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Feb
24

Try Something New This Summer – Join A CSA!

As the sun stays with us a little longer and days are warmer, many of us can’t help but think of summer cookouts and the good food that accompanies them.  One way to take full advantage of those perfectly sun-ripened tomatoes, sweet corn and crisp greens is to join a CSA (community supported agriculture).

A CSA provides “city-folk” with direct access to food produced by local farmers.  Basically, CSA shareholders pay for a “share” of vegetables for a set number of months (usually by season).  This cost allows the farmer to plan for the season, repair equipment, shutterstock_42990718purchase seed, etc.  In exchange, each week shareholders receive a box of locally farmed, seasonal vegetables. Many CSAs also offer options to purchase locally produced meat, cheese, eggs, flowers, breads, and other goodies!

Each CSA is a little different, but there is usually a “host site” (this can be an individual’s home, a school, farmer’s market, etc.).  This is where the vegetable boxes are dropped off by a CSA representative and picked up by CSA participants. Your CSA will work with you to find a host site that is closest to your home to facilitate pick-up.  Alternatively, many farms offer CSA share pick-up at the farm itself.

Most CSAs also have different sized “shares” – full, half and even quarter shares – depending on how many individuals you are feeding and your budget.  Another option is to split the share with another individual or family if smaller shares are not an option.

 

Why would I participate in a CSA when I can just go to the grocery store?

The produce is fresh. The typical American meal travels 1,500 miles before it is consumed. That lettuce you just purchased was picked and stored up to 4 weeks ago. And how about that tomato? In the U.S., tomatoes can be picked and stored for up to 6 weeks. In order to transport our produce long distances, it is often picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport. Am I making you hungry? Conversely, the vegetables you are getting through your CSA have been picked the week you receive your box.  Yum!

CSAs are more sustainable. Remember that 1,500-mile road trip your veggies took to get to your plate? That trip contributes to your food’s carbon footprint.  Vegetables from your CSA box generally come from farms within 100 miles of its drop-off point.  Additionally, CSA vegetables are seasonal, meaning that you are not going to get a tomato in January.  Vegetable production accounts for a large percentage of a vegetable’s carbon footprint – think of the energy needed to heat and light a tomato hothouse.  By eating local and seasonal, you are cutting down on both transport and production emissions. Bonus: Your support also helps to keep the farmer’s small business sustainable!

It expands your palette. Garlicky scapes, Jerusalem artichokes, and stinging nettles – oh my!  While CSA boxes include common seasonal vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, etc., if you are lucky, you will get a few surprises. Initially, it may feel a little bit like playing Iron Chef each week, but most CSAs give you a list of what to expect in your box a few days before pick-up, which helps with planning – some CSAs even provide recipe ideas! As a five-year CSA veteran (with kids), I have found that it has really pushed my family to incorporate vegetables into our meals that I would never have considered – with (mostly) very positive results. 

It’s an opportunity to meet new people. Since most CSAs have a central pick-up point, it is not uncommon to meet participating neighbors at these pick-up points.  The question, “What do you usually do with all of these turnips?” is an easy conversation starter and you may find that you have a lot more in common than a turnip problem! Our gracious CSA host has also held potlucks for our CSA group and put those who are interested on a listserv where we can exchange emails regarding vegetable storage, recipes and food swaps.

Are you sold? Interested in trying a CSA this summer?  Here are a few that cater to those living in Northern Virginia:

 

Blenheim Organic Gardens 

Washington’s Birthplace, Va.

Lawrence and Becky Latane

804-224-7039

lwlatane@sylvaninfo.net

www.localharvest.org/csa/M12666

$580 (farm pickup), $600 (Fredericksburg or King George pickup), $635 (Falls Church pickup), mid-May through November, every other week. Certified organic.

Pickup locations: Falls Church, Fredericksburg, King George

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Fair Oaks Farm

Aldie, Va.

