Monday, October 5, 2009

Making the Food and Farm Connection at the PEC Annual Meeting

The Piedmont Environmental Council's Annual Meeting this month focused on making the food and farm connection in Virginia's Piedmont.
Workshops included: What's in the Conway River; Energy Smart Solutions; The Route 29 Solution; Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers; Ask the Experts; Protecting Your Farm: Conservation Easements 101; Camera Capture: Documenting the Wildlife Around You; Illustrating the Piedmont Vision; Sustaining a Community Food System; and, Chesapeake Bay Restoration. I attended Cultivating the Next Generation of Farmers. This panel was young, vibrant, and very energetic with regards to growing not only vegetables, but farmers.
My largest inspiration came from Trista Scheuerlein,Program Director for the Headwaters/Public Schools Farm-to-Table program. Their mission is to teach kids in Piedmont public schools how to prepare, plant, seed, and nourish gardens with the final reward of taking home the fresh vegetables and fruits they produced. Another workshop I attended included Janet L. Bearden, Project Director of a new project for a multi-use Cannery in Madison County. Really interesting concept that will be not-for-profit, but will support the food needs of the Piedmont, and offer a place for residents to process their produce. Write to for more info on this brave project.
Firnew Farm, the beautiful location, has quite the history; in 1812 John Fitzhugh Conway, a cousin of James Madison, built a five-room house on a beautiful knoll by the Conway River. Today, the original Federal house provides the central structure of a much larger home, which incorporates an old winter kitchen with warming oven and exposed wall. Firnew is protected in perpetuity under a conservation easement. Conservation awards were presented to Trish Crowe, Nick Kotz and Kathleen Kilpatrick. A special award was presented to Jack Snyder of Orange County for his efforts to have more than 700 acres of Montpelier placed in conservation easement.

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