When we began this business venture, I always knew that it would be a never-ending learning experience. With our first year behind us, we are charging bravely into the 2017 growing season with ground tilled and seeds planted. Mama has shown me how to water the roots of our plants and taught me that if we take proper care of them, we will actually be eating out of the garden this year instead of shopping at grocery stores! Given the needs of our restaurant and the size of our property, however, we cannot produce everything we need, especially proteins.
This is where local farms and markets become a great asset to us as a family and business. Right here in Appomattox, we are fortunate to have access to many farm stands from which to source our produce like Cross Creek Farms in Red House and Evergreen Lavender Farm. There are several initiatives underway to bring larger markets to town, such as Local APX Market and the development of Courtland Field where various farmers and artisans could gather on weekly basis like the large space on Main Street in Lynchburg.
The Lynchburg Community Market has been in existence since 1783, moving several times until opening its current location on July 2, 1932. They are open on Wednesdays and Saturdays with twenty two local growers and artisans filling their floors. The participants believe that buying locally not only keeps the local economy healthy but its people too! Foods that don’t have to travel far are fresher, taste better and are more nutritious.
We are very happy to be getting our pork from Buckingham Berkshires located just north of Farmville. They truly believe that treating their pigs well results in a better product for their customers. First, they start with a breed appreciated for its flavor since before the time of Oliver Cromwell. The berkshire hog is known for its marbled flesh and great flavor. The farmers ensure that the pigs have free roam of the woods to be able to eat all the acorns and grass they desire. The supplemental feed given to them has no growth hormones or antibiotics and the meat never needs flavoring solutions like the “white meat” pork to which we have become accustomed.
Very recently, we were approached with the opportunity to purchase local Angus cattle raised through 4-H’s Agricultural Youth Livestock Program. Wade Spiggle offered his grain fed registered Angus to the Babcock House to establish a farm-to-table relationship with a local restaurant. Wade has been active in the Cornerstone 4H for 8 years, working to establish a green house on the school campus and expanding his knowledge of animal husbandry on the family farm. He enjoys working with cows and raising them for the Central Virginia Livestock Show competition. We are excited about the opportunity to work with him!
I cannot complete a blog about sourcing locally without mentioning the vast array of wineries and breweries in the state of Virginia. We have eleven of these local gems on our menu right now and we are always looking to add more. We have not yet taken the leap into the distilleries, but the time will come…
Until then, try out the locavore diet. EAT & DRINK LOCAL!