Wednesday, Jul. 16
EDITORIAL: Loudoun’s balanced meal
When talk turns to progress in Loudoun County it’s easy to look in the wrong direction. Data centers, developments and Silver Linings set our sights east. We see construction, congested roads and expansive exurbia rising on the ground. That’s growth and it’s good for the economic welfare of the county.
But now a fresh take on progress is emerging from our roots. Look west to the 1,400 farms and farmettes that sprout from Loudoun’s traditional character. You’ll see a growing economy that sustains fertile land. Progress owes to a re-consideration of farming and the current appetite for organic, locally grown food.
Loudoun’s new growers go by many names, some not associated traditionally with agriculture. They are vintners, craft brewers, cidermakers, produce farmers and “incubator farmers.”
At Morven Park, once the home of a Virginia governor, many of the 1,000 acres on the northern edge of ever-urban Leesburg are dedicated to bringing in a harvest. A garlic farmer, one of the “incubators” at Morven, just brought in 15,000 heads of garlic. Trent Trebbe, a grains farmer, had to re-equip his combine to finish harvesting the rye at Morven.
Beyond Leesburg, farming has gone high-end with high-value produce, fruits, vegetables, hops, grapes and other crops. The county’s economic development department believes the farming economy -- the old tag “rural economy” just doesn’t fit any more -- can double in the next decade with each of the main crops accounting for millions of dollars in economic impact.
There are other benefits. Farming the land cultivates the land. It also saves it.
"The idea is if we are farming more of our land we won't develop more of our land," says Doug Fabbioli, chair of the Rural Economic Development Committee and owner of Fabbioli Vineyards.
By keeping commercial and residential development from its relentless march, the county also exhausts fewer resources to support costly infrastructure projects like highways, schools and safety facilities.
Next week, Loudoun County begins an 11-day culinary celebration of locally sourced foods. More than 20 restaurants will offer a “Farm-to-Fork” menu that features food and wine from 13 county farms and eight wineries. Inspired by the "locavore" (eating locally) movement sweeping the nation, Farm-to-Fork cultivates stronger ties between Loudoun’s deep-rooted farming community and its vibrant, growing culinary marketplace.
The movement is about buying food directly from people who are producing food on a small scale. Usually it's better. But it’s also about a local economy that produces food close to where it is consumed.
That’s a balanced meal for everyone who lives and eats here.
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