HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Cornerstone Farm, a five-acre community garden and farm on the grounds of Fairfield Middle Schools, is one of 17 U.S. gardens that the USDA selected for its People’s Garden Initiative.

The People’s Garden Initiative recognizes local gardens across the country and helps them support local food production, teach about the benefits of local agriculture, provide community spaces, and improve the environment.

As part of the garden’s new status, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is contributing $25,000 to Fairfield and the nonprofit Community Food Collaborative, which helps manage the farm. According to Henrico County Public Schools, this contribution will allow the school to use property reserved for orchards and food production, and will also help pay for security measures so adults can visit the garden area while school is in session.

In addition to the new designation, Fairfield also has its first full-time community agriculturist, science teacher Natalie Green, to help keep the farm running and contributing to the community.

Fairfield starts with an excellent, well-established farm site, supportive neighbors and a lot of student enthusiasm,” Edwin Martinez, Virginia state conservationist, said. “Urban ag is the sector with the most growth potential in terms of food production. We’re excited about helping the school maintain and expand its operations and giving residents better access to fresh and healthy produce.”