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Plant community gardens

People who live in senior housing apartments in Williamson need only walk across the road to plant, tend and harvest their own fresh vegetables. Photo: courtesy Ian McClellan


People who live in Williamson’s senior citizen apartments can raise vegetables in the community garden across the road. In Charleston, people with no garden space can now plant at more than a dozen community gardens, including a large garden that feeds the homeless. Huntington’s community garden group gives people gardening lessons.

“It’s about more than food. It’s about giving people a chance to grow food together and learn from each other,” said WVU Extension agent John Porter. Statewide, community gardens are spreading like weeds, organized by local groups and churches. People sign up for a plot, plant it, then harvest it.”

North Carolina State has compiled a list of research that shows that people who participate in community gardens are more likely to eat healthy diets. “It’s common sense,” Porter said.   


Want to start or expand your community gardens? These links will help you:


The Manna Meal community garden in Charleston raised more than 3,000 pounds of produce for the soup kitchen!


How to build raised beds: a few good sources


*Eartheasy.  Includes videos, great photos and detailed list of needed hardware.

* Sunset.   This one also tells you how to install hoops for bird netting and cold-weather protection.

* Popular Mechanics Careful detailed instructions and photos.


Learn about community gardening from other West Virginia communities:


Manna meal garden, volunteers harvest peas

Volunteers harvest thousands of pounds of fresh produce at Charleston’s Manna Meal community garden. The soup kitchen staff freeze the produce to supply year-round vegetables. Photo courtesy WV Food and Farm Coalition.

Develop your own master gardener trainers:

  • Master Gardener training   More than 1,200  West Virginians have been trained as master gardeners in 33 counties. The program operates through WVU Extension. Classes have been conducted at community gardens.  Master gardeners must perform community service each year to  keep their certification, so some of them might be glad to help you. Contact your local extension office for information on classes or contacts with master gardeners in your area.

Parkersburg’s Boys and Girls Club runs a strong afterschool gardening program in conjunction with its community garden beds. Photo: The Parkersburg News

Junior Master Gardener trainingMaster gardening for kids. If kids are involved in your community garden, look into the possibility of a junior master gardener course.

  • Other valuable resources:

  • Gardening for and by children: SCRATCH program (Huntingon) Sustainable Community Revitalization in Appalachia Through Children’s Hands. This afterschool project teaches children to grow food and to understand garden technology and entrepreneurship. Children sell the food they produce at local fresh food distributor.
  • See their facebook page at:

The Kanawha Urban Ag Alliance:

  • Caption

    The Green Wheeling Initiative helped neighborhood groups start community gardens. Photo courtesy Green Wheeling Initiative.

  • Charleston-based KEYS 4 Healthy Kids has sponsored school-based  gardening projects in which kids worked on gardens together.
  • High tunnel community gardens: The Williamson Farmers Market is fed with fresh produce from a community high tunnel greenhouses operated in cooperation with Southern Community College.  See high tunnel page.

Senior centers and nursing homes often use raised beds to give seniors an easier-to-reach way to raise some fresh produce. Photo courtesy DHHR.

* Combine community gardens with food preservation classes.  See the Try This food preservation page.


See these other Try This Pages:

Add a community high-tunnel garden, encourage home gardening year-round, support the farmers market.


Have something else to add? Write it in “comments” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.



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  1. Index | Try This - […] Plant community gardens […]
  2. Promote home gardening | Try This - […] Create community gardens or more community gardens. Here’s the Try This page. […]
  3. Expand farmers markets. | Try This - […] see these pages: distribution systems, community gardens, high tunnels, healthy local food = economic development, healthy cooking […]

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