Gardens

 

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“The garden was the one place where my grandson felt like he could be himself at school. It helped him connect with his older brother, through projects they brought home to do together.

Being in the garden gave him confidence and pride.” 

– Buford grandmother

Elementary Schools

Buford Middle School

Charlottesville High School

Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville

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City Schoolyard Garden (CSG) was founded in 2010 to cultivate academic achievement, healthy living skills, environmental stewardship and community engagement through garden-based, experiential learning and leadership development for Charlottesville City Schools.  Combined, we manage eight organic schoolyard gardens and create experiential garden programming for over 3,500 urban youth and their families. The majority of youth in our programs live in poverty (up to 90% in some schools). Over the past four years, our youth engagement programs have focused on utilizing our garden programs to build equity for youth in Charlottesville faced with economic and racial barriers. We have also worked to build partnerships across organizations working similarly to build a healthy and just food system.

Given this focus, City Schoolyard Garden joined with partners in 2015 to launch the Charlottesville Food Justice Network.   The Charlottesville Food Justice Network (CFJN) is a collaborative effort among over 20 Charlottesville organizations working in unique and complementary ways to build a healthy and just community food system. City Schoolyard Garden hosts the Network and provides funding for CFJN staff. As a network, we: explore ways in which our local food system creates opportunities and barriers to accessible, healthy nutritious food; amplify an understanding of the historical and systemic practices that contribute to food inequity, working to raise the conversation around local food and environmental sustainability to include a framework for making these privileges accessible to all people; mobilize resources for combined impact across aligned organizations; and implement strategies and activities to transform inequities in our food system.

One of the core CFJN partners is the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville (UACC). UACC is a small, grassroots organization that connects people across social boundaries through urban farming and partners with neighborhood residents to advocate for community wellbeing. We believe that working together to grow and share healthy food helps cultivate healthy communities. Through urban gardens centered in low-income housing communities, UACC increases the availability and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among Charlottesville residents with limited financial means. Working in partnership with community residents, volunteers and property owners, UACC manages nearly an acre of vegetable gardens and an expanding community orchard and native plant and pollinator sanctuary. The focal point of our work is the Ridge Street Neighborhood of Charlottesville, which includes the subsidized housing communities of Crescent Halls, Friendship Court, South 1st Street, 6th Street, and Midway Manor.  Last year, we grew and distributed free of charge to neighbors over 18,000 lbs of fresh produce.

This year UACC, facing pressures from development, funding constraints, and loss of their Operations Manager, was at risk of closing operations and discontinuing food production. CSG and CFJN initiated a collaborative effort to continue production on the Friendship Court and South 1st Street urban farm plots for the next two years before development begins. With community support, we aim to maintain a robust growing operation, provide fresh food for neighbors, and engage in collaborative planning to design a viable business model for post-development urban agriculture production. City Schoolyard Garden is the managing partner of these endeavors and is providing staff and fundraising support.

Mission statementEngage public school youth in garden-based experiential learning and leadership development that cultivates health, academic exploration, environmental stewardship, equity and community.

Vision: At City Schoolyard Garden youth well-being is the core of all we do. We believe young people thrive with the opportunity to engage in nature, discover through experience, build equity, lead, and cultivate healthy living skills. CSG aims to empower individuals to create a healthy and equitable future – personally, in community, and across systems and structures.

 

Check out our blog entries to hear stories from around City Schoolyard Garden and our map of the CSG gardens.