Help Us Lauch Busfarm!

Dear Friends of Farm to Family,

As you may know, we are taking many of our initiatives with Farm to Family non-profit and we are excited to announce the launch of the new non-profit, BusFarm,with our first major fund raiser on July 14, 2012 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Richmond, VA.  Special guest will be Will Allen, Founder and CEO of Growing Power, and author of the new book, The Good Food Revolution.

BusFarm is Farm to Family‘s non-profit extension, dedicated to inspiring and educating others to create a more equitable food system and food security for friends, families, and neighbors.

We would like to invite you to support us in our non-profit efforts. The fundraiser will begin with a private cocktail reception and book signing with Will Allen for sponsors at 5:30 pm, followed by dinner from 6-9:30 pm. The evening will feature talks by Will Allen, Mark + Suzi and others. Hilton Garden Inn Executive Chef Willie Miller is planning an exclusive seasonal Local Foods Dinner featuring ingredients from as many farmers and vendors we work with as possible.

Dinner Tickets are $150 per person and are available directly from Farm to Family, or via Eventbrite. Additional opportunities for participation are available including sponsorship, patronage and silent auction item donations.

Will has been mentoring us for the last year and we are so very grateful that he is taking time out of his busy schedule to come to Richmond. This is a great opportunity for Richmond to connect with Will. We recently finished reading his book, The Good Food Revolution and it really helped put all of our sustainability struggles into perspective — together we can achieve this paradigm shift our world needs.

We have also added a more affordable fundraising activity Saturday morning with a composting workshop at our market/urban farm led by Will Allen. Many people have said that they want to support us, but can’t afford the dinner, so Will has agreed to work hands on with us, which is what he really likes to do. The workshop will be from 9-11am at BusFarm and will cost $25. People should call the market 804-767-8570 or email to sign up.  We are looking for donations of food waste, egg shells, coffee grounds, brewery waste, newspapers, old paper bags, leaves and wood chips as ingredients for our compost.

Many thanks again for your help with BusFarm.


Mark + Suzi  Lilly


Will Allen is recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Allen is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. In 2008 he received the prestigious MacArthur “Genius grant” for his efforts to promote urban sustainable food systems. Later, in 2010 he joined First Lady Michelle Obama as she launched the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address issues affecting American youth and the risk of obesity. He was also recognized as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010.

Growing Power’s Will Allen

Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.

For more information on BusFarm and tickets to the fundraiser, call 804-767-8570 or visit



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hilton Garden Inn

6 – 9:30 pm

  • Special Guest WILL ALLEN, CEO and Founder of Growing Power, and author of The Good Food Revolution.
  • Local Foods Dinner by Hilton Garden Executive Chef Willie Miller
  • Silent Auction
  • Guest Speakers
  • Book Signing by Will Allen
  • Afternoon Film Festival by Slow Food RVA

Proceeds will benefit our new non-profit, urban farm and educational training center, BUS FARM.

Dinner Tickets are $150.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities, to donate, or to volunteer, contact us:


We are excited to have such a great opportunity to learn from  Growing Power founder/leader Will Allen, and bring this knowledge back to Richmond, VA.

If you prefer to donate by check, please mail to:

Farm to Family Non-Profit
1908 S Battery Drive
Richmond, VA 23222

Get Educated Video

Change Comes to Dinner

Change Comes to Dinner is a new book about sustainable food by Katherine Gustafson which was released on May 8, 2012 by St. Martin’s Press. Mark and Farm to Family are featured in Chapter 1. Katherine is a DC based journalist who visited with us in 2010 a few months after we had started Farm to Family, and traveled to the farms we work with, including Polyface Farm. Katherine also did a YouTube video of her time with us, which illustrates the first chapter of the book including the Polyface bee swatting incident.

Change Comes to Dinner is a fascinating exploration of America’s food innovators, that gives us hopeful alternatives to the industrial food system described in works like Michael Pollan’s bestselling Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Change Comes to Dinner takes readers into the farms, markets, organizations, businesses and institutions across America that are pushing for a more sustainable food system in America.

Gustafson introduces food visionaries like Mark, who turned a school bus into a locally-sourced mobile grocery store in Richmond, Virginia; Gayla Brockman, who organized a program to double the value of food stamps used at Kansas City, Missouri, farmers’ markets; Myles Lewis and Josh Hottenstein, who started a business growing vegetables in shipping containers using little water and no soil; and Tony Geraci, who claimed unused land to create the Great Kids Farm, where Baltimore City public school students learn how to grow food and help Geraci decide what to order from local farmers for breakfast and lunch at the city schools.

