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July 02, 2012

As biosolids applications begin, practice still has champions and detractors

DailyProgressBy Ian Lamb
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, July 2, 2012

Driving down a country road in Albemarle County, one would hardly think twice seeing the small sign posted along a driveway. About the size of a “For Sale” sign and forest green, it often escapes the notice of passing motorists.

20120605-AdventureFarmThis sign on Earlysville Road gives public notice that a farm is going to be applying biosolids as fertilizer. The sludge comes from wastewater facilities after it has been treated to reduce pollutants and pathogens. Biosolids can be disposed of through incineration or buried in a landfill, but they can also be used as fertilizer on farms.

Since 2007, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has been in charge of issuing companies permits, and ensures that the companies applying the biosolids follow strict regulations, such as not allowing livestock to graze on biosolid-affected land for 30 days. Although the permits cost the companies around $5,000, the fertilizer is free for the farmer.

Currently, the only two companies permitted to deposit biosolids in Albemarle are Remington-based ReCyc Systems and Synagro, a national organization. As of May, 277 dry tons of biosolids have been dumped in the county this calendar year, all by ReCyc Systems.

ReCyc Systems receives most of its sludge from the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant, operated by the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority. Some is also received from the Maryland Correctional Institution Wastewater Plant, south of Hagerstown.

Continue reading "As biosolids applications begin, practice still has champions and detractors" »

July 01, 2012

Love in a jar, jobs in the community

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, July 1, 2012

On Saturday mornings, you will find at least two of them at the Charlottesville City Market. The four women of the Vinegar Hill Project Women’s Canning Cooperative have dedicated themselves to canning local food and teaching others the craft.

As they grow their new business, they hope the love they put into each jar (it’s listed on the ingredients) will lead to job opportunities for other local residents and an appreciation for the businesses lost when Vinegar Hill was razed in the name of 1960s urban renewal.

Credit: Sabrina Schaeffer, The Daily Progress
Vinegar Hill Project Women’s Canning Cooperative: (L to R) Mary Burton, Denise Arnold, and Viola Friday

Albemarle resident Viola Friday moved to the community in 1970. She retired from a position in the pediatric billing office at the University of Virginia Medical Center in 2009. It was the canning cooperative that brought her back to work.

“It’s pretty exciting and I am learning a lot about canning,” Friday said. “My mother canned … but then she stopped while I was young and I didn’t really get into it.”

After each City Market, other vendors donate leftover food suitable for canning. On one recent Saturday, the co-op was selling apple sauce and peach preserves from the previous week’s market leftovers.

Growing up in Louisa, Friday said her family would visit Vinegar Hill in downtown Charlottesville each week.

“Vinegar Hill was an African-American community, and there were 29 businesses on Vinegar Hill,” Friday said. “We are African-Americans, and I just think it’s a good idea to use that name to bring back the Vinegar Hill business [tradition].”

Continue reading "Love in a jar, jobs in the community" »

June 08, 2012

Panorama Farms to begin hosting weddings

DailyProgressBy Ian Lamb
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, June 8, 2012

An Albemarle County favorite for compost, cross country and camping is moving toward a new cause — marriage.

The county’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to grant Panorama Farms a permit allowing special events such as weddings to be held on the farm.

The barn at Panorama Farms. Photos provided by Margaret Murray Bloom.

The permit launches a new business for Panorama Farms, owned by the Murray family since 1953, as they join a growing event venue industry in the county’s rural area. The 700-acre farm, located between Earlysville Road and the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, is already known in the community for Panorama Pay-Dirt, its compost farm, as well as for hosting both the A.R.C. Natural History Day Camp and cross country races.

“We have tried to find new uses for the farm and kind of go with the times,” said Panorama’s events manager, Margaret Murray Bloom. “At this time, the wedding business is thriving in the county.”

From hay to livestock to active campers, the barn is evolving to include a functional wedding site complete with bridal dressing rooms, a “luxury restroom trailer,” and picturesque ceremony locations.

The idea for using the existing 19th-century barn as a venue grew out of several private weddings held there over the years. After family members’ and friends’ weddings, the Murray family decided that it was time to share the site with the public.