Mollie Madison

571-257-4243

locallygrownva@gmail.com

www.fairoaksfarmva.com

$495 full share, 16 weeks; or flexible CSABucks program in which members choose produce, meat, eggs, flowers and more for pickup at farm shop

Pickup locations: Alex-andria, Arlington, Chantilly, the District

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Great Country Farms

Bluemont, Va.

Mark Dewey

540-554-2073

csa@greatcountryfarms.com

www.greatcountryfarms.com

$499-$649 (depending on pickup or delivery site), 20 weeks; delivery to homes or businesses in Northern Virginia.

Pickup locations: Aldie, Arlington, Ashburn, Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Lansdowne, Leesburg, Sterling, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative

Leola, Pa.

CSA department

717-656-3533, ext. 2

csa@lancasterfarmfresh.com

www.lancasterfarmfresh.com

$599-$825 vegetable share, 26-week summer season; fall and winter seasons available; chicken, meat, fruit, flower, herb, bread, cheese and egg shares available. Cooperative of about 100 farmers.

Pickup locations: Arling-ton, Baltimore, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Columbia, Damascus, the District, Fairfax, Falls Church, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Great Falls, Herndon, Kensington, Leesburg, Montgomery County, Olney, Potomac, Reisterstown, Rockville, Silver Spring, Springfield, Takoma Park, University Park, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: No

 

Polyface Farm

Swoope, Va.

Sheri Salatin

540-885-3590

farmchick@polyfaceyum.com

www.polyfaceyum.com

Pay-as-you-go buying club for meat (beef, chicken, turkey and pork) and eggs; monthly March through November. Delivery.

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Annapolis, Arlington, Ashburn, Centreville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Kensington, Laurel, Leesburg, Manassas, Occoquan, Potomac, Reston, Silver Spring, Springfield, Takoma Park

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Potomac Vegetable Farm

Vienna, Va., and Purcellville, Va.

Hana Newcomb

703-759-2119

hana@potomacvegetablefarms.com

www.potomacvegetablefarms.com

$368 mini share, $528 regular share, $688 robust share, 16-week summer season; $184 mini share, $264 regular share, $344 robust share, 8-week fall season; egg, flower, herb, chicken, and bread shares available.

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Arlington, Burke, Falls Church, Fairfax, Herndon, Reston, Springfield

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Spring House Farm

Lovettsvile, Va.

703-999-6636

info@springhouse.farm

www.springhouse.farm

$220-$672 for three-month, meat-only shares (bi-weekly delivery).

Pickup locations: Arlington, Ashburn, Centreville, the District, Hamilton, Leesburg, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: Yes

 

Willowsford Farm

Ashburn, Va.

Michael Snow

571-297-6900

info@willowsfordfarm.com

www.willowsfordfarm.com

$729 large share, $513 small share, 27 weeks; vegetable, egg, prepared food items, flower, chicken, milk and other shares available, as well as weekly pre-orders for all farm stand items. Additional delivery sites may be available.

Pickup locations: Aldie, Ashburn

Pickup at the farm: Yes

Feb
24

Jump in a Pool–It’s Easy! And you don’t even need to know how to swim…

For some, forming and sustaining a carpool seems like second nature, but for many, it might seem like a nebulous idea that can be daunting to get off the ground. The truth is, carpools can be as simple or as complicated as we make them, but I’m here to keep them from becoming the latter!

There are several ways to form carpools, but I usually get involved when people sign up for ridesharing at onsite events.  Once I have information about their commute – where it originates and ends, what time they usually work and whether they prefer to drive or ride, I drive use ride-matching software like the Commuter Connections (commuterconnections.org) database to find the right match. We then set up a meeting with the potential carpoolers to work out details about things like pick-ups and drop-offs and how gas expenses and tolls will be shared.

You can DIY-carpool or you can let me do the heavy lifting. It’s what I’m here for. Reach out to schedule a ridematching event at your workplace or send me your info so I can start matching you to carpoolers nearby.

For more information, contact Ericka Amador at 703.817.1307, ext. 6 or e-mail eamador@datatrans.org.

