Community Gardens

With stakeholder input from the 2010 workshop, community gardens (CG) surfaced as a priority intervention to increase the accessibility of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since that time, we have been working to build partnerships and advance the momentum regarding CG in the Dan River Region.

What’s new?

1. The 3rd Annual Community Garden Program was held April 18. Click here to view the program flyer. 


2. 2013-2014:  The long-term vision of the current project is to begin to understand if CG efforts are a viable approach to improve and sustain changes in the nutrition, health, and weight status of low-income youth and their families in the Dan River Region (DRR).  Building on previous work of the Dan River Partnership for a Healthy Community (DRPHC) (described below), the specific objectives of this project are to:

  • Determine the effectiveness of a 10-week CG program among youth, as compared to control participants.
  • Observe the amount of produce harvested from ~11 CG in the DRR over the 2013 growing season.


The project is jointly funded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth & College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Investigators: Jamie Zoellner, Jennie Hill, Kim Niewolny, Tadashi Totten, Anne Carter-Carrington, Marsha Mendenhall









Our history and progress:

The DRPHC Nutrition Subcommittee meets on an on-going basis to explore opportunities to initiate and sustain CG in the DRR.  If you are interested in participating on the nutrition subcommittee please contact


1. Summer 2010 – this pilot study to examined factors that influence home and CG intentions, which revealed strong CG interest among participants in the DRR-


2. Summer 2011- this qualitative case study explored perceptions of CG among 6 CG leaders and 21 CG participants in the health disparate Dan River Region (DRR).  Findings highlight key opportunities to promote the successful reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance of CG in similar vulnerable communities


3.  Summer 2012- A 10 week experiential gardening and nutrition curriculum was delivered to 43 youth from two housing authorities in the Dan River Region. Outcomes included willingness to try fruits and vegetables, self-efficacy, and knowledge.  This project demonstrated the feasibility of improving gardening- and nutrition-related outcomes among low socioeconomic youth.


4. Harvest Log Data- The overall goal is examine how much produce CGs in the Dan River Region can yield.  A scale and binder are conveniently placed at each CG site. GC participants are asked to weigh and record their harvest. CG leaders are responsible for submitting completed logs.

    • In 2011, 8 community gardens participated and logged a total of 811 pounds of produce
    • In 2012, 8 community gardens participated and logged a total of 2470.38 pounds of produce. Also, 2275.98 pounds of that produce was donated to charity, and volunteers logged 236 hours of work in the garden – the equivalent of a full-time staff person for about six weeks!


5. Annual CG Forums: