Children’s Clothing Deserves an Encore
Crozet resident Caroline Hirst just opened Encore, a children’s resale clothing shop next to Sam’s Hot Dogs. The shop will be open Tuesday through Sunday: “I’m still adjusting the hours,” Hirst said. Her location positions her so young mothers coming in and out of Santosha Yoga next door can easily stop by. “Sam’s is also a family-type place,” she said. With well-curated clothes and shoes, the shop is uncluttered and sunny, and offers a play area for children. Hirst has plans to partner with other child-oriented retailers in the future. Find more information on the Encore Facebook page, or call Hirst at 434-282-0206.
Crozet Coffee: Keeping it Simple
On their way to growing a couple of large business enterprises, Crozet entrepreneurs Randy Caldejon and Erik Breuhaus took a bit of a side trip. They noticed that freshly roasted coffee choices here were too complicated, too expensive and all roasted somewhere other than Crozet. Realizing it would take endless cups of coffee to fuel their projects, the team invested in a Dietrich 1R-12 roaster and began roasting their own coffee beans at a farm on Half-Mile Branch Road. “So, I guess you could say we’re selling farm-roasted coffee,” said Joel Shindeldecker, Crozet Coffee’s marketing manager.
“Although they’re passionate about good coffee, they didn’t want to make it overly fancy,” Shindeldecker said. He and the owners are the key members of the roasting staff; in fact, “It’s pretty much us,” he said.
There are three different basic coffees, and since the proprietors of the Crozet Coffee Company obviously have a flair for alliteration, they named them Bright, Balanced and Bold, each from a single origin: Ethiopia, Brazil and Nicaragua, respectively, although they’re able to make a special blend if one of their clients requires it. Coming up is a cold brew, and Shindeldecker said it most likely won’t be infused with nitrogen. Their coffee is served or sold locally at Rocket Coffee, Crozet Market, The Rooftop, and Blue Ridge Bottle Shop; at several locations in and around Charlottesville; and online through the company’s website.
Shindeldecker said the public has responded well to the low-key local release. “Our idea was to just have a great cup of coffee, and then get on with your day.”
Local Food Hub Connects Growers, Markets, Consumers
Almost everyone likes to get their food from small local growers, but there are a number of challenges that arise between the farmer and your dinner table, said Portia Boggs of the Local Food Hub. “Farmers often have no time for marketing directly, and can’t grow enough to satisfy the consistency requirements of the neighborhood grocery store.” Or they might not be familiar with all of the regulatory requirements that govern food safety, or they may lack storage facilities.
On the other hand, a growing number of people don’t know the importance of fresh food, or lack the skills necessary to prepare it, or find it much less affordable than cheap processed food.
Enter the Local Food Hub, an innovative non-profit operating from a small commercial park in Ivy, with plenty of ideas to fill the gaps between growers and eaters. Boggs is the Associate Director of Philanthropy. She works from an office in a trailer adjacent to the warehouse space that’s compartmentalized into several large rooms with various degrees of frigidity, from room temperature, to root-cellar temperature, to refrigerator temperature, to freezer.
In late May, several crates of over-wintered apples were in one room; boxes of Hanover broccoli and local asparagus in another. Local beef was stored in the freezer. But in a few weeks, the warehouse will be stuffed with greens and strawberries, early potatoes and local cabbages and chard, followed by high-season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers. Trucks will haul produce from Ivy to huge kitchens at U.Va. as well as smaller operations like Greenwood Gourmet and the Crozet Market.
Lisa Reeder, the Hub’s Farm and Food Access Coordinator, said the storage space as well as the outreach service to local growers allows the staff to collect the produce from several farms and market it to retailers who want to make sure there’s enough for customer demand. They pay the farmer more than conventional wholesalers ($.80 for every dollar in sales, as opposed to $.17). By buying the food outright from the farm, the Hub takes the responsibility for marketing and sales, allowing the farmer’s attention to remain on the farm. Retailers know where the produce comes from, and so do the customers.
The reach of the Hub—from Hanover and Richmond to Northern Virginia––means that the season lasts a little longer. “For instance, Hanover will have strawberries a couple of weeks before local farms do, then our Highland County farm will have them for a couple of weeks after ours are depleted,” Reeder said.
