As an organization that focuses on the food system from end to end, our work is often varied. We wanted to share a snapshot of a week in June that perfectly encapsulates our breadth of focus.
Our Director of Grower Services spent the week in upstate New York, at a multi-day advanced “Train the Trainer” seminar for the Produce Safety Rule. There she spent long days in the classroom and in the field, learning the nitty-gritty of food safety compliance to bring back to our partner farms. Food safety is a top priority for our partner farms, often a key consideration in being able to access the new markets. (Don’t worry – the “poop” she is holding in the below picture is fake!).
Our Grower Outreach and Diversity Coordinator Brii spent Monday at an event with Matthew Lohr, the VA Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. She toured an exciting initiative in Rapidan Virginia, the George Washington Carver Agricultural Research Center. The GWACARC is a home base for VSU small farm outreach, Minority & Veteran Farmers of the Piedmont, The George Washington Carver Food Enterprise Center, local 4 H groups, and other educational efforts. The GWCARC provides hands-on demonstrations and workshops in the field, helping to navigate the managerial side of farming along with growing.
While there, Brii had a chance to talk with Secretary Lohr about the unique challenges that Black farmers face, and pointed him toward our Virginia Black Farmer Directory. She finished up her day with a visit with a local farmer nearby. (Psst – if you’re unfamiliar, the Directory is a relatively new initiative of Local Food Hub, designed to uplift the voices of Black Farmers and help connect them to customers on their own terms)
On Wednesday, our Food Access Coordinator and Director of Advancement and Communications piloted an exciting new food access initiative in partnership with the Sentara Foundation – a no-cost pop-up market in Louisa County. We piggybacked on the Louisa County Public Schools summer feeding program, to bring 40+ households local eggs, chicken, greens, fruit, honey, and more. We also handed out Spanish and English info sheets on the produce, and several recipes. We heard firsthand how market visitors planned to enjoy their food – from stir fry, to roasted potatoes and blueberries drizzled in honey. We look forward to hosting at least three more markets in Louisa this summer.
Though not every week at Local Food Hub has that concentration of events, every week staff is working hard to be a better resource and improve opportunities for farmers, stay abreast of the work others are doing in this space, increase food access in our community, and leverage partnerships to maximize program impact.