The City of Newport News and the Newport News Green Foundation received a $125,000 grant from the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America (ABFHA) and the African American Mayors Association (AAMA). Four cities with African American mayors received grants to advance essential programs that improve community health, increase access to affordable basic nutrition needs, and offer educational components that help market the program to residents.
Funding to Newport News will support the Sarfan Food Forest in the city’s Southeast Community. Located on a 5.02-acre parcel of land, the Sarfan Food Forest is currently under development. The focus of the project is an active green space with a diverse ecosystem of more than 75 different species of fruit-bearing trees. Plans also include an outdoor classroom, community farm stand, plants for an indigenous garden and pollinator meadow, recreational areas, and more. Through this project, Newport News is creating the third-largest food forest in the nation.
“Thank you to the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America and the African American Mayors Association for investing in Newport News and helping bring the Sarfan Food Forest to life,” said Mayor Phillip D. Jones. “The poverty rate in the Southeast Community is 54%, a staggering statistic we are striving to address through initiatives like the Sarfan Food Forest. I commend ABFHA and AAMA for their commitment to cities across the nation and supporting the health of our residents.”
Donated by the Sarfan Family, the space is intended to address food scarcity in the area while promoting the environmental benefits of productive green space. Conceptually, food forests model the structure of a young ecosystem by producing food in small green spaces and providing host environments for a variety of beneficial organisms. However, as the spaces mature, they also become dynamic areas to promote community connection and pride by offering opportunities to interact and connect with neighbors.
“We are creatively using green space in Newport News to solve food insecurity while developing a community gathering place where all feel welcome,” said Tami Farinholt, Executive Director of the Newport News Green Foundation. “This significant grant from the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America and the African American Mayors Association will provide healthy food options for generations and become a source of pride for the community.”
As part of the grant award, the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America and the African American Mayors Association created a video highlighting the Sarfan Food Forest. View the clip online and visit the Newport News Green Foundation website to learn more about the Sarfan Food Forest.