Virginia Food Heritage Project to Debut at Monticello's Heritage Harvest Festival

September 14, 2011

September 13, 2011 — The Virginia Food Heritage Project invites community members who are knowledgeable about Central Virginia's unique place-based food heritage to visit the Virginia Food Heritage Project booth at the Fifth Annual Heritage Harvest Festival, to be held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Monticello.

This will be the project's first opportunity to share its mission and meet those who are passionate for heritage foods in the community. It also marks the project's first opportunity to gather information from the community, tapping into the vast knowledge of community members about this region's food heritage.

At the booth, volunteers will help visitors share their knowledge about placed-based foods and traditions in Virginia's central piedmont region in several ways. Visitors will be able to "Map Your Food Memory" on an interactive display, where they can mark specific food heritage sites that were important for food production, processing, distribution or sale. The volunteers will collect information about specific heritage varieties or animal breeds that may now be extinct, threatened or endangered, or are still here in abundance. A quick survey will be provided to share with others who have knowledge to contribute.

The booth will also give away food heritage basket door prizes and old-fashioned cookbooks from Central Virginia will be on display.

The Virginia Food Heritage Project is a collaborative, community-based pilot project that envisions a greater understanding and documentation of our food heritage to enhance our regional sustainability and resilience. Led by the University of Virginia's Institute for Environmental Negotiation, the project's partners include the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning in the U.Va. School of Architecture, the U.Va. Food Collaborative, the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics in the U.Va. College of Arts & Sciences, the Fluvanna County Historical Society, Morven  Heritage Garden, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Fluvanna Cooperative Extension.

The project's initial focus is a pilot project, with funding from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties. Ideally the project will grow and be replicated in other regions in the state.

The core activity of the project is to gather, document and publish information on four aspects of our food heritage: 

•    Identify at-risk, threatened and endangered place-based heritage foods, seeds and animal breeds unique to the central piedmont;
•    Identify and map heritage food and agricultural sites, such as mills and granaries, canneries, butcheries and cideries;
•    Identify heritage food production areas, such as areas where specific crops were traditionally grown; and
•    Record and collect personal stories and memories of culturally significant food and agriculture practices, including written and audio-visual documentation.

For information about the Virginia Food Heritage Project, visit  or contact David Abell at

Participants at Saturday's Heritage Harvest Festival will enjoy traditional tastings, workshops, hands-on demonstrations, interpretive walks and garden tours and exhibits. The goal of the festival is to promote a fun, affordable, family-oriented, educational event celebrating gardening, sustainability, local foods and preservation of heritage plants. More information about the Heritage Harvest Festival is available here.

— By Jane Ford

Media Contact

Jane Ford

Senior News Officer U.Va. Media Relations