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Petersburg is rated last in Virginia for health. This man hopes a community garden will help.

Petersburg is rated last in Virginia for health. This man hopes a community garden will help.
Posted at 5:14 PM, Jul 14, 2022

PETERSBURG, Va. -- He's a father of four, an educator and is now hoping to add farmer to that list.

The Petersburg man has spent years helping people grow food in community gardens and now he's looking to expand.

"We don't have to be able to afford it at a grocery store, we can grow it ourselves from the Earth," Tyrone Cherry said.

A few years ago, Cherry's first garden was in his front yard, teaching a group how to grow food.

"His mother loves cantaloupe, his brother loved cantaloupe, so he decided to grow them cantaloupe," Cherry said.

However, while teaching and living in the city, Tyrone could see some problems with a lack of fresh vegetables.

"We recognized Petersburg is a food desert and we recognized one of the solutions was community gardening," Cherry said.

"Petersburg is rated last in the state for health," Amy Wilson with Petersburg Offers Produce said. "If you're looking at overall health, you've got to start with good nutrition and good nutrition starts with having lots of varieties of fruits and vegetables. Not everyone has the space or the knowledge to grow it themselves so having these community gardens is very, very important for Petersburg."

Now the goal for Tyrone is a piece of land within sight of an elementary school.

"It's prime, it has the potential to not just serve the local community but serve as inspiration to a broader community of what we can do if we come together and decide to grow," Tyrone said.

The price of the land is $160,000. Tyrone is already working with several groups to raise funds and has raised nearly $70,000 so far. While he still has a ways to go, he has faith that it will happen.

"It will turn into the Petersburg Oasis Community Farm," Tyrone said.

He plans to grow produce for free for those who are in need and sell it to those who can afford to pay.

Tyrone said he'd like to own the five-acre plot by the end of August and then start getting the soil ready for planting in the spring.