Working Farms and Food

Working Farms and Food

Farmland and forests produce the necessities of life and provide essential natural services. In PEC's nine county area, over 180,000 acres of farmland and 140,000 acres of forests are protected through private, voluntary land conservation. 

Farming for the Future

We are excited to have helped out on this awesome video:

Created by: Prince Charitable Trusts, Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University, and The Piedmont Environmental Council.

Order Seeds For Your Garden

Planning your garden? The Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, located in Louisa, is once again donating 30% of the sales of certain seed packages to support PEC's Buy Fresh Buy Local program.

Start your garden off with two seed samplers that are rich in Virginia flavor and history -- either the Virginia Heritage Seed Collection or the Rainbow Starters Mix.

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Buy Fresh Buy Local Working Session

Our first-ever work session for Buy Fresh Buy Local Loudoun, Northern Piedmont, and Charlottesville Chapters was held on January 10, 2013. Nine working groups were formed to take coordinated action on a range of different topics.

Learn More...

 

From The Piedmont View -- Farms & Food

The following article appeared in PEC's Membership Newsletter -- The Piedmont View

Familiar Face With a New Focus on Farms & Food

While Don Loock, PEC’s new Agriculture and Rural Economy Program Manager, may be a new face to some, many of PEC’s friends and partners will recognize him from his eight years as the Land Conservation Officer for Clarke and Rappahannock Counties where he worked with landowners to help them conserve and steward their land. Read More

Released: For the Love of the Land

From the coast to the mountains, many landowners have been tending to their properties in Virginia for generations, carefully sustaining its resources and passing them on. In an effort to honor and highlight conservation efforts in our state, PEC has released For the Love of the Land: 100 Conservation Stories from Across Virginia. Read More

Renovating Worn-Out Pastures

Like many Piedmont farms, Over Jordan Farm in Rappahannock has been a pasture-based operation for decades. After 20 years of overgrazing, however, it’s facing issues that are common in the region—poor soil health, a lack of grass and plant diversity and the resulting lack of nutri­ents for livestock. Read More

PEC's Buy Fresh Buy Local Work Session -- More Than Just Talk

It’s no secret that the local food movement has picked up momentum in Virginia’s Piedmont. Yet, there are still a number of challenges that local food producers and distributors face as they try to create a sustainable local food economy. Read More

Farm and Restaurant Profiles

Fabbioli Cellars

For Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars in Leesburg, growing his winery and his vines in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable is a center point of his business philosophy. “Honestly,” he says, “environmental and economic sustainability really go hand in hand.” Read More

Quarter Branch Farm

There’s no question about it -- Kevin Grove of Quarter Branch Farm loves his job. Walking around the Lovettsville farm with Kevin, you can’t help but feel the tangible excitement and passion that he has for his work -- growing the best quality greens and vegetables he can for his local customers. Read More

Fauquier Hospital

It’s safe to say that when most people consider their local restaurant options, the nearby hospital’s cafeteria doesn’t normally make the list. But that’s not the case at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton. The hospital’s cafeteria, called the Bistro on the Hill, not only serves patients and hospital employees -- but it is also frequented by locals who are simply looking for a good place to eat. Read More

Pannill’s Gate Farm

“Come ‘ere babies, who’s gonna come visit?” Patty Johnson calls out as we climb the fence into the field at Pannill’s Gate farm near Culpeper, Virginia. The cows regard her carefully, presumably weighing their chances of getting food or a scratch on the head. Every day, Patty is out in the fields, checking on her entirely grass-fed herd of Red Angus and Murray Grey cattle. For her, the practice of rotational grazing, or moving the cows to a new strip of pasture daily, “re-establishes that relationship- why I am here and why I do this.” Read More

Planet Earth Diversified

You might think it unlikely that a farmer as grounded as Michael Clark of Planet Earth Diversified would get his inspiration from the spaceship Apollo 13. But if you take a tour of his farm, you'll see just how technology and careful engineering play into every aspect of its production. Read More

