The “eat local” movement has swept the nation. Health-conscious consumers and foodies alike are purchasing locally-grown food to support farmers and restaurants in their area. On July 26, almost 50 farms and restaurants in Loudoun County will join forces for an 11-day culinary celebration of local fare. The second annual Farm-to-Fork Loudoun offers restaurant patrons the opportunity to enjoy a truly field-to-table experience.
“If you’re a person who loves to eat local, there couldn’t be a better way to celebrate it,” said Farm-to-Fork Loudoun founder Miriam Nasuti. “I strongly encourage people to come and support what they believe in.”
Nasuti took a big step toward creating a sustainable local food economy in Loudoun County last year. The Leesburg resident decided to launch a countywide project that would build a lasting relationship between local farmers and restaurant owners. Each participating culinary venue features a special Farm-to-Fork Loudoun menu that includes at least 70 percent locally-sourced food from Loudoun farms, with libations from area vineyards, breweries and distilleries.
The community immediately embraced Nasuti’s idea. Restaurant owners and farmers were eager for an introduction and dining establishments that were already working with local farmers and vintners could now drum up new business. The first Farm-to-Fork Loudoun was a success, reinforcing Nasuti’s belief in promoting the local economic engine.
“The farmers are really working hard with the chefs to make it economically viable,” she said. “The beauty of it is that I get to watch these relationships grow. I can’t even begin to tell you how much joy that brings me. It touches my heart.”
From July 26 to August 5, patrons can choose from 22 participating restaurants featuring locally grown and raised produce, beef, lamb and poultry from 21 farms and a selection of wine, brew and spirits from five vineyards, breweries and distilleries. Go to www.farmtoforkloudoun.com for a full list of participants.
Endless Summer Harvest
36515 Osburn Rd. Purcellville, VA; 540-751-0900; www.esharvest.com
“Always fresh, always local” is the motto of this hydroponic agribusiness. Endless Summer Harvest provides gourmet lettuces and specialty salad greens year-round in a controlled agriculture environment. In 11 years, the family-owned business has never used pesticides or herbicides.
Endless Summer Harvest signed up right away to participate in Farm-to-Fork Loudoun for the second year in a row.
“Farm-to-Fork Loudoun increased our business and introduced our lettuce to seven new restaurants and chefs,” said Mary Ellen Taylor, president and general manager of Endless Summer Harvest. “Some of them continue to use our products year-round.”
Taylor said Farm-to-Fork Loudoun is a great way to inform the community about the healthy food choices available at local farms. Endless Summer Harvest will provide arugula, watercress and over 12 varieties of gourmet lettuces for participating restaurants.
“We hope all of the restaurants will carry our lettuces during Farm-to-Fork Loudoun,” she said. “Tuscarora Mill, Fire Works Pizza and Magnolias at the Mill carry our lettuce on their menus 52 weeks of the year.”
Endless Summer Harvest’s hydroponic “living” lettuces are sold with the roots still attached to extend freshness and maintain flavor far longer than traditionally harvested lettuce. The agribusiness offers three salad blends including their private label salad, the Loudoun Salad Mix, featuring five varieties of sweet lettuces in different colors, sizes and shapes to ensure an interesting blend. Watercress, frisée and chard are added to the Loudoun Salad Mix to create the European Salad Mix and the Asian blend includes mizuna, red mustard, Pak Choi and leaf broccoli.
Taylor encourages healthy eaters to order from a Farm-to-Fork Loudoun menu.
“This is a premier showcase of local bounty that appeals to all health-conscious consumers,” she said. “Come out and enjoy the bounty of Loudoun County!”
Fire Works Pizza
201 Harrison St. SE, Leesburg, VA; 703-779-8400; www.fireworkspizza.com
Fire Works Pizza is just one of three restaurants owned by Shawn and Kevin Malone participating in this year’s Farm-to-Fork Loudoun. The brothers own Tuscarora Mill and Magnolias at the Mill in addition to their wood-fired pizza restaurant. But the environmentally conscious duo developed their very own farm-based business long before Farm-to-Fork Loudoun came along.
Kevin is considered a pioneer in the local food movement. He was one of the first restaurant owners in Leesburg to seek out produce, dairy and meat from local farmers and farm-based businesses and make them part of the menu at each of his Tuscarora Restaurant Group eateries.
“We have always been a huge supporter of local farms and wineries,” said Curtis Allred, the general manager at Fire Works Pizza. “It’s always great to put our local businesses on a pedestal and celebrate our unique agricultural products and services.”
