Ellwood Thompson’s, a locally owned and independently operated natural foods market in Richmond since in 1989, is seeking an independent-farmer to partner with as the business embarks on a collaborative farm venture in Hanover County. Ellwood’s is inviting proposals for a license to use the property at 7349 Woodville Lane for the purpose of an independent, self-sustaining organic farming enterprise.
Located just 25 minutes north of Richmond, the property includes 20.01 acres (6-8 cultivated) that was previously farmed using organic methods by Origins Farm. Ellwood Thompson’s says the new farming business will be separate from the grocery store and that it will maintain its current grower relationships.
The goal of the new venture is to maintain the independence of the selected farmer while supporting and educating the community about local food. To locate a farm-partner for the new concept, Ellwood Thompson’s has organized a competitive, interview-based selection process. The selected partner will sub-lease the property for produce, flower, grain and pasture or orchard production with an emphasis on healthy land rotations and practical economies of scale.
“We want to offer a good farmer a degree of land security,” explains Hunter Hopcroft, Special Projects Manager at Ellwood Thompson’s. “You’d be shocked how many local farms operate on land with nothing more than a handshake. Without the protections of a lease or licensing agreement, farmers do not make long-term investments in the land and are hesitant to grow their businesses.”
Hopcroft says that the project is open to a variety of agricultural uses. “We want to see creative, sustainable and organic-based business models that contribute to the community, not just through their production but through education and events as well.”
Responses by organic farm-partners are open until December 15, 2017. Responses will be evaluated within two weeks with finalist interviews slatted for January. The final selection will be made no later than February 15, 2018.