click to enlarge Ellwood Thompson's Local Market's Rick Hood has spearheaded an organization to help local producers.

courtesy Ellwood Thompson's Local Market

Ellwood Thompson's Local Market's Rick Hood has spearheaded an organization to help local producers.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Real Local RVA Gets Off the Ground

Prominent members of the food community form advocacy group to promote local products.

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 10:55 AM

Local food producers are getting a boost from a newly formed organization called Real Local RVA — with some heavy hitters involved.

Ellwood Thompson's Local Market's Rick Hood, Richmond Restaurant Group's Michelle Williams, Southbound's Joe Sparatta and Lee Gregory, Good Food’s Grocery's Donnie Cafferty and Libbie Market’s Buster Wright and David Taylor want more people to know about what’s happening in Central Virginia when it comes to food.

It’s not that easy to run a local farm or restaurant, or produce a local product without support and feedback from the wider community.

“Our intent is to bring the local players active in the Capital Region to a collaborative group,” Ellwood Thompson's Hood, who spearheaded the organization, says in an announcement, “so we can help each other solve problems like small food distribution and increasing support of local farms.”

The group’s approach will be three-pronged. It plans networking events to connect start-ups, and wants to create a kind of wholesale consolidation among businesses to reduce the price for customers and increase production for farms. And to help with marketing, Real Local RVA plans outside events and sponsorships.

“Once the website is live [on March 21],” spokesman Colin Beirne says, “we plan to keep an updated calendar of all the locally focused food/drink events.”

“The public is showing a huge demand for local food,” Hood says, “but its providers need a big umbrella brand that can promote and educate its benefits.”

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