Local couple brings family farm to Richmond

Published: Jul. 30, 2010 at 8:15 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2010 at 9:08 PM EDT
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By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - How'd you like to have fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to your neighborhood? A Richmond couple can make it happen. They've started a new movement, rolling the family farm into the city, by bus.

It started with a 1987 diesel school bus. The vehicle is now a micro farmer's market on wheels.

Mark Lilly's on a mission. He says, "People want fresh local fruits and veggies." And he's finding a way to do it. He's delivering locally grown produce by bus, into the heart of the city.

The operation is called Farm to Family. He drives into Richmond's inner city and poverty stricken neighborhoods. Places where residents may not have easy access to a grocery store and fresh fruits and veggies.

"I lost my job... and a month later I had this on the road," says Lilly. "This is not a get rich business."

He and his wife, Suzi, started the venture a year ago to make people think about the big picture; where food comes from and the work that goes into growing it.

"Buying local food, getting fresher food and supporting your community and supporting your local farmers," Mark Lilly said.

In June, they expanded into Henrico county's East End, opening one of Metro Richmond's first indoor farmer's markets.

"Everything is local," Suzi Lilly said. "The furthest away we go is a 150 miles. To Highland County for our maple syrup products.

They sell goods from at least 20 different local farmers.  She adds, "We've got plums, peaches, doughnut peaches, nectarines. Grapes. Berries."

And their idea is catching on; People magazine just published a four page spread on the business. "Between working the social media and word of mouth we're really starting to get it out there," Suzi said.

"I got all my veggies and fruit for the week. My kids love it. We enjoy being. Able to give back to the local farmers," added customer Kristin Mullins.

The market is on the Mechanicsville Turnpike, near the Richmond/Henrico line.  It is open seven days a week, typically from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The hours do vary on a few days.

Look for them on Facebook by searching "Farm to Family," on Twitter @farm2family or on their website

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