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Farm to Family hopes to supply oasis in junk food desert

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — It’s a happy, healthy oasis sitting in the middle of a food dessert.

Mark and Suzi Lilly are dedicating their lives to fresh food.

“People are excited about what we do,” says Suzi. “We’re at the Bus Farm. Farm To Family in eastern Henrico County right on the edge of the City of Richmond.”

The Lillys buy fresh vegetables and produce from small farms across Virginia, returning to their farm stand on Mechanicsville Turnpike with a bounty where healthy choices are scarce.

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“We’ve been doing this since 2009. We’ve had our market here since 2010. We’ve been non-profit since 2012,” says Suzi.

“It is like Christmas every day for me,” says Mark.

Suzi says, “A lot of people are relying on fast food, microwave, drive thru let’s open the box. And we’re getting away from preparing fresh foods.”
This dynamic duo knew when opening their business the work wouldn’t be a cakewalk. The pay may be low, but their rewards? Unparalleled.

“The hours are long, it is physically demanding, it is mostly draining,” says Mark. “This is not a get rich business for us or them. It is a calling.”

Tony Williams is a familiar face at Farm to Family. On the day we met he was shopping for fresh produce with his two daughters. For the 44-year-old, who had a heart transplant in April, eating well is a matter of life and death. He relishes the opportunity to improve his families diets.

“That is why I’m starting early so they don’t have to go through the same thing I did,” says Tony. “It is very important to me.”

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Veterans and soldiers like Laura Leach enjoy discounts while stocking their pantry.

“It is very important to me. Local agriculture is vital,” says Leach who is stationed at Fort Lee. “I actually spend less time coming here than going to the grocery store trying to pick everything out.”

Mark and Suzi Lilly, business owners who say as long as the food desert exists in this part of town their oasis will fight junk food one piece of fruit at a time.

“Makes me feel awesome,” says Suzi. “It brings tears to my eyes.”

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Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

 



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