One of Richmond’s most loved, and agriculturally productive, families will be leaving the area for Arizona. What future lie ahead for Victory Farms? Will it even be around?
Victory Farms, one of the area’s leading CSA produce suppliers to local restaurants, farmers’ markets, and Ellwood Thompson’s, announced that the founders, the Collins family, will be moving to Phoenix, Arizona later this year. “Many of our members have been with us for multiple–and many for all five–years and are highly committed to our farm and its purpose and we thank you for that and for your friendship,” said Gina Collins in an email to Victory Farms’ CSA members.
Victory Farms Snapshot
- Family-run, Certified Naturally Grown farm in Hanover, Virginia.
- Owner/Operator Charlie Collins (B.A. Botany) has been a professional farmer since 1994.
- Supported in part by approximately 400 local members
- Supplier of local restaurants, as well as Ellwood Thompsons’
An acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, CSAs rely on member contributions, or shares, before farming seasons to help fund the tending and culling of farmed materials. Throughout the season, as members select produce from the farm’s various outlets, their tabs reduce from their original contribution to the CSA. “We’re currently working with our staff, advisers and the landowner…to seek out ways to keep the farm running and the CSA model intact,” said Collins in the email. Existing 2011 members will experience no change as a result of the upcoming move.
In addition to individual buyers, Victory Farms supported local merchants, including new restaurant Citizen, as well as staking a presence at area farmers’ markets. Speaking of the local farm, James Ballard, Assistant Garden Manager at Ellwood Thompson’s, said that the Collins family is “one of our top suppliers,” and that no one “really compares” to their quality. When asked how the local grocer, which has operated for nearly 30 years, would acclimate to the potential loss of a major area farm, Ballard said, “There would definitely be a loss of product,” for the local grocery store.
Ellwood Thompsons’ Suppliers
- Amy’ Garden – Charles City, VA
- Dodd’s Farm – Hanover, VA
- Snead’s Farm – Fredericksburg, VA
- Dogwood Grove – Meredithsville, VA
- Trail’s End Farms – Montpelier, VA
- Plantation Woods – Crewe, VA
When asked about the future of Victory Farms, Collins was optimistic, although unsure. “We’re hoping that the farm itself will continue,” she said in a phone interview last week. In the email sent to members last week, Collins wrote, “Much internal discussion has already occurred for the planning of the 2012 CSA season. We would like to expand the dialogue to include members of the CSA who are in a position to participate directly and actively in the continuation of the farm.”
As of now, both Victory Farms and it suppliers must wait and see. James Ballard of Ellwood Thompson’s confidently assured that “we’ll continue to work with our other suppliers” should Victory Farms close down. In the email sent to Victory Farms’ CSA members, Collins writes,”[We are] committed to mentoring and consulting with whoever becomes the principals of the new version of the farm. I also am committed to continuing my role as primary communicator into 2012 and in future. Our employees are enthusiastic about continuing in their roles.”