Tag Archives: Todd Niemeier

UACC Kicks Off the Season with Market Days

UACC pano
The community garden at Friendship Court is just about to pop with summer fruits and vegetables.  This community garden, as well as several others around Charlottesville, are managed by the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville (UACC), a grassroots organization that promotes social equity through collective gardening and produce distribution. UACC is the continuation of an urban agriculture project called QCC Farms, started by the Quality Community Council (QCC). The idea for QCC Farms began with a group of residents at Friendship Court and 6th Street who were looking for a way to bridge the social barriers between their communities. The project started with a series of community conversations which culminated in breaking ground at the Friendship Court Garden in May of 2007 and the 6th Street garden in June. When QCC disbanded in 2011, committed local residents and volunteers formed UACC to continue the valuable work of bringing community members together through urban agriculture.Toni at UACC garden at Friendship Court

Toni Eubanks is one of several board members of the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville and has been volunteering her time to work in the garden for many years now.  Toni says she became interested in learning what was happening in her new backyard, and that’s when she approached Todd Niemeier, better known as “Farmer Todd,” to see how she could get involved. Toni adds, “Throughout the year, the garden helps engage the community and provide fresh produce to those that can’t afford it. People get to learn about plants and gardening, but it’s also a way to bring our diverse community together.”

UACC conducts many programs to help teach people about community collaboration and leadership, but a big part of what they do is distribute produce free of charge using a time-based, alternative currency called farm tokens. When someone volunteers in one of the UACC gardens, they earn a wooden farm token for every half hour of service. Volunteers can then use theirs farm tokens or share them with neighbors. Farm tokens are exchanged for garden produce at weekly, volunteer-operated distribution events called market days. During each growing season, UACC conducts 20 to 24 market days all held in community centers or on lawns in the Friendship Court, Crescent Halls, 6th Street, and South 1st Street communities. Depending on the time of year, one farm token is worth a bag of vegetables that would cost roughly $15 to $30 in the grocery store. Market days also serve as a place where people can share information and make connections. Guest chefs offer cooking demos and share recipes made with the weekly harvest. Other community organizations come from time to time as well to share information about upcoming events and happenings in the neighborhood.

Anyone in the neighborhood can volunteer in the community gardens which helps promote neighborhood engagement. With over 600 volunteers, comprised of both adults and youth, the gardens provide a great way to grow and share healthful food together, along while creating a strong foundation upon which to build a healthier community.  The Youth Leadership Team worked together with Farmer Todd last fall over several sessions to learn more about the Friendship Court Community Garden and envision and sketch what the new garden could look like after the redevelopment process.  While he doesn’t know exactly what form the garden will take in the future, Todd says he has started doing some research around the idea of creating rooftop gardens and that feasibility for the Friendship Court Community. While keeping affordable housing at the forefront, he still hopes that through careful research and open dialogue, the future garden will start to take shape.

UACC garden

For more information or to volunteer at one of the gardens, see UACC’s website.

And here is a detailed map of the Friendship Court Community Orchard.

The next market day is this Friday, June 16th at Friendship Court at 4PM.

Master Plan Digest: Talking about Friendship Court with Community Stakeholders

The redevelopment of Friendship Court will require partnerships across Charlottesville. To begin laying the groundwork for those partnerships, and to solicit input about a variety of issues integral to understanding Friendship Court, Piedmont Housing and its design team pursued intensive stakeholder engagement.

We met and talked with a wide array of stakeholders including Neighborhood Development Services, Virginia Housing Development Authority, the Boys and Girls Club, Legal Aid Justice Center, resident associations, neighborhood associations, schools and various not-for-profit service providers including site visits to local organizations.

Stakeholders Engaged (December 2015–May 2016)

Tamika Allen
Pete Armetta
Charlie Armstrong
Shannon Banks
Wes Bellamy
Carolyn Betts
Tara Boyd
Chip Boyle
Read Brodhead
Mark Brown
Wendy Brown
Brenda Castañeda
Zoe Cohen
Brandon Collins
Ty Cooper
Chris Craytor
Missy Creasy
Brian Daly
Mary Loose DeViney
Bill Dittmar
Andrea Douglas
Emily Dreyfus
Connie Dunn
Bill Edgerton
Chris Engel
Bob Fenwick
Kathy Galvin
Eunice Garrett
Deanna Gould
Melvin Grady
Charlene Green
Brian Haluska
Rashad Hanbali
Beverly Hanlin
Mike Hawkins
Jack and Linda Hawxhurst
Stephen Hitchcock
Jack Horn
Rosa Hudson
Tim Hulbert
Satyendra Singh Huja
Alex Ikefuna
Deb Jackson
Greg Jackson
Eric Johnson
Julie Jones
Daphne Keiser
Susan Kirschel
Katie Kishore
Craig Kotarski
Diane Kuknyo
Ludwig Kuttner
Oliver Kuttner
Kelly Logan
Police Chief Longo
Rod Manifold
Kathy McHugh
Bill McGee
Jon Nafziger
Heather Newmyer
Todd Niemeier
Amanda Patterson
Piedmont Housing Board of Directors
James Pierce
Amanda Poncy
Carrie Rainey
Kim Rolla
Dan Rosensweig
Mariam Rushfin
John Santoski
Ridge Schuyler
Leslie Scott
Lena Seville
Katie Shevlin
Mayor Mike Signer
Marty Silman
Maynard Sipe
Matthew Slatts
Dede Smith
Kristin Szakos
Alan Taylor
Cathy Train
Anna Towns
Candice Van der Linde
Will Van der Linde
Bill Wardle
Kevin White
JP Williamson
Brian Wimer
Buddy Weiner

We believe this list to be comprehensive. We apologize for any omissions. If you believe we have failed to include someone in this list, please let us know. 

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll look at how the local housing market affects redevelopment at Friendship Court.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – What We Heard and What That Tells Us (Stakeholder Context)

Friendship Court Youth Leadership Continues to Learn and Grow to Better the Community

PHA Friendship Court UVA Youth Leadership TeamPiedmont Housing Alliance remains committed to helping the Youth Leadership Team of Friendship Court effectively provide input for the redevelopment of their community. This team of highly motivated and engaged youth is embracing the challenges in front of them aided by Piedmont Housing and a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

Already this fall, there have been two events involving the Youth Leadership Team and their quest to learn how to effect positive changes where they live. The youth team is participating in several sessions with students from the University of Virginia’s Curry School as part of the Curry School Youth-Nex initiative to promote effective youth development. The most recent meeting was spent learning about Youth Participatory Evaluation (YPE)—how to effectively evaluate proposed changes to the community and to assess how and to what extent current programs are working. The goal is for the youth to learn how to be informed evaluators as they work with their community and gather input regarding certain aspects of the redevelopment.pha-friendship-court-uva-youth-leadership-team-2

DuriPHA Friendship Court UVA Youth Leadership TeamPHA Friendship Court UVA Youth Leadership Team with Mark Yung a recent session, the youth and the graduate students discussed their current understanding of research and evaluation. Mark Yu, one of the graduate students involved said, “Rarely do we see youth included in discussions of community issues and change. This is unfortunate given that youth are probably the most affected by changes in their community. My goal is to support and empower youth at Friendship Court to be part of the process of change in their community. Using a Youth Participatory Evaluation framework, my hope is to engender leadership, build trust, and inspire learning among the youth residents at Friendship Court.”

PHA Todd Niemeir UACC Community Garden and Youth Leadership TeamThe second event involving the Youth Leadership Team dealt directly with the physical environment of Friendship Court. The resident youth met in their backyard with Todd Niemeier the director of the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville. “Farmer Todd” heads the community garden project at Friendship Court. He led the team on a tour around the terraced garden walls and they talked about the importance of the garden to the community. They also discussed the next harvest (Swiss chard) which will be available to residents during Market Day at Friendship Court on November 18.

PHA Swiss Chard UACC Community Garden and Youth Leadership Team

As part of their time in the garden with Farmer Todd, the youth had time to reflect on their hopes for the future of the garden and to sketch some of those ideas for future discussion.

 

PHA UACC Community Garden and Youth Leadership Team Image

For more information on Youth-Nex, please visit: http://curry.virginia.edu/research/centers/youth-nex?utm_source=youth-nex&utm_medium=general&utm_campaign=youth%2Bnex.

For more information on the Partnership with U.Va. under the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, visit: http://piedmonthousingalliance.org/2016/03/08/jessie-ball-dupont-fund/.

For more about Farmer Todd and the Urban Agriculture Collective, visit https://uaccville.wordpress.com.