Land in Hand: How One Charlottesville Chef is Keeping His Promise Not to Abandon Farmers During the COVID-19 Crisis

by Charlottesville29


When COVID-19 hit, the greatest concern of many restaurateurs was their staffs. Without wages or tips, what would become of their beloved restaurant families? While this was certainly true of Petit Pois and Fleurie owner Brian Helleberg, another group also weighed heavily on his mind: farmers. Over two decades, Helleberg has built close relationships with many of our area’s farmers, who bring the fruits of their labor to his restaurants each week. They are another part of his restaurant family, one to whom he feels a deep responsibility.

And so, amidst the havoc that COVID-19 is wreaking on the economy, Helleberg made a promise to his farmers: he would not abandon them. His weekly purchases would not wane. “These single-family farmers remind us of humility, family, balance, and work ethic every week,” said Helleberg. “They have formed the fabric of our restaurant since the day we opened, and that is not about to change.”

But, without open restaurants, Helleberg needed a use for all of the produce. His answer: “Land by Hand Chef’s Share.” Each week Helleberg assembles baskets of the produce he buys from his farmers. Initially, he gave the baskets to staff. Now, in addition to the staff gifts, Helleberg is making them available for purchase by the public, like a CSA. Helleberg has found the response heartwarming. “Some of my customers have even purchased baskets that go to food insecure families,” said Helleberg, “creating a triple positive of moving healthy farm food, giving us a job to do, and feeding those who need it most.”

We picked up our basket yesterday, and our refrigerator now overflows with beautiful leafy greens, bouquets of chefs’ herbs, farm fresh eggs, chicken, beef, Caromont farm goat cheese, and more. In addition to the baskets’ contents, customers may order add-ons, including produce and creations from the kitchens of Petit Pois and Fleurie.

Our basket’s contents and a few add-ons are making for a delicious Easter. For brunch, Petit Pois Belgian waffles and breakfast sausage. And, for Easter Dinner, lamb gratin by chef Jose de Brito, with Manakintowne fava greens tossed in Petit Pois mustard vinaigrette.


Baskets and offerings change each week, and will also expand to include wine and more pantry items. This week, pick-up times are available 12pm -6 pm on Tuesday (April 14), Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, along with Petit Pois’ three course takeout menu. For more information, subscribe to the Petit Pois bulletin or email

Land by Hand Chef’s Share

Our April 11 Basket

– 1 lb Country Salad Mix: Kale, red Chicory, Mustard Greens
-6 oz Baby Salad Mix-1/2 pound Arugula
-1 lb Spinach
-1 Whole Local Polyface Chicken
-Mire-Poix Vegetables: Celery, Carrot Onion, Garlic, Potatoes
-Bouquet of Chef’s Herbs
-10 oz Mustard Vinaigrette
-8 oz Caromont Goat Cheese
-2 Pork Chops or 2 lbs. Ground Beef*
-1 Dozen Farm Fresh Eggs

Optional April 11 Add-Ons

From the Farms:
– Pea Shoots $7
-Green Cabbage $7
-Sugarloaf Chicory $8
-Fava Greens (leaves) $12
-1 tray live micro greens $12
-1 lb Hand-Churned Butter $9
-1 Dozen Polyface Eggs$7.50
-Whole Local Polyface Chicken $22
-Ground Local Pork $8
-Local Pork Chops $18 for two
-Wolf Creek Ribeyes (pack of two; ~22oz total) $49
-Wolf Creek NY Strip (pack of two; ~22oz total) $45

Easter Specials:
-Lamb Rack, French (in house) $33/lb
-Berkshire Applewood-Smoked Ham 8-10 lb Ham at $12/lb

From the Sea:
-Salmon Fillets 2 for $16
-Softshell Crabs 2 for $14

From the Chefs:
-16oz Mustard Vinaigrette
-32oz Chicken Stock
-Fresh-Frozen Gnocchi (1 portion) $4
-Fresh-Frozen Pasta (1 portion) $5
-Belgian Waffles (per; frozen) $3
-1 lb Breakfast Sausages $9
-8oz of Lemon Curd $6
-Creamed Spinach (side dish for four) $14
-Paté Maison $14/lb (limited supply)
– Demi-Glace 4oz $10
-Brioche French Toast $3per
-Joe’s Famous Gluten-Free Bread (1/2 loaf) $16
-Aioli 80z $5
-Tomato Sauce 32oz $16
-Puff Pastry (12′ x 18′) $15
-Caesar Dressing 16oz $9

Family Meals: $20

Served with a side salad and Chocolate Mousse
– Mom’s Lasagna Meal for Two.
– Baked Rigatoni Bolognese for Two.
– Lamb Gratin for Two.