Many individuals and families may have a desire to grow their own vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers — but what if they don’t have a place to garden? For some people, the answer may be a community garden.

The Benefits of Community Gardens

Community gardens have numerous benefits in addition to providing individuals, families, schools, businesses and food banks with a means to grow their own healthy food and build healthy living skills. They offer a place for people to work together, build community bonds and share educational opportunities.

Recognizing the positive impact community gardens can have on the health and wellness of the communities we serve, Highmark has funded three community gardens in West Virginia.

Highmark Community Garden, Parkersburg, WV

In 2015, the first Highmark Community Garden opened in downtown Parkersburg. The garden, a joint project with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the city of Parkersburg, features 48 raised-bed plots, a water fountain, sidewalks and a 16-by-20 foot greenhouse. Raised-bed plots are available for lease in three different sizes — 4-by-8 feet, 5-by-10 feet and 10-by-10 feet — with annual fees of $15, $20 and $35, respectively. To reserve a garden plot, stop by the Point Park Marketplace to fill out an application.

A flourishing vegetable garden bed in the Parkersburg Community Garden

This is the third year for the Parkersburg Community Garden — growing strong!

Long view of multiple raised-bed garden beds at the Parkersburg Community Garden

Just a few of Parkersburg’s 48 raised-bed garden beds.

Closeup of a flower and garden bed at the Parkersburg Community Garden

Wish you were here? Contact Point Park Marketplace (see link in article) for more information on how to get involved.

Highmark Community Garden, Hurricane, WV

In 2016, a second Highmark Community Garden was established at Valley Park in Hurricane. Working with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the Putnam County Parks and Recreation Commission, 60 raised-bed plots were constructed for the garden. Raised-bed plots are available for lease in four different sizes — 2-by-8 feet (for herbs only), 4-by-8 feet, 10-by-10 feet and 4-by-24 feet — with annual fees of $10, $20, $35 and $50, respectively. To request an application for this community garden, contact Valley Park at 304-562-0518, extension 102.

A group of West Virginia Highmark employees volunteering at the Hurricane Community Garden

Employee volunteers at the 2017 Community Garden Volunteer Day in Hurricane (left to right): James Williams, Cindy Blake, Lisa Dunlap, Nathalie Henchey, Kristy Cramlet and Cathy McAlister.

Highmark Veterans’ Garden, Hurricane, WV

In 2017, the Highmark Community Garden at Valley Park expanded to include 25 raised-bed plots for veterans to grow fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. A ribbon cutting was held to celebrate the grand opening of the new veterans’ garden, which includes four handicap-accessible beds, a sidewalk, park benches, picnic tables, and a memorial wall. These plots are available at no cost to local veterans and their families on a first come, first served basis. Those interested should call 304-562-0518, extension 102.

Two soldiers working in the Veterans Garden in Hurricane, West Virginia

The troops getting it done as we launch the first year of the Veterans Garden in Hurricane, West Virginia.

Two veterans working in the Veterans Garden in Hurricane, West Virginia

The new Veterans Garden is an extension of Highmark’s longstanding commitment to supporting our veterans and active-duty military both inside and outside the workplace.

Highmark West Virginia president Jim Fawcett working on one of the garden beds of the Veterans Garden in Hurricane, West Virginia

One volunteer helping launch the Veterans Garden was Jim Fawcett, president, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia.

Whether you have access to a community garden in your neighborhood, or have space at your home suitable for gardening, consider growing your own vegetable garden. It’s a great way to get fresh, healthy food onto your dinner table.