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New Roots 2019 Season in Review

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Customers enjoy a variety of produce grown by New Roots market farmers at the weekly Michie Market farm stand

Photo: Alex Haas

Since 2009, New Roots Charlottesville has worked to promote food equity, safe spaces and psychosocial support for refugee and New American community members. The 2019 season focused on the market farming program, expanding access to local community gardens, and contributing to local food justice advocacy efforts. Five market farmers and over 60 community gardeners collectively cultivated over nine acres of land across seven sites. The market farmers sold produce to their community members at the weekly Michie Market farm stand and to two local restaurants. Michie Market SNAP customers enjoyed another year of $10 match discount each week. Three of the market farmers expanded hot pepper sales to Bronx Hot Sauce Company, a wholesaler in New York City. All together, the farmers made over $5,500 in supplemental income during the 2019 growing season.

Rebecca Jacob provides her ideas on food access points to consider as part of the city’s new development plan Photo: Hannah Wilson

Food justice was a focus this year, as staff and program participants supported the Charlottesville Food Justice Network and its Food Equity Initiative. The Network was awarded an opportunity through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to host a Local Food Local Places workshop in July, which helps communities reinvest in existing neighborhoods and improve quality of life as they develop the local food economy. This multi-day workshop included a tour of urban agriculture sites, including New Roots spaces, as well as two intensive days focused on addressing areas of local food access concerns. To aid these efforts, two New Roots gardeners, Bimal Chhetri and Rebecca Jacob, were chosen to be Community Food Justice Advocates.  During the workshop, Rebecca led a tour of her local garden to talk about the importance of urban agriculture and to express her desire that the city would purchase and preserve land for urban agriculture access. The workshop also gave the New Roots program participants an opportunity to be recognized by the community for their efforts to conserve and maintain urban agricultural spaces in the city. Rebecca and Bimal, along with the other Food Justice Advocates, recently presented to the Charlottesville School Board about their desire to continue to improve the quality and healthfulness of school lunches.