There's a push in the Shenandoah Valley to grow the local food economy as we sprout into spring. The effort is bringing together everyone from bankers to farmers, restaurant chefs to elected leaders.
After a tough winter, farmers and valley based food suppliers are seeing a spike in demand for their products this spring, as local restaurants are relying on them to deliver.
Jim and Susan Randall have been growing natural food and produce on Elk Run Farm for nearly 30 years. Susan says, "We specialize in lean meats or locally grown produce. We don't use any chemicals or chemical insecticide fertilizers on our product. We try to provide a safe food for our customers."
Recently the Randall's have seen their business sprout up just like their organic fruits and vegetables because the community wants to get a taste of the local flavor. Susan says, "People are becoming very aware of their food sources and responsibility of the growers and that has caused the local food movement to advance exponentially."
From the farm to the dinner plate, Meghan Williamson with the Staunton Community Creativity Fund says one reason the local food movement is becoming so successful around Staunton is because local restaurants are making menus centered around fresh-from-the-farm foods. "Just in downtown Staunton we have Staunton Grocery, Mockingbirds, Zynodoa, all of which are partnering with local farmers, produce suppliers to say how do we keep good and services made in the valley to stay in the valley."
The Buy Local Virginia campaign estimates that the valley could count an economic boost of more than $113 million a year if every household spent just $10 a week on local foods. The trend excites the Randall's as they are seeing their way of life pay off. Jim Randall says, "It's really been very encouraging. It's a good thing. People want to know where their food comes from, and the local restaurants are capitalizing on that, it's a good business."
The Randall's will resume their farmer's market business next weekend. The Staunton Market will open weekly starting next Saturday.