Continue reading "Panorama Farms to begin hosting weddings" »

May 12, 2012

Locavore expo puts spotlight on area’s local farmers and food innovators

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Charlottesville City Market was bigger than ever Saturday morning — literally. As part of the Tom Tom Founders Festival, the market area was expanded for a Locavore Expo to celebrate and educate the community about local food.

Expo organizer Natasha Sienitsky, a member of the Charlottesville Planning Commission, said local food complimented the festival’s innovation program.

“I think it’s a natural fit for the innovation series because it’s an area that our community has been particularly innovative in,” said Sienitsky. “It’s something there is clearly passion for in the community.”

Locavore Expo organizer Natasha Sienitsky

Listen using player above or download the podcast:
Download 20120512-TTFF-Locavore

While parents made their market purchases, Sienitsky made sure the more youthful locavores had learning opportunities too.

“We had seed ball making for kids, and we did veggie prints with them,” Sienitsky said. “The whole idea is that by getting kids excited and engaged about food, and seeds and planting and harvesting, that will create the next generation of consumers who feel passionately about local food.”

Sienitsky and her husband Oliver Platts-Mills, who co-founded the Tom Tom festival with Paul Beyer, hosted a panel discussion on local foods inside the South Street Brewery.

Representatives from Albemarle County, the Local Food Hub, the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, and the Piedmont Environmental Council talked about their work. They described a wide variety and scale of local food initiatives in the community.

Continue reading "Locavore expo puts spotlight on area’s local farmers and food innovators" »

May 11, 2012

Leaders say unique qualities of Charlottesville-Albemarle make it a special place for start-up companies

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, May 11, 2012

As one of almost 60 bands in the Tom Tom Founders Festival was setting up its equipment on the stage at The Haven, Oliver Platts-Mills was busy getting the ironing board in place for the pre-concert activities.

Oliver Platts-Mills poses a question to Albemarle Supervisor Ann H. Mallek

The improvised green ironing board table and stuffed animal buffalo mascot have become fixtures of the festival’s panel discussions on innovation.

“The idea behind this series is to look at the ongoing innovation in Charlottesville and the future of innovation in Charlottesville,” said Platts-Mills, a Tom Tom co-founder. “When we talk about ‘place-based innovation,’ we are specifically talking about how Charlottesville as a place affects the type of innovation that’s happening.”

Listen using player above or download the podcast:
Download 20120511-TTFF-IS

The month-long series of panel discussions wrapped up Friday evening with an inside look at local startup Relay Foods and a keynote presentation by the chairwoman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, representatives from the University of Virginia and Virginia’s secretary of commerce.

“I would generally describe the efforts of Albemarle County as [being in] the quality of life business,” said Albemarle board Chairwoman Ann H. Mallek. “We know that we need economic vitality and opportunity all across the board for citizens of all skill levels, and we need to find ways to preserve and conserve our rural areas.”

UVa’s vice president for research, Tom Skalak, described how the university is trying very hard to increase knowledge sharing and dissemination with the local community.

“We are doing a number of things to make the university much more outward-facing,” Skalak said.

“There’s been a real effort in recent years to improve the whole ecosystem,” added Philippe L. Sommer, director of entrepreneurship programs at UVa’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. “It’s not just about what is going on at UVa, or Darden, it’s about what’s going on in the whole community and trying to make that interface much more dynamic.”

Continue reading "Leaders say unique qualities of Charlottesville-Albemarle make it a special place for start-up companies" »

April 26, 2012

Sustainability innovations shared on local food, buildings, and autos

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Tom Tom Founders Festival continued its series of weekly innovation talks Wednesday with a panel discussion examining Charlottesville-based entrepreneurs working in the field of sustainability and sustainable design.

20120425-TomTom-IS2B“My interest was to bring a conversation around innovation to Charlottesville,” said Tom Tom co-founder Oliver Platts-Mills.  “It is stylized after SXSW in Austin.”

Pam Haley, a former NASA engineer from the Tidewater area, said she came to the event because she has long been interested in innovation.

“I also came last week and was thrilled to see what’s going on in this community.,” said Haley.  “This is why I left Tidewater.”

