Photojournalist: David Tate
Roanoke County, VA - A national trend that is really starting to gain steam in the Roanoke Valley got a boost Monday.
A new networking event designed to help link local farmers interested in finding restaurants who want to keep their produce locally grown.
For those who look to buy local, the reasons are numerous, as are the benefits.
After teaching mathematics at a Big Ten University, Kathleen O'Hara decided small scale produce production was more for her, so she turned to a Virginia Tech backed agriculture program to realize her new goals.
"I have a greenhouse here on Catawba Sustainability Center land and I lease it," said Kathleen O'Hara, a supplier.
O'Hara is one of a new breed of farmers that are focused on providing local restaurants with quality, organic, locally grown food to help quench the thirst of a growing market for such products.
"Oh it's wonderful. It's a great deal. I have a group of 12 to 15 farmers looking for markets," she said.
Diane Elliot, owner of Local Roots Restaurant, sees the trend too and is answering the call.
"The restaurant is about wholesome, fresh, organic sustainably produced food," Elliot said.
Already on the tip of the spear she operates the only "Field to Fork", or in her case "Farm to Fork" restaurant in Roanoke and business is doing well.
"People read a lot and they know what the chemicals are doing to us, to the children, to the animals," Elliot said.
And that's great news for O'Hara who is looking to grow as the business of small-time growing gets bigger and better every year.
"I think we're going to see a lot more of it. People are worried on a national level about food security so this is one way of seeking other ways of ensuring we know where our food is coming from," O'Hara said.
If you're interested in joining this network of "Field to Fork", call the Catawba Sustainability Center at 540-767-6114.
They can help get you started or get you pointed in the right direction based on where you live in our viewing area.