I search Virginia on my day off looking for local farmers. I found the Darden's. They farm veggies and have a great little general store just before you get to Smithfield. They hang about 900 salt cured hams and peppered aged and smoked. they don't require soaking, just wash and slice like prosciutto, boil and\or bake them. very good stuff here. I found them by accident, I was on the way to another farm that once we ate the ham biscuit I had to have a tour of the ham house. It is just crazy, Dee Dee and her husband Tommy hang them in February and they are ready around august. To reach the Darden's General Store call 757-357-6791 or at 16249 Bowling Green Rd, Smithfield, Va 23430
I have been using this farm for a few years now, Judy now even has eggs, added some black berry bushes and all kind of greens and veggies. Judy works the land, the store and the peacocks. she has some beautiful veggies and the best okra I've found up here in the mid-Atlantic area. Right now she has the biggest Hubbard Squash I've seen and the flavor is very earthy, rich dark orange meat with a buttery flavor on the finish. She rocks, she's in Chesapeake about 5 miles from me so I go there early before the tourist get there so I can get the best picks of the day. To reach her call Clark Farm, they'll give good directions CLARKE FARM, 3831 BRUCE ROAD, CHESAPEAKE, VA23321 757-484-6000 or http://www.clarkefarm1.com/
One of my good friends and farmer Curtis Hall has a family farm in the Great Bridge area of Chesapeake and mostly grows crops for grocers but he also lets me have a bit, incredible corn and the best greens, he does a mix of Hanover, mustard and collards which I also get the benefit of.
Lauran and Mike Kauffman from the Norfolk are Honey Bee keepers. I you want to host a hive they'll hook you up. They maintain the bees and hive as well, they just need people who'll host these guys so they can take care of the neighborhood and really up to 20ish miles a day and still come back to the queen bee, make some babies and more honey, what a man, anyway you can contact them at this number, 757.623.2052 and tell them syd sent u.
My ole Sous Chef, Gail Hobbs and her hubby Daniel have had for some time a goat farm and just about 2 or 3 years ago they got their certification for their dairy and now I get great cheeses from them up there near Charlottesville, a town called Esmont and some dam good cheese she makes, been in the Southern Living Magazine, just about all papers you can find to read and really just take my word, call her and eat her cheese. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her hi for me.
Bruce Edmunds of Sam Rust Seafood is a good friend and has a small but great little fish company that he and his brother run. Bruce does frequent fishing excursions he says are product hunting. I call it 'I've gone fishing' day and he still manages to bring in some great local and distant caught fish. Currently he is bringing in some big Alaskan Halibut, Coho Salmon and now Rock or Stripper Bass is starting to run again. Bad news, you can buy from him, he's wholesale but follow the link and if you want a product that u can't find he can tell you if it's available, where u can get it and he may even be able to sell it to you. Bruce Edmonds [Bruce@samrust.com]
On the Eastern Shore of Virginia there is a Winery I am especially fond of called Chatham Vineyard just past Eastville. His wines are some of the best I've had in Virginia in a long time. His approach is very much like that of the Frenchman in Bordeaux. go www.chathamvineyards.com and see his vineyard, his dad even helps with the winery and grapes. he gave me some merlot grapes and I'm making some jelly for Sunday brunch.
I have become a farmer of sorts myself. curing some hams, make sausage, growing tabasco's just to name a few and I grown food across the street at my house for stove. I have some bee hives which this year I'm glad about that so not only will my blooms love it but I'll also have some honey too.
I also use a lot of produce, fish and oysters from the eastern shore this year. W.T. over at the Picket Harbor Farm just once you hit land on the shore has almost everything, peaches, blackberries, tomatoes of all kinds, i mean lots of stuff and he has a market right on the farm so go there. H.M. is a great crabber on the bay side, Tom the oyster man on the bay side but also on the sea side as well plus Eddie Bell in oyster virginia, dam good and salty oysters. there's more, pigs, produce, even wine at Chatham Vineyard as i mentioned above. i love the shore and will always go there even if i don't need any foods it just fun and beautiful, go check it out
Enjoy and support small local sustainable farms, it's healthier for u and helps small businesses which are the back bone of America, the end. xo sydney