Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Growing for the Community Kitchen

Two more reasons to love your RVA: some of our museums are growing fresh, local food for the food bank, enhancing their original mission and focus. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has a 'Community Kitchen Garden', with a goal of delivering 10,000 pounds of fresh vegetables this year to the Community Kitchen. This part of FeedMore prepares food for Meals On Wheels and the Kids Cafe. I got to work in this garden during the summer with our youth volunteers, giving me great insight on how many hours it takes to work and plan a production garden. A whole, sweaty lot.

The produce we grow is determined by the Community Kitchen's need, so they request certain crops at the beginning of the season. This year, we grew zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes until they were each taken down, slowly, by squash bugs, a common pest in this area. We were able to get 8,819 pounds to date, so that is not too shabby. We've now planted 150 Cauliflower plants, 225 broccoli and 84 cabbage for this season. You can read more about our adventures this season here (along with all the other fun stuff going on in the Garden), and sign up to volunteer here.

See how much fun we have? I also got to grow herbs (mostly basil) for the cafe at the Garden with the youth program- We had even made the compost the herbs were grown in from kitchen scraps from that very cafe! Hyper-local!

Since the season is winding down, I wanted to check out other gardens with similar goals in the area. Lo and behold, the Science Museum of Virginia has its own garden called the Green Acre.
Brian (the manager of LGBG's Community Kitchen Garden) and I went out last Friday to see how the project at SMV is going. A beautiful green space behind the museum holds a permaculture exhibit (maintained by Tricycle Gardens) and lovely herb and veggie plots tended by Matt (the Outreach Coordinator for the museum) and Katie, (the manager for the Green Acre). In between their other museum duties, Matt and Katie also grow and deliver herbs and veggies to the Community Kitchen.

Love how you can see the FFV factory behind the herb section.

Thanks Matt and Katie for showing us the Green Acre! I love how beautiful and urban it is. Even their supply room also houses a old RVA street car! The Green Acre will soon house several bee hives, so if you are interested in beekeeping, there will be an opportunity for hands- on learning with the Richmond Beekeepers Association. If you would like a tour or to help out in the Science Museum's Green Acre, contact Matt at mbaker@smv.org.

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