Slow Food RVA took root in 2009, bringing to Richmond an important national and international food movement. Waving the banner of “good, clean and fair food,” the mission of Slow Food RVA is three-fold—to celebrate, educate, and advocate. The organization celebrates the pleasures of food and breaking bread together through events such as their Graze series and other tasting events. They educate children and adults alike about food issues in the classroom and community, and they advocate for issues, such as childhood obesity, food deserts (an area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food), and biodiversity, facing the local community, the state, and the nation.
A core team of three of the founders, Stacy Luks, Tracy Leverty, and John Haddad, are working to grow the organization in size and partnership in 2014. Haddad will take over the Chair duties from Luks in January of 2014 and looks to build on the early success of the chapter. With the proliferation of like-minded organizations in the Richmond area, Slow Food RVA’s strategy centers on building bridges and working collaboratively with partner organizations. Over the past several years, Slow Food RVA has worked as a steering committee member of the Greater Richmond Coalition for Healthy Children and has recently been asked to join the newly formed Chesterfield County Public School’s Wellness Council/Food & Nutrition subcommittee. The organization has worked with Hands On Richmond for the past two summers on their youth Farm to Table camp and done workshops for the Richmond Peace Education Center’s Youth Peace as well as the St. Christopher’s Summer Leadership Institute’s food-focused program last summer.
As a result of this year’s Food Day events, an exciting coalition has emerged with involvement from the William Byrd Community House, St. Stephen’s Farmers Market, Tricycle Gardens, VCU, Renew Richmond, and Origins Farm. As part of the event, the audience saw the Richmond premiere of The Lexicon of Sustainability Pop-Up Show. Origins Farm is one of 100 “curators” selected to exhibit 24 prints that portray the vocabulary of sustainable agriculture and food access in photography and words. The show is designed to spur conversations about what we eat, what we buy, and where our responsibility begins for creating a healthier food system in America. Slow Food RVA hopes to exhibit these important pieces around the community this year.
Slow Food RVA continues to be a beneficiary of proceeds from the Elby Awards and is partnering with the Environmental Film Festival this winter (February 7–9) with several food-related features. Additionally, the chapter will launch a micro-grant program in 2014, funding projects that help to improve the area’s sustainable food landscape.