Tuesday, June 25, 2024

This community garden grows veggies and opportunities

VIRGINIA BEACH — Inspiration and ideas can come from just about anywhere.

Take for instance the relatively peaceful community garden tucked away on land owned by Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, just southwest of the busy intersection of Dam Neck and Princess Anne roads.

The inspiration for it came in 2013 when, said facilitator Helene Tisdale, she and her husband Chuck Kellen watched a Ted Talk about an English community that had turned open spaces in their town into gardening spots.

A year later they connected with Sentara Princess Anne, who provided the land, and the community garden was born.

The garden has since grown to include 52 separate spaces.

“I cherish our garden days as a chance to meet local community members who share the same interests in connecting while producing something valuable,” Tisdale said. “The connection to knowing where your food is coming from; the sense of pride when you plant a seed and are able to grow the vegetable to serve your family is amazing.”

The garden is currently growing common staples such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, to the more unique, like artichokes.

“Local children who volunteer are able to see a favorite snack, such as watermelon, cherry tomatoes, or cucumbers, and watch how they grow from a flower to a veggie, which is an incredible educational experience,” Tisdale said.

Another of the benefits of the community garden is that Tisdale and the others are able to take extra produce grown and offer it as a donation to the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center and Beach Health Clinic, which Tisdale said she hopes allow even more Virginia Beach residents the opportunity to partake in fresh produce.

“We have also received financial support from a local family whose son passed away,” she said. “Nick Broermann was passionate about organic gardening and his family honors his memory through financial donations as well as spending time out there.”

Christy Carroll-Hendricks, a landscape designer, recently joined Tisdale and her husband on the board and serves as the team horticulturist. They also meet monthly with Francie Golden, the director of mission for Sentara Princess Anne.

Volunteers and those interested in learning about gardening or growing their own produce are welcome, and can get more information on Virginia Beach Community Gardens’ Facebook page or by emailing vbcommgardens@gmail.com.

“Although the garden at SPAH is our biggest current project, the Virginia Beach Community Gardens is excited to see gardens pop up throughout Virginia Beach,” Tisdale said.

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