The Piedmont View

Summer 2012 Piedmont View

Workshop covers ways to contol invasive plants on your land. A gardener grows habitat for butterflies. A suburban mom launches a popular Earth Day festival. Two kids take on the Charlottesville Western Bypass. And more.

Dear friends,

It’s summertime, and we’re all ready to take some time and relax with our families, whether we’re enjoying the beautiful Piedmont or getting away on vacation. But in my 15 years at PEC, one thing I’ve learned is that big developers and their allies do not take a summer break. In fact, the opposite is true. They often use the lull in citizen participation to make their move—sometimes in ways we didn’t see coming.

Speakers at a daylong workshop on fighting invasive plants presented a wide variety of perspectives, including: why bother?

As my mother and I pulled up at the Jones Nature Preserve in Rappahannock, a brilliant bird dipped through the air—a rich tropical blue on delicate wings. They came in this week, Bruce Jones told me, the indigo buntings. He had led a bird walk over the weekend, and they saw 15 to 20 of these migrants, which flourish in the shrubby areas between his meadows and his woods.

At PEC, we frequently say that we would not be successful at our work without the involvement and dedication of local citizens. Oya Simpson of Broadlands in Loudoun County is one of those citizens -- a grassroots organizer who works diligently in her suburban neighborhood to create awareness in a very young, very busy community.

Virginia has choices to make. We can use our transportation dollars to invest in our cities, town and neighborhoods, making them great places to live and work. To do this, we need to offer first-class transit options, improve local road networks, and open up east-west routes to solve Northern Virginia’s commuter gridlock. Or, we can squander funds on new highways that ignore existing traffic problems, spread sprawl, and ultimately put more cars on the road. PEC thinks that the McDonnell Administration’s transportation priorities—including the Outer Beltway and the Charlottesville Western Bypass—are taking us in the wrong direction. We need to use our transportation funding to build better communities, not bigger highways.

In debates concerning the health of our environment and communities, people often say we must think about our children -- we must think about their future. Yet, when it came to the proposed Western Bypass in Charlottesville, two kids decided they weren't going to wait around for the adults to take care of things.

PEC has sent out our Buy Fresh Buy Local guides for the new season, listing more local food businesses than ever! Since we sent out the first editions of the guides, starting in 2007, the number of listings has increased by 60% and we’ve had to double the size of the guides to fit them all.

In the foothills of Greene County, on May 5, the woods were brilliant with lush spring growth. A gravel road led up and up into the hills; eventually it would end at the border of Shenandoah National Park. Down a long drive, set deep in the forest was an old house—a sturdy two-story frame cabin with a welcoming front porch, at the edge of a clear, rushing stream.

As part of PEC’s growing Agriculture and Rural Economy Program, we are proud to help support and promote many producer-led initiatives aimed at increasing the productivity, sustainability and economic vitality of the region’s communities.

One such initiative, the Future Farm and Ranches Upper Piedmont program, is currently reaching out to farmers in Rappahannock, Culpeper, Madison, Fauquier, Loudoun and Clarke with the goal of guiding farmers who want to improve their farming operations to increase their profitability, productivity, and quality of life. 

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