Jessica Stitts ’21 had decided to be a teacher until her grandfather got sick and had to go to the hospital. “He had a social worker with him every day,” said Stitts. The experience made her realize her true calling was a career where she could help people, so she transferred to Longwood after her freshman year and changed her major to social work.
Stitts and other seniors this fall took Methods: Practice III Communities and Organizations, one of their final degree requirements, which applies the skills they’ve learned to a capstone project. Their focus? Farmville’s Community Garden on Virginia Street, an area where residents may lack the means or access to buy fresh vegetables. Embraced by the neighborhood when it was created in 2015, the garden recently has suffered from a lack of involvement, said Dr. Erica Brown-Meredith ’95, who taught the course.
“We wanted to find out the problem preventing community members from being engaged and then determine what we could do to help bring about change,” said Brown-Meredith, adding that the ultimate goal is to encourage residents to “take back the garden.” Students interviewed neighborhood residents, held a town hall meeting and worked in small groups to present their findings and recommendations to Virginia Cooperative Extension representatives. The effort has started to pay off. Several community members have formed a committee to figure out how to get the garden growing again.