CNI Community Garden Flourishes

One way people have coped during the coronavirus pandemic is by escaping outside for sunshine and fresh air. Beautiful gardens and flower beds can be seen in neighborhoods across the city. The community garden at Zion Baptist Church is blossoming thanks to a great deal of loving care by resident volunteers and support from community partners. 

The community garden was created during the Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) process. A community need identified was access to fresh food. The Mission Continues, Zion Baptist Church and Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture have taken the lead on the effort and Zion Baptist Church kindly allowed the garden to be built on their property.  

Earlier this summer, the Newport News Fire Department provided water for totes at the garden and The Mission Continues built a shade structure and gutters to capture rain water, which will be used in the future. The city also donated mulch and compost for the garden.  

Over the past year, the garden has blossomed in countless ways. While it continues to provide food for residents, it has also been the site for events and gatherings before the pandemic. Members of the community have also joined together to maintain the garden, forming new friendships and close bonds with one another.  

This spring, the garden’s growing capacity was tripled when volunteers added rows for planting vegetables. This season’s harvest has already produced celery, beets, lettuce, squash, zucchini and countless pounds of delicious strawberries (a favorite with the residents!). 

There are big plans for the community garden, including classes on healthy cooking, yoga and using STEM in agriculture. If you’d like to help by donating or volunteering, contact Renee Foster at 757-615-3506 or  

They say that “To plant a garden is to believe in the future,” and that’s true with the CNI Community Garden. It is a source of inspiration and hope for a neighborhood that is being transformed. As the garden continues to flourish, so will the CNI area and its residents. To learn more about CNI, visit