Posts Tagged ‘keep it local’

This coming Sunday, October 17, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon plan to attend the apple and cheese pairing at the Old City Cemetery in downtown Lynchburg.  Apples and cheeses were hand-selected by Lynchburg’s own “Professor Apple,” Tom Burford, and Magnolia Foods.

Be sure to register in advance!  There are only 24 seats available for this unique and delicious event.  And while you’re there, be sure to enjoy the Cemetery grounds.

**On an exciting side note, our Herbs de Provence chevre will be served, paired alongside a wonderfully crisp Winesap apple!


Updated Wednesday 10-13-10: We’re sorry to announce that the pairing has been canceled due to lack of participants. 😦


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This past Sunday we had the honor of supplying a friend’s wedding with some of our goat cheeses!  We often barter with our friends for fresh veggies and salad greens (nothing like greenhouse-grown bok choy in January!), so we were thrilled when they asked us to supply cheese for their wedding!  All the food offered at their wedding was fresh and local, what a statement!

A few months ago we sent them a sample platter with the varieties of chevre and other cheeses we’ve been playing with.  They chose four varieties of chevre: plain, herb, chipotle, and pepper.  We also supplied a few chunks of feta for inclusion in their salad.

Photo by Spring Mill Farm

HB went over Sunday afternoon to deliver the cheese and set it up on platters.  The platters were old slate roof tiles and absolutely gorgeous.  While he was working the photographer came over and took some beautiful pictures of our cheese!  The picture above was taken by HB.  You can see them on the photographer’s blog.

Our best wishes go out to Chris and Melissa!

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I had Wednesday off so HB suggested I head over to the market for Green Market Wednesday and the afternoon’s scheduled rain barrel workshop.  So I did.

The first part of the workshop presented a lecture on rain gardens.  Rain gardens are planned depressions in the ground that allow storm water to runoff and collect and slowly infiltrate into the ground.  When used properly, they can lessen the amount of polluted runoff water reaching streams and rivers by 30%.  Runoff water comes from parking lots, rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, roads, and other broad expanses.  Problems arise when large quantities of water, often carrying pollutants from pesticides, fertilizers, sediment, debris and other wastes  are dumped into streams and rivers.

I’ve become more aware of the local water situations living on a farm for a few years now with spring-fed creeks running through the hills.  Somethings cannot be controlled – our neighbors have a lease on the property fronting the road and we have no say in the choices of fertilizers and pesticides they use on land we do not own.  But we can attempt to make the correct choices on our own property.  And we may not be able to control the choices of our in-laws, but I can play a role in the choices HB and I make.

Anyway, back to the workshop.

Once the lecture was over, a gal from the local soil and water conservation group gave a quick talk and then we delved into making our rain barrels.  Literally, delved.  The barrels we were given were old pickle barrels, some (like mine) still containing old pickle juice.  For a person who does not like pickles, it was slightly disgusting.  For any normal person it was probably a little gross.  You tip the barrel to about a 45* angle, then bend over, shove your top half inside the barrel and find your bearings inside the dark and stinky abyss inside.  Lovely.

Creating the rain barrel was surprisingly easy.  Behold, the finished results:

The barrels come by way of a North Carolina pickle company; of course, the cucumbers weren’t American.  I’m sure the barrel isn’t made in American either.  Ugh.  This reminds me of the Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) article I read this morning on the future of farming.

The barrels come with a permanent top that fits under the rim (similar to a canning jar), but for the sake of the barrel we remove the lid and fit a screen under the rim to keep out debris.

Pictured below is the overpour spout with attached hose.  When the rain barrel fills, water will flow out of this hose and (for now) onto the ground.  The real plan is to have multiple barrels so that when one fills up, the water travels into the next barrel via the hose.  Cool, huh?

And of course, we needed a spigot at the bottom of the barrel.  I want to build a small platform to raise this barrel just high enough to fit a bucket and/or watering can underneath for easy filling.

