Press Room

RICHMOND FAMILIES HELP SAVE VIRGINIA FAMILY FARMS

Richmond, Va. – In uncertain economic times, even an extraordinary green thumb and big city customers up in Washington, DC, weren’t enough to ensure a family farm’s survival. It took more than 800 Richmond-area moms and dads to rescue a way of life that benefits everyone it touches.

Since emigrating to this country two decades ago, Virginia farmer Gerardo Flores has become known for his ability to grow such rare vegetables as sorrel, purslane, Japanese daikon radishes, and more than fifteen types of hot peppers. Gerardo and his son Omar farm fifty acres of produce on the Northern Neck and count Hispanic and Asian produce buyers in the Washington, DC, area among their customers. Even so, according to Omar, “With the agriculture economy the way it is, we weren’t sure we were going to make it.”

Meanwhile, a network of parents in the Richmond area were forming a produce co-op called The Farm Table. Their goal was to find farmers within 200 miles who could supply them with healthy, sustainably grown fruits and vegetables for their families. “We figured it would be good for our families, and good for family farms, too,” explains Rick Grossberg, The Farm Table’s crop coordinator.

A year later, The Farm Table has partnered with more than half a dozen Central Virginia farmers like Gerardo and Omar Flores. The co-op’s membership, now at 800-plus and counting, stretches from Ashland to Petersburg. With so many families and a weekly order and delivery system, The Farm Table is providing family farms with income they can depend on throughout the growing season — adding as much as a $1,000 a week to a farmer’s income. “Some weeks that’s what keeps us in business,” says Omar. “For us, this is the future.”

The Farm Table delivers fresh-picked local produce to its members’ doorsteps every week from April to November. Every box of produce comes with recipes, making food prep simple. More information is at http://www.TheFarmTable.org. Photos, including Gerardo Flores, are available.

RICHMOND FAMILIES GIVE NEW “LOCAL FOOD” TREND AN OLD-FASHIONED TOUCH

Richmond, VA – The latest food trend is “local food”, the idea that locally grown food ought to be consumed locally, the way it used to be. Doing so supports local farmers, reduces long distance shipping and the pollution that goes with it, while putting fresher food on the table. As a concept, “local food” has grown so big and trendy that even WalMart has jumped on the bandwagon.

The Farm Table, a group of Richmond families, is giving this modern-day movement a uniquely old fashioned touch — home delivery, from one neighbor to another. “We buy vegetables and fruit directly from the farmers, then our network of neighborhood coordinators delivers them to their neighbors,” explains Rick Grossberg, one of the Farm Table’s two staffers.

The other staffer, Duane Slyder, adds cheerfully, “We are two dads working for a big group of moms,” referring to the neighborhood coordinators. This delivery method creates an old-fashioned sense of community that’s unmatched by other systems for distributing local food — moms delivering to fellow moms, all friends and neighbors. You can see it in the postings on their Facebook page. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Farm-Table/141396109246042)

And they’re delivering fruits and veggies that were picked at the peak of freshness — more convenient and much fresher than is possible with most other distribution methods. The freshness improves the produce’s nutritional value, not to mention its taste, leading more than one Farm Table member to exclaim: “The taste of everything — holy cow!”

The Farm Table is a growing network of Virginia families, farmers, neighborhood moms, and others who all share a common vision – growing and eating “food that’s good for you and the planet, from people you know.” The Farm Table’s produce comes from small and medium-sized farms that are located within about 200 miles of Richmond. This is the Farm Table’s first season of providing just-picked fruits and vegetables to area families.  More information is at http://www.TheFarmTable.org.

For immediate release

For Antidote to Food-borne Illness Outbreaks, Richmond-area Families Turn to Local Food

Richmond, Va. — The recent listeria outbreak linked to one agribusiness’s cantaloupes killed as many as 17 people in 19 states. Such widespread outbreaks of food-borne illnesses are caused, in part, by the long distances food travels through today’s complex food chain. By the time a huge agribusiness’s produce reaches a family’s table, that produce has passed through many hands and storage facilities, over hundreds or thousands of miles, for days or weeks on end.

For a growing number of Americans, the solution is to buy local — even WalMart’s getting in on the trend. Here in the Richmond area, an organization called The Farm Table connects local families with local family farmers within 200 miles of Richmond. “We get our fruit and veggies directly from the farmers we know. Then we deliver it to our neighbors,” explains Duane Slyder, one of the Farm Table’s staffers. “So our members know exactly where their produce is coming from.”

At the same time, Farm Table members are supporting local farmers, reducing long distance shipping and the pollution that goes with it, while putting fresher food on the table. The freshness improves the produce’s nutritional value, not to mention its taste. As one member put it: “I like knowing that we’re helping keep small farmers in business. I love that it’s local and that my apple didn’t cost the planet the toll of a long trip from God-knows-where. And the taste of everything — holy cow!”

More information about The Farm Table is at www.thefarmtable.org, including a link to the members’ Facebook page. This season’s deliveries will continue until Thanksgiving, and members and staffers are available for interviews. In addition, this Sunday The Farm Table will host a family potluck picnic to celebrate Food Day, www.foodday.org. The potluck will be held from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on Sunday, Oct. 23, at Tuckahoe Plantation, 12601 River Road, Richmond VA 23238. The event features great local food and children’s activities and is open to the media.