Author: Jenny Schwanke
Live, Work, Eat, Grow is a non-profit organization based in the New River Valley of Virginia. We are a highly adaptive organization responding to the needs of the community by fostering food-based small business development, enhancing community vibrancy and increasing food security.
Our mission is to cultivate and nourish communities through the support of local food, farms and community gardens; the creation and growth of jobs; the advocacy of a home for everyone, and the gathering of friends and neighbors.
The community garden program became part of Live, Work, Eat, Grow in 2019, but lineage of our community gardens has been part of this community dates back into the late 1970’s. The flagship Hale Community Garden is a 5-acre site on land previously owned by Arlean Hale Lambert and since donated to the Town of Blacksburg.
The long-range vision is to have a community with a robust network of gardens so that anyone wanting to grow some of their own food has access to land, tools, and knowledge to do so. In 2021, Live Work Eat Gather opened its third community garden site. Bringing us to a total of about 100 plots rented to community members for food production. The Hale Garden is on a five-acre property on the north end of town. The garden has 65 plots and a diversity of gardeners from around the world making it a remarkable place to see a huge variety of vegetables and some astounding organic vegetable production talent at work. Last year the Wong Park Community Garden was started in the center of town in the town’s Wong Park. The garden there has 15 plots, water access, and deer fencing. Another 15 plots in the Garrison Community Garden will become available on the south end of town in the town’s Cedar Hill Park later this spring. The Wong Park and Garrison Community gardens both give garden rental preference to neighbors in walking distance to the site. The Hale has gardeners from all over town and a few from out of town as well.
For community members interested in becoming part of Live Work Eat Grow’s community gardening activities there are several ways to get involved.
First you can get a plot of your own nearest where you live. For now, all of our plots are filled for 2021 and there is a waiting list. Contact the gardens by email to get your name on the list. Rental fees run from $25 – $35 annually.
Another way to get involved is to participate in the many activities and projects that are underway. COVID halted our monthly potlucks and classes at the Hale Community Garden but we hope that will change soon. There are still things to do though. There are groups of volunteers that work on specific projects. If you are part of a group that would like to adopt a project then, again, email the garden with your interests and availability.
Some projects include:
- A Master Gardener led pollinator garden at the Hale Community Garden. The Master Gardeners are busy working nearly every week and are welcoming to new volunteers.
- There is a fruit orchard where a bit of tending is always needed.
- If you have a special talent for seed starting, composting, or growing in small spaces, we’d love to have you teach a outdoor small class on the topic.
- There is a model food forest that is ever changing and a great place to contribute your design skills along with hands on pruning, weeding, mulching and transplanting.
- And this year, through grant funding, a native plant propagation program starting up at the Hale Community Garden in collaboration with the Native Plant Society.
So please feel free to stop by one of the garden sites and take a look around – at a safe distance from others. Let us know, via email if there is a way you’d like to get involved. There is also a link on the Blacksburg town website to a community garden survey where you have the opportunity to have your ideas heard and even suggest a location for another garden. Being part of a community garden is a way to grow some of your own food. It is also a way to grow a stronger, more sustainable and vibrant community. Hope to see you at the garden!
For more details, please visit Blacksburg Community Gardens – growing food and community
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org