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Feb
26

Dulles Rail Construction Update

airport-sign

By  Dusty Smith

Work along the Silver Line Phase 2 alignment is making steady progress. Stations are taking shape at Dulles Airport and eastward to Reston. Crews in February started building a new entrance to the Herndon-Monroe Park-and-Ride lot along Sunrise Valley Drive to improve access to the commuter lot as well as the coming Herndon station. Work is also underway on a traction power substation – one of nine that will supply electricity to the rail line. In addition, Fairfax County has cleared a portion of the site for construction of a new parking garage to accommodate Metro users.

To the west at Innovation Center Station, drivers along the Dulles Toll Road will see the first pedestrian bridges installed on this phase of the project. The bridges will connect the rail stations in the median of the Dulles International Airport Access Highway to Metro pavilions, most of which include parking, bus bays, bike racks and kiss-and-ride lots.

At the airport, the aerial guideway decks are nearing completion and crews have begun installing tracks, and the station at Loudoun Gateway to the west is beginning to take shape. Along the Greenway, work has begun on the last of four straddle bents required for aerial tracks to span that road. At Ashburn Station, the last to begin construction, a tower crane has been installed and excavation is complete.

Construction is on track for completion in 2020.

Feb
26

Governor McAuliffe Announces “Virginia is for Lovers” and Uber Partnership for October Virginia Wine Month

Barboursville Vineyards

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) will be partnering with Uber, the multinational transportation network company, for October Virginia Wine Month promotions across the Commonwealth. The partnership is the first-of-its-kind in the country. Uber and VTC are partnering for Virginia Wine Month to ensure that residents and visitors around the Commonwealth have access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation to some of the state’s more than 280 picturesque wineries.

“Working together with Uber, we are able to ensure that everyone enjoying Virginia Wine Month has a ride home, which keeps our roads and communities safe,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “This partnership will increase accessibility to the greatest wineries in the country by creating a more affordable transportation
option that is available when people want it. We are thrilled to be partnering with Uber on this promotion to celebrate Virginia wine, and for Virginians and travelers alike to discover their local crush.”

“Virginia’s wine industry is a huge driver for travel and tourism in Virginia, with an estimated annual economic impact of almost $750 million,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “October Virginia Wine Month is the perfect opportunity to get out and explore Virginia’s beautiful wineries and quality wines. We’re pleased to be working with Uber to ensure that travelers get to those wineries safely and reliably. This is an exciting opportunity to showcase why Virginia is for Wine Lovers – and for Uber lovers.”

During the month of October, consumers using Uber to visit to select wineries near the Charlottesville, Richmond, and Leesburg areas will receive discounts on tastings, merchandise, and bottles of wine. The goal of the promotion is to encourage visitation to Virginia wineries during October Virginia Wine Month, while also promoting safe transportation through Uber’s driver network. Participating wineries include: King Family Vineyards and Veritas Vineyard & Winery in the Charlottesville area, 8 Chains North Winery and The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards in the Leesburg area, and Buskey Cider and James River Cellars Winery in the Richmond area.

“Uber is proud to celebrate with the Commonwealth during Virginia Wine Month,” said Colin Tooze, Southeast Public Affairs Director for Uber. “Partnering together, we can help boost the local economy, keep our roads and highways safe, and welcome Virginians and tourists to enjoy the best Virginia has to offer with convenience and peace of mind.”

Uber has committed to leverage its logistics and processes to ensure there are enough drivers, even in some relatively remote areas, to ensure anyone who needs a safe ride home can receive one with the touch of a button. Visitors to the participating wineries will receive 50 percent off tastings (same day only), 50 percent off their first flight at Buskey Cider; 15 percent off any merchandise, and 15 percent off any wine purchased.

Upon arrival at the winery or cidery, riders will show their Uber receipt or Uber trip history on their smartphone to the staff. Discounts are only available on same day of travel. This promotion will run on weekends throughout October and on Columbus Day.

About Virginia Wine

Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 285. Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producing state. Currently, Virginia is sixth in the nation for number of cideries. According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry, including the Virginia cider industry, employs more than 4,700 and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high during fiscal year 2016, with more than 556,500 cases, or over 6.6 million bottles, sold. Get more information on Virginia wines at Virginia.org/Wine

About October Virginia Wine Month

October Virginia Wine Month: Discover Your Local Crush is a month-long celebration of local wine with special events, tastings, festivals and more at Virginia’s more than 280 wineries statewide. October is an ideal time to visit Virginia as the state’s 15 million acres of foliage burst into color and wineries are celebrating the harvest. From the coastal serenity of the Eastern Shore to the majestic splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains, each wine region provides travelers with a one-of-a-kind wine experience.

 

Feb
26

Farm to Table at Your Own Home – Join a CSA!

