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South Boston earmarks $1,000 for botanical gardens

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South Boston earmarks $1,000 for botanical gardens / October 14, 2021
South Boston Town Council agreed Tuesday to allocate $1,000 to the Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens to support its Healthy Harvest Community Garden, which provides fresh vegetables to hundreds of households in the area.

Council heard about the benefits of the community garden from Bill McCaleb, Virginia Extension Master Gardener coordinator, and Maria Traynham, who chairs the botanical garden steering committee. Each stressed the importance of making fresh vegetables available in a county that has been deemed a food desert.

“There isn’t a part of the county that doesn’t benefit from the vegetables grown in that garden,” said McCaleb. Aside from the nutritional value, the garden also provides a teaching environment for high school students who have gone on to successful careers in agriculture and horticulture.

“These young people are the future of the United States of America, and we need to do all we can to help them,” said McCaleb.

The botanical garden committee approached the Town for funds to help pay for fencing around the healthy harvest garden, part of the 160-acre Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens property at Edmunds Park. The SVBG is closing in on a long-term agreement with the county to secure the property, hence the request for help now to install fencing.

Traynham noted that SVBG derives revenue from a number of sources — fund raisers, memberships and donations — but the main source of money has been a $45,000 health department grant, supported by matching dollars from Sentara Health.

“That’s how we actually got started, through the money from that grant,” she said.

After initially asking Council to earmark $2,000 to the group, Council member Joe Chandler revised his motion to $1,000, in response to comments by Vice Mayor Bob Hughes suggesting that the group should come back and ask for more during the regular annual budget cycle. The Town budget was developed in the spring and went into effect on July 1.

“The place is beautiful,” said Hughes, referring to the botanical gardens. “It’s an asset to our community.”

In other action at the brief monthly Council meeting, South Boston Police Chief Bryan Young introduced the newest member of the South Boston Police Department — Jeremy Eanes, a Danville native and longtime county resident who attended Meadville Elementary, homeschooled in middle school and high school, and went on to SVCC and Longwood University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology.

“It’s always exciting when I get to introduce new staff,” said Young.

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