Written by Gayle Harvey
Charlottesville is consistently lauded for its diverse culinary offerings, having received accolades in various publications like The Washington Post and Wine Magazine. At the center of this reputation is the farm-to-table aesthetic. With over 100 top-notch restaurants, there is a huge demand for fresh, local produce and with so many farms, breweries, and vineyards in the surrounding areas, there is a ready, growing supply. It’s a marriage made in heaven.
This Southern hub is home to over 100 original restaurants, with 60 in the downtown area alone! The city has attracted a vanguard of talented chefs from all over the country, men and women dedicated to using only the freshest ingredients. They create thoughtful, inspired dishes, many of them informed by the traditional Southern fare: pulled pork, fried chicken, grits…but with forward-thinking innovations. You can stop in at Citizen Burger Bar for a grass-fed burger courtesy of Timbercreek Organic Farm, or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head over to Mas Tapas for some pulpo con pancetta (pastured Berkshire pork, spicy octopus, and semolina noodles) from Double H Farm, (okay, we can’t promise that the octopus is local.)
The local farms in Albemarle County, Nelson County, and other surrounding areas are hard at work supplying them. It’s never been a better time to be a farmer in the area…there’s both plenty of land available and a huge, always eager customer base. The USDA offers subsidies for organic farms seeking certification, and there are distribution networks already in place.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a cuisine that Charlottesville does not offer!
The most difficult aspect of the farm-to-table process is distribution. There are a bevy of local farmers in the surrounding counties who want to sell their crops and a whole host of restaurateurs and independent grocery stores who want to buy them. But expending time and money on this aspect of the business can be taxing. Local Food Hub is a non-profit dedicated to bridging the gap between producers and restaurants, and has been responsible for distributing fresh local produce to restaurants, schools, and other institutions. No one is denying that local food costs more money and takes more time. In fact, it’s a testament to the numerous benefits provided by local food that restaurateurs and other groups choose to work this way.
Many farms also participate in community supported agriculture. A CSA means that farms can connect directly with us, the individuals, for a personal experience. You sign up early and get access to fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce for under the retail price. In exchange, the farms get some more financial security and a guaranteed home for the crops on which they’ve worked so hard to produce. Sounds like a win-win to us.
With top ranked hospitals and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville and Central Virginia is a wonderful place to live, and consistently voted as one of the best places to live in the U.S.
Gayle Harvey holds the top level Platinum membership on Lands of America & a Premium membership on Land And Farm. To view her Virginia properties or see all of her listings, visit her Lands of America member page. You can also visit her website at: GayleHarveyRealEstate.com