Sperryville photographer (and farmer) Molly M. Peterson heard last week she’ll be collaborating on a new book with Berryville farmer (and writer) Forrest Pritchard, author of this year’s well-received “Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm.” (Peterson shot the cover photo for “Gaining Ground,” Pritchard’s first book.)
The new book, tentatively titled “The Face of Our Farms,” will document sustainable farmers across the country, Prichard said via Facebook, with words, photos and (from the farmers themselves) recipes. Expect Molly (who also just opened the new Heritage Hollow Farms store with husband Mike and mom Suzee) to be on the road a bit more often in 2014 — and the Lyons Press book to be out in 2015.
Jane and Michael Stern, proprietors of the popular RoadFood.com website, visited Sperryville’s Triple Oak Bakery last month, working on a travel story for the high-end food magazine Saveur (for an issue next fall).
“A Friday morning, we are madly making oatcakes and a nice tourist couple comes in to check out the bakery,” says Brooke Parkhurst, Triple Oak’s founder and gluten-free free spirit. “As they’ve read the menu board outside, the man orders for both of them. As I walk to the refrigerator to get their order my brain is turning over slowly . . . his voice is awfully familiar . . . and holy cow, that’s Michael and Jane Stern!”
The Sterns (whose website also recently featured Flint Hill’s 24 Crows and Rudy’s Pizza in Sperryville) have been doing reviews of “good diners, dives and drive-ins” since the early ’70s, Parkhurst says, and also have a segment on the popular public radio show, “The Splendid Table.”
“They enjoyed their apple pie and mocha cake out by the Thornton River and left after taking some photos,” she says. “They returned the next morning for the Triple Oak continental breakfast and stayed for several hours. They were under contract to do a travel piece for Saveur on driving the Blue Ridge, in which Triple Oak Bakery will be featured, along with the well-known Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton.”
Little Washington Wellness and Spa starts up this week a new “Outdoor Wellness” program, led by Rappahannock native Aron Weisgerber, owner of Mountain Adventures of Virginia, graduate of Hearthstone School and (thus) a lifelong Waldorf student. At Prescott College in Arizona, Weisgerber studied outdoor education, wilderness leadership, photography and a lot of other related subjects. Back in Rappahannock, he teaches at Hearthstone and also offers outdoor summer-camp experiences.
The spa is offering Weisgerber’s services for all-day and half-day hikes, the latter combined with some of the spa’s massage and indoor treatments, and kids packages. Call 540-675-1031 or visit littlewashingtonspa.com for more details.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business’ Institute for Business in Society (IBiS) recently announced winners of its 2013 Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards competition included, from the agriculture sector, the Culpeper Farmer’s Cooperative, owners of our own Rappahannock Farmer’s Coop. The award is made to those businesses in Virginia that display “growth, a dogged entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community in areas facing high unemployment, high poverty and low entrepreneurial activity.”
“The Resilience Awards recognize small businesses that do things the right way. These companies foster innovation, strengthen communities and create jobs,” said Darden professor and IBiS academic director Greg Fairchild. “Over the past few years I’ve been amazed at the dedication and perseverance that these business owners demonstrate.”
The recipients were selected from 13 finalists and dozens of Virginia businesses that submitted applications this spring and summer. CFC, established in 1932 to provide quality service and products that benefit and contribute to the agricultural community, was to IBiS a “shining example of resilience.”
For the agriculture industry, the last decade has been marked with unusual volatility — heavily fluctuating market prices and a significant decrease in usable farm land due to increased development both nationally and locally. In response to these challenges, the cooperative updated credit account practices and streamlined inventories and product offerings at each of its five retail stores. It also became one of only two feed mills in Virginia that are Safe Feed/Safe Food certified, annually purchasing more than 800,000 bushels of locally grown grain.
Over the past four years, the Coop has donated more than $120,000 to 4-H and Future Farmers of America in the communities of Culpeper, Fauquier and Rappahannock.
“Some of our best strategic moves have come from the flexibility that we have due to our size. We encourage our individual stores to think outside the box, and when they find a successful niche we try to replicate it at other locations,” said general manager David Durr.