Volume 5, Issue 3
June 2, 2016
Local Food Hub News and Notes

Weather Woes: An Early Spring, Late Frost, and a Hot Start to Summer

Weather can be one of the biggest challenges (or welcomed benefits!) to farming, particularly in Virginia where our seasons are diverse. This spring got off to a volatile start, which continues to cause impacts to spring, summer, and even fall crops. March began slightly warmer than usual and caused many early season crops to begin to bud and grow earlier than expected. Soon after our warm spell, we were hit with a major frost, causing hail in many areas and temperature drops of more than 50 degrees in less than 24 hours. Some of our high tunnel growers reported temperatures of around 80 degrees in their tunnels one day, and down to 20 degrees the next. As you can imagine, these drastic changes can be devastating to produce. 

Tree fruit took the biggest hit from our late frost, as many early season peaches, cherries, plums, and blackberries were just starting to grow. Luckily, several of our growers had some crops planted on higher elevations in their fields, such as on a hillside, where the temperature did not drop as drastically and the crops are continuing to thrive. However, we still expect to see reduced volume and impacts to quality to these products when they come into season in just a few weeks. 
As if the drastic changes in temperature weren't enough of a rough start to the season, then came the rain. And more rain, rain, and rain, for 30 days. The consistent wet weather brought a myriad of other challenges for farmers, including preventing them from getting new crops in the ground due to the soil being too saturated for planting. For the berries that had begun to grow at the time of the rain, like strawberries and blackberries, the risk for certain moisture-induced diseases increased. While there are organic and commercial applications available to prevent disease growth due to moisture, anything that was applied was quickly washed away by the continual rainfall.   

Despite the challenges from our climate
, our farmers continue to impress us with their ability to grow high-quality products and overcome the setbacks. We've had a beautiful and extra sweet strawberry season thus far, but the hot and summer-like weather is bringing the season to a close within the next week. But, we're already seeing the first harvests of summer squash, which is the true mark of summer! It won't be long before we see other summertime favorites, like peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon. So long as our summer doesn't get too hot, we should be in store for a bountiful and delicious season. 

Shop for a Cause at Whole Foods Market Fair Lakes on Wednesday, June 22

Shop at Whole Foods Market Fair Lakes on Wednesday, June 22, when 5% the day's net sales will be donated to Local Food Hub! Local Food Hub staff will be in the store all day handing out samples and chatting with customers, so bring your friends and family to shop with us. The store is located at 4501 Market Commons Drive, Fairfax, VA 22033. More details are coming soon!

Staff Changes: Fond Farewells and Warm Welcomes

Last week, we bid farewell to our dear Sales and System Manager, Matt Baer. Matt served Local Food Hub for nearly three years and wore many hats, most notably managing our customers and sales orders. Matt is headed out west, where his new wife will begin her doctoral residency. This week we also bid farewell to Jeff TaylorWarehouse Associate, as he takes on a new position in the area. We wish them all the best!

We have welcomed two new staff members this month, including Alyssa VairsProcurement Associate, and Christopher BrownWarehouse Associate. Alyssa will now manage our buying and production planning with our partner farms. She takes over for Lisa Reeder, who becomes our Food Access Coordinator, overseeing community partnerships and food access programs. Please join us in welcoming them!


The Local Food Hub Team, from left to right. Back Row: Will Clark, Rod Crawford, Alan Moore, Matt Baer, Jeff Taylor, Lisa Reeder. Second Row: Alyssa Viars, Kristen Suokko, Melissa Luce, Bee Thorp. Front Row: Laura Brown, Christopher Brown. 

Workshop: Weed and Insect Management

Date: Thursday, June 16
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Bellair Farm, 5375 Bellair Farm, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Cost: $20, including a delicious lunch (This workshop is free for Local Food Hub partner farms.)

Join us on Thursday, June 16 for an interactive workshop and field walk at Bellair Farm to hone your skills identifying and managing the major plant weeds and insect pests that affect vegetable and small fruit crops in Virginia. Dr. Charles Cahoon, Extension Weed Specialist based at the Eastern Shore AREC, and Dr. Thomas Kuhar, State Entomologist at Virginia Tech will cover the basics of weed and insect (both pests and beneficials) identification, understanding lifecycles, and developing successful management approaches. A bagged lunch will be provided.

The workshop will primarily be held in the field, so please dress accordingly and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. You are welcome to bring specimens for identification, however, please ensure they are in completely sealed bags or containers. 

If you have specific topic suggestions or questions, please contact Adrianna Vargo at adrianna@localfoodhub.org

RSVP

Thank You, Willie Nelson and Local Food Hub Supporters!

A huge thank you to our sponsors, partner farms, local businesses, and Willie Nelson & Family for a successful event last week. The evening was a true celebration of our community's commitment to Virginia farmers, a strong local economy, and local food access for everyone.
Local Food Hub is a nonprofit organization that partners with Virginia farmers to increase community access to local food. After seven years, we're still a thriving distribution network for local food, but we are also so much more: a leader in the farm to school movement, a donor to regional food banks, a guide for businesses, a resource for farmers, and a catalyst for fresh ideas for how our community feeds itself.

Join us in our efforts of providing access to farm sourced food for everyone. 
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