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Friday, March 17, 2023

This year, I’m trying my hand at starting my own vegetable plants for summer — for the third time. My failure rate is high, so when I read about an urban farming program at Charlottesville High School, I wondered how much better my plants would fare had I been practicing since I was a teenager.

That’s the experience sophomore Nava Khurgel will have. “I want to have a little garden wherever I’m living. Now I’m more prepared to do that,” she told our education reporter, Tamica Jean-Charles.

Urban farming education is on the rise, especially among youth, according to Leonard Githinji, professor of sustainable and urban agriculture at Virginia State University. There is a growing interest in local food systems across the state, specifically in central and northern Virginia, he said.

Three high schoolers rake through soil and tend to rows of small leafy green plants in a covered greenhouse.
Credit: Kori Price/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Starting your summer vegetable garden? Here’s why you might ask a Charlottesville High student for help

The classes here started six years ago when the high school collaborated with the local nonprofit Cultivate Charlottesville. The organization built its first schoolyard garden at Buford Middle School in 2010. Now all public schools have gardens, while Buford and Charlottesville High have farm and garden courses.

Cultivate Charlottesville helps manage not only school gardens, but urban gardens at public housing sites, too. We reported in 2021 about their programs — they serve over 300 people in their markets, distributing produce all across the city. But as housing developments proceed, there are questions about what happens next in these spaces.

Two people wearing masks stand at bins of left greens, handout out produce in plastic bags.
Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Charlottesville is losing its community gardens to redevelopment — this group wants to relocate them to city parks

Since this story ran, the Piedmont Housing Alliance has made headway on the Friendship Court redevelopment, and that’s meant closing the community garden. New homes are being built on the former garden site, and in a later phase of the project, the garden will be replanted where the current homes stand now. Keep up with this newsletter for new reporting on both the housing developments and garden and food access in the city!

Want to know even more about food access? Come back into our archives for this story by Jordy Yager that we produced with our partners in Charlottesville Inclusive Media in 2020, about how communities advanced food equity in the pandemic.

An illustration of three people in front of black stripes hold red trays, like the kind used in school cafeterias.
Credit: Credit: Sahara Clemons

Determined to Be Nourished

This weekend, I’ll be calling for spring weather to finally arrive so I will feel better about putting my baby plants in the ground. I hope you find time to enjoy nature and maybe spend some time in a garden, too.

Thanks for joining us,

Angilee Shah, editor-in-chief

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Angilee Shah

Hi, I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's Editor-in-Chief. I’d love to know more about want you want from local news. Let’s find a time to talk. And keep up with our work by subscribing to our free email newsletter!