Different Farms, Different Tables

The “farm to table” movement grew out of desire to develop both a more sustainable approach to food production and a higher quality dining experience based on seasonal, locally-grown produce prepared more simply and with greater attention to the ingredients themselves. From its inception and rise in the 1970s until the early 2000s, the focus of the farm to table movement has been more on the second of those goals – the restaurant experience – than on the issue of sustainable agriculture. Many chefs and others in the restaurant industry have adopted the call for locally-produced food, and the term “locavore” was coined to capture the commitment many of their patrons have to this way of growing and preparing food. The trend has become so popular in the restaurant industry that the National Restaurant Association identified four of the top ten trends in restaurants for 2015 as having to do with the concept of farm to table.

Much less attention has been paid to the impact of the farm to table movement outside of specialized farms and high-end restaurants, as well as the issue of sustainable agriculture that is part and parcel of the larger movement. While farm to table began as an aesthetic movement, the goal of which was to provide restaurant patrons with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, more recent efforts by food advocates have expanded this idea to include local farmers markets, urban agriculture, and the question of access to high-quality, locally-produced foods for those who do not patronize gourmet dining establishments.

This documentary photography project has as its focus these less-publicized trends, turning away from the celebrated farmers and chefs, and looking instead at those engaged in urban agriculture, the infrastructure that supports it, and the challenge of access to locally-produced food for those who lack the resources of the patrons of high-end grocery stores and restaurants. Rather than seeing the farm to table movement as simply an aesthetic one, it seeks to highlight the environmental and political aspects of the question, examining how the movement has taken seed and grown within Charlottesville’s Strategic Investment Area and its environs. 

You can see images from the Different Farms, Different Tables project here.