Lynchburg's Urban Farm
Contact: Michael G. Van Ness
website link: http://www.lynchburggrows.org/
Over the next two years Lynchburg Grows will purchase at a bargain-sale an urban farm located in the heart of Lynchburg. The 6.5 acre farm and its nine glass greenhouses totaling over 70,000 ft2 will provide an opportunity to implement workforce development and job training opportunities targeted for disabled and disadvantaged individuals. The farm will also provide educational opportunities for all citizens through classes on composting, care and maintenance of plants, lawns, trees, etc.
Workforce development and job training opportunities will be available in the fields of horticulture, agriculture, landscaping, and lawn and land management. Many of the vegetables that are grown will be donated to local food banks and the rest sold retail at the farmer's market, thus providing a stream of revenue for the organization and further promoting our mission by providing healthy produce and organically grown plants to interested buyers.
As a highly visible agricultural parcel in a dense urban environment, the urban farm will play a unique role in the community, providing its neighbors with food, educational and cultural events, open space and a connection to the land. The farm will also serve to demonstrate the economic viability of small farm operations and the potential of small, regional farms to feed their community.
Aerial Photo of Lynchburg Grows' urban farm and Lynchburg stadium complex
LYNCHBURG GROWS "Give a gift that GROWS!"
Lynchburg Grows was formed as a not-for-profit corporation in response to an issue brought to light by the Lynchburg News & Advance. The newspaper reported that in November 2003, Paul Lam came outside of the Longwood Group Home where he resided to "find a front-end loader reducing the garden that he had carefully worked on for years to rubble. The love of his life had been devastated," wrote an editorial writer for the News & Advance. The regional newspaper had made public the plight of Paul and explained that the incident could be blamed on "[t]he bureaucratic world that surrounds those with mental retardation," and "miscommunication. It should never have happened…"
Inspired by such a tender and emotional story, citizens of Lynchburg and the surrounding areas of Region 2000 came together to form Lynchburg Grows - a not-for-profit organization. Lynchburg Grows was conceived with the humble desire of just building a vegetable garden to replace the one lost by Longwood Group Home, and to present the gift by Paul's 52nd Birthday on April 25, 2004. Early on, when deciding the parameters of the organization, its work, and its exact mission, Lynchburg Grows decided to have the noble goal of helping all disadvantaged persons enjoy the healthy benefits of gardening and having access to such spaces, even if it was twenty years in the making.
By using its humble beginnings and utilizing the collective creativity, sweat equity, and vision of volunteers, Lynchburg Grows was able to gather corporate and individual support to raise over $650 to create a permanent vegetable garden for the group home. Lynchburg Grows has also made a commitment to Paul and the other residents of the group home that we will assist them for a period of at least three years in getting the garden established and managing it, learning about composting methods to handle the waste generated by the residents, and building a storage shed to store the tools and equipment for the facility.
Longwood Group Home houses seven disabled individuals in the city of Bedford with the goal of helping their residents live a safe and wholesome life. It is touching to anyone hearing Sue, a staff person, discuss how important the garden is to Paul and to the Group Home. "You might not realize how desperately a facility such as this needs fresh fruits and vegetables in order to feed its residents here. This is a way that a wonderfully special person such as Paul can be productive, follow his life-long interest and talent in gardening, and assist in feeding us all!"
Lynchburg Grows has successfully negotiated with the Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the purchase of five properties located in Lynchburg's inner-city. The properties lie near Federal, Garland and Daniels Hill Historic Districts and will provide the necessary land for the creation of community gardens. The gardens will be Roots and Shoots gardens where children - called shoots - and older community volunteers - known as roots - grow vegetables, flowers and herbs together as "garden friends." Roots and Shoots is also the name of an intergenerational gardening educational program that started in 1985 in California. Roots and Shoots gardens are now in Virginia in Ashland, Effinger, Lexington, and Williamsburg. Each Roots and Shoots garden is actually an outdoor classroom for elementary school children where science, reading, writing and math lessons meeting SOL requirements are incorporated into the gardening. Each grade has its own theme garden, such as a sunflower garden, scarecrow garden, colonial herb garden, alphabet garden and pond garden. With an intergenerational gardening program focusing on "at risk" inner-city youth, the program will serve to strengthen the local community by creating a lasting link between the young and the old, between the community and local elementary schools.
Friends of Lynchburg
To celebrate the birth of Lynchburg Grows and to help us develop into a strong organization, we are seeking 1,000 Friends of Lynchburg who will ensure our viability and success in fulfilling our goals. All of the 1,000 Friends of Lynchburg will be permanently memorialized as founding members of the organization and, as such, will have their names inscribed upon a plaque, a brick walkway, and/or kiosk at Lynchburg Grows' headquarters on the urban farm. Since space is limited to the first 1,000 charter members of Lynchburg Grows, we encourage memorial donations and/or those in honor of someone.
Anyone seeking more information or wishing to support the activities of Lynchburg Grows can write to us or send a tax deductible donation to: Lynchburg Grows, P.O. Box 12039, Lynchburg, VA 24506. Remember this year, give a gift that GROWS!
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