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Councilperson Kristen Larson and Forest Hill Neighborhood Association Statements on the South of the James Market Move

The hope is that the South of the James Farmers Market will remain South of the James and the move is temporary.




Earlier this week the folks at Grow RVA announced that the South of the James Farmers Market would be moving to Bryan Park. The result was much wailing, accusations flying, and many muppet arms flailing. Some of those accusations were directed at Councilperson Larson and the Forest Hill Neighborhood Association and implied that she and FHNA wanted the market gone for good.

Councilperson Kristen Larson and FHNA both statements yesterday.

Councilperson Kristen Larson

I am a huge supporter of South of The James (SOTJ) Farmers Market and have been since the market started 13 years ago. Residents who know me have likely seen me there on a Saturday getting my local fruits and veggies or standing in line for Yoder’s Donuts.

The current move to Bryan Park is temporary and was spearheaded City of Richmond Parks & Recreation.

Last Saturday, GrowRVA began allowing walk-up orders in Forest Hill Park. This presented COVID-19 social distancing problems as people waited to enter the market. I received numerous complaints from our neighbors about the crowded situation and the increasing number of vehicles lining up outside the market. On the same day there were 800+ vehicles that accessed the market through the surrounding neighborhood. This presented public safety concerns for residents who need to be able to enter and leave their homes safely.

In my role on city council, I raised concerns with the City’s Parks & Recreation department and the mayor’s office about folks gathering in and around the farmers market amid the restrictions the Governor has in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have, and will continue, to work with Parks & Recreation Department and GrowRVA to keep the SOTJ market at Forest Hill Park. I will also continue to advocate for the safety of 4th District residents.

While my preference is to keep the market in the 4th district, it is my understanding that Bryan Park has more room for the SOTJ drive-thru and additional room to spread out while we figure out how to ensure safety at our Forest Hill location.

I am hopeful these details, along with the changing guidance from the Governor, can be worked out so that we can hold this weekly event back at Forest Hill Park in a safe way. In the meantime, I would encourage residents to continue to support the farmers market in their temporary location.

I look forward to seeing the farmers market return to its home location in Forest Hill Park with regulations in place to ensure the safety of our residents and the vendors who serve our community. I have been and will continue to be one of their biggest supporters of this market and look forward to working together to find safe solutions.

Forest Hill Neighborhood Association President Whit Clements.

The decision to temporarily relocate the South of the James Market was made by the City of Richmond.

The Forest Hill Neighborhood Association has been working for over a decade with the great people of GrowRVA and the Department of Parks Recreation and Community Facilities as they host the world-class South of the James Farmer’s Market in our wonderful urban community. It has become so much more than vendors selling locally-grown food in Forest Hill Park – it’s now an event attended by thousands and of which our community and city can be proud. Credit goes to Karen and Doug of GrowRVA for organizing this complex event week after week while keeping the lines of communication open with the community.

Covid-19 has been a disruptive factor for the lives of all and for the market, the FHNA looks forward to getting back to normal and hopes for the quick return of the South of the James Farmers Market back to operating in Forest Hill Park as soon as possible. We urge South of the James patrons to go out Saturday to support the vendors at their temporary location in Bryan Park.



Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Two acre winery, restaurant set to open today in Scott’s Addition

Today, urban winery Brambly Park will make its debut in Scott’s Addition, the neighborhood known for its breweries and warehouses. The establishment flanks the railroad tracks in the historic neighborhood and will feature an event space, restaurant, a large park-like area, and a 3,000 sq ft covered and heated patio.

RVAHub Staff



Today, urban winery Brambly Park will make its debut in Scott’s Addition, the neighborhood known for its breweries and warehouses. The establishment flanks the railroad tracks in the historic neighborhood and will feature an event space, restaurant, a large park-like area, and a 3,000 sq ft covered and heated patio.

The venture is led by the same duo behind the Hofheimer Building and The HofGarden rooftop. Restaurateur Bobby Kruger and his business partner, real estate developer, Carter Snipes conceived the idea after seeing the property and realizing the potential to create a one of a kind park in a former industrial area.

“We saw the property with its pine trees and grass hill and immediately knew this could be something different for Scott’s Addition,” said Snipes.

