With the goal of supporting local farmers and rural economies, the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) launched Virginia’s first Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign in 2006. The program has grown to include more than 600 local food producers and businesses in its nine-county service area.
PEC was founded in 1972 to promote and protect the Virginia Piedmontâ??s natural resources. As the regional coordinator of Northern Piedmont, Charlottesville Area, and Loudoun County, PEC helps to create outlets for farmers by building networks of producers, business owners, community organizations and consumers that are dedicated to the local food movement.
A great support to local trade, the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign is coordinated in partnership with Food Routes Network (http://www.foodroutes.org/) a national nonprofit organization that is working to rebuild local, community-based food systems. FRNâ??s mission is to re-introduce people to their food â?? the seeds it grows from, the farmers who produce it, and the routes that carry it from the fields to their tables.
Jessica Palmer is the Coordinator for Buy Fresh Buy Local at PEC.
â??I love seeing what new products people come up with, or how folks are preserving our area food history by growing, say, certain apple varieties that we don’t see in the grocery store, or hearing about farms partnering with restaurants/butchers/retailers to get local food to the customer,â? Palmer said.
â??I’m always amazed to see the number of different products listed in the guide, and I think the guide does something important by building a community around food and reminding us to take advantage of our agriculturally-rich area,â? she added.
PEC produces Buy Fresh Buy Local guides that are compilations of family farms, restaurants, grocers, farmersâ?? markets, and value-added producers who share a common mission to support and promote local food. Whether they are farmers growing fruits and vegetables to sell at a market, or restaurants buying fresh ingredients from local farms, the folks listed in this guide strive to Buy Fresh and Local with the seasons.
The 2014 Buy Fresh Buy Local guides were sent to 265,761 homes in Virginia’s Piedmont. Listed are 309 local farms and orchards, 30 farmers markets, 77 wineries and distilleries, 73 restaurants and caterers, and 45 retailers.
The Buy Fresh Buy Local program includes local food producers with various philosophies; farms that use conventional, alternative, traditional, chemical and organic practices but all have a common goal, of connecting with local markets.
PEC encourages consumers to ask their restaurants and grocers about where they purchase their product and recommends consumers get to know their farmers and the farming practices they use to produce the food you eat.
PEC is is one of the most effective community-based environmental groups in the country whose efforts to conserve land is most notable with residents throughout its nine-county region. The Piedmont region includes several of the fastest growing jurisdictions in the country and for several decades PEC and Piedmont residents has faced significant challenges protecting that land. PECâ??s region stands out as one of the most successful areas for private land conservation in the U.S.
Headquartered in Warrenton, PEC has offices throughout the region that include Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock Counties.
Search online by county or zip code to find local foods in your area. Printable guides are also available for download on each Buy Fresh Buy Local chapterâ??s homepage. https://www.buylocalvirginia.org/about-buy-fresh-buy-local/the-campaign