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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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