Gardening collaborative hopes to grow its participants

Published 12:06 pm Thursday, July 5, 2018

Virginia Farm Bureau

A community gardening collaborative is hoping to increase the amount of people involved in efforts to grow fresh food for city residents.

Healthy Suffolk Digs assists with dozens of school and community gardens but is hoping to widen the network.

“My vision is to connect school gardens, community gardens, master gardeners, government groups and private organizations,” shared Shelley Butler Barlow, HSD garden coordinator. “I’m trying to make a big gardening network and would love to tie it in with farms.”

Healthy Suffolk, a non-profit organization created to promote health and wellness amongst city residents, was originally called The Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community. It received a grant in 2009 to start a garden program. Barlow, whose family operates Cotton Plains Farm and previously provided fresh vegetables to subscribers of its community supported agriculture program, was hired in 2016.

Barlow encouraged HSD to rename the garden component Healthy Suffolk Digs.

With the new name and a new Facebook page, she is working to encourage networking amongst urban gardens and the organizations cultivating them.

Recently, the group created a community garden at the downtown Hilton hotel on the riverfront.

Barlow said much of the produce grown in the garden will benefit ForKids clientele.