Community Gardens Provide Culture While Helping Address Food Insecurity in Southwest Virginia

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The City of Blacksburg, a non-profit organization and Virginia Tech unite to end food insecurity in Southwest Virginia

Feeding Southwest Virginia staff said one in eight residents struggled with food insecurity.

A non-profit organization called Live, Work, Eat Grow works to encourage community gardening, to help people have access to fresh produce.

“We have tomatoes, people grow corn here, people grow green vegetables,” said Steve Kruger of Live, Work, Eat, Grow.

The association manages the Hale Garden, the largest in Blacksburg.

Kruger said what’s special at Hale Garden, one of Blacksburg’s three community gardens, is the people growing vegetables that may not be available at the grocery store.

It’s also about building a sense of community.

“People grow a lot of Asian yams,” Kruger said.

Another is the fight against food insecurity. Kruger said more than $66,000 worth of produce was grown last year.

“On the surface, it’s a place to grow food, it’s a place to have more nutritious food.”

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Dr. Elena Serrano of Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension said educating people about healthier food choices is key once food is grown.

“We did a state survey of low-income people, nearly one-third of adults and nearly three-quarters of households were considered food insecure,” Dr. Serrano said.

Serrano said one in ten adults are food insecure and one in seven households with children experience food insecurity.

The goal now is to help educate people about good eating habits.

“What do you do with eggplant once you’ve decided to grow it, we can provide educational programs to help you process and prepare it,” Serrano said.

To learn more about community gardening and food, click here.

The center works directly with Live, Work, Eat Grow and provides support for civic agriculture and food systems. To learn more, click here.

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