RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond community garden says they’ve lost thousands of dollars after the Enrichmond Foundation shut down.
The Foundation was a non-profit that supported several volunteer groups, including some city parks and historic cemeteries. It has been around since the 1990s and acted as a fiscal agent for the Humphrey Calder Community Garden on Kensington Avenue.
The Foundation’s board of directors voted to dissolve the non-profit in June. Some volunteer groups told 8News that they lost access to their money shortly after the dissolution.
Kelley Davis, Humphrey Calder’s garden steward, said it’s been difficult trying to get access to their account with Enrichmond, and she hasn’t received a response yet.
“No one is available to make any comment. They are all gone,” she said. “You email them, you get an ‘I’m not with Enrichmond anymore.’ So it’s been difficult.”
Davis said they lost nearly $3,000. The group needs those funds to cover lumber, water and garden beds that need to be replaced.
“It was just very disheartening to find out that the money we put into our account has disappeared and we just don’t know how to move forward,” she said.
8News reached out to the Foundation’s account manager and former executive director Saturday afternoon. We have not yet received a response.
Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch told 8News that she met with the city’s attorney and the city’s auditor this week. They discovered that the Foundation had a combination of private and taxpayer dollars and the city hasn’t given the Foundation money in two years. Because of that, city leaders aren’t capable of giving them a subpoena or an audit.
Lynch called this situation “unacceptable” and said “we need to exercise every lever we have at our disposal and try to get restitution for these folks.”
She said city leaders will meet again next week to ask law enforcement to launch an investigation into the Enrichmond Foundation.
Maya Erhardt started gardening three years ago and said the Humphrey Calder Community Garden helped her through the pandemic.
“This is a real gift for us in the neighborhood,” she said.
Erhardt is concerned that her happy place could run out of resources soon.
“We’d be really sad to see it go because a lot of us living in the neighborhood don’t have our own yards or gardens to be in,” she said.
Davis added that she won’t stop until they get the money and resources they need to keep this green space alive.
“I’m not going to sit back. They told me to be patient,” she said. “I’ve decided to motivate, organize and activate. We’re going to do everything we can to recover from this setback.”
Davis said anyone who wants to support the community garden can reach them by email firstname.lastname@example.org.