VA Delegate Sam Rasoul surveys green project
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The Garden, located at 525 Loudon Ave. NW serves as a way to build community through growing and increasing access to healthy local produce, an educational site, as well as production for the WELL farm stand. The WELL (working, Eating, Living and Learning) is operated by Apple Ridge Farm’s Aspire students and supported by Focused Radio. In it’s initial phase, Apple Ridge Farm staff and community members built community beds and raised beds.
The Garden’s next phase includes installing fences and gates, building additional raised beds, and planting fruit trees, as well as berry bushes.
Virginia Delegate Sam Rasoul, along with John Lewis, executive dir., Apple Ridge Farm was present to discuss food access and equity with University of Delaware students.
Lewis said major funding for the garden is through CDBG funds and Carilion with additional support from individual donors–considered as community partners, i.e. NNEO, Amazetta Anderson and Arthur Hill.
“We are working diligently with our community partners and members to create a sustainable local food system within Northwest Roanoke and other designated food deserts in the city. The George Washington Carver Garden is a model for sustainable growth of food and successful community building,” stated Lewis.
The Garden is a direct connection to the programming at Apple Ridge Academic Summer Camp, where one program focuses on agriculture.
Many volunteers have assisted in the upgrade to the garden. Volunteers have included University of Delaware Alternative Break (aka UDaB) students, VT Engage students, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church parishioners and several community members.
The program sends about 500 students nationwide for spring break. For several of the eighteen in this group, it was a return trip to the area – like project site leader Aaron Nolan (aka A.J.) an environmental engineering junior with UDaB, who explained the program “strives to promote mutually beneficial service to create social change.”
Prior to coming to the region those enrolled in the program attend meetings once-a-week for six weeks to educate them on the target community and certain prevailing conditions in the area.
“This community garden is such a great idea much like the food co-operative I’m in back in school,” said Nolan. “We (students) go and farm and in exchange for our work we get produce that we use to cook meals with every Sunday. To see the power of young people promoting sustainable food systems and sustainable agriculture is what we really need now in the world.”
In addition to providing a direct service, volunteering is a great way to learn about social issues, as well as learn and/or apply gardening skills to such projects as community gardens. Interested volunteers can assist every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To learn more about Apple Ridge Farm, volunteer and community engagement opportunities and the academic summer camp, please contact the main office at (540) 982-1322.