 

Cl·vate en un Carpool

Para algunos, la formación y el mantenimiento de un viaje compartido (carpool) puede sentirse natural, pero para muchos, puede parecer una idea nebulosa que puede ser intimidante. La verdad es, formar carpool puede ser tan simple o tan complicado como lo hacemos, pero estoy aquí para evitar que sea complicado!

Hay varias formas en que se puede participar, pero la forma en que estoy más comúnmente involucrada es cuando las personas se inscriben para carpool en eventos en el sitio de trabajo. Una vez que tengo la información sobre sus viajes como donde se originan y terminan, a qué hora regularmente trabajan y si prefieren conducir o viajar, uso software de “ridematching,” como la base de datos Commuter Connections (commuterconnections.org), para encontrar la combinación correcta. Luego, establecemos una reunión con los participantes de carpool potenciales para averiguar detalles como donde y cuando recoger a los pasajeros y bajadas. También pueden comentar sobre como los gastos de gasolina y peajes serán compartidos.

Usted puede formar su propio carpool o puede confiar en mi para hacer el trabajo pesado. Para eso estoy aquí. Por favor, contácteme con toda confianza para programar un evento de carpool en su lugar de trabajo o enviéme su información por email para poder empezar a buscar a carpoolers cerca de usted.

Feb
24

Spring Into These Activities This March and April!

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Had enough of Snowzilla by now?  Ready to get outdoors more often?  Perhaps get rid of some cabin fever?  Fortunately, with Earth Day and spring just around the corner, there are numerous opportunities to visit and participate in some local festivals.  Below is a sampling of some in our region.  Go ahead, get out there and live a little more!

 

4th Annual Grow Your Health Festival

March 5, Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, Virginia 22030.  9:00 am – 5:30 pm.

A project of the Northern Virginia Whole-Food Nutrition Meetup Group, the festival presents 60 exhibitors plus learning opportunities and more for home gardening, sourcing organic and local food, and nutrition and wellness for adults and children.

Classes and talks on gardening, nutrition and wellness will be offered through the day in the exhibit hall of farmers, food artisans, gardening services, and wellness products and services. The classes will empower festival attendees to start gardens, source better quality food, and learn holistic techniques to achieve better health. In the Food & Farming section of the exhibit hall, attendees will be able to meet farmers who sell direct to consumers and deliver weekly to convenient drop sites throughout Northern Virginia, and shop in the festival’s 2016 Pre-Season Farmers Market. The Grow Your Health Festival will also present the Northern Virginia debut of the documentary film Growing Cities. A family-friendly event, the Grow Your Health Festival offers several hours of supervised, age-appropriate activities for children, including gardening classes, kids’ yoga, indoor recess and quiet floor play. All activities, classes, and the film are included in the admission price – $10 online/$15 at the door; free for children 16 and under. Organic, non-GMO snacks and lunch will be available for purchase.

“We’re very pleased that our fourth annual Grow Your Health Festival has grown to a larger venue with many more exhibitors and offerings than ever,” according to Jack Moore, leader of the Northern Virginia Whole-Food Nutrition Meetup Group. “This event is important for learning of the benefits of local, organic, foods, and for the contributions we’re able to make to foster the whole-food perspective on good nutrition.” Proceeds from the Grow Your Health Festival will benefit the Weston A. Price Foundation and local non-profits that share the festival’s mission.

Get tickets and details for the 4th annual Grow Your Health Gardening, Local Foods & Wellness Festival at www.GrowYourHealthNoVa.com and follow on Facebook: GrowYourHealthFestival for more information and healthy tips.

 

16th Annual Jewish Film Festival

April 7 – 17, Angelika Film Center, Mosaic District; 2911 District Ave, Fairfax, VA 22031;

Phone: 571- 512-3301.

The 16th annual Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival, powered by the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, will screen 10-12 contemporary Jewish-themed and/or Israeli-made feature films that explore identity and place in the world. Festival home from April 7-17, 2016 is Angelika Film Center and Café at Mosaic.   Specific line up of films will be released in February and can be found at the website at www.jccnv.org/film-festival/northern-virginia-jewish-film-festival.

Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival

April 16 – 17, Downtown Leesburg, Virginia.  Contact: Ida Lee Park Recreation Center at 703-777-1368 or visit www.flowerandgarden.org.

Historic Leesburg will once again be in full bloom as lush landscapes and gorgeous gardens fill the streets. On April 16 and 17 over 120 vendors will be on display featuring landscape designs, gardening supplies, outdoor living items, plants, flowers, herbs and so much more! Stroll through the streets and take in the sights and sounds of springtime. Whether it’s gathering ideas for your new outdoor patio, stocking up on gardening supplies, or searching for a perfect gift for the avid gardener in your life, this event will have something for everyone! The event runs from 10:00am – 6:00pm on Saturday and 10:00am- 5:00pm on Sunday.

Festival goers can take a break from exploring the treasures vendors have to offer by stepping inside the Beer and Wine Garden located on the Town Green. Here, they can relax and sample ice cold brews and wines from around Loudoun County and beyond.

The Flower and Garden Festival will also host two entertainment stages. The Main Stage, located on the Loudoun County Courthouse grounds, will feature acoustic performers all day on Saturday and Sunday. The music kicks off on Saturday with local favorite, Gary Smallwood. This is a great place to sit under a tree, take in the tunes, and savor a tasty treat from one of the many food vendors onsite.

The second stage is all about our younger festival attendees and is located in the Children’s Area. The Children’s stage will feature interactive, live entertainment all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon. In addition to the entertainment, children can paint large wooden animal cut outs, create a garden marker, or participate in one of the other crafts available in this area.

 

89th Annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

April 22 – May 1, 2016.  135 North Cameron Street, Winchester, VA 22601; Phone: 540-662-3863

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, a six-day festival held annually in Winchester, Virginia, is known for its many guest celebrities and events. The festival was first held Saturday, May 3, 1924, and was originally celebrated as a one-day event (although not held in 1942-1945 due to World War II). Features include a Grand Feature Parade, Firefighters’ Parade (first held on Thursday, April 18, 1929), a carnival and midway, luncheons, races, walks, dances, and concerts, as well as a field show competition which formerly gave out the Queen’s Cup trophy to the winner, starting with the original Queen, Elizabeth Steck.

Springfest Fairfax

April 30, 2016, Lorton Workhouse Arts Center, 9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton, VA 22079; Phone: 703-324-5471.

Clean Fairfax produces SpringFest with partners Fairfax County Park Authority and The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA!  SpringFest Fairfax grows every year and we hope you’ll celebrate with us on Saturday April 30, 2016. This year we welcome FCPA Healthy Strides Expo–workshops, vendors and activities to help us be healthier and happier. Healthy People-Healthy Earth! Stay tuned for more details.  This is Fairfax County’s official Earth Day and Arbor Day event.

Feb
24

Smart Cities – Is The Future Near?

Ever wonder what the city of the future may look like?  Do you think it looks something like Los Angeles in the movie Blade Runner, with 10,000 foot buildings and cars and vehicles flying through the air?  Perhaps, but many urban planners and the Obama administration, have a more innovative view of what America’s urban landscapes may look like, and they have proposed investing millions of dollars in making this work – it is called the Smart shutterstock_85858207Cities Initiative.

In a September 2015 press release the Obama administration announced “a new ‘Smart Cities’ Initiative that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services.”

The heart of the initiative lies in the key strategies that the administration would like to focus on in the coming years.  These include:

Creating test beds for “Internet of Things” applications and developing new multi-sector collaborative models: Technological advancements and the diminishing cost of IT infrastructure have created the potential for an “Internet of Things,” a ubiquitous network of connected devices, smart sensors, and big data analytics. The United States has the opportunity to be a global leader in this field, and cities represent strong potential test beds for development and deployment of Internet of Things applications. Successfully deploying these and other new approaches often depend on new regional collaborations among a diverse array of public and private actors, including industry, academia, and various public entities.

Collaborating with the civic tech movement and forging intercity collaborations: There is a growing community of individuals, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits interested in harnessing IT to tackle local problems and work directly with city governments. These efforts can help cities leverage their data to develop new capabilities. Collaborations across communities are likewise indispensable for replicating what works in new places.

Leveraging existing Federal activity: From research on sensor networks and cybersecurity to investments in broadband infrastructure and intelligent transportation systems, the Federal government has an existing portfolio of activities that can provide a strong foundation for a Smart Cities effort.

Pursuing international collaboration: Fifty-four percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Continued population growth and urbanization will add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. The associated climate and resource challenges demand innovative approaches. Products and services associated with this market present a significant export opportunity for the U.S., since almost 90 percent of this increase will occur in Africa and Asia.

Complementing this effort, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology is examining how a variety of technologies can enhance the future of cities and the quality of life for urban residents. The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program is also announcing the release of a new framework to help coordinate Federal agency investments and outside collaborations that will guide foundational research and accelerate the transition into scalable and replicable Smart City approaches.

While Ballston, Clarendon, Falls Church, Tysons, Reston and Dulles Corridor are not classified as a “city,” this corridor represents more office space and density than all but a handful of “cities” in the United States.  Should this corridor be eligible as a consolidated activity corridor for inclusion in these programs, or will this initiative simply focus on the historic “urban” areas?  Other “surburban” cities – most of which represent high technology corridors and bio-tech concentrations that would lend themselves to moving this initiative forward quickly – are probably asking similar questions.

@livemore is interested in your opinions on the Smart Cities initiative and how Northern Virginia may fit into the larger scheme of this program.  Contact us at: editor@livemore.us.

Feb
24

Leesburg’s 26th Annual Flower & Garden Festival, April 16th and 17th

Historic Leesburg will once again be in full bloom as lush landscapes and gorgeous gardens fill the streets. On April 16 and 17 over 120 vendors will be on display featuring landscape designs, gardening supplies, outdoor living items, plants, flowers, herbs and so much more! Stroll through the streets

Photo courtesy of the Leesburg Flower and GarndenFestival.

Photo courtesy of the Leesburg Flower and GarndenFestival.

and take in the sights and sounds of springtime. Whether it’s gathering ideas for your new outdoor patio, stocking up on gardening supplies, or searching for a perfect gift for the avid gardener in your life, this event will have something for everyone! The event runs from 10:00am – 6:00pm on Saturday and 10:00am- 5:00pm on Sunday.

Festival goers can take a break from exploring the treasures vendors have to offer by stepping inside the Beer and Wine Garden located on the Town Green. Here, they can relax and sample ice cold brews and wines from around Loudoun County and beyond.

 

The Flower and Garden Festival will also host two entertainment stages. The Main Stage, located on the Loudoun County Courthouse grounds, will feature acoustic performers all day on Saturday and Sunday. The music kicks off on Saturday with local favorite, Gary Smallwood. This is a great place to sit under a tree, take in the tunes, and savor a tasty treat from one of the many food vendors onsite.

The second stage is all about our younger festival attendees and is located in the Children’s Area. The Children’s Stage will feature interactive, live entertainment all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon. In addition to the entertainment, children can paint large wooden animal cut outs, create a garden marker, or participate in one of the other crafts available in this area.

While at the festival, visitors can vote for their favorite landscape display in the People’s Choice Landscape Competition. Ballots can be picked up at the entrance booths or at the Gazebo. Completed ballots should be placed in the birdhouse at the Gazebo by noon on Sunday so that the winner can be announced that afternoon.

The Flower and Garden Festival is Leesburg’s unofficial start to the spring season, so be sure to join your friends and neighbors for the award winning “Best Community Event”; it’s an annual event and a perennial experience!

There is a $3 suggested donation per person. Donations can be made at the festival entrance booths. To see photos from the festivities, check out the event Facebook page at www.facebook.com/flowerandgarden.  For more information about this event, call Ida Lee Park Recreation Center at 703-777-1368 or visit www.flowerandgarden.org. While at the festival, be sure to visit the historic shops and restaurants. A shop directory can be found at http://downtownleesburgva.com/.