adapted to ever-changing market needs to bring us a tasty, top-quality product. 

Rookie of the Year: Awarded to Hartland Natural Farm, Madison County, recognizes a new partner producer who has demonstrated a commitment to partnership with Local Food Hub and increasing access to local food.

Although a “rookie” to Local Food Hub this year, farm manager Armando Lopez and the staff at Hartland Farm exemplify a strong commitment to growing good food for the benefit of health, spirit, and community well-being. Used as a training facility for students at Harland Institutive of Health and Education, we’ve been able to source beautiful, high-quality crops, all grown using organic practices in high tunnels, or unheated greenhouses. 

Retail Leader: Awarded to Whole Foods Market Fair Lakes, Fairfax County, honors a retailer who has demonstrated a commitment to the purchase and marketing of local food and to a partnership with Local Food Hub in this effort.

Whole Foods Market Fair Lakes has been an enthusiastic and energetic customer since our partnership began this summer. Always willing to try new items and give us useful feedback, they put their purchasing power where it can do a great deal of good by investing back into the local agricultural economy. 

Institutional Leader: Award to UVa’s Observatory Hill Dining Hall, City of Charlottesville, honors an institution that has made a commitment to local agriculture through their menu planning and food service offerings.

Though the demand and the desire for local food is high at UVa, the realities of working with a large institution are challenging. From cooperate requirements, to volume needs, to the fast paced nature of a large college dining hall; it takes committed partners to make this relationship thrive. O Hill has been an excellent partner in this effort, and serves as a model for our other university relationships.  

Small Business, Big Impact: Awarded to Glen’s Garden Market, Washington, D.C., honors a small business that effectively and creatively incorporates locally grown food into their inventory or product offerings.

Though Glen’s Garden Market is a small store, it has a big presence in D.C. and has an even bigger impact on the local food scene for Local Food Hub. A consistent and reliable buyer, this relationship has also brought us new markets and partnerships in the Northern Virginia and D.C. area.

Trailblazer: Awarded to The PB&J Fund, City of Charlottesville, honors individuals or organizations who have developed innovative and creative solutions to procuring locally and have made a commitment to increasing community access to fresh, farm sourced food.

Together with their community partners, The PB&J Fund finds innovative ways to bring unique local items and nutrition education into their K-12 student-focused kitchen. Through many programs, they teach children how to cook, eat well, and participate in the local food system.

Community Partner: Awarded to Emergency Food Bank, City of Charlottesville, recognizes a community organization that demonstrates a commitment to partnering with Local Food Hub on increasing education about and access to local food.

This partnership has helped to get fresh fruits and vegetables into the hands of community members in need. We are truly grateful to have such an important organization in our area, and their work allows Local Food Hub to expand its public health impact. 

Innovation in Agriculture: A cash award provided by Bundoran Farm by Natural Retreats, awarded to Yoders’ Farm, Campbell County, recognizes a small-scale family farmer who has demonstrated creativity and innovation in order to grow or expand their farm business.

Yoders’ Farm was competitively selected for its creative use of re-purposed equipment to heat sterilize the coconut fiber mix used to grow hydroponic tomatoes. This process cuts down on soil born disease pathogens, which in turn minimizes the need for pesticides in their operation.

Congratulations to all of our award winners, and thank you to the community for your support. Following the ceremony, we enjoyed a warm meal, provided by Harvest Moon Catering, a toasty bonfire, and gooey s’mores, provided by Whole Foods Market Charlottesville. Thank you to our sponsors Albemarle County, Bankers Insurance, City of Charlottesville, Crutchfield, Nest Realty, Oakencroft Farm, Payne Ross and Associates, and UVa Community Credit Union. We are especially grateful to celebrate five years of food access among a wonderful community of farmers, supporters, family, and friends.

Thank you, Local Food Hub supporters!

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