Richmond couple creates urban farm to help feed their community

Richmond couple creates urban farm to help feed their community
The farm is about an eighth of an acre, but on it has cucumbers, squash tomatoes and more. (Source: NBC12)
The farm is about an eighth of an acre, but on it has cucumbers, squash tomatoes and more. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - From high above, the Bellemeade-Oak Grove neighborhood looks like any other one in south Richmond.

However, if you move in a bit closer, you'll see one backyard on Wright Avenue that makes the neighborhood unique.

That's because you are looking at a farm right in the heart of the area, and it yields much more than fruits and vegetables.

Farm life. It is the lesson of the day for these young ladies of Camp Diva.

With colorful markers in hand paired with even more colorful imaginations, "We're drawing our future farms, what we would want them to look like," said camper Nadia Fraser. "I would want it to look like a tropical farm."

Looking at their creations, they are thinking outside the box, which is kind of like the farm that they're on.

"It's really nice and it looks different from the other farms," said Fraser.

That's because it is.

"This is Sun Path Family Farm," said urban farmer and farm co-owner Jeremy Carry. "We're south facing, so the sun literally comes and stays above us. So, we're in the path of the sun."

It is an urban farm that makes up the backyard of Alia Chambers and Jeremy Carry.

It is only about an eighth of an acre, but on it, you'll find that "We have a whole wall full of cucumbers. We have squash. We have some tomatoes. We have herbs, a different variety of herbs," said urban farmer and farm co-owner Alia Chambers. "We also have salad greens which are underneath these row covers. Everyday we're out here, probably about 7 to 8 hours. So, pretty much like a day job."

Which is why they both quit their regular jobs - Alia as a contractor for the federal government and Jeremy as part of a hospital's oncology staff - to focus on the farm.

All of this started as a hobby, but a documentary produced by Virginia State University called "Living in a Food Desert" turned their gardening passion into a purpose.

"Once we saw that video about what food deserts were, it brought awareness that we were ourselves living in the middle of a food desert," said Chambers.

In February of this year, they decided to do something about it - create an oasis in the middle of the desert.

"We've invited the neighborhood back here to come in and see what we've been doing. And they are absolutely blown away when they walk back here," said Chambers.

"We're really about just providing access, providing a hub for our community," said Carry.

And not only are they growing and providing fresh fruits and vegetables for their neighbors, they are also growing a new crop of farmers through education.

They are showing them that no matter the size of a farm, if they till the soil and plant the seed, greatness can grow.

It's a lesson that applies in many areas of life.

"If they feel like they don't have access to it, well guess what? You can create it," said Chambers.

You can usually find Alia and Jeremy at the Birdhouse Farm Market every other Tuesday.

However, later this month, they will begin opening the farm to everyone on Saturday mornings.

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