Gardens growing community during a pandemic | Local News


At Blacksburg’s community gardens, gardeners must agree to avoid the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides as they hurt pollinators. At Hale, many of these pollinators live in honey bee hives on the property. Graham, at the Radford garden, said they have no requirement to grow things organically, but he seldom uses any chemicals.

Both Radford and Blacksburg gardens are fenced and have water sources with hoses. In addition to the main garden and hives, 11-year-old Hale garden harbors a small apple orchard, a greenhouse, and an asparagus patch that members may harvest. Both Blacksburg community gardens have herb gardens for members’ use.

“I’d like to see community gardening in every neighborhood that could use one, especially in rental areas,” Schwanke said.

In addition to the Hale and Wong park gardens, Blacksburg has the independently created Airport Acres community garden on land rented from the Virginia Tech/Montgomery County Airport, Schwanke said.

More community gardens are probably in Blacksburg’s future. The Hale and Wong Park gardens are programs of Live, Work, Eat, Gather, Inc., an organization with a mission to cultivate community through the support of local food and the gathering of neighbors, among other objectives.

Both Blacksburg and Radford community gardeners give back to the community, in the form of produce to food pantries. Gardener Matt Dhillon takes Wong Park garden donations to the Southpaw mutual aid organization in Blacksburg, and other gardeners donate to the Interfaith Food Pantry. In Radford individuals contribute produce to the Daily Bread soup kitchen.

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