Shared Earth: Community gardening and urban agriculture serve the heart of James City County

Gardening invokes a sense of wonder from a child to an adult and quenches the desire to create through observation and experimentation. Nurturing plants helps us feel a sense of accomplishment and connection to the earth and community. Research shows that growing your own food improves physical health and promotes a healthy lifestyle. For these reasons and more, a group of dedicated, community-minded supporters have created a shared space in James City County called Williamsburg Community Producers (WCG).

Community gardeners at work. The garden is located between Warhill High School and James City County Stadium.

Why create a community garden?

The vision of Williamsburg Community Growers is to grow Williamsburg’s healthy community food ecosystem. What started as a small garden has grown into a thriving community garden, a productive educational farm, and a unique outdoor educational space fulfilling the first part of WCG’s mission to educate the public about the benefits of producing and consuming food. locally grown products.

Williamsburg Community Growers is a community growth space within a 10 acre site between Warhill High School and James City County Stadium. The land is within the Dominion Energy power line corridor which has been repurposed for agricultural use, instilling a positive impact on the greening of the area.

Involve schools

Students from local elementary schools and three secondary schools from the WJCC and Merrimac Detention Center participated in seed starting, planting and harvesting. Currently, students at Warhill High School have project-based learning on the farm and students at Jamestown High School volunteer on the farm for an AP Human Geography Classroom Food Safety Service Project. WCG has facilitated dozens of field trips and educational opportunities with local schools and participated in cooking classes using farm-fresh produce.

Fresh produce benefits local families

During the 2018 harvest season, the farm donated more than 650 pounds of locally grown fresh produce to community organizations and food-insecure families. Local schools have also benefited from farm-fresh produce delivered to school cafeterias, allowing students to participate in the whole food system from seed to table.

How can community members get involved?

WCG is currently expanding the community garden due to growing interest and the fulfillment of the second part of its mission to provide gardening space for the community. Community garden memberships on the WCG site are available for individuals and families. The plots are 10 feet by 20 feet and are currently rented at $40 for the season beginning in March and continuing through mid-November. WCG provides water, compost and mulch. Other gardeners are happy to share their tips and experience.

Volunteers work on a raised bed that will make gardening more accessible to older people and people with reduced mobility.

Making gardening accessible to as many people as possible

Gardening has proven to be a rewarding recreational activity for everyone involved. Because gardening can benefit our physical, mental and social well-being, it is important that people of all abilities are included in this rewarding activity. WCG plans to build accessible gardens to ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to benefit from garden participation. the Williamsburg Community Foundation provided seed funding for this effort to meet the third part of WCG’s mission statement: to promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

Promote conservation practices

James City County has delivered over 600 tons of leaves from curbside pickups for composting to be used in soil enrichment, Williamsburg-area beekeepers are helping establish a pollinator zone to increase the bee nesting habitat. Information kiosks on these practices are part of an environmental guided tour on site.

The farm uses runoff from the Warhill High School complex which has been filtered and cleaned by two wetland systems and a restored creek. This water is then pumped from a retention basin on the WISC site to be stored in two 2,500 gallon cisterns. The recycled rainwater is then distributed to community gardeners to water their plants using a gravity system. The farm’s vegetables are watered via a drip irrigation system using a solar-powered pumping station. Demonstrating and promoting conservation practices is the fourth part of WCG’s mission. Future plans include adding an educational wetland viewing area.

You want to know more ?

Come join us for our Farm Field Day on June 8 from 9 a.m. to noon at Williamsburg Community Producers on Stadium Road. We will have tours, educational activities and free family fun! For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit our website.

Williamsburg Community Foundation is proud to support Williamsburg Community Growers and many other organizations that improve the quality of life for local residents. Thanks to hundreds of local people like you, the Foundation has awarded more than $6.8 million in grants and scholarships combined since 1999. Learn more about how you can apply for a grant or scholarship, or how the Foundation can help you make a difference through ICI philanthropy.