The country comes to the city

Posted: October 2, 2012

The Winchester Star

Winchester — The Frederick County Farm Bureau is launching an agriculture movement this week that organizers hope will eventually spread to the entire state and beyond.

Winchester’s Main Street Agriculture will bring the country to the city Saturday to promote the importance of agriculture to area residents, said Dee Cook, event coordinator and membership development specialist for the Virginia Farm Bureau in Richmond.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at different locations on the Loudoun Street Mall. It will feature farm producer exhibits, animals, agriculture-related vendors, live music, cooking demonstrations and children’s activities. The event is free and open to the public.

The activities on the mall will be followed from 4 to 6 p.m. by a wine garden and wine growing educational event at the George Washington Hotel, she said.

“It is not an event; it is the launch of a movement,” Cook said. “It is about homecoming and bringing people back to rebuild community strength the way it used to be, prospering the local community, and recognizing that farmers are business people, too.”

Main Street Agriculture also is a pilot program that the Virginia Farm Bureau plans to launch out of Winchester and roll out statewide next year, Cook said.

About 20 vendors will spread out on the mall, offering educational exhibits and selling agriculture-related products, said Kitty Hockman-Nicholas, event chair.

Some of the vendors include Endless Summer Harvest, offering hydroponic lettuce and gourmet greens and herbs; live beehives from Rodeo Bee Co.; Fabbioli Cellars; several farmers selling local vegetables, honey, baked goods and meats, and a Christmas tree farm.

Some of the agencies represented will be Buy Fresh, Buy Local; Animal Welfare Approved, and the Forestry Department.

“Farmers are marketing products, farms and themselves by creating this local movement, which will continue to grow as the months go on,” said Hockman-Nicholas, owner of Hedgebrook Farm in Winchester, which will have a booth.

Another vendor, Terri Rosenthal, owner of Carasan, is hosting the “From farm to fiber to fashion” educational exhibit, Cook said. There will be a spinner, a Winchester hat designer, yarn displays, garments made from natural and organic fibers and a children’s activity to “help them understand that fashion begins on the farm with fiber.”

Cooking demonstrations from four downtown restaurants will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the lawn of the Old Court House Civil War Museum, Hockman-Nicholas said. Chefs from the Dancing Goat, Village Square Restaurant, Thai Winchester and Violino Ristorante Italiano will demonstrate using fresh local ingredients and give out recipes and tips.

Also outside the museum will be music by Linda Lay & Springfield Exit and the Hampshire County String Band and a farm bureau educational exhibit, she said.

A children’s area will be set up at the Hable’s parking lot with activities such as pumpkin painting, face painting, tractor pedal cars, pony rides and animals including sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and Jersey calves, Hockman-Nicholas said.

Frederick County 4-H clubs will bring livestock for the public to see and learn about, she said. The sheep, rabbits, chickens, miniature horses and other animals will be kept at the Feltner parking lot on Boscawen Street. Displays of antique tractors will be set up in both lots.

Down the street, children’s author Vanessa Purdom will sign her book “Caramel Apple Election” and host an election of apples from 10 a.m. to noon at Winchester Book Gallery, 185 N. Loudoun St., Cook said.

At 4 p.m., people can head to the George Washington Hotel for the wine garden, said David Cavallaro, general manager. Winemaker Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli Cellars will offer a free educational program on growing grapes and making wine. Certified Sommelier Debbie Hottinger will discuss how to pair wines with food.

The programs are free. Proceeds from donations will benefit Agriculture in the Classroom, a nonprofit program that offers agriculture studies for the classroom and teacher certifications at no cost to the school.

All of the events are meant to educate the public about the importance of farmland and agriculture, but organizers want do it in a fun and engaging way, Hockman-Nicholas said. “If you are not having fun, you are not going to listen,” she said.

At the end of the day, Cook said she hopes the public has a better understanding of the risks involved to the country with aging farmers, a lack of a new generation to take their place and the continued loss of farm land.

“In little more than three decades, our population will increase by over 33.3 percent,” Cook said. “The demand for food will be up over 70 percent. If we are losing farmland and we are not producing locally, where will we get the food to feed our local communities?”

Information

Winchester’s Main Street Agriculture will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Loudoun Street Mall. The event is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a wine garden and educational event from 4 to 6 p.m. at The Dancing Goat in the George Washington Hotel, 103 E. Piccadilly St. For more information, contact Hockman-Nicholas at 540-323-1472 or Cook at 804-814-6403.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com