Growth & Generosity Rooted in the NWW Garden

  • A man in a blue sweatshirt and a hat stands with a rake in his hand. A huge smile is across his face and he is leaning toward the camera. He is in the NW Works garden clearing a raised garden bed and spreading soil.
  • A man holding up a carton of various plants is smiling at the camera.
  • Two women are kneeling on the ground in front of a raised bed in the NW Works Garden. They are holding and examining a tomato plant before putting it in the soil.
  • Two men are shown picking tomatoes from the NW Works Garden.
  • A woman is dumping a clear bucket filled with tomatoes into another red canvas tote bucket. She is looking at the tomatoes and smiling.
  • A woman stands behind a metal table placing tomatoes into a plastic ziploc bag. There are several other vegetables laid out in front of her.
  • Two individuals are surrounded by boxes. The man on the right is holding a cucumber, and the woman on the left is opening a box.
  • A cardboard box full of food donations is shown. The donations include several cans, peanut butter, ramen, oatmeal, lentils and a cucumber from the NW Works Garden.
  • 10 volunteers from Continental stand in front of their completed blue shed in the NW Works Garden. They are all wearing blue "Live United" shirts for the 2023 United Way Day of Caring.
  • Five people are shown smiling and holding up a check for $9,000 made out to NW Works for their garden. The people are standing in front of a backdrop with the GIANT Company logo covering it.
  • Two people are bent over a raised bed in the NW Works Garden. They are clearing out weeds. A sunflower plant is near their heads.
  • A man stands near a raised bed in the NW Works Garden holding a large piece of cardboard.
  • Two men use shovels to collect dirt from a smaller pile of dirt.
  • A man and a woman stand over a raised bed in the NW Works Garden. The women is planting a flower, and has the flower in one hand and a shovel in the other. The man is leaned over the bed and observing.
  • Three people stand around a raised bed with dirt and hay in it. Two individuals are holding shovels, while another man observes.

Over the past few months, the NW Works Garden has become a highlight of our campus, showing the fruits of our labor in many ways.  

This year NW Works began transforming our on-site garden. We kicked off 2023 with a garden and grounds cleanup day and cookout where NW Works team members and service recipients worked together to clean up our campus and garden area.  A lead grant from the United Way of the Shenandoah Valley provided funds to fast track and expand our Garden project and vision. Starting in May, the Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners began weekly visits to NW Works to provide guidance and education to clients and staff on a range of topics including seed planting, weed clearing, and general plant education. Our team planted a variety of produce including tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, basil, parsley, pumpkins, and squash. Community members came together to make our dreams for the NWW Garden take shape. Raised beds, built by the students participating in the Archdiocese of Arlington work camp, were filled with rich topsoil donated by Shenandoah Sand that gave life to plants donated by our friends at Home Depot and Fox Urban Farms. Our garden project serves many purposes. In-house, we provide the people we serve with career exploration opportunities in agriculture, food service, meal planning and food preparation. As for outreach, we have helped to address food insecurity in our community which gives service recipients at NWW feelings of pride and joy knowing their teamwork and hard work has assisted community members. 

Early in the growing season, we set a goal to donate 100lbs of produce by July 2024. We began donating this produce at the start of July and within 4 short weeks we surpassed this goal with a total of 103lbs donated to Knights of Columbus Food Pantry! Bill Melvin, a past Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus Food Pantry and the Director of the Father Krempa Soup Kitchen commented on the KOC/NW Works partnership stating, “I can see that they’re really gaining some valuable training as well as an insight into the need. They’re always talking to me about “We’re taking care of people that need food” and I think that’s just an incredible opportunity for both of us.”’ For NW Works, 103 pounds of donated produce is just the beginning as we recently expanded our partnership to include FISH of Clarke County. Moving forward, we plan to continue donating each year and expanding opportunities associated with the NWW Garden.  

Recently, our garden’s impact was recognized in the GIANT Make a Difference Challenge & we were selected as a Wildcard Finalist! Our team created a sixty second video to highlight the impact our garden has on the individuals we serve and folks within the community receiving the produce grown by clients at NWW. NW Works was awarded $9,000 in funding to support our garden and efforts towards tackling food insecurity in the Northern Shenandoah Valley!   

Our garden received a welcome addition through a Day of Caring project in late September. On September 22, 2023, a crew from Continental donated their time and energy toward building a garden shed for our tools. To close out the gardening season, team members and individuals receiving services from NW Works participated in a garden clean-up day supported by the Master Gardeners and Tenneco’s engineering team on October 11th. We closed out our season of growth and are preparing for the cooler weather. Our garden has received a lot of recognition since its establishment, and we are honored to have businesses rallying behind our efforts to continue developing our garden and engaging in our Mission. 

We are excited to continue reaping the benefits our garden has sown for us, whether that be in the form of career exploration for the individuals we serve or supplying fresh produce to our community.  

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