Interested in attending a rain barrel workshop at the Lynchburg Market?  The next workshop will be held on June 12th from 11am to 1pm.  You can get more information from the market website.

Created just in time for an afternoon thunderstorm.  Perfect!

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Last week, a Charlottesville-area television station had a short segment on local goat dairies.  Included in the spotlight were Night Sky Farm of Brookneal, Caramont Farm of Esmont, Goats R Us of Blackstone, and Iron Rod Chevre of Earlysville.  You can view the clip on the Edible Blue Ridge website.


It’s been a very busy week, so I apologize for the lack of updates.  I worked all through the weekend, and on Monday I had the opportunity to spend the day with Jennifer Downey at Night Sky Farm (link above and under the “Favorites” tab).  It was a wonderful, informative day.  I arrived in time to “help” with the morning milking of 13 does and her wonderful Jersey cow, Emily.  Jennifer has a wonderful team of helpers and the milking runs like a well-oiled machine.  While the does were milked, I learned about udder structure and mammary attachment by viewing a variety of udder shapes and sizes.

Once the milking was complete and the machines were cleaned, we headed up to see the “nursery” where all the older kids are kept, ranging from 4 days to several weeks old.  Part of the reason for the trip was to inspect prospective bucklings — HB and I are debating over purchasing our own buck for the upcoming breeding season,  “borrowing” a buck from a friend, taking does to a buck, or investing in artificial insemination (the least likely option).  Jennifer has 2-3 buck kids that have potential AND come from completely unrelated bloodlines from our does.  We just need to decide what we want to do.  And decide quickly!

Once we had played with the kids, we went to the make room where I got to learn a little about her cheesemaking process and pasteurization.  We wrapped up the day with a visit to her bucks and junior herdsires.  The young bucks were really cute – still on the small side, and so curious.  I adore the way bucks seem to have the little tuff of hair on their foreheads.  The buck our Toggenburg, Xenia, is bred to has a big curly forelock.

Let me just say, that while the day was very educational, it was just a lot of fun to see all the goats and watch them interact, soak up some sun in the pasture, and play with the KIDS!


Today my mother in law had surgery to remove a small growth in her breast.  She was diagnosed just over a month ago, and after a series of tests finally had the tumor removed.  Her surgery went well, and we’re hoping that the pathology reports will come back next week with clean margins.  We spent most of the day at the hospital, but were able to come home and within a few hours HB had put the floor on the goat shed for the hay loft.  I stayed inside to do a few chores and clean the barn a little.

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and in case you need a few ideas of thing to do or places to eat this weekend in the Lynchburg area, I thought I would share my favorites.


Saturday, the Lynchburg Community Market is host to the 3rd Annual Chocolate Challenge.  I blogged about this earlier in the week, and now have some official news.  Tasting tickets are $5 each and available the day of (ie: Saturday, at the market).  Tasting starts at 10am so get there early and purchase your ticket!  While you’re at the market, check out the local vendors both in the Heritage Crafter’s Gallery and the weekly market vendors with delicious produce and baked goods.  There was talk of a joint chocolate and wine pairing between Chocolates-R-Us and Chateuau Z Winery!

Local Eateries

Main Street Eatery is hosting a special  Valentine’s Day Gala Menu as well as their regular menu AND their special OysterFest menu.  I’ve only eaten at Main Street once, the night of our wedding, and it was delicious.  A little on the pricey side, perhaps, but well worth it.

Other fun places to celebrate a special day around Lynchburg includes Mangia, dish, Bull Branch, Waterstone Pizza (and be sure to get the hot crab dip!), Robin Alexander, Isabella’s, Millstone Tea Room (with a focus on fresh, local, and humane), and Machu Picchu.

And for a special brunch on Valentine’s Day (since it is on a Sunday this year) check out Basic Necessities in Nellysford (reservations necessary for this lovely small restaurant), Neighbor’s Place, and Isabella’s (with a focus on local ingredients).

Great Gifts

The Lynchburg area is home to a wonderful group of artisans each with unique interests.

