In Richmond, Virginia, members of Real Local RVA believe it’s better for independent growers, grocers and restaurants to collaborate rather than compete. The group works to support and raise awareness for the local food movement, as well as the local choices available to people in the greater Richmond area. Like the local food it supports, Real Local RVA has grown into a successful operation for the local community.
Real Local RVA began in 2014 as an informal round-table, then known as the Local Food Group. Founder Rick Hood owns Ellwood Thompson’s, a local food market in Richmond that also offers catering services. Ellwood Thompson’s offers locally grown food, bulk grains, non-toxic cleaning products, Virginia wines, craft beers and more in Richmond’s popular Carytown neighborhood.
When he founded Real Local RVA, Hood wanted to provide networking opportunities for local food business owners in the area. Today, he has helped the group transform into a collaborative organization for nearly 50 local members, including farmers, grocers, producers, restaurants and more. Members are able to use Real Local RVA logos and messaging to clearly identify their business as a local one. As a unified, recognizable brand, independently owned food businesses can better compete with their national chain counterparts.
Real Local RVA also works to advocate for more local-friendly policies. Among its policy recommendations, the group calls for the use of city contracts to support small food businesses, zoning restrictions that prevent unhealthy fast-food chains from entering Richmond’s neighborhoods and laws to reduce food waste. Recognizing that big businesses may be there to stay, Real Local RVA also calls for larger businesses to transition to employee ownership.
The work that Hood and Real Local RVA do isn’t just self-serving. When Real Local RVA and its members are successful, Richmond consumers have access to healthier, fresher food options – and they know more about where their food comes from. For more information about Real Local RVA, visit www.reallocalrva.com.