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Volunteers grow and give fresh produce to folks in this Virginia city

Volunteers grow and give fresh produce to community members
Posted at 2:19 PM, Sep 10, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. — In Norfolk, there are some neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce.

Over the years, community members have partially solved that problem by growing vegetables and bringing them door to door.

However, heavy rain and flood water can sometimes wash away some of the hard work. This is why volunteers from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation spent part of their weekend fixing that problem.

A group called Teens With a Purpose says their purpose is to make a difference by having a little dirt on their hands.

One of the volunteers, Emeka Onyirimba, said fresh vegetables are grown for hundreds of people each year at Purpose Park in Norfolk. It's a project that allows young people to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

"Currently, this part of the city is a food desert. There isn't a local grocery store within the vicinity that offers fresh fruits and vegetables. With the need in mind, we took it upon ourselves to provide," said Onyirimba.

Volunteers with the group said they often go door to door to deliver the fruits and vegetables of their labor.

"There are a lot of people who don't eat in this community. Sometimes when we harvest we give the produce to the homeless so they have something to eat. Everybody needs to eat," one of the teen volunteers said.

Over the weekend, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation tended to a rain garden, established close to the vegetable garden. Onyirimba said this benefits the garden and keeps it from being flooded during heavy rain.

"The water tends to pool in this area, and what the rain garden does is cause the native plants to Virginia to soak up said nutrients, and alleviate all of the extra excess ground water that tends to pool up around the area," explained Onyirimba.

Andre Love, a longtime volunteer, said planting this sort of positivity matters when grocery bills are high and gun violence is affecting communities.

"The fact that these are young person doing a good deed changes the whole narrative. There are a lot of people who believe that negative things, like gun violence, are associated with young people. But, that's not always the case. This is a living embodiment of that," said Love.

The teens volunteering over the weekend in the garden said they have their reasons for continuing to come back. However, a major reason for many of them is making a difference.

"I think the majority of us feel very happy that we are helping others. When you eat a good meal, you feel great. It's nice to give that to others," one of the volunteers said.

If you would like to develop a green thumb yourself and become a master gardener, you can see how by clicking here.

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