From the category archives:

Specialty Farms

Virginia Pumpkin Growers

by Staff on October 10, 2014

Pumpkin CheesecakeThis is great news for Virginia.  CNN has reported that sales of pumpkins nationally has risen 34% just in the past 5 years.  Not coincidentally this is the same time frame since Starbucks introduced its pumpkin spice latte plus other pumpkin drinks and pastries.

A professor at Virginia Tech’s Agricultural  school says that the southwest portion of VA went from zero acres of pumpkins to over 4,000 acres of pumpkins just since 1999.  Virginia has its own Pumpkin Growers Association where you can locate further details on VA pumpkins as well.

It’s widely thought that Starbucks started the pumpkin craze, but many other businesses are hopping on the Pumpkin Wagon too.  You can get pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin cheesecakes, and an assortment of pumpkin flavored beers.  Many states have extravagant Pumpkin Festivals that include pumpkin carving contests and other creative pumpkin games for the whole family.

I think it bears mentioning that a great deal of what people love about pumpkin flavored foods… is directly coming from the cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices that give those foods their distinctive flavors.  The pumpkin craze makes me wonder if there’s money to be made in pumpkin tofu … it needs some kind of flavoring, yes?

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Belly Up to the Farm in Central VA

by Staff on August 23, 2014

Central VA Craft BreweriesWe write often about the innovative farmers and their products in Central VA.   Farmers seem to be producing almost everything from solar power to chicken lips these days!   We have lots of quality wineries and vineyards in our Charlottesville area,  and now several busy farms are raising hops for their own craft breweries.

As small ‘craft’ breweries (sometimes called micro-breweries) have become popular in recent years, farmers have made a natural segue to scratch the itch for innovative beers and drinks.  There is so much demand for their beverages that this month has actually been dubbed Virginia Craft Beer Month.     Yes, I know.   You all know somebody who wants to pronounce all 12 months to be Craft Beer Month, but that’s another topic.

The number of craft breweries in VA has doubled from 40 to 80 in the past few years.   It’s not a new idea however.  Hops were grown on many VA farms in Thomas Jefferson’s colonial time, so this is actually a resurgence of a previous crop.  Hops grow well in Virginia and farmers now have the ability to experiment with the quality and variety of the hops they grow.  This innovation, combined with the advantage of local crops for local businesses, has created an exciting atmosphere for lovers of craft brewing.

And though the public benefits from the expertise of local growers and brewers…. there’s an additional benefit for the farmers too.    The farmers get the exposure and advertising from welcoming the public to visit their farms, and of course it’s lots of fun for the public to visit the same farm where the hops are grown and/or brewed to get a firsthand look at the process of producing their favorite beverages.   There are even harvesting parties and other events to enjoy as well, so check out THIS LINK for more information. Hops

If you get all inspired to grow your own hops you can get advice here….. just be sure to allow plenty of room for these tall climbing vines.  And here’s another link that confirms Virginia’s ideal hops-growing climate.

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Farm Tour on Labor Day

by Staff August 20, 2014

Hey Central Virginia food lovers!   Save Labor Day, Sept. 1st, for a time to attend a FOOD FEST from the specialty farmers of Central VA.  More than a dozen farms will welcome you on your tour and you can sample treats from their herbs, organic foods, creameries, mushroom farms, apple cider farms and many other unique and [...]

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Grain Crop Production in Virginia

by Staff August 16, 2014

In recent years farmers in Virginia have accounted for more than 500,000,000 bushels of grains and soybeans.   Here’s a link to an extensive summary of Virginia’s recent grain production including grain sources, storage details, and volume of production of each grain. The grains in the study include corn, rye, oats, wheat, triticale, barley and grain sorghum.  [...]

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A Solar Crop For Farmers

by Staff July 17, 2014

If our Virginia farmers say that there’s a crop that blends well with animals or grains, a crop that can succeed on a farm of any number of acres, a crop that requires no innoculations nor food/water nor harvest,  and in fact the crop is currently getting tax breaks and attracts investment … would you be curious? Actually farmers all over [...]

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Grow Shiitake Mushrooms

by Staff June 9, 2014

A lot of us have no idea how a mushroom is grown.   We like mushrooms and eat mushrooms.  But the actual process of cultivation remains a mystery.  As it turns out, different varieties of mushrooms require different growing conditions and one of the most unique is the popular shiitake mushroom.  The Chinese have grown shiitake mushrooms for over [...]

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