In a statement before Roanoke City Council, Co-op General Manager Bruce Phlegar officially withdrew his group’s interest. “We are very interested in creating a cooperatively owned urban farm in the city of Roanoke. But we are not interested in creating an entity that is a significant point of conflict with the surrounding neighborhood. Out of respect for those who oppose this project, and in the hope that the city will continue to work with our group, we respectfully withdrew our proposal.”
The Co-op had initially submitted its request on July 8th after City planners said they wanted the parcel to be used for commercial urban agriculture in its master plan for the Countryside property and several parcels adjoining it.
The Co-op plan called for 8 green houses know as “high tunnel hoop houses,” garden style row crops and an orchard. The group planned to have as many as 400 free-range chickens to produce eggs and fertilizer for the plants. Since the group utilizes sustainable farming techniques, it will not use harmful commercial fertilizers or pesticides. Plans also called for a small retail shop where locally grown produce would be sold to members of the surrounding community. The building would also have included classroom space.
“We still believe in the value and viability of a sustainable urban farm within Roanoke City limits,” said Phlegar. “It offers our community hyper-locally grown produce, and many educational opportunities. Our farm will strengthen the local, sustainable food movement in the Roanoke Valley.” Phlegar said the group would continue to seek property within the city that would meet their needs and have the general support of the surrounding neighbors.