During one of the busiest months of the year for area farmers, The National Conference Center and West Belmont Place encourage residents and restaurants to buy local.
Designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Aug. 3-9 is National Famers Market Week, celebrating the thousands of farmers markets around the country and the farmers who provide their products. The week was established to recognize the important role farmers markets play in the agriculture and food economy.
For the past five years, The National Conference Center and West Belmont Place Events Center have been strong supporters of local farmers and farmers markets, sourcing ingredients from local farms for the sometimes more than 2,000 meals a day prepared at the conference center.
Due to such large volume, locally sourcing ingredients is a challenge for The National Conference Center and West Belmont Place’s Executive Chef Craig Mason. The conference center has more than 900 rooms and West Belmont Place, with more than 16,000 square feet, is the largest ballroom in Northern Virginia. The property is designed to effectively and efficiently serve a large number of attendees.
“We pride ourselves on our exceptional food as well as our support for our local agriculture community,” said Geoff Lawson, vice president and general manager, NCC and West Belmont Place.
Linda’s Mercantile regional farm in Winchester, Va., has provided produce to the conference center for the past five years.
“When Chef Mason first came to our farm and mentioned that he was in need of spinach, I thought he was looking for 30 pounds,” said Dave Lay, owner, Linda’s Mercantile. “Then I realized that he was looking for 300 pounds of spinach – a week.”
A typical week at West Belmont Place would include 200 to 300 lbs. of spinach, 500 to 600 pounds of tomatoes and 400 to 600 pounds of lettuce. While the quantities are often a challenge, the upside is that NCC is located within close proximity to many farms.