Riverbend Nursery LLC is "planting a better tomorrow" with their new Blue Ridge Grown program to address food insecurity. The nursery, headquartered in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, is donating a portion of its sales to help allay food insecurity in the regions where its products are sold. Riverbend Nursery has been selling perennials, herbs, groundcovers, and ornamental grasses for 30 years and wants to give back to its communities.
Riverbend started Blue Ridge Herbs last spring to highlight its headquarters. After a successful season, the team expanded the line to Blue Ridge Grown. Riverbend's "Blue Ridge Grown" products include its herbs, vegetables, and small fruits. When the pandemic hit and food security became an issue for so many, the Riverbend team added to its new mission.
In the fall of 2021, Riverbend will donate a portion of its proceeds from every plant sold in the Blue Ridge Grown line and donate it to a food security program in each shipping district that sells Blue Ridge Grown products. "We plant and grow food because we want to help everyone have access to healthy, affordable nutrition," said Steven Ronyak, CEO of Riverbend Nursery. "We care deeply about food security and believe no one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from."
It takes about $2.89 to provide a meal to someone in need, according to 2020 data from the United States Department of Agriculture. With Riverbend's matching commitment, one 18-count tray will equal one meal.
Last year, Riverbend Nursery raised $3,000 in support of the Blue Ridge Herbs line to donate to area food security charities. If there's a similar revenue earned this year with Blue Ridge Grown, that will mean a local organization can provide people in need with 1000 meals.
"It's important to us to contribute to our community," Ronyak said. "We love to see the direct impact of our work where we live. Our customers, many of whom are independent garden centers, enjoy serving their local communities and we can't wait to share this experience with them."
The Riverbend team hopes to expand this pilot program to other growers and other communities in the following seasons. "This is an ideal way for nurseries and growers to connect with their communities and we'd like to help this program spread far and wide," Ronyak said.
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