Their team includes Winemaker Ben Nichols, who previously worked for Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn and Executive Chef Wyatt Swaney, who previously worked at Aloi in Scott’s Addition. Kruger, a seasoned Richmond restaurant veteran, really wanted to bring a winery concept with a broader more laid back appeal to Scott’s Addition.

“We knew from the start we wanted to be wine-focused,” explained Kruger, “but the key was to have an avant-garde winemaker in order for the concept to really shine. When we met Ben it quickly became apparent that we had found someone that excelled at sourcing high-quality unfinished products and turning it into exceptional wine.”

The Wine

The first batch of Brambly Park’s own vintage won’t come out until harvest season so Kruger traveled to Oregon, California, and several vineyards in Virginia to find winemakers who could help craft the first labels and blends.

Virginia favorite Michael Shaps of Wineworks Virginia quickly signed up to produce a dry Rose’ for the venture. Wooden Valley Vineyard, an 85-year old family estate in

California, produced the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Walnut City Wineworks, in Oregon, joined on to produce Riesling and Pinot Noir.

“We’ll work with these partner vineyards and others to bring in grapes and juice for wine that will be produced at Brambly Park under our Scott’s Addition Reserve label,” said Kruger. “After harvest season, we’ll grow beyond the initial six labels with the Virginia grapes our winemaker has sourced for our small batch series. We are excited to showcase these growers and vintners and their amazing products.

The Food

The menu will feature foods that traditionally pair well with wine, with a focus on Italian cuisine. Housemade pasta, charcuterie, cheese, and a variety of baked items are emphasized on both the restaurant menu and the park menu, with the restaurant menu having a larger selection of entrees and the park menu having a larger selection of small plates.

“We have this great interior space and also a large property that lends itself to outdoor dining so we wanted to lean into the versatility of this location and the different ways people would want to enjoy their time at Brambly Park.”

The Park

The property is located in the far northwest corner of Scott’s Addition on almost two acres nestled against the railroad at 1708 Belleville Street. It features a small grass hill and a charming wooded picnic area and is surrounded by wild-growing bramble bushes from which the name was inspired. A large steel pavilion was added to the existing building and designed to resemble a railroad station platform. The inside is decorated with rustic furniture, reclaimed wood, and vintage railroad signage. There over 100 tables spread out across the spacious property, as well as a large parking lot.



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Businesses Unite to Bring Change to Monument Avenue

“We believe inclusion is integral to the strength of our organizations, and that symbols antithetical to equality, equity, and unity harm our employees and community.”




The Monument Commitment is a pledge by Richmond employers to work for change not only along Monument Avenue but in the community.

RVAHub is proud to stand with the businesses below.

If you would like to learn how to add your organization to this commitment email: [email protected]

The pledge reads:

Governor Northam, Mayor Stoney, City Council Members:

We are employers of the Richmond community.

We believe inclusion is integral to the strength of our organizations, and that symbols antithetical to equality, equity, and unity harm our employees and community.

We ask that you commit to support the respectful removal of all the confederate monuments on Monument Avenue in coming months, and do not repair – other than for public safety – the monuments as they currently stand.

For our part, we commit to confronting racism in our organizations and supporting you in eradicating systemic racism in our community.

It is time to take them all down.


Please note we created this post on Friday morning and since businesses are being added constantly some businesses might not be on the list above. This is not a statement against those businesses just an inability to keep up. This link will give you the most current list of those that have made the commitment.



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Tips for Using the River Safely

As the temperature climbs so does river usage and not everyone is well-versed in river safety.




The following advice was submitted by avid whitewater boater Teresa Ann.

Here in Richmond, we have the great pleasure of easy access to the James River. Oftentimes, we feel confident that nothing can go wrong in the flatwater sections or in the relatively “easy” upper James section from Pony to Reedy.

As summer approaches and many folks are headed to the James to relax, kayak, paddle board, canoe, or tube, we need to be sure that some very important guidelines are followed by ALL, not just the whitewater boating community.

