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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s association kitchen garden in Henrico, Virginia is committed to growing advantageous aftermath to abolish ache in its community. Started in 2009, their Kroger Association Kitchen Garden supports the association by accouterment beginning aftermath to aliment pantries and by auspicious visitors to booty aloft “the role we all comedy in authoritative the arena a bigger place.”

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Kroger provides continuing abutment to the garden as allotment of the company’s Zero Ache Zero Decay initiative. With this support, the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden has donated added than 50,000 pounds of vegetables to its primary accomplice FeedMore, a non-profit alignment accouterment aliment to aliment afraid families.

Staff and volunteers advance the garden with acceptable and amoebic agronomical methods such as crop circling and chip annoyance management. “Our volunteers accommodate anyone from accumulated volunteers to alone families,” says Shane Tippett, Executive Director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, “and we feel that by clay acceptable practices, we can advise and affect our absolute community.

Food Tank had the befalling to allocution with Tippett about the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden’s adherence to a advantageous association from the arena up.

Food Tank (FT): What aggressive the Kroger affiliation with the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden?

Shane Tippett (ST): Kroger has been a abundant assistant and partner. As a allotment of The Kroger Company’s Zero Ache Zero Decay initiative, Kroger aims to end ache while eliminating aliment decay beyond the aggregation by 2025. By partnering with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Kroger Mid-Atlantic begin an befalling to accompany Zero Ache Zero Decay to activity in a bounded setting. This artistic affiliation allows Kroger to accord aback to the association by bartering aliment pantries like FeedMore and adopting acquaintance of aliment aegis issues. Partnering with our Garden is an able way to ability visitors to one of the best visited paid attractions in Richmond, and one of the nation’s top botanical gardens, with added than 400,000 visitors annually.

FT: What association charge aural the aliment arrangement did the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden analyze back chief to abound beginning aftermath for FeedMore’s Meals on Wheels and Kids Cafe programs?

ST: The Garden’s captivation with aliment aegis issues in Central Virginia started with a chat in 2008 amid Frank Robinson–our Garden Executive Director at the time–and Fay Lohr, FeedMore’s again President and CEO. Since the alpha of our aboriginal growing division of the Association Kitchen Garden in 2009, the garden has accustomed abutment from a cardinal of individuals and organizations like The Association Foundation and Kroger. With this abutment we broadcast the garden by basic a new area amid the Conservatory and Massey Greenhouse, abacus algid frames to extend the growing season, and burying bake-apple copse and drupe canes to access array and yield. Furthermore, we added the Stapleton Tignor Apiary adjoining to the garden, assertive bee pollination improves both our agronomical and our educational adventures for visitors. The Association Kitchen Garden has contributed to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s success: in 2011, we accustomed the IMLS National Medal, and in 2012, we accustomed the Tricycle Gardens’ Golden Trowel Award for our focus on the community.

While our space–just over 10,000 aboveboard anxiety currently–can alone aftermath a bound bulk of aliment and meets alone a atom of our community’s ache needs, the affection of the aftermath is exceptional. Furthermore, our Garden finer communicates to our guests beyond letters accompanying to the aliment arrangement such as the accent of water-sensitive, acceptable agronomical for the bloom of our environment; the appulse of aliment crisis on the bloom of our community; and the role we all comedy in authoritative the arena a bigger abode for ourselves and our neighbors

FT: In what means does the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden advance best agronomical practices for the environment, gardener, and consumer?

ST: Kroger Association Kitchen Garden uses acceptable and amoebic practices including accompaniment planting, crop rotation, and chip annoyance management. We action our clay with compost; we beget with organics. We repurpose agenda boxes by agreement them beneath mulched pathways to anticipate weeds. We accouter the advantages of bulb assortment to avert pests. The Garden shows visitors how they can accompany acceptable and amoebic to their own gardens. We use these practices not alone for the ambiance but for our advance gardeners and visitors. Our volunteers accommodate anyone from accumulated volunteers to alone families, and we feel that by clay acceptable practices, we can advise and affect our absolute community. Additionally, the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden alcove our gardeners and visitors by alms workforce development, educational experiences, exercise, and a faculty of association spirit. Assignment sessions bifold as educational lessons, and it’s our ambition that volunteers leave our area empowered to do more.

FT: How accept added organizations such as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello contributed to the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden’s ability and mission?

ST: The Garden has acclimated our abiding accord with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to access seeds for antique vegetables such as radishes, squashes, pumpkins, and greens. Growing antique vegetables contributes not alone to our assembly goals but additionally to our educational mission. Our affiliation empowers us to allocution to visitors about the allowances of growing time-tested antique vegetables, adopting biodiversity, and attention seeds. Antique vegetables are accepted to aftertaste bigger and authority added comestible value. Growing antique vegetables with the advice of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is a abundant way to advertise vegetables that may be new to our visitors, alike admitting they accept been developed in Virginia for hundreds of years.

FT: How does the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden acclimate to the specific needs of the community?

ST: Our antecedent ambition for the garden was to aftermath added and added food, but we now acknowledge to the needs of our association ally and the environment. For example, we took a lot of annihilate to FeedMore, but we delivered added than the kitchen needed. Over time the Kroger Association Kitchen Garden horticulturists and gardeners responded added anon to the meal alertness wants and needs of FeedMore. Therefore, we abound beneath annihilate but added blooming tomatoes because FeedMore prefers them over tomatoes that crave slicing. Our assembly responds to the needs of the ambiance as well, as we acquiesce assertive areas of the garden to balance from abundant gardening. Over the aftermost decade, our assembly assorted amid 3,000 and 12,000 pounds in acknowledgment to the needs of our association and our environment. We always assignment with FeedMore to abutment their mission and goals over our own goals for accretion production.

When Kroger Association Kitchen Garden produces baby amounts of a added assorted crop, or grows a baby oversupply, we abstain burdening our ally by accretion our reach. New ally such as LAMBS Basket, a bounded aliment abdomen accumulated by abbey congregations application the association of Henrico, accept a allocation of our produce. With FeedMore alone 5 afar away, and LAMBS Basket alone three afar away, the Garden provides fresh, locally developed vegetables to ample the needs of our community.

We additionally try to acclimate to the cultural needs of the community. We abound staples that are culturally accordant and apparent to the populations served such as Asian vegetables or acceptable southern crops like okra. Two years ago we added an orchard with apples, plums, pears, peaches, and apricots and fruits including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. The orchard will abide to accommodate beginning bake-apple for our association for years to appear with not as abundant accelerated agronomical as the vegetables.

FT: How can every being advice added your mission in their own gardens?

ST: We animate home gardeners to accompany acceptable agronomical practices, compost, recycle, and allotment their aftermath with their neighbors and friends. Home gardeners can additionally seek out their own partnerships with organizations that can use surplus produce. Best importantly, gardeners can allotment the bulletin about acceptable and amoebic agriculture methods, the accent of beginning fruits and vegetables in our diets, and the appulse of aliment crisis on our communities.

Photo address of Tom Hennessy.

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