LEAP looks to continue growth in community gardens

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - An empty bench overlooks the Mountain View Community Garden.

The Mountain View Community Garden is an open area for people to claim plots to plant flowers and food. WDBJ7 photo

It's one of four community gardens in the area, first rooted in 2013.

But the organization that planted it has been uprooted.

"We decided to really pick up some of the work that Roanoke Community Garden Association had been doing since 2008 so that it didn't get lost in the shuffle," said Maureen Best, LEAP Director of Strategic Planning.

LEAP acquired the gardens from RCGA after the organization voted to dissolve itself in December.

But because of the commitment RCGA already started, Sam Lev didn't want to let the growth stop.

"We're committed to keeping the gardens open and making sure people can continue to grow tons of delicious food here at the Mountain View Garden and elsewhere in the community," said Lev, LEAP Director of Programs and Operations.

Before getting the gardens, LEAP managed farmers markets and ran food access programming.

But now with the gardens at their disposal, Best says their opportunities will continue to bloom.

"LEAP has always been focused on markets and distribution and so the community gardens are a more immediate step for us to get a little bit more explicitly into food production," said Best.

And for Lev, it goes beyond putting seeds in the ground. It's about getting to know where our food comes from.

"People get to connect with the farmers they work with, know where their food comes from, how it was grown, and the community gardens are a really nice extension of that," said Lev.

And for farming newcomers, Best wants to make a promise.

"It can be intimidating, but there's a really strong community of people who are here and want to support and help," said Best.

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