While Class IV has already traveled quite a bit, for me, the Northern Virginia/D.C. session was the biggest reminder that agriculture does not look the same everywhere. However, two common threads across the industry are creativity and ingenuity. These characteristics were on full display throughout our stops.

At the Heritage Museum, we saw firsthand how a small group of farmers dedicated to preserving their history made it happen. That battle continues today in increasingly urban Loudoun County, where the agriculture industry is often not a priority for those in charge. The quirky hydroponics operation that is Endless Summer Harvest absolutely screams creativity and ingenuity in everything from its name to the state-of-the-art greenhouse space. Up Top Acres is growing vegetables on a roof in the middle of Washington, D.C. These people saw an opportunity, put their own unique spin on it, and put in the hard work to make it happen. And no matter where you go, isn’t that what agriculture is all about?

Endless Summer Harvest

Speaking of opportunities, we heard a lot about the local food movement and connecting people with where their food comes from. Whether these sources are going to “feed the world” is a debate for another time, but there is no denying that consumers are more interested now than ever about what they are purchasing. I recently learned at a conference that consumers trust their retailers more than anyone when it comes to learning information about food. This is a huge opportunity for producers to partner with entities like Wegmans (who graciously provided us with a wonderful tour and lunch at their store) to get their story out there and become more attainable to customers.

Confirmed: This is sugar water.

VALOR is now headed south to Georgia and South Carolina, and I’m sure I’ll have a tweet or two to share along the way—follow along at @StefanieKitchen!

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