Wednesday, March 29, 2023

There are no longer ‘green meatballs’ outside this building in York County

Students from the York River Academy Greenhouse Team have started a garden outside the Waste Management Facility will all plants native to the surrounding area. (WYDaily/Courtesy York County)
Students from the York River Academy Greenhouse Team have started a garden outside the Waste Management Facility will all plants native to the surrounding area. (WYDaily/Courtesy York County)

York County just got a little bit prettier with the installation of a new demonstration garden outside the Waste Management facility.

“We actually do have a lot of foot traffic here,” said Barbara Dunbar, a member of the York County Beautification Committee. “Citizens are coming and going and this gives them the chance to learn about biodiversity and native plants.”

Dunbar said the main purpose of the garden was to create a space for native plants to flourish. Previously, the area had been home to what Dunbar calls “green meatballs,” which are plants that are not native to the wildlife of an area and usually part of some sort of landscaping efforts.

The garden was planted by York County Beautification Committee and York River Academy Greenhouse Team. Dunbar said students from York River Academy actually requested for something to do to help with the environment in the county.

And Dunbar was more than happy to put them to work.

“These students work hard,” Dunbar said. “They were excited about it and we were excited to have something to give them.”

Dunbar said it’s important to get students involved in this type of activity because it not only gets them outside, but they get to learn about their county.

The garden hosts only native plants which Dunbar said helps contribute to a better environment for native species. For example, the team planted Golden Alexander which swallow-tail butterflies feed from.

“People need to learn about planting native plants in their gardens,” Dunbar said. “There’s been a decline of our pollinators over the years due to planting non-native species and the heavy use of pesticides. So as a county, if people are planting what naturally grows here, then it’s a more sustainable system.”

Dunbar said the garden is just one of what she hopes will be a series of gardens around the Waste Management facility. She said there are a couple of other gardens around the building the group has their eyes on making places for native growth.

“The students are totally invested in helping design and plant the other phases,” she said. “We’ve been really lucky.”

The first step, she said, would be to get rid of the non-native plants in the gardens because many of them are invasive species, which could harm any new plants placed in close proximity. In addition, the team hopes to take the ditch area in front, which Dunbar said just collects trash from the road currently, and make it into a system that collects water so the plants can filter it.

But for now, the team is maintaining the garden with a dedication to bringing out York County’s history through plants.

The funds for the garden came from a grant from the Keep Virginia Beautiful program as well as plant donations from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Dunbar said.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

Related Articles