More Working Farms and Food

  • Jan 15, 2014

    Order Seeds for Your Garden

    Planning your garden for 2014? The Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, located in Louisa, is once again donating 30% of the sales of certain seed packages to support PEC's Buy Fresh Buy Local program. Read More
  • Nov 05, 2013

    2013 Buy Fresh Buy Local Holiday Guides

    Our 2013 Buy Fresh Buy Local Holiday Guides are ready to download. The guide features businesses that produce locally Grown Christmas Trees & Decorations and Holiday Foods (produce, meat, dairy, eggs and specialty foods) in the Charlottesville and Northern Piedmont Area! To search for more local food, visit buylocalvirginia.org. Read More
  • Oct 29, 2013

    Eat Local Bingo

    Take the Eat Local Challenge! A great resource for parents, teachers, and students -- download the Bingo Card PDF and go for any row. Use it to help celebrate Virginia Farm to School Week, November 11-15, 2013. Read More
  • Sep 24, 2013

    Expanding Beef Cattle Profitability in VA's Northern Piedmont

    Currently: • Most weaned and backgrounded calves leave the state for fattening in out-of-state feedlots. • A small percentage of calves are kept as stockers before shipping to out-of-state feedlots. • Most cow-calf operations take commodity price. Some buyers pay premiums. • Beef returns as “boxed beef” for retail to metro-consumers. Value/revenue is lost out-of-state. A small percentage (<10%) of the region’s farms and cattle are conception-to-carcass operations that direct market beef (mostly pasture raised or grass-fed) at a premium to consumers. They process beef (usually one or two at a time) at one of six custom facilities. These producers are seeking additional slaughter and processing capacity. Pastures in the region are currently underutilized with gains at about 1 lb/day. Efficiencies in cattle and pasture management, grazing, and transit, processing, even paperwork could increase returns to producers and the region. Processing and sales volumes could greatly increase. Additional acreage would be employed in grazing cattle retained in the region. Total returns to the regional economy would increase. Read More
  • Aug 13, 2013

    Loudoun Farm Incubator

    The concept of incubators to launch new farm businesses has been developing in the sustainable agriculture community for years. Veteran agriculturalists understand that, much like a successful farm business, a successful farmer incubator requires very particular skills and experience. In the summer of 2012 leading Loudoun County farmers and The Piedmont Environmental Council began a series of planning sessions to design a sustainable model for a Loudoun Farm Incubator. The team applied a unique combination of farming and agricultural land management experience and expertise to the task of creating a viable business plan for a Loudoun Farm Incubator. The outcome of those sessions is summarized below. This summary is a working document, and still evolving. Please contact Mike Kane, mkane@pecva.org, with comments. Read More
  • Jul 29, 2013

    Defining our Food Labels

    When talking about our food, we constantly hear terms like ‘organic’, ‘local’, ‘free-range’, and ‘grass-fed.’ These labels are meant to guide consumers’ food purchasing decisions by offering information on the farming methods used to grow or raise food, and the reassurance that food safety risks have been minimized. More often than not, however, I find it difficult to distinguish the plethora of different labels. Read More
  • May 21, 2013

    Field to Plate - 2013 Meet the Farmer Dinners

    Over the past five years, Virginia’s Piedmont has experienced an unprecedented demand for local foods. In order to foster and support that growing interest, The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) is hosting a series of Field to Plate - Meet the Farmer dinners. These dinners are designed to celebrate and support local farms and foods; provide education and outreach on the importance of local food in our region; and increase awareness about where and how local foods are produced. Read More
  • Apr 01, 2013

