A summer working on Phillips Farm near Waterford through a Sprout work-share program changed Anne Darby’s future in 2002. “I learned a lot and it started me on this food trajectory,” Darby says. “I became a local food advocate and started a Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.”
It also led to graduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University, designing a regional food plan. Becoming part of the mayor’s food policy task force in 2011 seemed inevitable to Darby. “I know all the players, I know all the people involved,” she says. “It’s a different part of the food conversation — it’s about food access.”
After coming up with a two-year plan, the city was unable to afford a food policy coordinator, so Darby, through her day job as a senior planner at Richmond Regional Planning District Commission, has implemented some of the recommendations as a part-time, interim coordinator.
She has several other projects in the works that support her personal mission. She heads the Richmond Food Access Working Group, another food advocacy task force that brings together such organizations as Tricycle Gardens, Shalom Farms, Bon Secours and the Richmond City Health District so that they can work together to become more effective in what they do individually.
Darby also helped create the Capital Region Food Collaborative, a regional food policy council launching a website in December that will serve as a nexus of information: a calendar of food events, volunteer information for food-focused nonprofits and a series of quarterly speakers.
She’s also board president for the new nonprofit, Groundwork RVA. “I love the freedom that I have to say, ‘I’m going to spend two years with this nonprofit and I’m going to stay until I get it right, get it strong.’”