Saving Our Past For Our Future
No comprehensive survey or documentation of the food and farming heritage of central Virginia exists, and we are slowly losing the opportunity to gather home-grown knowledge about hundreds of plants native to our region from a fading generation.
The Virginia Food Heritage Project (http://vafoodheritage.wordpress.com/) seeks to fill this gap. Our most recent effort is the launching of our Food Heritage Map! Our goal is to make the Food Heritage Map a great resource for locating and learning more about Virginia’s rich food heritage. Visitors can look through old recipes, read stories or view videos, learn about area festivals and more on our map. The map can be used by area farmers, retailers, and service providers that work with heritage foods as a way to advertise their products and services. We feel this aspect of our project is as important if not more important than simply educating the public about food heritage. We believe the key to the success of our project is to get people eating and enjoying foods that represent their local food heritage.
The Virginia Food Heritage Project, and our map, is a unique effort in Virginia, developed and led by IEN. The collaborative steering committee members represent numerous local governments, not-for-profits, institutions, and interested individuals. (see below). The steering committee has an evolving membership, so if you’re interested in becoming involved, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The core activity of the project is to gather, document and publish information on four aspects of our food heritage:
- Identify at-risk, threatened and endangered place-based heritage foods, seeds, and animal breeds unique to the central Piedmont;
- Identify and map heritage food and agricultural sites, such as mills and graineries, canneries, butcheries and cideries, as well as heritage food production areas, such as areas where specific crops were traditionally grown; and
- Identify ways in which our heritage place-based foods can be protected and revitalized
- Record and collect personal stories and memories of culturally significant food and agriculture practices – including written and audio-visual documentation (“Food Heritage StoryCorps”).
- Ideas for economic development around food heritage, produced by the students in our Spring 2012 course on Virginia Food Heritage.
- Short films about Central Virginia Food Heritage produced by students, volunteers and interns