Group opens Richmond's first year-round urban farm

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A new movement in cities around the nation has made its way to Richmond.  The area's first urban, year-round farm is now open in the Manchester district.

Tricycle Gardens started this half acre farm at 9th and Bainbridge streets about five months ago. Two developers are letting them lease this lot for $1 a year.

In between Richmond's steel and concrete, you can still find the tiniest of creatures in their own metropolis.

The Manchester district is home to Richmond's first urban farm. They grow everything you can think of: cantaloupes, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers.

"It's out attempt to show that on a half acre of land you can grow a substantial amount of food. And restore and ecology and create an economy," said Lisa Taranto, the director of Tricycle Gardens, the group that planted the farm and keeps it running.

Taranto, a small staff and a handful of volunteers, tend to the land.  They create their own compost to enrich the soil.

"We plant flowers that attract good bugs that like to snack on the bad bugs," she said.

The farm takes up a half-acre lot that's been empty for forty years.

"Richmond does have quite a lot of open spaces especially in this area," said volunteer Alison Alexander. "And the community seems interested. We get a lot of people stopping by to ask what's going on."

It's all organic and two days a week the group sells everything it grows -- hoping to be able to afford structures to continue the farming through the winter.

"It's working," Taranto said. "People from the neighborhood are coming and shopping here, which is what we want to see happening."

The farm is open and selling food until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. By this time next year, organizers hope to be able to hire several people from the neighborhood to work on the farm.

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