But there’s another piece of the food distribution puzzle, and it’s one that the Local Food Hub is willing to tackle. The large-scale public rejection of vegetables and fruits from childhood onward has been linked to the enormous increase of chronic disease. With the participation of local health clinics, they’ve been able to supply free “prescriptions” of healthy food for those with diet-related ailments, or at risk for them. This is the “Fresh Farmacy,” and it’s showing signs of turning lives around.
Many clients remember eating vegetables at their grandparents, but didn’t grow up knowing how to cook them, Reeder said. So, like all good pharmacists, the folks at the Hub are careful to include storage and use instructions with their prescriptions of kale or tomatoes, as well as rules for overall kitchen hygiene. Some of the recipes were developed by children at the non-profit PB&J Foundation kitchen in Charlottesville.
Some of the testimonials speak to how this “medicine” is being received. One recipient said she’d always been intimidated by cooking vegetables, but the recipes gave her confidence. Another one said her children had never had peaches or pears but it turned out they loved them. Still another said he’d reduced his six medications to three. Bolstering the anecdotal reports are the measurable results from the clinics showing significant improvement in blood pressure, weight and glucose levels.
From the consumer end, it’s all good. We have more local choices, we know our food has been properly handled, and we support the farms that keep our region green and beautiful.
New Home for the Hive
Hive Creative Group has moved from a tiny room upstairs at the Mudhouse to a more visible office in the space recently vacated by Blue Ridge Beads and Glass next door to the Crozet Market. The increase in the size of the office reflects the growth of the enterprise, the brainchild of Mary Beth Bowen and Sarah Scott, both with long experience in helping businesses get their message out.
The two women were following separate paths, Bowen in marketing and Scott in design,
when they met in 2016 and realized that together they could provide a full-service package for clients, offering public relations, social media marketing, graphic design, website design and printing services. They worked together from their home offices before setting up shop together. With the move to a more spacious office, they’ve been able to hire a part-time social media manager, Jessie Beasley, and just recently installed a large-scale printer. With the printer, they’ll be able not only to design, but also print the materials their clients need. Scott owned a sign business for years, so has a good understanding of graphics on a huge scale.
Hive grew by 50 percent last year—mostly through well-established local contacts and word of mouth—and the partners found themselves working with some of the most dynamic and interesting ventures around, including Crozet Pizza, Gearhart’s Chocolate, the Inn at Stinson, Bloomaker, the Spirit Trail and the Downtown Crozet Initiative. They have larger corporate, academic and health care clients as well. They especially seek businesses open to new ideas and who want to use the combined expertise of Hive to guide them through all the steps of a marketing plan.
Scott and Bowen gave an example of how an intimate knowledge of a client’s business can work to solve specific problems. They work with Bloomakers, a family business in Stuarts Draft that grows live plants from bulbs and markets them as design elements. Bloomakers was inundated with calls about care and projected blooming time for their 150 different products until Scott designed a beautiful collar for the glass-enclosed bulbs with hand-made drawings and instructions. They make every effort to understand as much as possible about each business they work with, Scott said.
Bowen said the new, livelier spot has already resulted in people walking in just to say hello. “That’s fine with us,” she said.
Rise Together Launches Summer Program
There’s a bit of a disconnect between intention and reality for today’s students, Gina Christ has found. The long-time school counselor was interested in statistics showing that 87 percent of today’s high schoolers want to pursue higher education, but only 45 percent feel anywhere near ready. That’s where Rise Together, an innovative individual and group mentoring service comes in.
In Rise Together, Gina and her son, Bryan Christ––a Youth and Social Innovation student at U.Va.—offer a mentorship program in Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools, based on a successful program they pioneered in North Carolina. The unique non-profit trains students from U.Va.’s Curry School of Education to serve as mentors to children in middle and high schools.
It wasn’t hard for them to see that there was also a local need for a summer program to help students acquire the skills to thrive in high school as well as college. “It’s not just academics,” Gina said. “Skills like public speaking, managing stress, even filling out forms can be really daunting for children.” And the world is changing so fast that many of the pressures on middle and high school students are unfamiliar even to their parents. In many cases, the students involved are hoping to be the first generation to attend college.
