Partners In Growing Good Food & Community

Posted by on Aug 7, 2018 | Comments Off on Partners In Growing Good Food & Community

Partners In Growing Good Food & Community

Dear Charlottesville Community:

If you’ve ever wondered who was responsible for tending the beautiful and productive urban farms across the City of Charlottesville, it’s the Urban Agricultural Collective of Charlottesville (UACC). For six years, Farmer Todd Niemeier, of UACC, has been working alongside community volunteers to faithfully manage farm plots at Friendship Court, South First Street, Sixth Street and West Street. Over the past few years, UACC has faced changes and challenges with the strength of a robust community. Redevelopment is slated for the end of 2019 and it has been challenging to balance fundraising, organizational development, and growing and sharing food.

In early 2018, Farmer Todd moved into a new role at the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights.  But he has still been working diligently with community partners to create new alliances for UACC’s continued production.  Emerging from that effort, UACC and City Schoolyard Garden (CSG) are partnering to provide a bridge and keep the gardens growing until redevelopment.

Today’s UACC’s farm began as a project of the Quality Community Council’s Farm Initiative in 2007. In 2012, the UACC was created as the garden’s managing organization. Farmer Todd has been a guiding force from the very beginning, growing food with the Charlottesville community for eleven years. In 2017, the UACC gardens produced 18,000 pounds of food, which were shared within the community from which is was grown.

Stepping into the leadership position, the garden’s new Farm Manager, Jenifer Minor, is an experienced veteran. A Culpeper VA native, Jenifer has been in Charlottesville since she was thirteen years old. She started as a farm apprentice in 2015, with Farmer Todd. Asked about the dual responsibilities of being a mom and taking on such a physically demanding job, Jenifer said, “It was hard at first. I had to get used to it.” Today, she can be spotted pounding heavy metal stakes with a twenty-pound t-post hammer, handling the BCS farm tractor with ease, and planning crop rotations and seed orders with experienced insight.

Filling out the farm team roster is Bradley Ragland, CSG Summer Intern, Miro Hromas, volunteer, Richard Morris, CSG Program Outreach Coordinator, and the hundreds of citizen volunteers who have donated their time and energy to collaboratively growing food. The UACC farms have become a model for what a city and its citizens can accomplish.

Our UACC and CSG partnership aims to bring energy and new resources to the garden, but the community and the goals of growing healthy food together and building bridges to span the gaps between Charlottesville’s diverse communities remain the same. CSG is working hard to provide the backbone support needed for this robust farming operation. Our efforts include hosting community meetings, organizing community market days, fundraising to keep the staff and supplies needed, conducting outreach and more. These efforts complement our work in Charlottesville City Schools by engaging with youth around gardening and healthy living at school and in their neighborhoods.

In the words of Farmer Todd, “Change is a natural and healthy part of growth. It is the magic of transformative change that turns a tiny seed into a plant that yields pounds of tomatoes with just a touch of nurturing care. Similarly, transition and evolution are inherent in agriculture and in grassroots organizations.”

We are excited to embark on this transition with UACC and honored to partner with the vibrant community of growers that has sustained UACC through the years. We hope you will join us in support.

  • If you’d like to volunteer on the farm, contact Jordan Johnson at jordan@cityschoolyardgarden.org for upcoming workdays.
  • If you’d like to support these efforts financially, we need the resources to keep growing and donations are being accepted here.

In Service,


Richard Morris
CSG Program Outreach Coordinator