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Farm stand to open at Two Mile bridge

By Rachel Molenda, Staff writer

Fresh produce is getting closer to residents of a few of the city’s public housing developments. Community members are repurposing the old Two Mile bridge as the site of the Orchard Manor Farm Stand.

“This is a central location, and everyone can have access,” said Virginia Nesmith, President of Orchard Manor’s resident council.

The farm stand is in a position to service Orchard Manor, as well as Little Page and Greystone Manor, but anyone who comes along is welcome to partake, Nesmith said.

“We want to bring fresh fruits and vegetables for the seniors and the young,” said Tony Richard, who will distribute fresh -- and eventually local -- produce through his company, Richard’s Produce & More.

The developments are about 1.5 miles from the Delaware Avenue Kroger and about three miles from Capitol Market, and many of their residents have trouble accessing those venues, said Charleston City Councilman Bill Kirk.

“We have a lot of people that are in wheelchairs and on crutches that can’t get to the Capitol Market or the East End,” Kirk said. “They can’t get there, but they can get here.”

The farm stand will sit alongside Washington Street West next to the Craig McGhee Bridge -- a project that took five years to come to fruition along with the commitment and hard work of Orchard Manor residents.

McGhee, who is helping organize the farm stand, was only 22 when he set out to improve the former bridge, which had no room for two vehicles to pass and was a hazard for pedestrians to traverse.

“Wheelchairs had to come into the street to get across the bridge,” McGhee said.

The bridge was the only way to connect the West Side and North Charleston, Kirk said.

Instead of letting the old bridge remain vacant, the narrow strip of what once was Washington Street has been repaved and the trees trimmed back thanks to the city, Kirk said. Park benches line one side, creating an open space for gatherings.

Richard said he has been distributing produce in Clendenin to seniors and children since last year.

“Folks up there just loved it,” Richard said. “I said, ‘I’d be interested in taking fresh fruits and vegetables [to Orchard Manor] to see what we can do to the community and help out the community.’ ”

While local produce won’t be available until July, Richard said, patrons will be able to browse a variety of foodstuffs from the South, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, onions, new potatoes and beans.

“When you bring fresh fruits and vegetables in, healthy snacks for the young kids and seniors, and you work with the community, it’s just a win-win,” Richard said.

Nesmith said she’s happy to see the farm stand come to that side of the city.

“We hope that everything goes better than what we expect it to go,” Nesmith said.

Richard will be able to accept senior vouchers, WIC and, hopefully, SNAP benefits starting in July, he said. The farm stand accepts cash and checks.

The Orchard Manor Farm Stand will be open the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Its opening day is Saturday, May 3.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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