Change Comes to Dinner is a smart and engaging look into America’s food revolution. Check out what critics and other writers of the food revolution are saying about Change Comes to Dinner.

You can purchase Change Comes to Dinner at your favorite local bookseller, or online at Amazon.

Get Involved Non-profit

Urban Farm Photo Gallery

We are growing our urban farm, BusFarm, which is part of the non-profit initiatives of Farm to Family. Many hands make light work!


Get Educated

Farm to Family: Beginning, by Mark Lilly

“People think of a bus as transportation,” said Zane Kesey, son of Ken Kesey, when speaking of his father’s 1960s odyssey cross-country in a magic school bus. He continued, “No. It’s a platform, a way to get your messages across.”

“Furthur,” the bus that was named from the combination of further and future, led a revolution in the early 60s and changed the consciousness of future generations. If we’re lucky, we eventually find our “furthur” destiny. We eventually find that job, that cause, that passion, that fills our life with joy and satisfaction.

I did just that in June of 2009 and founded Farm to Family. The “Veggie Bus,” as folks have nicknamed it, is a means of transporting food for the people, but in itself, is a vehicle that creates awareness and a way of life. I know it’s changed lives, because people tell me that it has. It’s changed mine, and there has been no looking back since the day I started.

I’m lucky to have found my destiny. After stints in the Marines and Army, college and traveling, after 20 years working in the food industry and getting no real fulfillment from it, I decided that I needed to let the universe know that I wasn’t happy and needed a change. That change finally came after losing my job in May 2009 and with my recent studies at the University of Richmond in disaster science I was primed, and empowered to start my vision. I started Farm to Family.

The idea is simple and direct. I will tell you without hesitation, it can help change the world for the better.

Conceptually, I’ve created a perfect local, sustainable food distribution system that can penetrate any demographic area in any city or town with nutritious, tasty, organic, local food. At the same time, I’m educating people on how it will benefit their health and support their community. I also tell how best to prepare what they purchase and how to make themselves and their family more food secure.

And I do it all from an old 1987 school bus that I bought for $3,500 off I retrofitted it with reclaimed lumber from an old barn, added bushel baskets, burlap, and chicken wire and created a mobile farmers market with a country store theme.

I source local products from family, friends or anyone that grows clean food within a 150-mile radius of where I am located in Richmond, VA. I build relationships with local farmers, drive to their farm, load up the bus, and then distribute it into the urban landscape through set routes. I post where I’m going to be, and what I have on the bus, and sometimes a photo on Twitter and Facebook, and then my shoppers come running. Literally. One girl fell and hurt herself running to catch the bus. So I decided she needed a house call.

There are other times I do house calls. We had some pretty bad snowstorms this past winter in Richmond. Everyone was snowbound. But the Veggie Bus has massive snow tires, so off I went powering through the snowdrifts. Neighborhoods would join forces, neighbors would call each other, call me, the post would go on Facebook, and then fresh produce would arrive at their doorstep, in the middle of the blizzard. I would drive up and everyone would come piling out of the houses in their snow boots. The kids would play store on the bus, taking turns weighing produce, and pretending to drive. Everyone would be excited and giddy. And dinner would be delicious, fresh, organic and local.

I also take food stamps, allowing low-income families and seniors, who may otherwise not have access, to buy fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables. I also visit schools with the bus, bring small farm animals like chickens and rabbits, hand out free seeds, and teach children about real food. They learn what it is looks and feels like in its natural, fresh from the farm form, and why it’s important they get involved and learn to make wiser choices.

My journey on the bus has just begun, and I eagerly wait every day to see what fresh insight and “furthur” adventures it will bring me, and the people I encounter on my magic “Veggie Bus.”

Mark Lilly is the founder of Farm to Family, a mobile farmer’s market in a retrofitted school bus that delivers fresh , local, organic produce to urban neighborhoods, and also offers CSA memberships in Richmond ,VA. In addition to regular route stops, he also visits schools, retirement homes, and workplaces teaching the importance of fresh, local, sustainable food and encouraging people to support local farmers. In addition to local news, he has been featured on BBC World News, and has upcoming features in People and Country Livng magazines.

Mark has a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and spent 3 years in the US Marines and 3 in the US Army. He lives in Richmond, VA. You can read more about Mark and Farm to Family at

Mark Lilly, “Farm to Family: Beginning,” Huffington Post, April 27, 2010.