Haley, a nine-month resident of Charlottesville, added that before the Tom Tom festival, she had been reluctant to move her furniture into her new home.

“Last week was the first time I felt like I might be in the right place,” Haley said.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120425-TTFF-IS

Platts-Mills assembled a panel of five local innovators to share their experiences before a group of almost 40 people.

Continue reading "Sustainability innovations shared on local food, buildings, and autos" »

March 30, 2012

Soundboard 3-30-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source


Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120330-Soundboard

The March 30 show features contributors Giles Morris & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Charlottesville residents celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the health reform law
  • VDOT’s change of plans for the Western Bypass construction
  • Guest Toan Nguyen on the innovative project between the Community Investment Cooperative and Tom Tom Founders Festival
  • land use planning in Charlottesville
  • Guest Kevin Pujanauski on the first Startup Weekend in Virginia for entrepreneurs
  • the upcoming weekend of music with Soundscapes of Jefferson’s America
  • Guest John Donnelly on PVCC’s associate degree program for the inmates of the Fluvanna Women’s Correctional Facility
  • Guest Paul Hughes on the Virginia Food Heritage project
  • and the 10-miler that kicks off tomorrow morning

We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!




March 28, 2012

Event discusses past, present and future of locally grown food

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Increasing awareness of how closely Central Virginia’s history is tied to farms and produce was the topic of discussion at the first Central Virginia Food Heritage Gathering.

20120326-Food-Heritage-CTMonday’s event welcomed those invested in increasing local food efforts to share stories and recipes, and to even swap seeds.

“The hope of this project is that by building what we know about our food heritage we will be able to grow a local food system that promotes our food-based heritage,” said Tanya Denckla Cobb, associate director for the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia and one of the founders of the Virginia Food Heritage Project.

The event featured interview stations to capture locals’ food-related memories and displayed maps where attendees could mark historical food production sites such as farmers’ markets and mills. The Virginia Food Heritage Project will use this information to create an interactive map that will be posted online, allowing anyone to contribute knowledge of historical food sites.

Denckla Cobb stated that the positive impacts of food heritage on the local economy are significant. She briefly named cider, tomatoes and beans as local products that possibly could increase economic vitality of agriculture in the region.

Continue reading "Event discusses past, present and future of locally grown food " »

December 21, 2011

Biosolids legislation not likely in coming General Assembly session

By Sean Tubbs & Kurt Walters
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Albemarle County staff have told the Board of Supervisors that legislation to further restrict land application of treated human waste, known as biosolids, is not likely to be passed in the near future.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is in the process of adopting new regulations to govern biosolids. They were approved by the State Water Control Board in late summer but have not yet taken effect.

“Our suspicion is that the General Assembly will probably be reluctant to address [biosolids] until the new regulations play out to see whether or not they are sufficient protections for the concerns that have been raised,” said county attorney Larry Davis.

Albemarle County, as with all Virginia localities, cannot pass ordinances to prevent the use of biosolids. The county does have authority to perform inspections of treated land to verify compliance with state regulations.

Nearly 1,900 dry tons of treated waste were spread on Albemarle County fields this year through the end of November, according to DEQ records. The material comes from wastewater treatment plants in Washington D.C. and other large cities.

Continue reading "Biosolids legislation not likely in coming General Assembly session" »

October 28, 2011

Albemarle Supervisors candidates on county rural areas



In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.


image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.com How will you support preserving the rich agrarian tradition and texture of our rural areas? 



Rivanna District

Ken Boyd (R) – Incumbent

Protection of our rural areas is very much a priority with all of our citizens here.  I have, and I still do, support the [Acquisition of Conservation Easements] (ACE) program during times when the local economic engine is humming, so to speak, and when there’s money in the coffers to support it.  In recent economic times my emphasis has been based upon support of our agribusiness and our improved ordinances allowing for more farm markets, local food sales, and success of our wineries.  All very positive, free-market means of maintaining a vibrant rural economy.  Protecting our rural areas will continue to be a high priority of mine, along with protecting personal property rights.


Cynthia Neff (D) - Challenger

Continue reading "Albemarle Supervisors candidates on county rural areas" »