January 2010

Minutes from the Sunday Supper Club January 10th, 2010

The SSC had a great kick off to our 2010 meeting schedule with an informative presentation by Matt Benson, Tim Mize and Deanna Childs.  Thank you so much to our three guest speakers for taking the time to educate us on the importance of developing and supporting community based local and regional food systems.

Five Minute Flash Reports:

Treasurer’s Report- Our trusty treasurer Lisa Richard announced that our current balance is $395.00.  She also detailed our predictable annual expenses: $200 for the web site, $500 for rent for the Marshall Community Center, and $32 for our domain name.  This brings our annual expenses to just over $700 which, with average meeting attendance of 30-35 people, we could cover with a few dollars from each of us per meeting or $25-30 annually.  Lisa also reminded everyone that the SSC is not a registered non-profit and therefore donations are not tax deductible.  While we greatly appreciate your donations we would never want lack of funds to prevent anyone from attending our meetings!

Communities of Peace Activities- Gerry Eitner reported on a long list of upcoming activities sponsored by Communities of Peace: a Community of Peace Gathering on January 17th,  “Interfaith Prayers for Peace” on January 25th  and a number of Reiki workshops.   Details may be found at www.communitiesofpeace.org, www.gerryeitner.com or you may call Gerry at 540-341-2859 for additional information.

Universal Dances of Peace- Although Sally Hughes was not able to join us in person this evening she sent along details of the Dances of Peace for inclusion in the minutes.
The next dance will be held Saturday, February 13th from 6:00 to 9:00PM at the Hearthstone School, 11576 Lee Hwy, Sperryville.  The Dances of Universal Peace are “simple, meditative, joyous, multi-cultural circles dances that use sacred phrases, chants, music and movements from the many spiritual traditions of the earth to touch the spiritual essence within ourselves and recognize it in others… There are no performers or audience: new arrivals and old hands form the circle as everyone sings and dances together.”  For more information please email or call Sally at spiritlight@live.com or (540)937-6410.

Holistic Entrepreneurs Alliance- Donna Lipinski reminded us about the HEA which meets at 7:30 PM on the 4th Wednesday of the month at Donna’s Blue Ridge Immigration Law Center, 9 N Third St., Suite 107 in Warrenton.   The mission of the HEA, should you choose to accept it, reads “To build long-term relationships which support each member’s business, financial, personal and spiritual growth and thus advance the Alliance as a holistic community.”  The next meeting is on January 27th- all are welcome!

Immigration Conference- Donna also reported on “Don’t Get Iced by Ice”, an upcoming conference sponsored by the Young Lawyers Conference and chaired by Fauquier’s own Marie Washington.  The event will be held from 10-4 on February 19th at the Holiday Inn Express in Warrenton.  The conference will address what businesses, employees, divorce, criminal and corporate lawyers need to know to avoid getting in trouble with ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).  A special keynote speaker will discuss the impact of immigration on Virginia.  Anyone with an interest in immigration issues is welcome to attend.  Call Marie for more information: (540)347-6595

Finley Broaddus- Ike Broaddus thanked everyone for their concern for Finley.  He was happy to report that Finley is home, healthy and happy though even after two weeks of testing in Milwaukee she remains a medical mystery.  Ike offered a special thanks to John Anderson for slogging through the snow to take care of their chickens!

