Lewis Ginter's expansion plan is good news for Richmond garden goers and people in need of healthy food

Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-23 18:03:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is getting a major face-lift for its 40th anniversary, announcing a two-year, $31 million expansion project called "Thrive."

The project will nearly double the size of the Garden's Conservatory and will add about 7.5 acres of new gardens and another lake on the property.

However, what may be most important, the planned expansion of the Garden's "Kroger Community Kitchen Garden," which produces fresh produce for Feed More in Richmond.

"We'll have peaches, apples, and fruit trees that we don't currently have. We'll also have small fruits like blueberries and brambles that we'll be able to grow and then harvest for the Feed More constituents as well," Lewis Ginter President & CEO Brian Trader said.

Lewis Ginter

Since 2009, the Garden has given more than 70,000 pounds of produce to Feed More, meaning about 55,000 healthy meals have made it to the homes of Central Virginians in need. Most of the produce goes to homebound seniors through Meals on Wheels and Feed More's "Kids Cafe."

“When the produce is ready it’s harvested, brought over here to Feed More, really straight to our community kitchen, where it’s then transformed into healthy meals for the neighbors we serve," said Rodrigo Arriaza with Feed More.

In the last two years, Feed More has seen a 20% increase in demand at its food pantries.

“Inflation has really hit folks. I know groceries went really high, went down a little bit, now they’re high again. Gas prices again. Things like rent, mortgage, insurance, childcare, we’ve seen all of those things have gone up quite a bit in the past year," Arriaza said.

Rodrigo Arriaza with Feed More
Rodrigo Arriaza with Feed More

An increase in produce production said to go on throughout the year, will help meet the growing demand.

“We want to make sure our neighbors get the food, not just any food, but really the fresh food, the healthiest food we can possibly give them, so collaborations with Lewis Ginter is a huge part of that," Arriaza said.

The Thrive expansion project is planned to be completed in 2026.

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