Small Town Virginia is Home to Some of Greeniest Catering in the Country


photo: Full Circle Catering

I'm originally from Charlottesville, Va., just one hour away from beautiful small town Lexington, Va., and the home of Full Circle Catering. Full Circle’s owner, Jenny Elmes, is proof that just one person can make a large green impact on a small community. Her innovative green catering techniques would be impressive anywhere in the world but, according to her, it was just the way she was raised. It wasn't until her staff pushed her to get the word out about her green ways that she even began to talk about it. Jenny Elmes and Full Circle Catering are bringing green catering to small town Virginia. Though she has been living green for the majority of her life, it wasn't until recently that she began to carry that green initiative into her catering business.
Full Circle Catering is Green Restaurant Certified.

Jenny Elmes owns one of just three catering companies in the country to be Green Restaurant Certified (GRA). That's no small feat. The elite certification requires that a business must use a comprehensive recycling system, be free of Styrofoam products, and commit to completing four of GRA's 11 environmental steps each year of membership. Some of these steps include cooking with sustainable foods, using energy efficient appliances, conserving water, recycling, and composting. GRA certified businesses must also use chlorine-free paper products and non-toxic cleaning chemicals.

Full Circle's Waste Control
When Elmes found out that her small town landfill in Rockbridge County would fill up by 2012, she immediately felt that she needed to find ways to drastically reduce her business's waste. For starters, she began to separate all her trash into recycling and composting. The composting partly goes to feed her neighbor's chickens and partly goes to her organic garden (later used to produce some of the menu's ingredients). All of the pastries and bread are homemade as well. Her menus reflect what's available and are custom designed for each client.

Greening the Menu and the Kitchen
The majority of the other ingredients are sourced from Stone House Farms, an organic farm in the area. And whenever possible she shops locally and works to support the local small businesses in her area. From May to October you'll find her at Lexington's weekly farmers' market. And with items like yummy caprese salad skewers with local, organic basil and cherry tomatoes on eco-bamboo skewers (pictured), you can see that the menu doesn't suffer. She shops only with reusable bags and has completely eliminated plastic grocery bags, now bringing over 30 reusable bags when she goes to food shop.

The company uses no Styrofoam and although Elmes rarely uses any disposable containers, when she does, she uses corn plastic and biodegradable potato starch containers. In her kitchen, all bulbs are LED and all appliances are Energy Star. She also uses all green cleaners (minus the small bit of traditional cleaner that, to her dismay, the law requires). When she leaves the premises, she takes a kit with all her green cleaning supplies with her so as to avoid having to use the scary kind. Her company’s uniforms are made from organic cotton and renewable bamboo. Elmes also refuses to truck in any goods through restaurant supply services and instead sources all her supplies herself.

More on Green Catering and Restaurants
Lucid Food: Conscience Catering in New York City
TreeHugger Picks: Green Restaurants
Five Outstanding Green Restaurants

Tags: 100 Mile Diet | Farmers Markets | Local Food