Piedmont Community Foundation- Brad Davis, current president of the PCF, joined us for an extended flash report on this philanthropic organization.
History (from www.piedmontcf.org)
The Piedmont Community Foundation, a nonprofit public charity, was formed in 1999 out of a commitment to improve the quality of life in our region. The idea was simple (and still is!); Connect donors to the causes they care about. Increase the financial resources for charitable causes and non-profits by putting together a common investment instrument governed by the community served. PCF donors have already made available over $725,000 of philanthropy in Loudoun and Fauquier counties.
PCF’s founders, Joe Bolling and Susan Stack, foresaw that social services would not be able to keep up with the exponential growth in the regional and that a private community foundation would help to fill in this gap.
With the exception of a paid full time executive director, PCF operates entirely with volunteer efforts.
Since PCF’s inception they have raised over 2 million and after contributing over 800,000 in grants they still have an endowment of approximately 1 million dollars.
All donations are welcome.  You may donate any amount to one of PCF’s already established funds.
PCF supported causes include:
Windy Hill Housing Fund- dedicated to keeping our senior citizens in the community.
Jim and Betty Herbert Family Fund
Willow Craft Science Endowment- focused on helping science students innovate.
Loudoun Interfaith Relief Endowment- “Friends Helping the Hungry”
Blossom Breast Cancer Fund
Loudoun County Juvenile Detention Fund
Visit www.piedmontcf.org for information on “Ways to Make a Difference, Benefits of Giving, FAQ’s” or email PCF’s executive director Karen Krei at kkrei@verizon.net

Community Announcements

Bob Zwick announced that the Fauquier County Democratic Committee will be holding their reorganization meeting on Tuesday Jan. 12th at the Warrenton Visitor’s Center.  The doors open at 6:30 and will close promptly at 7:30.

**Please visit our web site at www.sundaysupperclub.org for information on upcoming events.**

Guest Speaker

“Tim and Matt’s Big Adventure in Local Food Systems”

Matt Benson, Tim Mize and Deanna Child’s began the SSC’s 2010 season with a great presentation on agriculture and local food availability in Fauquier County.  Matt Benson serves as the Northern District Community Viability Specialist for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Tim Mize is the extension office agent for Fauquier County and Deanna Childs is a farmer and co-founder of Farmer Girls Online Market.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Service is the “education arm” of Virginia Tech and the Virginia State University.  According to their web site http://www.ext.vt.edu/ the VCE puts “university knowledge into the hands of people.  We are credible experts and educators who provide information, education, and tools you can use every day to improve your life.”  The VCE is federally, state and locally funded and focuses on four areas: agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H Youth Development and Community Viability.

Facts on Fauquier County
Statewide we are: 1st in the number of horses and the average value of each horse, 3rd in beef cows, 5th in corn silage, 5th in grapes, 6th in dairy cows and 6th in hay production.
We produce a lot of raw materials but virtually no food; three quarters of the food we consume is brought in from outside the county.

Virginia Farm and Food Facts
Virginia farms number over 47,300 with over 8.1 million acres in farmland. The average income per farm is $61,000.  Since 1974 we have lost 1 million acres of cropland.
Virginians spend 14.8 billion annually on food: 8.1 billion consumed at home, 6.7 billion dining out.
60% of food bought in Virginia comes from outside the state.  On average food travels 1300 to 1500 miles from farm to fork which means 4-7 days of travel before reaching the store.
Agriculture and Forestry are Virginia’s #1 industries averaging $55 billion in sales and providing over 357,000 jobs.
Only 1% of total agricultural output is spent on direct marketing of food (farmer’s markets, online food market’s, co-ops).
Local food markets are up 75% in the last 10 years; Loudoun County reported $750,000 in sales at its markets, Charlottesville reported $1.1. million in 2008 and 2009, and the Warrenton Farmer’s Market sales are estimated at between $300,000 and $500,000.
If each Virginia household spent $10.00 a week for one year for Virginia produced/grown food and farm products the state would see revenues of 1.65 billion dollars with $8.4 million in Fauquier County.

Local Food Outlets
Outlets include: farmer’s markets, CSA’s (community supported agriculture), Upick/pick your own, local food hubs, online farmer’s markets, online co-ops, farm to school/chef/hospital programs, produce auctions.
The Extension Office’s Community Viability Program focuses on starting businesses, community leadership programs, local and regional food systems and innovative agriculture.
Whole Foods and Wegmans both have tried to work with local producers but this is difficult for a number of reasons: local supplies cannot meet their demands, dealing with individual farmers is inefficient for their buyers, and the prices they pay are insufficient for our small farmers.

