About Us

LEAP’s Mission and Vision

LEAP nurtures our food community. We do this to create an equitable food and farming system which prioritizes health and abundance by supporting community initiatives, markets, farms, and farmers.

We do this because we believe in:

  • Equity: We believe that all people should have affordable access to the food that feeds them and their families. We believe that farmers and food producers should be able to have viable businesses.
  • Dignity: We value and honor all people. We work to see, hear, listen, and understand the food community at all levels.
  • A holistic approach: Our region’s people, animals, and environment have wide-ranging and different needs. We seek to understand this complexity and support systems which focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The benefits of local food: We are rooted in trusting relationships with community members, businesses, organizations, and governments to collectively support our food community.
  • Love: We serve our community with passion, love, and humility.

LEAP History

Local Environmental Agriculture Project Inc. (LEAP) is a 501c3 nonprofit founded in 2009, thanks to the work of Brent Cochran and other food-lovers in the Valley. Originally a project of the Roanoke Co+op, this group of people launched the Grandin Village Farmers Market in summer 2009. After only a short time, Brent and the Co+op recognized that an organization supporting markets and the local food system would quickly outgrow the scope of the Co-op, and LEAP was born as an independent organization. In 2010, LEAP expanded by launching the year-round West End Farmers Market in partnership with the West End Center for Youth. For several years, Brent managed LEAP as a volunteer with the help of market master Tee Reynolds, on board since 2011.

Grandin Market

In 2013, with the growth of the markets and potential for LEAP to grow further, Maureen McNamara Best came on board as LEAP’s Executive Director. With the organization’s first full-time paid staff on board, LEAP has garnered more resources and is committed to building local food infrastructure in the Roanoke Valley. In 2021, LEAP is a team of 9 representing a wide variety of food programming, both locally and across the Commonwealth.

LEAP’s strong foundation is rooted in the farmers, market vendors, and market customers who first jumped feet first into the Farmers Markets. LEAP continues to build a stronger local food system thanks to committed individuals, LEAP Board members, market customers, LEAP staff and volunteers, community partners and our amazing food producers. Thanks for making history and for constantly moving the needle forward.

LEAP Annual Reports

2020 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report

2018 Annual Report

2017 Annual Report

2016 Annual Report

2015 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report