CSA_box6

By Sarah McGowan

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, purchase 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 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

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: Alexandria, 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: Arlington, 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@potomacvegetable
farms.com

potomacvegetablefarms.com

$448 mini share (off farm), $616 regular share (off farm), $788 robust share (off farm), 16-week summer season; $224 mini share (off farm), $308 regular share (off farm), $392 robust share (off farm), 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
26

April 22: Earth’s Special Day

earth

Isn’t every day Earth Day?  It’s where we live.  Its soil, weather, and atmosphere help provide us sustenance.  Its beauty inspires art and poetry.  We’re all about the earth…so how did a special day to celebrate our symbiotic relationship with the planet Earth finally come to be?

The “creation” of Earth Day was motivated by the emerging social consciousness embodied in widespread anti-Vietnam War protests and partially inspired by the international popularity of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking ecological exposé The Silent Spring, published in 1962.  During an era seemingly oblivious to the effects of leaded gasoline and unregulated manufacturing on air quality, a true bi-partisan effort to protect Mother Earth emerged.

In 1970, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson – shocked by the devastation wrought by a massive oil spill the previous year in Santa Barbara – convinced conservation-minded California Congressman Pete McCloskey to join him in sponsoring a “national teach-in on the environment.”  Denis Hayes, now president of the Bullit Foundation (dedicated to preserving the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest), became national coordinator.  Hayes marshalled a staff of 85 to promote the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

Over 20 million people nationwide participated in Earth Day activities.  Friends of the Earth came from all walks of life, from both political parties, from blue collars to blue bloods.  And that was just the beginning.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts all trace their origin to the
success of that first Earth Day.

By 1990, more than 200 million people in 141 countries “celebrated” Earth Day, leading to Senator Nelson receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in protecting the environment.

Despite occasional setbacks prompted by lobbyists, a sometimes apathetic public, and cautious politicians, what is now the Earth Day Network has grown April 22 into the largest secular observance in the world, involving 22,000 partners, 192 countries, and more than a billion people in activities that reach far beyond a single day
of observance.

With history in mind, the Earth Day Network has set amazing and achievable goals to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this monumental
day.  Learn more about how you can be part of the 2020 celebration
at www.earthday.org.

After all, the Earth belongs to all of us.  And we belong to it!

Feb
26

Worry Free Winery Tours

Enjoy Your Day and Let Someone Else Do The Driving 

With more than 40 wineries, Loudoun County has had great success in branding
itself as “DC’s Wine Country.” On any given weekend, you’ll find most of them packed with area residents and visitors eager to sample award-winning wines such as The
Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek Winery’s 2015 Reserve Chardonnay.

Described on the Leesburg’s winery’s website as a “delicate Burgundian ChardonnayVA Wine made from 100% estate grown grapes,” the wine won a Best in Class award in the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition – hailed as the nation’s largest contest of American wines. On the state level, three Loudoun wineries – Breaux Vineyards, Sunset Hills Vineyard and The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyard – recently took home gold medals in the 2017 Governor’s Cup.

With that kind of appeal, it’s easy to see why winery tours have become one of Reston Limousine’s strongest market segments. President and CEO Kristina Bouweiri launched the tours in 2002 to try to expand the company’s offerings after the economy stalled following 9/11. Her plan was to take two friends to visit nine wineries in one day, and to remain focused, they said they wouldn’t drink.

“At the first winery, we ran into Chris Pearmund, who is one of the most amazing and accomplished winemakers in our state,” Bouweiri says. “He insisted we try the wine at the first stop, and we ended up staying a little too long that day and getting horribly lost on the way home! But we were convinced that wine tours would be a gold mine!”

Faced with a scant marketing budget, she created public tours where passengers could purchase a seat on a bus for $35 and visit three wineries. Bouweiri then donated gift certificates for 2 seats on the winery tours to various organizations, and invited groups out to wine country to showcase the experience.

At that time, there were fewer than two dozen wineries in the county. Over the last decade and a half, the industry grew and so did the popularity of the tours, bringing
residents from all parts east into the rolling hills of Loudoun County.

Today, not much has changed with the tours. Seats are sold for $39, but the tour now stops at only two wineries for a more leisurely and enjoyable experience. “We discovered that by the time people got to the third winery, they were too exhausted
to enjoy the experience.”

Bouweiri says. A change in Virginia law several years ago now allows tour operators with permits to collect tasting fees, which allows the company to pay the wineries directly rather than conducting multiple transactions from each passenger.

As word spread of the scenic backdrops the wineries provide and more couples opted to exchange vows among the vines, the Reston Limousine’s partnership with the wineries extended beyond the wine tours to shuttle services for wedding guests to the rural locations.  “There are few hotels in Western Loudoun where the majority of wineries are located, and so many brides with larger guest lists need to get their guests to the weddings,” Bouweiri says. “That’s where we come in; we actually have more buses than limousines in our fleet, so we’re capable of transporting large groups to the wineries. And with our history of winery tours, our drivers know those back roads like the back of their hand.”

Going into 2017, the winery tours will expand with new pickups in communities such as South Riding and Virginia Run; previously, passengers got on the buses at area
shopping centers and metro stations. “We hope to work with more neighborhoods and developments so that we can share the experience of DC’s Wine Country with more of our friends and neighbors,” Bouweiri adds.