Real Cost of “Cheap” Food
According to the USDA, Americans spend less than 10% of their incomes on food, down from 18% in 1966.
“Cheap” food comes at the cost of overuse of antibiotics in livestock, environmental damage from chemical fertilizers, subsidizing of corporate agriculture and the health costs to the country of our current agriculture system.
See Time magazine’s August 2009 cover story, “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food” for more details:  http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458,00.html
The current administration has big goals for local foods.  If we want local foods we have to change our behavior and change what we demand from our food sources.

Obstacles Facing the Local Food Movement
Some, though not all, locally produced foods are more expensive than store bought goods.
We need to educate consumers to understand the value in paying a bit more for better quality food.  This has to start with the people who can afford the increased expense of buying local food.
The more people are willing to support local farmers, the more efficient they can be.
For the small farmer, trying to get their product sold is no easy feat; you don’t have a market unless you create one yourself.  Farmers spend time sitting at farmer’s markets that could be spent at home working on the farm.
Businesses such as Farmer Girls help farmers immensely by decreasing the time spent away from the farm and by increasing efficiency (they pick only what has been ordered).  As more customers sign up on sites such as Farmer Girls, the farmers have more confidence that they have a market for their goods and they are encouraged to grow more.

Leads and Opportunities for Local Foods
Farm to hospital programs. These can also present a challenge; for example the Fauquier Hospital would buy local eggs but their regulations insist eggs be pasteurized.
“Farm to School” programs focused on getting local food into school cafeterias- even with a short planning period, 2009’s newly instituted “Farm to School Week” had 1/3 of Virginia’s 35 school districts participate.  Plans are already underway for 2010.
Construction of local processing facilities.
Exploring means of extending the season such as green house and local canning operations.
There is a push to make EBT (electronic benefits transfer) /WIC  benefits more widely accepted and used at Farmer’s Markets.  Programs such as SNAP (supplemental nutritional assistance program) provide an incentive to shop at Farmer’s Markets.

Farmer Girls- www.farmersonlinemarket.net
Farmer Girls currently has 35 farmers selling on their site and more are waiting to be added as demand increases.
At present Farmer Girls only has one restaurant client but hopes to expand.
The site is very easy to use.  After an initial payment of $25 for a 6 month membership or $40 for a 1 year membership you order everything from honey to produce to meat from any of the farmers.  Each farmer has detailed information about their farms and contact information should you have a question for them.  After ordering and paying on line, your order will be available for pick up at one of four convenient county locations.

Other Local Food Websites
§         http://farmbuyersclub.com/ – “We are a direct-to-consumer buying club connecting you with local farms in Rappahannock & surrounding counties. We are passionate about bringing great food to people who otherwise could not find it by connecting local farmers and producers directly to consumers.”
§        http://www.rnf.coop/  – Rappahannock Natural Foods Coop: “The RNF coop allows farmers to do what they do best: produce a good quality piece of meat, vegetable or fruit in a natural sustainable way.  The Coop takes care of marketing and distribution to local consumers. Selling through the Coop allows the farmer to earn a better income.”
§         http://chofoodhub.blogspot.com/ – “The Local Food Hub is non-profit service organization located in Charlottesville, VA, working to strengthen and secure the future of a healthy regional food supply by providing small, local farmers with concrete services that support and advance their economic vitality and promote stewardship of the land.”

Local Foods on Television-
Check out the Charlottesville produced, “Meet the Farmer” TV programs at:

http://www.meetthefarmer.com/

Save the Dates
You won’t want to miss the interesting meetings we have planned!

Feb. 21st (please note we’re meeting on the 3rd Sunday this month as the second Sunday is Valentine’s Day) – Michael Kieffer, executive director of the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy, will speak on “A Natural History of the Bull Run Mountains.”

March 14th- Trista Scheuerlein of the Rappahannock Farm to School Program

April 11th- Beth Panilaitis of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty