Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Urban Farm Brings Growers Together

Jim Thompson stands by his Kensington Garden. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg Community Growers (WCG) has a mission to grow a healthy community ecosystem. Located on 10 acres of land within the Dominion Energy power corridor near the Warhill Sports complex, the urban farm allows community participation along with harvesting local produce that is shared with those in need.

WCG is grant-funded and donations keep the garden alive along with community plot rentals.

Harvest is grown for donation purposes and is currently shared with Grove Community Outreach, St. Olaf’s Church and Old Towne Medical and Dental.

“Last year, we were able to donate approximately 4,000 pounds of locally-grown produce,” said Sam Pereira, farm manager.

Sam Pereira harvests collards at the Community Garden. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

The farm relies on volunteers to help maintain the amount of work to be done.

“Volunteers are the number one thing that keeps us growing — 90% of the maintenance is done by volunteers. They help weed, seed, mulch, move the heavy dirt and repair fences,” said Pereira.

Volunteer “parties” are held on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Everyone is welcome, but volunteers must sign a waiver and registration is recommended.

As a teaching farm, WCG allows people to see produce differently than just a display in a grocery store. “When you are here, you can see the amount of work and time that goes into growing. And, nothing is better than getting your hands in the dirt to understand where the food comes from. The joy on a kid’s face, when you see them pick a carrot and chomp into it, makes it worth the effort,” said Pereira.

WCG invites the community to come out, walk around, meet the growers and take photos, but picking is prohibited. However, many growers with an abundance of harvest will offer to share

(Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

“WCG connects people,” said Pereira, “It gets people outside, and growing things for yourself but, the community that happens is amazing. People share seeds, plants, and advice with one another.  You can meet people you may have never had the opportunity to connect with otherwise.”

Community growers can buy in to maintain a 10-by-10 or 10-by-20 plot that can be accessed all year. Currently, with no available plots for the upcoming season, the WCG is hopeful it can expand the growing space in the future.

Jim Thompson has a plot he named ‘Kensington Garden.’ “Its my happy place. You can come out and work by yourself or if you are lonely, there is always another gardener to talk to. No one argues about politics or religion. It is a wonderful community within a community. And, you can learn so much from others.”

The creativity and beauty of the garden is evident as every garden plot is different and showcases the personality of the grower. Some focus on produce while others are full of flower blooms.

(Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

“Gardening is so mentally healthy,” Thompson laughs as he adds, “This is cheaper than a therapist!”

WCG will host a summer plant sale on Saturday, May 6 starting at 9 a.m.

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