That’s the beauty of teaming up with college mentors, Bryan said. “They really like working with the younger students, and many of them find they have a passion for it.” Testimonials from the older students say the experience has made them aware of the importance of mentoring and establishing a safe place to discuss sensitive issues like race and class, all while developing leadership and confidence in the mentors as well as the teenagers.
The summer program is designed to help 9-12th grade students find their path toward college by providing individual guidance, service projects and internships geared towards future goals, test preparation, and general academic advice. They’ll also meet other students in workshops that teach time and stress management, leadership, entrepreneurial experience, personal determination, and confidence building in-group settings. The individual and group sessions will be offered several times a month during the summer. Gina said the project has already forged great connections with local teachers and counselors during the past year in the school-based program.
Anyone is eligible, Bryan said: “We have students from every imaginable background.” Because of the non-profit status, the cost of the service is tax deductible.
The importance of establishing confidence in our young people is summed up in the motto the Christ’s have chosen for their business, a quote by Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” And there are more statistics supporting the wisdom of mentoring. Young adults at risk for falling off track but who had a mentor were 55 percent more likely to enroll in college, 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly, and 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions. “This really works,” Gina said.
Those interested in enrolling in the summer program can find more information at rise4realchange.org.
Dermatologists Open Office in Afton
Veteran dermatologist Jane Lynch took a look at the demographics in Nelson County, Crozet and Western Albemarle and realized there wasn’t a dermatologist to be found. “It’s an underserved area,” she said, “and it’s important for people to be able to have a doctor within reach.” Lynch’s practice, Shenandoah Dermatology, already had offices in Staunton and Lexington. She found an ideal location at Afton Family Practice on Rockfish Valley Highway, and opened an office there June 1.
Lynch believes part of her professional responsibility is to educate people in the importance of taking care of their skin. It’s common for her to find the beginnings of skin cancer and to identify other diseases that are manifested early on by skin changes. Her associates, Dr. Lindsay Kidd and Dr. Amalie Derdeyn, both had recent experiences with this: one found signs of a recent stroke that had been undiagnosed until the skin exam; the other found evidence of a blood clot. Potentially serious consequences were avoided by quick referrals.
Shenandoah Dermatology offers a variety of services, including aesthetics as well as medical exams and treatment, and all offices can be reached at a central phone number, 540-885-4500. The practice offers a free newsletter with helpful tips on skin care. There’s also a website, shenandoahdermatology.com.
New Menu, New Look, New Hours at Sam’s Hot Dogs
There’s a new kitchen in the back, a new floor, an expanded seating space and fresh tables outside the Sam’s Hot Dogs on Three Notch’s Road. Owner Trey Wilkerson has put his own stamp on the small chain, and added “Trey’s Restaurant” to the name of the popular franchise. Those who know Wilkerson know that he’s a veteran chef who can do far more than put hot dogs on a grill, and his new menu includes homemade sides and desserts, burgers, cheese steaks and barbecue. Since the change about a month ago, “we’ve been selling as many burgers as hot dogs,” Wilkerson said.
He makes everything from scratch, simmering chicken for fresh chicken salad, following an old recipe using molasses and bacon in his beans and baking his own lemon pound cake. The banana pudding is homemade in the back, and he fries apple pies according to an old local recipe. Also popular are the gyros, made from the Greek-style mix of meats imported from Cincinnati. He’s resurrected the Charlottesville favorite “Sauceburger,” a beef burger broiled and dipped in sauce. Also new are the hours: he’s closed Mondays and open Tuesday through Sunday.
Stinson Vineyards has opened The Inn at Stinson Vineyards, an upscale B&B on its property in White Hall. Reservations at inn@StinsonVineyards.com.
“Lots of talk, no action,” said realtor Stuart Rifkin about possible clients for the proposed Mechums Trestle restaurant still awaiting completion at Rtes 240 and 250.
The Blue Ridge Bottle Shop at Piedmont Place has added shirts, the popular “Jam by Daniel,” and some selected small crafts and gourmet items to their craft beer and wine inventory.
The Purple Foot in Waynesboro celebrates its 40th year as a wine shop and lunch destination, making it one of the oldest small businesses in the area. Its 95-year-old owner, Erwin Bohmfalk, still operates the business.