Too often, rescues are necessary, and they almost always involve recreational users who are not familiar with the river. The James is NOT a fun lazy river ride like at the parks. We can’t turn it off when things go south that users aren’t prepared for. I’ve found most recreational users only understand the large changes in river level but not the differences between 6ft and 8ft which are not easy to notice for an untrained idea but actually huge and dangerous.

  1. As you all may know, a man died on Monday at Z Dam and on Sunday, a young woman died on the Balcony Falls section further upstream. There were several factors at play here in both deaths. But most noticeable, neither was wearing a PFD. I’m sharing this information to educate not intimidate, and I hope you all will help spread the word.
    All kayakers, paddle boarders, and river users (swimmers, tubers, etc) should use a PFD (personal flotation device. AKA: life jacket) whenever they are participating in water sports. While it is only legally required when the river is over 5ft, it’s a best practice to always wear one. Almost every death on this river involved a person who was NOT wearing a PFD. Accidents are just that – not intentional and unexpected. Your life jacket does no good on the back of your boat if you accidentally end up in the water. Even swimmers should be using PFDs. Several times a year there are swimmers drowning at levels under 5ft.
  2. When doing the Upper or Lower section (anywhere between Pony and 14th Street), all kayakers should be wearing a whitewater approved helmet. Not a bike helmet.
  3. Our river is a rocky bottom river, and while largely friendly geographically (no undercuts, major sieves, etc) there are still deadly features at all water levels – including strainers (woodpiles) and dams.
  4. This brings me to the next point. Low head dams are deadly. Never, ever go over a low head dam. We have several – Z dam, Williams Dam (other side of Williams island from Z), Vepco Levee, Boshers.  All are deadly. Avoid dams at all costs. Always portage (walk and carry your boat) around a dam.Watch this video for more information about low head dams:
  5. Know the river level. It can be found at this website: five feet is the best level for beginners on flat water and the upper. Hazards still exist. For instance, more rocks are out which actually leads to more kayak and boat flips, resulting in more people in the water unexpectedly (did I mention you should always wear a life jacket regardless of level?)Over five and under nine varies greatly. I can’t go into the complexities here. Here are some general rules.Inexperienced boaters should generally not be on the James River over 6ft. Flows increase quickly making self-rescue more difficult and swims much longer. Just this weekend, I watched two inexperienced recreational kayakers (sit on tops) on the upper at 7.9ft with no PFD and bike helmets. One flipped and pinned his boat. He had to swim off the river. His boat came loose after an hour. It was too heavy to flip over. He was nearing hypothermia as we got out after a mile swim. Another rec boat is still pinned under the Powhite bridge.Between 6-9 is all very different. It gets faster. Rocks disappear, but hydraulics form where rocks once were. Most will let you out eventually, but not all of them. There is at least one “terminal hole” on the lower section once the river gets to 7.5+Over nine feet is minor flooding and no one but advanced whitewater paddlers should be on the river at any point.
  6. Know the river temperature. need a combined water and air temp of 120 to not become hypothermic. Most experienced white water boaters are still wearing dry gear when water and air temps are at 120. Cold water contributes to drowning. While 60 may feel warm in the air, water is another beast. Remember your body maintains a 98 degree norm. 60 and even 70 degree water shocks the system. Always dress for a swim. Cotton kills. It cools the body when wet and is heavy. Never boat in cotton.
  7. Always carry safety gear, including a throw rope to help if someone needs a rescue. But you have to learn how to properly use a throw rope because ropes on the river can be an entrapment issue.
  8. NEVER STAND UP IN MOVING WATER. If you are floating down stream because you’ve been flipped off your board, boat or tube, putting your feet down could lead to a deadly foot entrapment. Always float “Nose and Toes” nose points downstream and toes above the water. Float in your back or actively swim on your stomach. Never stand up.

I’m probably missing some stuff but these are basics. I would encourage anyone thinking of kayaking to take a swift water rescue class to learn how to rescue in the river. Someday, you may be glad you did.

Editor’s Note: To address some of the concerns Teresa has put up some homemade signs seen above and in the header image. The Parks Department is hoping to have permanent signage up at Huguenot Flatwater over the weekend. They are also planning to reinstall buoys but have to wait for the right water levels. They continually get washed away after high water events. Additional signage should be coming on the river as well and new portage signage on the island.



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