Dana Melby, Community Farm Manager
The Piedmont Environmental Council
email@example.com; 540-347-2334, x7068
ALDIE, VA. (August 4, 2020) – Now that Virginia’s stay-at-home orders have been lifted, the Piedmont Environmental Council is calling for volunteers to help plant, cultivate and harvest 15,000 pounds of fresh produce at its Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows for donation to Loudoun Hunger Relief. Volunteers of all ages are welcome, and no prior gardening experience is necessary. With a capacity of 15 volunteers at a time, volunteer days take place twice weekly throughout the season. Corporate and group volunteer days can also be scheduled. The Community Farm is located at Gilberts Corner in Loudoun County, at 39990 Howsers Branch Drive in Aldie.
“Hunger has always existed in the Loudoun County community, but with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, our neighbors need us now more than ever. In response, PEC has tripled the production area at the Community Farm and needs help planting, harvesting, and packing produce for Loudoun Hunger Relief,” said Community Farm Manager Dana Melby. “Volunteers are invaluable to our effort to meet the needs of the food insecure people of Loudoun.”
“It is such a pleasure to get out in nature and see the land being prepared and cultivated to grow food for the area food bank. As a volunteer, it’s rewarding to know I can play a small part in supporting land conservation and providing nourishment for the food-insecure in our community,” said Mary Peterson of Aldie.
The Piedmont Environmental Council launched the Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows in early 2019 first and foremost to grow fresh produce for donations to Loudoun food pantries. In 2019, PEC donated 5,000 pounds of produce to Loudoun Hunger Relief; this year’s goal is at least 15,000 pounds. “Already, food donations this year have exceeded last year by 350 percent to date, and that has been without the help of volunteers during Virginia’s stay-at-home orders. Imagine how much food we can provide with our community’s help,” Melby said.
Lachi Balabanski, of Leesburg, says volunteering at the Community Farm “lets me fulfill my drive to do something for my community. I enjoy the farm work just as much as I enjoy the camaraderie with the staff and other volunteers.”
Though the farm is located in Loudoun, and food is donated to Loudoun Hunger Relief, volunteers come from many neighboring communities, including Nokesvlle volunteer Jimmie Jones. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working at Roundabout Meadows. I’ve harvested, washed and packaged eggplant, cucumbers, squash and onions, and have learned a lot. And it just feels good to watch 600 or 700 pounds of fresh produce leave the farm for folks who need the food,” Jones said. Likewise, Winchester volunteer Roberta says she volunteers at the farm “because my efforts help to feed people in need.”
Volunteer activities outdoors will follow social distancing guidelines, and PEC will require volunteers to bring a mask to wear while packaging produce and when adequate social distancing cannot be maintained. “The health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and community are our utmost priority. If a volunteer is experiencing a fever of higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, has symptoms of a respiratory infection, or has been exposed to someone with a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis, we will ask them to please refrain from volunteering at the Community Farm and to follow the guidelines for self-quarantining set out by the CDC and Virginia Department of Health before returning to the farm,” Melby said.
With community volunteer days, tours, and educational programs, the Community Farm also connects residents with Loudoun’s agricultural roots and demonstrates, first-hand, the importance of healthy food systems and how conserved land can support those food systems. Managed with sustainable and regenerative techniques to revitalize the agricultural productivity of the land at Roundabout Meadows, the farm also serves as a demonstration site for local farmers interested in learning more about agricultural best practices.
For more information about PEC’s Community Farm at Roundabout Meadows, visit pecva.org/farm, or contact Farm Manager Dana Melby at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to volunteer through Loudoun Cares and Let’s Volunteer, which can be found at: www.pecva.org/farmvolunteer, and to receive emailed volunteer information and updates.
Since 1972, The Piedmont Environmental Council has proudly promoted and protected the natural resources, rural economy, history and beauty of the Virginia Piedmont. PEC empowers residents to protect what makes the Piedmont a wonderful place, and works with citizens to conserve land, improve air and water quality and build thriving communities. PEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and accredited land trust. Learn more at www.pecva.org