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New Roots Holds First Volunteer Workday of the Season

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Volunteers help refugee gardeners set up fencing around the plots at New Roots Farm Photo: Terry Allan/IRC

The IRC in Charlottesville held its first volunteer day of the season at New Roots Farm on May 15. This is the first in-person activity that has been held since the COVID-19 shutdown.  The IRC is following the CDC guidance, ensuring our community gardens have hand-washing stations, require the gardeners to have masks, and practice social distancing. We want to keep everyone safe and growing!

Many refugees have lost their jobs due to the shutdown and are facing financial hardship and food insecurity. As a result, interest in community garden plots has surged. Available land at New Roots Farm has been assigned to more than 35 refugee gardeners to grow fresh, healthy food for their families and neighbors.

Our first official in-person meeting with New Roots gardeners with everyone wearing masks and keeping distance. Photo: Terry Allan/IRC

Two years ago, the New Roots Farm was severely damaged by flooding.  Having lost all their crops, the gardeners were reluctant to return to the site last year and it became overgrown, with only ten people gardening on a small area. Contrast last year with now, when we are surprised and amazed at the energy of all of the new gardeners. An estimated six acres has been cleared and prepared for the growing season. We realized that we needed some extra help to install fencing to protect these new gardens from deer and decided to hold a volunteer day with social distancing to keep everyone safe. Four volunteers showed up and worked with about ten of the community gardeners to get fencing set up around all of the plots!

Cort has volunteered with New Roots for the last few years. “It’s wonderful to see this beautiful site being fully used again this year”, he said. He and the other volunteers have expressed interest in doing more volunteer activities. People were respectful and efforts to maintain appropriate distance were successful.  Being out in the gardens allows enough space while getting some exercise and enjoying the late spring weather. We will let you know about more volunteer projects in the coming weeks.

Follow New Roots on Facebook for updates regarding volunteer opportunities and other ways to support local refugee gardeners.