Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018
Virginia Commonwealth University students, faculty, staff and community members seeking farm fresh produce and other unique and homemade items have a new option on campus. The Depot Market will be held on the second floor of the VCU School of the Arts Depot every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in conjunction with the VCU Office of Sustainability.
VCU News caught up with Carolina Donahue and Holly Elliott, owners of Grit and Glam Farm in Caroline County and operators of the Depot Market, last week during the first market of the spring semester.
How did you become a farmer?
Elliott: I used to teach yoga and I was always really interested in diet and had experimented with vegetarianism. I found that if I prepared my own food I had the greatest change that I was looking for for myself. It made me think, “What happens if you grow your own food?” So I started to experiment with that.
I grew up on a homestead in New Mexico where we did everything — meat eggs, chickens — all of our produce, because the closest grocery store was 90 miles away. Out of necessity, I learned it when I was a kid, and then as an adult I got interested in it again.
Donahue: I, on the other hand, did not grow up in the farming arena at all. I worked as a contractor for the Navy, although my background is art history and photography. After [Elliott] and I met and purchased a beautiful piece of farm property, we started getting our year-round microgreen business going; it became time that I become a farmer full time. We are in the process of starting a nonprofit cat rescue and animal rescue. We also started a line of beauty products. I also sell vintage clothing. It’s all things that I’m able to do from the farm.
Where is your farm located?
Donahue: Our farm is not in an urban space, but we’re located a little less than an hour north of here, just outside of Bowling Green.
Coming up in the spring and summer we’re going to have open house days, where we are looking for VCU students who are interested in learning about life on the farm and helping us with projects. It might be a great escape to get away from the city for the day.
What do you hope to accomplish with the market?
Elliott: Trying to be a sustainable homestead, you’ve got to be a creative entrepreneur as well. We’re hoping, here at VCU, to connect with people who want to learn more about sustainability and maybe have products they want to sell at a market.
If we can care for the Earth, it’s going to give back.
Donahue: Part of what we hope to do is focus on local produce but also on other artisan goods. You never know what you might find when you come, but you’ll definitely find some delicious, healthy food.
Elliott: We’d love to match up with people at VCU and help people understand where food comes from. And that food can be free if you just [plant] a couple seeds and do a bit of weeding. If we can care for the Earth, it’s going to give back.