Local Fish Hub: will foodies embrace aquaculture?

catfish-blackwood-farmCatfish a jumpin' at Blackwood "Aqua" Farm. Could they soon be jumping on to your plate?

Local foodies are by now familiar with the idea of a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture), where people buy shares of produce from local farms or their reps before the growing season begins to receive weekly deliveries of fresh produce. Appalachia Star Farm in Nelson, Open Gate Farm in Earlysville, Layz S Ranch in Palmyra, and distributors like Horse & Buggy Produce and the Local Food Hub are a few that come to mind.

So, would you be willing to support local fishermen in the same way?

Two local grad students in UVA's School of Architecture want to take the CSA idea and apply it to fishermen,  or what's officially known as a CSF ( Community-Supported Fishery), and create the Charlottesville Community-Supported Fishery.

Recently, Jack Cochran and Douglas Dickerson have been testing the waters, so to speak, by setting up booths at the local farmer’s market to spark interest. So did they get any bites?

"It seemed to go over well with a good amount of people, and many were very interested in participating," says Dickerson. "Community members could purchase different types of fish like catfish, shrimp, trout, rockfish on a weekly, biweekly, monthly basis, and have it delivered to the farmer’s market."

The duo have connected with a network of local fish farmers in South-Central Virginia, the Virginia Natural Fish Company (VNFC), an organization sponsored and assembled by the Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network (VAN), which provides sustainably harvested, natural seafood, catfish, and trout. One of those aqua-farmers is Lynn Blackwood, who founded Blackwood Farm in Meherrin, Virginia in 1998. Blackwood raises fish in four ponds fed by underground springs (primarily catfish and rainbow trout), and maintains a system of aeration that constantly purifies the water.

For now, Dickerson says he and Cochran are simply trying to get the word. Well, here's the word: want fish? Check out their website at csfcharlottesville.wordpress.com and let them know.