Central Virginia Agrarian Commons Urban Farm Acquisition
Agrarian Trust is collaborating with the Central Virginia Agrarian Commons, Virginia Foodshed Capital, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Catawba Sustainability Center at Virginia Tech, the Petersburg Healthy Opportunities Project, Petersburg League of Urban Growers, and Sankofa Community Orchard to raise funding to purchase this 5.12-acre urban farm just outside of Richmond, Virginia.
Fundraising Announcement – New Anonymous Donations Complete Land Acquisition and Begin Funding for Outdoor Community Area!
Two anonymous donors have given $38,000 and $5,000 which completed the fundraising goal of $200,000 for the Petersburg Oasis CommUNITY Farm land acquisition! These two anonymous donors and 234 of you have raised the funds that have allowed the land to be purchased into the Commons!
Your generous support has also raised above the goal allowing for a bigger vision to be acted on. The Community Circle is an area on the property that will include the installment of an outdoor kitchen, and will serve as a covered pavilion and storage container shed with a permeable stone pad, outdoor kitchen and farmstand for sale of produce, artisan products, salads, value added products, farm-to-table dinners and culinary arts education. The outdoor kitchen will feature propane tank based grills, a smoker and brick oven. The roof of the structure will be used for rainwater catchment and solar panels to power lighting, power tools and irrigation systems throughout the farm.
An additional $25,000 is needed for the creation of an outdoor kitchen and we’re already halfway there because of you!
Above: Photos from Sankofa Community Orchard showing similar structures as planned for The Community Circle
With your help, Agrarian Trust and the local Central Virginia Agrarian Commons have reached the initial fundraise goal and acquired this farm. The equitable 99-year leases are currently being implemented. These leases will ensure secure tenure to an enterprise owned by a Black farmer focused on food production for the community. Please continue to donate towards the completion of The Community Circle outdoor area.
Located within a food desert with high rates of poverty and food insecurity, and across the street from an elementary school serving over 500 students who are 88.9 percent Black, 5.9 percent Hispanic, and 91.4 percent economically disadvantaged, the Petersburg Oasis CommUNITY Farm is situated in a location that gives this project the opportunity for incredible social, health, and economic impact.
The farm will immediately begin to:
- Provide public elementary and middle schools with nutrient-dense local food access
- Provide farm education for K-5 students
- Work with Virginia Tech and Virginia State University to teach and engage students in agriculture
- Become an incubator farm for beginning farmers
- Have an on-site produce stand next door to an elementary school and within walking distance of many residential homes located within a food desert
Duron Chavis, the project lead, launched the Richmond Noir Market, a Saturday farmers market targeting low-income communities located in what the United States Department of Agriculture has designated as food deserts in Richmond, Virginia, and various urban farms, orchards, and vineyards. Chavis works in poverty mitigation, workforce development, health and racial equity, and continues teaching and leading new and beginning farmers.
Tyrone Cherry III who is also helping to lead this project, has taught at the neighboring elementary school and is a public educator of over 20 years, and is the founder of Petersburg League of Urban Growers, project assistant of the farmers market, co-coordinator of the POP (Power of Produce) club through the River Street Market, and teaches agriculture to college and elementary school students.
Both Chavis and Cherry grow food for the neighborhoods they live in while teaching others to do the same. They also raise awareness of the need for Black spaces, including garden spaces to cultivate food and serve the next generation of farmers.
Permanently moving urban land into the commons with the goal of restorative food production is revolutionary work. Once this project is complete, this piece of land will never be bought or sold again, and will forever remain in ecologically sound food production.
This vital project cannot happen without your support. We are working to provide land security and tenure for the next generation of farmers, to support small-scale food production and habitat diversity while countering high rates of farmland loss. Your generous gift today will also help Agrarian Trust end the long-standing racist practice of separating Black citizens from land and food.
Real Estate Acquisition $160,000
Project & Closing Costs $20,000
Farm Endowment and Reserves $20,000
Initial Project Cost $200,000
The Community Circle (new Sept. 13, 2022) $25,000
Total Project Cost with additional infrastructure $225,000
Thank you to the following partners and funders: