The property – located on Blue Hills Drive off of 460 in Northeast Roanoke – was home to the Roanoke City Police Department’s Mounted Patrol until 2009. Along with a horse barn, a historic cabin sits on the property, which the Co-op intends to restore and highlight with plantings of heritage crops around the structure.
“The land has the look and feel of a country farm just a few miles from our store in the Grandin Village,” says Bruce Phlegar, General Manager of Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op. "The Co-op plan calls for a fruit orchard, honey, cut flowers, nursery and bedding plants, and off-season vegetable production using “high tunnel hoop houses.”
Free-range chickens will supply the Co-op with some egg production and fertilizer for the farm. Since the group utilizes sustainable farming techniques, it will not use harmful commercial fertilizers or pesticides. The group is also proposing to lease from the City of Roanoke an additional 7.4 acres of nearby land for planting row crops.
Co-op officials say the 24.9 acres would be the largest contiguous urban farm in the United States.
Plans also call for an on-site farmers’ market, group tours as well as classes focusing on food and gardening. “We are excited to present our plans for a vibrant, productive urban farm,” Phlegar says. “Our farm will strengthen the local, sustainable food movement in the Roanoke Valley.”
The Co-op has already reviewed the proposal with the surrounding neighbors and has received their enthusiastic support. The Co-op has built a website, www.farmroanoke.com, where you can learn more about this proposal.