Richmond’s Neighborhood Gardens & Parks: “It’s a Community Thing”

 
by Cesca Janece Waterfield

Livability is green.
Public parks and gardens directly impact the environmental and social quality of a city. They also go a long way in bolstering economic growth, when large employers move to an area based partly on the quality of life their employees can enjoy. It’s easy to see why we all have an interest in promoting public parks and gardens.

 
Lucky for Richmond residents, cities nationwide take notes on Richmond’s Department of Parks and Recreation. And while the city’s community garden and environmental movement is relatively young, it’s robust, and displays passionate leadership.

 

Fulton Hill’s Neighborhood Resource Center
1519 Williamsburg Rd.
Fulton Hill’s island of green is supported by the grassroots Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) whose overall mission is to consciously develop the Greater Fulton community by fostering relationships and sharing resources in a comprehensive program of education, networking, and recreation. The garden is an important part of NRC’s mission. “The idea is a learning garden because we have a preschool here,” says Mary Lou Decossaux, Co-Executive Director. “We also have an afterschool program here. Both groups of children participate in everything from planting the garden, to watering and weeding the garden, to picking the vegetables and eating them. We also have a café, a community kitchen which will serve vegetables picked from the garden. We serve them during Sunday brunch.”

 
To achieve this garden oasis in Fulton Hill, growers cut every corner! The concrete beds are uniquely constructed to be functional, and they’re rounded. Contact NRC 864-5797 www.NRCCafe.org

 

Carver Gardens
1321 W. Leigh St.
Located across from Moore St. Baptist Church, who donated use of this property, Carver Gardens is in its second growing season. It features eleven beds and at the moment, possibly the world’s tallest sunflowers. If you’re a novice gardener, leader Rebecca Spivey says don’t fear! “I’m not a gardener by nature,” she admits. “I’m learning a lot. Anybody can do it. If I can, anybody can. We have a hugely diverse group of people. It’s been an amazing experience. If anybody wants to help out, we’ll be having a workday in October. Also, financial donations are always welcome. Our dream, if we can raise the funds, is to build a shed and a compost bed.” For info, contact Rebecca Spivey at 644-3689.

 

Tricycle Gardens
The flagship of Richmond gardens, Tricycle Gardens soothes and buzzes at Jefferson Ave. between 23rd and 24th Streets in Church Hill. “I live three or four blocks up from the Church Hill Garden,” resident John Murden says. “I see it every day. I know people in the neighborhood are proud of it. It really does add to the neighborhood. It’s a community thing.” In its fourth growing season, Tricycle Gardens has fifteen beds. Visit their Website for a variety of downloadable educational material. www.TricycleGardens.org

 
Want to start your own community garden? Tricycle Gardens sponsors free workshops to show you how. Attend “The Down and Dirty, the Nitty Gritty, the Nuts and Bolts on ‘How to Start & Sustain a Community Garden.” The next workshop is Wednesday, Aug. 13, 6:30 – 9 pm, 211 W. 7th St. in old Manchester. Info 231-7767

 

Clubs & Conversations
Boasting a garden variety of forums, Richmond offers many opportunities to raise your environmental awareness and to mobilize!

 
Back Porch Conversations, every Monday, 6:30 pm, Globe Hopper Coffeehouse, 2100 E. Main St. Sponsored by Back Porch Energy Initiative, these weekly conversations are relaxed and informative ways to meet others in Richmond working as a community to respond creatively and responsibly to limited energy resources. Idealistic aspiration is encouraged, but practical solutions are what Back Porch Energy Initiative is all about.

 
“A truly sustainable approach to ‘greening’ Richmond must be a movement that includes people of color and folks from many economic, ethnic, and religious groups,” says Chris Lumpkin, Project Coordinator with Back Porch. The 37-year old Richmond resident makes clear, “Back Porch Initiatives and Envision Richmond are two groups that are committed to opening their doors and forging lasting bonds among diverse populations in their effort to make Richmond a better place to live and work.” www.BackPorchEnergy.org

 
Area Farmer’s Markets
Byrd House Market – Open Tuesdays, 3:30 to 7 pm, 224 Cherry St. in Oregon Hill, just off S. Linden St. and Idlewood Ave., behind the William Byrd Community House

 

Goochland Market – Open Saturdays through October 25, 8 – 12 pm, Grace Episcopal Church, 2955 River Rd. West, Goochland Courthouse, at Rts. 6 and 522

 

Lakeside Farmers Market – Open through Thanksgiving, Wednesdays 8 am to noon, and 3 – 7 pm; Open Saturdays 8 –noon. Lakeside Towne Center, Lakeside Ave. in Ginter Gardens

 

17th St. Farmers Market – The one that started it all, in 1779! 100 N. 17th St., Shockoe Bottom. Open Thursdays, 8:30 am – 2 pm; Weekends, 9 am – 4 pm.

 

Workshops & How-To’s
Thursday, Aug. 7, “Get Started with Organic Gardening,” 6:30 – 9 pm, $15, 211 W. 7th St. in the Manchester District. Call 231-7767

 

Wednesday, Aug. 13, “How to Start & Sustain a Community Garden,” 6:30 – 9 pm, Free. Info 231- 7767 lisa@tricyclegardens.org

 

Galaxy Gawkers and Stargazers at Bryan Park
The Richmond Astronomical Society (RAS) is bringing their impressive array of telescopes to give stargazers an unobstructed view of the night sky. It’s “Family Stargazing Night,” sponsored by Richmond’s Department of Parks & Recreation, Aug. 7, 8:30 pm in Bryan Park in Richmond’s Northside at Hermitage Dr.

 

What will you see?

  • Crater close-ups
  • Lunar mountains
  • Jupiter’s cloud belts and moons, and Mars
  • Nebulae, star clusters, dwarfs, and constellations
  • Galaxies and objects 23 million light years away

 

Sky maps are provided and a simple introductory program will show you what to look for. Don’t forget your binoculars. Also, an LCD monitor will show pictures of the telescopic views in real-time. Info terry@teebark.com.

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