‘It’s therapeutic for me’: Legacy Farm in Richmond’s East End prepares young adults for the workforce through urban farming skills

Positively Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The Legacy Farm, tucked away in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood, is home to a variety of crops and life lessons for the young adults who work there.

“Legacy Farm is a black and brown youth-run farm,” Legacy Farm Manager Allison Hurst said.

The urban farm is part of the Workforce Development Program under CHAT, or Church Hill Activities and Tutoring. The non-profit serves the youth of Richmond’s East End.

For many, farming is a way to escape.

“It’s somewhat healing for me to just be connected to the ground again,” James Lowery, one of the young adults who works at Legacy Farm said.

James Lowery tends to buckwheat seeds at Legacy Farm in Richmond’s Church Hill (Photo: Delaney Hall)

Lowery spends four to five days a week learning problem solving skills, small business practices, and the ins and outs of urban farming at Legacy Farm. It’s something Hurst says will carry on into the workforce.

“We start everything from the very bottom in our greenhouse around the corner – there’s continuity in that and I think something that carries on,” Hurst said.

Everything from peppers to buckwheat is planted, grown and harvested at the farm. The crops are then taken to farmer’s markets across the area to be sold to potential customers.

A group from the Legacy Farm at the Birdhouse Farmer’s Market. (Photo: Hannah Teague)

“I think these young people are incredibly brave in a season of COVID, in a season of COVID – social climate, political climate – to be doing the work that they’re doing,” Hurst said. “They want to be out here. They want to grow things. They want to change their environment. They want to change their world.”

Hurst says the farm is also a way to reclaim their purpose.

“To reach back into heritage and why we have or haven’t been connected to the land and earth,” Hurst explains. “How we can do something restorative, something regenerative, something that reclaims our voice here especially as the next generation.”

Click here to learn more about the Legacy Farm.

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