It’s no secret that Richmond is home to several areas with food deserts. Living in the city will always have its advantages, but in order to thrive in a healthy and sustainable way, you have to accept and adapt to your surroundings. The Depot Market is a farmers’ market happening every Wednesday at the VCUArts Depot. It’s managed by Grit and Glam Farm and sponsored by VCU Sustainability in order to create a more sustainable and local food option, both for VCU students and for the surrounding community.
“We hope to combat food insecurity and reduce the amount of food deserts in communities surrounding VCU,” said Erin Stanforth, Director of Sustainability at VCU. “This is an issue that crosses neighborhood boundaries, and affects Richmonders of all ages.”
VCU Sustainability is dedicated to reducing consumption of resources and implementing education and behavior change when it comes to how we treat our environment.
“Students, faculty, and staff have all expressed interest in being able to purchase fresh produce within walking distance of the campus,” said Stanforth. “The market collaboration is a natural fit for this need.”
Although Grit And Glam Farm is not new to the Depot Market, or to the Richmond community, that does not make them any less enthusiastic to be running it on their own.
“We’re really excited to come into the VCU community. We want to teach people about sustainability,” said Grit And Glam co-owner Holly Elliott. “We’re focusing on sustainable and local. We’re trying to do all Virginia produce.”
Elliott and her partner, Carolina Donahue, run their farm in Millford, VA located about 45 minutes north of Richmond. Along with growing a good portion of their produce, part of their proceeds go into an animal sanctuary they run on their farm, where they take care of domestic animals — mainly cats.
Although they are excited to bring their operation to Richmond, it is apparent that there is a lack of connection between the market, VCU, and the Carver community.
The Depot Market has been at the same location since it started last fall, but so far, it seems the community does not fully understand the food option that it provides. Stanforth comments on the disconnect. “We’ve reached out through the Carver Neighborhood Association, as well as distributing materials, so our neighbors in Carver know about this new resource. We hope with articles like this, awareness of the market will grow.”
In order to make it easier for students to utilize the Depot Market’s resources, Grit And Glam has also arranged to accept RamBucks from VCU students as a form of payment — an important detail when it comes to catering to the community and ensuring that everyone is able to reap the benefits of what the farm has to offer.
In the coming months, VCU Sustainability and Grit And Glam Farm will be working to get the word out about the fresh and affordable options that they have to offer, ensuring that all members of the Richmond community have access to fresh, natural, and sustainable options.
“We are open to feedback,” said Elliott. “If the community tells us what they want or need, we’re going to find a local source for it.”
The Depot Market is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. at the VCUArts Depot, located at 814 W. Broad St.