Farm and Restaurant Profiles

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.

photo by Katherine Vance

 “We have a lot of people come in from the general public just to eat here...because it’s a good deal and they know it’s fresh,” says Tony DeWalt, the Bistro’s Executive Chef. “When you think of hospital food, you think of lots of canned and frozen food... but here we have our own gardens and we work with a lot of local purveyors and growers. We try to serve everything as fresh as we can.”

Fauquier Hospital has gotten on board with the local food movement, and the Bistro staff have worked to buy more local food over the last few years. “We wanted to make fresh, local foods available. After all, we’re in the business of keeping people healthy,” DeWalt explains, “This is the community’s hospital, so that’s why we’re doing a lot of outreach as well.”

The hospital works with Blue Ridge Produce, a local food distributor in the region, as well as individual farms -- and the Bistro’s parking lot is the home of the Warrenton Farmers’ Market on Wednesday mornings. Fauquier Hospital has also planted its Culinary Healing Garden, where DeWalt and his staff pick fresh veggies and herbs to include on the menu.

“I think people really appreciate it,” says DeWalt, “and it’s important personally as well. Today everything is so processed... So to get people to see where the food is coming from -- you can see that peas don’t grow in the freezer.” DeWalt says that people have noticed a difference since the hospital started buying fresh, local food, and he and his staff are working to find more ways to source locally.

“It shows that you care about the people that live here,” he explains. “You’re supporting the local people -- the buyers, the growers, the sellers... We’re a part of the community... and we want to get more people aware and involved.”

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