  • The Community Market is home to the Heritage Crafter’s Gallery, open daily, with a variety of vendors selling everything from goat milk soap (Dixie Soaps) to bird houses to beautiful paintings and greeting cards to doll clothes to hand crafted furniture (Sticks and Stones).
  • Brookneal is home to Night Sky Farm, a local Grade A Goat Dairy producing fresh cheeses, goat milk soap, and even laundry soap!  Jennifer has designed some lovely soaps with Valentine’s Day in mind.  It’s also that time of the year when Jennifer puts out her Chocolate Raspberry chevre! (I tasted it at the last Chocolate Challenge and it’s good!)
  • Local goat milk soap producers include Shantara Acres and Delectable Hills.  You can buy Shantara’s soaps online, but Delectable Hills soaps are only available on-farm at this time of the year.
  • Give the gift of great wine.  The Lynchburg area is home to several great wineries.  Chateau Z, in Amherest sells at the Lynchburg Market.  Also, in Brookneal, there is Sans Soucy Vineyards, available at the winery’s on-site tasting room and at the Lynchburg Market.  Sans Soucy is a member of the SoVA Wine Trail.  Both wineries at the Lynchburg Market offer tastings.  The Lynchburg area is also extremely close to the Bedford Wine Trail, hosting unique wineries such as Peaks of Otter (specializing in fruit wines, not necessarily from grapes).  In nearby Nelson County, you can find a host of fine wineries and breweries with delightful offerings — including some of my favorites, Lovingston Winery (by appointment only) and Devil’s Backbone Brewery.
  • A gift of luxury?  What’s better than a massage or pedicure?  Luckily, Lynchburg is home to some amazing spas and salons.  Acorn Hill Lodge & Spa offers a chocolate truffle body wrap that is divine.  Trust me, I know, HB gave me one for my birthday last year.  And if you’re looking for a manicure or pedicure (or both!) in Lynchburg, look no further than the Parlor Spa downtown.  The Parlor Spa offers their signature mani and pedi which is amazing, complete with a massage.  The Spa is small and inviting, offering you a glass of wine or a bottle of water while you enjoy your pampering.  Their heated massage chairs are the BEST!  While you’re at it, include lunch at the new Market at Main (I’ve heard their sweet potato pancakes are amazing) just around the corner.
  • Need a last minute gift?  Check out these fun local stores!  The Beeswax Candle Company has a beautiful selection of candles crafted from beeswax, some made right here in Lynchburg!  Their store front downtown has more than just candles, featuring local artists’ paintings, jewelry, and housewares.  Looking for a big gift?  Check out Lynchburg’s own Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Co. for a selection of beautifully crafted furniture.

*Vintage Valentine’s cards from Curly Wurly and Vintage Holiday Crafts.

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Vintage Virginia Apples in North Garden, Virginia, is a family-run orchard founded in 2000 with a focus on preserving heirloom varieties of fruit trees.  What started with a few varieties of apples has grown into over 200 unique varieties of apples, peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines, apricots, and pears.  Many of the varieties grown at VVA are becomingly increasingly rare and hard to find, since many no longer fit the needs of today’s commercial marketing and distribution systems.  In an effort to spread the wealth of heirloom varieties, the nursery at VVA offers hundreds of varieties of heirloom trees for sale, as well as rootstock for use in grafting.

Vintage Virginia Apples is also the home of Ablemarle CiderWorks, a family-run cidery that focuses on making hard cider from locally-produced heirloom apples.  Currently producing three delicious varieties of cider, Albemarle CiderWorks has exceeded expectations in their first year of production.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit and taste their cider offerings, I recommend you put it on your calendar.  The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11am – 5pm.

Vintage Virginia Apples also offers a smattering of workshops throughout the year, focusing on orchard development, pruning, grafting, and cidermaking.  For HB’s birthday I gave him the option of attending any of the workshops or purchasing trees or rootstock.  I think he plans on attending the February 27th workshops for pruning and grafting.  I might have to tag along!

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