Jul 7th, 2009

Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Green Tonic Banner Final

Lately there has been plenty of press about how we can use gardening to enrich our lives — from building communities, to making the places we live more beautiful. The local food movement has taken off locally, as well as nationally, and more and more people in Richmond and across the nation people are focusing on gardening as a whole.

Here at Lewis Ginter, as part of our 25th anniversary celebration funded by the Robins Foundation, we are getting ready to host a symposium on this very topic Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness, Aug 4-5. We will have leaders from the cities that have set the stage in the urban gardening movement — Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City, looking at the policies and practices that help those cities succeed; and what Richmond area residents can do to take urban gardening and greening in our community to the next level.  Registration is NOW open!

The line-up is stellar:

  • LaDonna Redmond, President and CEO Institute for Community Resource Development, Chicago
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green Program

Blaine Bonham, Executive Vice President

Joan Reilly, Senior Director, Philadelphia Green

Maitreyi Roy, Vice President for Programs

  • Drew Becher, Director, New York Restoration Project, New York
  • Timothy Beatley, Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities

University of Virginia, Charlottesville

  • Leni Sorensen, African-American Research Historian, Monticello, Charlottesville
  • Rachel Flynn, Director, Department of Community Development, Richmond


  • Basics of Sustainable Gardening
  • Urban Greening for a Robust Economy
  • Creating Greener, More Resilient Communities
  • Sustainable Land Use and Water Quality Management
  • Food Security, Access, Nutrition, and Health

Look at these amazing things that have been happening in the urban gardening movement right her in Richmond, in Virginia,and across the nation!  It is so exciting that Richmond is on the cutting edge of this movement.  You won’t want to miss Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness.


In Richmond, this Saturday, July 11th at 4 pm and 11 pm,  Movieland, is showing a new movie FOOD,Inc about  your food’s journey from the land to the table.   After the event, WholeFoods is sponsoring a panel discussion and food tastings.

In Staunton, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel is using a rooftop garden to grow produce for their hotel’s restaurant in order to expand their menu offerings, go green and offer the freshest produce available. The cost: about $200, but the expect to harvest 400 tomatoes and 20lbs of peppers! So that is VERY cheap.

“It’s all about the quality, and again this is why we’re doing this to deliver the best quality we can to our guests,” said the hotel’s executive chef, David Hamilton.

The initiative is designed to be a low-cost, high quality alternative to trucking in produce from out of town.

Hamilton says he plans to have much of what he’s growing go from the garden to the dinner table quickly, “Super fresh, it won’t get any fresher–as a matter of fact in some instances it will be just minutes before, between the time the product is picked and actually served.”

The rooftop garden uses water from the hotel’s air conditioning unit to care for the vegetables.

And on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., the USDA just announced “Healthy Garden” workshops at the People’s Garden. Check this out:

“In many ways, USDA’s ‘People’s Garden’ is the nation’s demonstration plot, showing how small steps can mean important gains in mitigating global warming and producing a safe, sustainable and nutritious food supply,” said Vilsack. “The garden concepts we’re teaching this summer can be your contribution to providing healthy food, air, and water for people and communities across the country.”

Each workshop will provide an interactive demonstration of various aspects of ‘The People’s Garden,’ teaching practical skills on how to grow a garden in any set-up, from window boxes to acre plots.

The “Healthy Garden” Workshop Series schedule and topics include:

  • June 26 – Gardening From the Ground Up: Improving Your Soil
  • July 3 – Watering Your Lawn and Garden
  • July 10 – Make-Up Day #1
  • July 17 – Container Gardening and Window Boxes
  • July 24 – Weeding and Removing Invasive Plants
  • July 31 – Installing and Using Rain Barrels
  • August 7 – Make-Up Day #2
  • August 14 – Attracting Pollinators: Friends of Healthy Gardens
  • August 21 – Inviting Wildlife with Bat Boxes and Other Backyard Habitats
  • August 28 – Maximizing Your Harvest
  • September 4 – Make-Up Day #3
  • September 11 – Making and Using Compost
  • September 18 – Choosing and Using Fertilizers
  • September 25 – Fall Maintenance: Preparing Your Garden for Next Season

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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