Creative marketing of local foods. A surging wine industry. Maintaining and revitalizing a treasured equine property. A behind-the-scenes view of National Ag Policy. These were some of the themes observed as the VALOR fellows experienced Urban Agriculture during Seminar Five in Northern Virginia & Washington DC.
I must admit that I take my close proximity to DC for granted. In being a lifelong resident of Shenandoah County, I’ve always lived on the outskirts of the hustle and bustle that is DC. Maybe that’s because my thoughts of city life include traffic and an urban setting that is less appealing to me than a rural lifestyle. But in looking back at our Northern Virginia seminar, this region has more agriculture to offer than I initially thought.
Sure, large scale commodity operations are limited in Northern Virginia. But this area has ~ 1/3 of the state’s population and offers endless diversity and opportunity for new operators in agriculture. Seeing the growth of the local foods movement and the wine industry is very encouraging, and opportunities are abundant for farmers to meet this demand.
Upon returning home from this Seminar, it has become more apparent that leaders in agriculture must continue to inform and educate urban citizens of the importance of agriculture and the food and fiber system. Is the rural and urban disconnect a key reason why Congress continues to struggle to pass a new Farm Bill? Maybe. Do we need to step back and engage in some Crucial Conversations over food production and distribution? Probably.
This is another blog post by VALOR fellow Ken Ryan. Stay tuned for a plethora of blog posts by other fellows in the upcoming days as we prepare for Seminal 6 at the Northern Neck. Follow me on the social media outlets of: The VALOR Blog, Facebook site, and Twitter.