Saturday, December 8, 2012

Norfolk's Local-Foods Activist Extrordinaire

In an earlier post I mentioned how I would like to do something personally to bring fresh, healthy, local foods to residents of food deserts in Chesapeake and the surrounding areas. I'm also looking for ways to share my love of gardening. Recently, I've started donating fresh, local produce to the region's food bank through the Coastal Farms online food co-op. But I've been wanting to do more with my own personal time and energies in this direction. But where, and how?

The beginnings of an answer may have come to me today when I met with Bev Sell, the General Manager of the Five Points Community Farm Market in nearby Norfolk. Five Points has its own CSA program, a local-foods market that sells meat, dairy, seafood, and produce, and a lovely little cafe. It houses several small "incubator businesses," as well, all in the same building on the corner of 26th and Church St.

The market is run by a non-profit. It is close enough to the rather upscale "Ghent" area of Norfolk to attract the kinds of loyal customers that keep it profitable, but it's deliberately on the edge of a low-income district and along a bus route. The market was originally started as an attempt at urban renewal in an area of the city where the crime rate was trending upward.

The atmosphere inside the building is upbeat, energetic, friendly, and pleasant. The selection of organic and local foods is fantastic, and all the food I've tasted has been terrific. Bev has invited 4 Chesapeake Hens to participate in a Sustainable Living Fair at the Webb Center on the Campus of Old Dominion University on February 16 and 17, 2013. We will be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about backyard laying hens.

When Bev found out I'm a teacher, her eyes lit up. She is working on a summer program for low-income city youth to attend a day camp on a farm to learn more about where food comes from, how it is grown, and the value of fresh food. The youngsters may even get a little taste of what it's like to work on a farm. She is concerned about the decline of small family farms in Virginia, and she sees this program as not only educational for the children, but hopefully as a way to encourage our youth to consider farming as a career.

I told Bev she could count me in as a volunteer during the summer months when I tend to have more time. I'm looking forward to it!

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