As any gardener will tell you, the cold and dark of January and February have their place in the rhythms of the year. These are the months of dreams and plans, the time when ideas sparked during busy growing or harvest days can be tended and fanned and stoked into being.
So as we embrace the six more weeks of winter that Punxsutawney Phil has proclaimed, I want to shine a light on several local food projects you should know about. Some of these have been in the works for awhile, some are brand new. All of them strive to make eating local easier, closer, more convenient. There are cooks putting together meals-in-a-box crafted from local food, a family-run heirloom seed company, a new farmers market in Franklin County, an additional community garden in Southeast Roanoke. Plus two new businesses starting up that have the potential to bring local food right into your neighborhood.
If you do not call the Roanoke Valley home, I encourage you to snoop around your neck of the woods as spring gets under way. What new community gardens, farmers markets or local food businesses is your community cooking up?
Now, without further ado, 8 New Ways to Love Local Food …
Eat Your Yard. (Without Lifting a Finger).
Online Order Your Local Veggies
Do you select your pantry staples from Amazon or ClickList your groceries each week? What if you could online order your veggies, eggs and meat from local farms — or even your neighbor’s garden? That’s the idea behind Food From Friends, a new web-based platform that’s hoping to encourage folks to get their kale from around the corner rather than Kroger. Think of it like airbnb for veggies. Food From Friends will be the first specialized, open marketplace to service all buyers and all growers, no matter how small. Home gardeners and career farmers in the Roanoke and Shenandoah areas will be able to connect with and sell directly to regional customers. Buyers will have an easy-to-use resource at their fingertips to find fresh local food from members of their community. It will all get going this spring but you can sign up now to be a grower, an eater, or both at www.foodfromfriends.co.
Support Roanoke’s Next Community Garden
Plan a Visit to Franklin County’s Newest
Check Out The Haven on 5th
Eat Local Food Cooked by a Pro
“Thai Style” is the newest concept from Mantana Heim, a Thai native who now teaches and caters from her home at Smith Mountain Lake. Since January, Heim has been creating “Hello Fresh” type subscription service meals for folks in Franklin and Bedford counties, with hopes of expanding into Roanoke. So far, she’s made Pad Thai With Pork and Chicken Masman Curry. Her next offering will be Drunken Noodles With Pork Tenderloin. She sources as many of her ingredients as possible from local farms. The cost is $40 for a four-serving meal. To sign up, email Heim at SMLthaichef@aol.com or follow her business Facebook page, SML International Cooking School. Heim also teaches cooking classes the second Saturday of each month.
Buy Heirloom Seeds from a Local Family
Jason and Shannon Matyas and their seven children run a small online company where you can buy heirloom seeds and download gardening guides, tips and information, called Seeds For Generations. Check out their website, download their gardening calendar, place an order so you’ll have your seeds ready to go when it’s time to plant. Why buy heirloom? There’s a wider variety of each vegetable type available through heirloom seeds. Plus, by planting heirloom, you’ll help make sure this variety isn’t lost to an industrial farming ethos where only one selected type of plant is mass produced.
Stop By Your Favorite Farm’s Website
Do you have a favorite farm? One you’ve developed a relationship with or buy from regularly? Well now’s the time to head to their website and see if they’ve been making any changes to their operations for the year. I know Thornfield Farm has added all kinds of information and photos as well as a new way to place orders for flowers, vegetables and protein (beef, lamb and eggs). Riven Rock Farm is farther afield, but they too have updated information and now feature a new ordering platform on their site.
Know of any other local food startups planning to launch this spring? What local food conveniences do you wish existed? Share your thoughts here or via email. I’d love to hear them!