Former real-estate developer thinks his Va. farm is fertile ground for business

It is easy for Dominique Kostelac to forget the troubles of his former life as he meanders down the old wagon trail on his 33-acre farm outside Charlottesville. There are the plastic tubes he uses to tap the maple trees for syrup. Here is the island in a forgotten river where he found the remnants of a dugout canoe, which he imagines could be as old as the Indians. This is where the persimmon trees grow so heavy that a shake of the branches releases their bounty.

He moved to Holly Tree Farm five years ago with his wife and three kids when he was still a high-flying real estate developer cashing in on the housing boom. What followed has become an all-too-common story: The bursting of the bubble — and perhaps his own overexuberance — left him millions of dollars in debt and facing foreclosure. Or, as Kostelac puts it, “we did a big face-plant . . . and we were stranded here.”

As it happened, that face-plant was right into some of the most fertile soil in Virginia. A longtime foodie and serial entrepreneur, Kostelac is convinced that his old neighbors in yuppie Washington will pay premium prices for produce and meat from the small farmers who are his new neighbors. Now, in this refuge from his failures in the city, he sees opportunity

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Local food ‘greener than organic’

Local food ‘greener than organic’
Organic apples, BBC
Food should come from within your area, the report says
Local food is usually more “green” than organic food, according to a report published in the journal Food Policy.

The authors say organic farming is also valuable, but people can help the environment even more by buying food from within a 20km (12-mile) radius.

The team calculated a shopping basket’s hidden costs, which mount up as produce is transported over big distances. The study found “road miles” account for proportionately more environmental damage than “air miles”.

Therefore, the researchers’ message to consumers is this: it is not good enough to buy food from within the UK – it is better if it comes from within your area, too.

A big city like London could be provided with a lot more seasonal vegetables from local farms
Co-author Professor Tim Lang
However, they admit that consumers are prevented from “doing the right thing” because of inadequate labelling.

“The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes and food businesses,” said co-author Professor Jules Pretty, from the University of Essex, UK.

“Food miles are more significant than we previously thought, and much now needs to be done to encourage local production and consumption of food.”