    Discovering Local Food

    For Piedmont Family Magazine -- April 2013 -- In my role as the Buy Fresh Buy Local Coordinator for The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), local food is an everyday topic of conversation. From broader discussions on how to encourage larger institutions to purchase locally or how to make the food distribution system more efficient, to quick conversations with farmers about a new ethnic vegetable variety or gourmet garlic -- Buy Fresh Buy Local is all about strengthening our local food system so that it supports farmers and consumers alike. Read More
  • Mar 20, 2013

    Awards for Community & School Gardens

    Does your school have a garden? Do you know of a fun community garden? Help The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) recognize community and school gardens throughout the northern Piedmont by letting us know about great community or school gardens in your area. The purpose of this friendly competition is to recognize gardens that celebrate the relationship between nature, food and community, by awarding six currently active school and/or community gardens with cash awards. PEC will make up to three $300 awards and up to three $500 awards. Read More
  • Jan 24, 2013

    Buy Fresh Buy Local Work Session

    Our first-ever work session for Buy Fresh Buy Local Loudoun, Northern Piedmont, and Charlottesville Chapters was held on January 10, 2013. Nine working groups were formed to take coordinated action on a range of different topics. Read More
  • Dec 14, 2012

    Community & School Garden Awards Results

    The Piedmont Environmental Council began accepting nominations for its second Community & School Garden Awards last spring. The purpose of this friendly competition was to recognize gardens that celebrate the relationship between nature, food and community by awarding six school or community gardens with cash awards -- three $300 awards and three $500 awards. For a garden to be eligible for an award, it had to be located in PEC’s working area; it needed to be active during the 2013 growing season; and it had to be a community effort. The ideal projects PEC was looking for were gardens that grew edible plants, provided pollinator plants and other wildlife habitat, and featured native plants. The contest closed last fall, and PEC had many amazing entries representing gardens from communities across the organization’s nine-county region.PEC’s staff found reviewing the all of the applications delightful, but selecting the winners was very difficult due to the quality and variety of the nominations. Read More
  • Dec 14, 2012

    2012 Community & School Garden Awards Results

    The Piedmont Environmental Council began accepting nominations for its first School & Community Garden Awards last spring. The purpose of this friendly competition was to recognize gardens that celebrate the relationship between nature, food and community by awarding six school or community gardens with cash awards -- three $300 awards and three $500 awards. For a garden to be eligible for an award, it had to be located in PEC’s working area; it needed to be active during the 2012 growing season; and it had to be a community effort. The ideal PEC was looking for was gardens that grew edible plants, provided pollinator plants and other wildlife habitat, and featured native plants. The contest closed in November, and PEC had 22 amazing entries representing gardens from communities across the organization’s nine-county region. PEC’s staff found reviewing the all of the applications delightful, but selecting the winners was very difficult due to the quality and variety of the nominations. Read More
  • Feb 23, 2012

    Online Form -- Exploring the Small Farm Dream

    Fill out this form if you are a farmer interested in leasing and to begin your Small Farm Dream. We will contact you if we find potential landowners who may be able to host your agricultural operation. Read More
  • Feb 23, 2012

    Online Form -- Hosting the Small Farm Dream

    Fill out this form if you are a landowner interested in hosting an agricultural operation on your property. We will contact you if we find potential farmers whose Small Farm Dreams match yours! Read More

The Small Farm Dream Courses

Agriculture is by far Virginia's largest industry, contributing $55 billion annually to the state's economy and providing more than 357,000 jobs. Yet Virginia ranks 11th among the states for the amount of prime agricultural land lost annually, with more than 20,000 acres going out of production each year. And no wonder: the average farmer is nearly 60 years old and has a net farm income of less than $9,000.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of beginning farmers, inspired by consumer demand for fresh, healthy, local foods in Virginia. These new farmers face significant challenges, however, when trying to establish a successful agricultural business.

Read More

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PEC's Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign helps consumers find local products while building relationships between growers, food artisans, farmers’ markets retailers, restaurants, and institutions.

Use our Buy Fresh Buy Local website to find farms, grocers, caterers, restaurants, CSAs, and farmers markets.