If you’re like us, you have been keeping a close eye on your region’s last expected frost, anxiously waiting to get your trowel out and start digging in the garden! With frost dates throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to prepare for the return of gardening season.
How better than by celebrating Virginia’s Historic Garden Week?
The Garden Club of Virginia has planned Historic Garden Week’s annually since 1927. Originally organized to raise funds to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson on the lawn at Monticello, Historic Garden Week has expanded over the years to include nearly 50 active clubs participating statewide, including the Mill Mountain and Roanoke Valley Garden Clubs.
On April 30th, Historic Garden Week in Roanoke takes visitors on a series of beautiful garden tours in the neighborhoods below the iconic Roanoke Star. This year’s tours, themed “Beauty in the Blue Ridge,” benefit the restoration of historic gardens in the region.
#BlueRidgeProTip – If you can’t make it for our Garden Week tours, there are plenty of opportunities year round to enjoy beautiful flower gardens and unique plants in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. During your next visit, check out The Community Arboretum at Virginia Western, a two-acre educational garden that is free to the public every day from sunup to sundown.
In addition to growing for beauty, Virginia’s Blue Ridge has developed into what it is today thanks to the hard work of farmers and backyard growers who skillfully maintained gardens big and small to produce the traditional southern treats we have come to expect throughout the region. For centuries, gardening has not only beautified the region, it has strengthened the community.
Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, Phyllis Turner of Bedford describes gardening as “a great activity to help maintain physical and emotional well-being.” Just some of the reasons why organizations like the Roanoke Community Garden Association maintain community gardens throughout Roanoke’s distinct neighborhoods. Gardens like those in the Mountain View neighborhood and five others throughout the city build neighborhood pride and an appreciation for the cultural power of food wherever these community gardens take root.
When it comes to the delivery of fresh, local produce, regional non-profit LEAP jumps at the opportunity. LEAP develops, supports and maintains a sustainable local food system throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge by connecting the dots between local farmers, food producers and community members. Much of this is done through organizing and maintaining community farmers markets throughout the region.
LEAP markets, such as the Grandin Village Community Market and the West End Community Market, operate under the 100 mile rule, meaning all items sold at the market must originate within 100 miles of the market location.
Additionally, LEAP supports partner markets and their SNAP Double Value programs at the Salem Farmers Market, Vinton Farmers Market, Catawba Valley Farmers Market, and other markets in Virginia's Blue Ridge.
Various other farmers markets dot the region, including the Botetourt Farmers Market in the Daleville Town Center, but maybe most recognized and visited of all is the Historic Roanoke City Market in the heart of Downtown Roanoke.
Celebrated as the oldest continuously operating open-air market in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Historic Roanoke City Market was established in 1882 when Roanoke leaders issued 25 vendor licenses. Not long after in 1904, Martin’s Plant Farm began selling on the market and continues to maintain a vendor stand to this day!
Open year-round, except on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, the historic market boasts 42 awning covered permanent tables, teeming with fresh fruits, locally grown vegetables, flowers, local crafts, paintings, jewelry and live music to keep it all jumping!
Recognized as a “Great American Public Place” by the Lyndhurst Foundation alongside such iconic spaces as the Vietnam Memorial and New York City’s Central Park, guests in Virginia’s Blue Ridge will not want to miss a trip to one of Virginia’s most historic farmers markets.
As you can see, Virginia’s Blue Ridge is synonymous with gardening and that is why you’ll love your visit during Virginia’s Historic Garden Week and the other 51 weeks of the year as well! Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter to keep up with exciting new features and upcoming events in Virginia’s Blue Ridge!