Almost 15 years ago, John Kluge (a wealthy entrepreneur known for his television empire) donated a large estate called Morven Farm to the University of Virginia. This estate is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in Charlottesville and almost immediately upon arrival you begin wondering how YOU could live here. Today it is now home to the Morven Summer Institute (summer classes that teach ecology through hands-on experience or the politics of the farmers market) and the Morven Kitchen Garden.
On only a single acre of land, students and volunteers practice sustainable farming techniques, including using natural pest deterrents (planting onions, lavender or other smelly crops near susceptible and delicious plants), studying sunflower movements, bee-keeping, and more. They also offer a Community Supported Agriculture program from May through October (I know, I am conveniently a week late, but hey, now you know for the spring). A CSA is a local “share-based” system in which a community can guarantee the purchase of products through the purchase of shares. Each share becomes a “box” with the seasonal products from local farms on a regular basis. The USDA refers to CSA’s as “alternative farming”– a direct contradiction to the status quo of mass-production. A CSA provides the community with a connection to its food as well as supporting and caring about activities at locals farms.
Organizations like Greens to Grounds (which also gets products from local producers through October) also provide UVA students with the opportunity to participate in a CSA. G2G collects order forms from students, staff, et cetera in the community and helps connect those orders to the producers in the area. Boxes can cost around $10 with a few more dollars for any extras.
When it’s back in season, I recommend you get on ordering from G2G and see what’s happening with food grown in the MKG. Participating in these programs could make you more involved with your food– and be more sustainable (local, encouraging alternative practices, community-based, et cetera).