Richmond Aims to Feed On-Duty Workers and Help Local Restaurants

As businesses are looking for lifelines and essential workers are focused on doing their jobs, the City of Richmond is starting a program to pay small, locally-owned restaurants to feed first responders. The Camel was a popular spot to catch a show, get a drink and maybe even grab a burger or some tacos. Then the coronavirus changed everything. "Basically we went from a music venue doing live music every night of the week to essentially a to-go, takeout restaurant," explains co-owner Matt Hansen.

With Schools Closed, Communities Pitch In to Feed Kids

Now that Governor Northam has shut down schools to stem the outbreak of COVID-19, there’s a push across the state to make sure children who rely on subsidized meals don’t go hungry. Deanna Fierro spends most Monday mornings in the classroom teaching. But on the first day of a statewide school closure, she was in a cafeteria, packing bags with sandwiches and milk. She’s one of about 500 Richmonders who signed up to volunteer at schools now operating as emergency food distribution centers.

How an Urban Agriculture Council can Help Grow Community

Members of the House of Delegates voted this week to create an urban agriculture advisory council. But would the initiative make a difference for city growers? On the Randolph training farm at Virginia State University, Leonard Githinji is preparing to lead the fourth cohort of the sustainable urban agriculture certificate program. Lately, Githinji’s also been following bills that would create an urban agriculture advisory council. He says the initiative would develop a network where stakehold

Accessory Dwelling Units can Help with a Shortage of Affordable Housing But Local Hurdles Remain

With housing costs on the rise and incomes lagging behind, Virginians are getting creative in their search for affordable housing. As property owners and renters look to get the most bang for their buck, some are finding more economical ways of living and working. At around 9 every morning, Sonny Fleming kicks on his shop vac. Before moving to Richmond with his wife, Ellen, he had a half-hour commute. Now? "It takes me about 30 seconds," Fleming says with a laugh. That’s thanks to the two-st

Legislation Would Bring Equity to School Dress Codes

The debate over what students can and cannot wear in school is an ongoing point of contention in Virginia. This year, Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy has proposed a bill that she says would level the playing field for girls and students of color. As it is now, dress codes in schools across Virginia don’t always respect racial and gender differences. Carroll Foy says punitive policies push students out of schools.

Coleman's Effort to Correct the Narrative Moves to Earlier Time Period

Christy Coleman steps down as CEO of the American Civil War Museum January 16th, but she’s not closing the book on Virginia’s history. As the sun sets on her office at the old Tredegar Iron Works, Coleman reflects on the time she’s spent bringing people together over the war that divided a nation. “It has been about enriching our understanding of our collective heritage,” Coleman stresses.

Task Force Plans to Mark Centennial of 19th Amendment

2020 marks 100 years since the federal government legalized women’s right to vote. As plans to observe the anniversary get underway, other historic moments for women are on the horizon in Virginia. Two days before the Virginia General Assembly convenes, a group of lawmakers and community members met to discuss how to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment. Delegate Betsy Carr sits on the planning task force. “We’re very excited about what’s going on," Carr said afterward. "There wil

Fighting For Food Justice In A Gentrified Richmond

You’ve seen the community gardens, the small farms springing up in the city, the folks standing out on the side of busy streets sowing the seeds of tomorrow’s harvest. Some of these spaces are emerging in areas where families have to travel several miles before reaching a grocery store. But what’s striking about a lot of these green spaces is not their urban existence; it’s the people taking care of the land. Across the city, gardens have emerged in communities of color, but the stewards don’t

Betti Wiggins wants Houston students to eat better. Will Houston help her?

It's lunchtime. A food service worker at Woodson Elementary School in Sunnyside calls Betti Wiggins over. A hip-height first-grader slides her tray down the line. Most of her peers stopped in front of a pile of cheeseburgers and placed their orders, but the girl pushed her Styrofoam tray past the warmer and toward the lettuce. After the worker tops the fresh greens with carrots, chicken and cheese, the girl sits at a cafeteria bench, her colorful fare standing out among the brown burger buns.

Two Houston Restaurants Working To Put Locally Grown on the Menu

Sourcing locally is worth the extra effort but not always that easy. It was neither flash nor fanfare that inspired Aaron Lyons to start a restaurant that serves meals made from local produce. It was hunger for something new. “There were only a handful of farm-to-table restaurants,” says Lyons of Houston before the entrepreneur opened Dish Society in 2014. “They were James Beard-y—not a place I’d go twice a week when I had 30 minutes for lunch.” So Lyons opened the kind of place he wanted to see

Why can't urban farming feed Houston?

Tommy Garcia-Prats grows his greens just blocks from a Metro train that cuts through Loop 610. He started the farm with two of his brothers in 2014, and it's become a Second Ward staple. The harvest of eggplant, peppers and arugula is ample for a farm that sits on just three-quarters of an acre, and, under the watchful shade of three oak trees, life is bustling at Finca Tres Robles. Butterflies whir through herb bushes while moringa trees dance in the breeze. Nearby residents pick up bags of whatever fruits, vegetables and herbs are in season with the neighborhood discount. Students amble along rows of tomatoes, pausing now and then to pick a snack. Locals seat themselves at wooden picnic tables to savor a communal meal made from a recent harvest.

Everything's Bigger in Texas—Except Its Support for Small Farmers

Judith McGeary wanted answers that the State of Texas wasn’t willing to give, so the lawyer-turned-farmer fought the law—and won. When McGeary learned she needed a food manufacturer’s license to keep selling meat at her local farmers’ markets, she contacted the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for clarification. “The response was, ‘that’s for you to decide,’” says McGeary. Without the license, McGeary would have been unable to store packaged meat in a home freezer during the da

Blue Needle In A Red Haystack: Why One Texas Woman Is Taking on the Odds This November

An expectant mother goat bleats at Lisa Seger from a wooden stall perched on the 10-acre Blue Heron Farm. In a few hours, labor will turn to delivery, and Seger will help the Nubian birth two kids. Seger’s fuchsia bangs brush her cat-eye glasses as she meets the goat’s gaze, smiling and cooing words of encouragement. Though the pose seems natural, it’s one she had to learn. In 2006, the farmer and her husband, Christian, were urbanites who took a goat raising class in Houston on a whim. At the
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