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. A collaboration of growers, gardeners, community planners, historians, conservationists, scholars and many others, the project seeks to gather local knowledge about local agriculture and food heritage, and to use this knowledge to inform decision-making that will shape our landscape and our lives for years to come.
This is a unique effort in Virginia, developed and led by IEN. The initial focus is conducting a pilot project, with funding from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, in the city of Charlottesville and surrounding counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. Ideally the project will grow and be replicated in other regions in the state.
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