By Stanley Jones III, Director, Surry County Parks and Recreation

Stanley Jones III

Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) partnered with Surry County Parks and Recreation Center (SCPR) to start a community garden. Surry County is considered a food desert due to the county not having access to fresh foods nor a grocery store. Gardening is a necessity for the residents of Surry County to be able to have fresh foods.

Although this is a trial project, the impacts and positive outcomes have proven that this is a worthwhile effort for the Surry Community. It has allowed the residents to participate in workshops on building raised beds, soil health, planting fall crops, and composting. This has given the residents of Surry County the opportunity to learn skills needed for home gardening and assisting in beautifying our County Park.

The Agriculture students and 4-H club members are also invested in the success of this project. We plan to grow this project and continue to offer demonstration gardens so that our residents can take advantage of our rich soil and grow their own vegetables and herbs which will improve their health and wellness.

During our trial year, VCE and SCPR will try our hand at providing Surry County a community garden and give our Senior citizens the opportunity to assist with weeding, watering, and caring for the garden. Fresh produce picked will be shared with Surry Seniors. The first harvest was lettuce and the seniors were very excited to take their lettuce home. Some said they were going to make a salad and others mentioned that they wanted to use their lettuce on sandwiches. There is a sense of accomplishment and pride when you can pick produce that you cared for to prepare meals. The Surry County Senior Citizens are very excited about the next harvest.

Community gardens are collaborative projects on shared open spaces where participants share in the maintenance and products of the garden, including healthful and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gardens may offer physical and mental health benefits by providing opportunities to
• Eat healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Engage in physical activity, skill building, and creating green space.
• Beautify vacant lots.
• Revive and beautify public parks.
• Improve social well-being through strengthening social connections.