Allred is pleased to see Farm-to-Fork Loudoun encourage other restaurants throughout the county to adopt the same practice. But to him, it is key to remember that Fire Works Pizza supports local farmers and vignerons year-round. He thinks other restaurants should follow suit.
“These folks work tirelessly through the calendar to make sure that the best, most wholesome and delicious products possible come to your table,” he said. “Support them at the farmers markets and [at] restaurants that are participating.”
Fire Works Pizza and the other two Leesburg restaurants will offer a special appetizer, entrée, dessert and a wide selection of local wines and beers to match on the Farm-to-Fork Loudoun menu.
“We always have many of these ingredients in-house but to put them together in a unique way where they are the main focus will make it even more special,” Allred said.
Fire Works Pizza also has an Arlington location on Clarendon Boulevard.
Practically Country at Bay Haven Farm, LLC
19028 Sullystone Ln. Round Hill, VA; 540-822-0123; www.practicallycountry.com
Practically Country will provide farm fresh eggs from free-range hens and pasture-raised heritage pork for select Farm-to-Fork Loudoun menus. This will be the product side of Bay Haven Farm’s first year participating in the “locavore” project.
The 40-acre farm, situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a family-run operation. Owner Anna Cohen and her family started out breeding and raising critically endangered breed animals such as the Berkshire pig and the pure Spanish goat before adding Practically Country to the mix.
Products include pork, lamb, eggs, a goats’ milk share program and heritage turkeys for the holidays. All of the animals at Bay Haven Farm live outdoors on pasture and are free of hormones and antibiotics.
Cohen has developed some longstanding relationships with restaurants in Northern Virginia including Harth Restaurant in McLean, Mad Fox Brewery in Falls Church and Wildfire Restaurant in Tysons Corner. But with the recent increase in the farm’s pork production, she thought Farm-to-Fork Loudoun might be a good introduction to some new chef partners and a way to increase name recognition.
“I think Farm-to-Fork Loudoun is a great way to promote this movement from both sides of the table, [as] the supplier and the provider,” Cohen said. “We are supportive of the effort but wish it was something that was not only a weeklong celebration but something that was done actively on a regular basis. We are starting to see restaurants pop up that try to [serve] strictly fresh local farm products all year around.”
Practically Country products will be on the menu at Grandale Farm Restaurant, Belmont Country Club and Aiyara Thai Restaurant during the local food celebration. Cohen is looking forward to this opportunity.
“I think it’s a great occasion not only to be able to support local restaurants and farmers, but to taste some excellent food that is locally produced and grown,” she said.
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
42461 Lovettsville Rd. Lovettsville, VA; 540-822-9017; www.patowmackfarm.com
Executive Chef Chris Edwards thought long and hard about what The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm could do to highlight the second annual Farm-to-Fork Loudoun. Last year, the restaurant served an elaborate tasting menu paired with local wines. But Edwards had something much more rustic in mind for this year’s celebration. He decided to serve the best hamburger in town.
“I just thought that would be fun to switch it up since we are known for a fine dining, destination experience,” Edwards said.
The restaurant will also offer some composed appetizer dishes with a focus on a few singular ingredients, but Edwards will wait to see what inspiration the food brings.
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm has been on board with Farm-to-Fork Loudoun since day one. Built on the same philosophy, it felt only natural to support the project and spread the word. Edwards said it’s always been a goal of his to share the benefits of sourcing foods locally with others, be it family and friends or other restaurateurs and chefs.
“Supporting local farmers not only supports the community, it also contributes to a healthier life style,” he said. “Most small farms utilize much more sustainable farming practices than a factory farm would. This is better for the land and contributes to a reduction of pesticides and unnatural products in our food source, resulting in a safer and much [healthier] product.”
The restaurant will use products from Quarterbranch Farm, Potomac Vegetable Farm and Oakland Green Beef. Edwards views Farm-to-Fork Loudoun as a great chance to get to know a new restaurant that you can trust to source responsibly and take pride in its operation.
“We have such an array of agricultural resources within arm’s reach and to be able to highlight this connection is a valuable opportunity for everyone involved,” he said. “Please come out to support the local farmers. It is chance for you to make a statement. Let us celebrate and support our local farmers and restaurants, all while having a good time and some good food.”
Farm-to-Fork Loudoun takes place throughout Loudoun County from July 26 to August 5. For more information on Farm to Fork menus and participating restaurants, visit www.farmtoforkloudoun.com.