5th District Mini Farm: Growing From the Ground Up

BeautifulRVA Community Stories: 5th District Mini Farm

5th District Mini Farm
By Lauren Francis

Randy Minor has a clear vision for 5th District Mini Farm.

“That’s the part of the food justice of gardening,” Randy Minor explains, “People have lack of access to fresh foods and the food that doesn’t have herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. You know we all are getting that from the grocery stores and that’s what’s killing us more than gunfire or anything. At a rapid pace.”

His grandfather, Percy Minor, Sr., is a legend in the community. Early this summer the City of Richmond renamed the corner of Bainbridge Street and West 25th after Minor, who passed away from cancer back in 2013. His life’s work
His death motivated Randy Minor to set things in motion.

“I felt the need to put one foot forward and I just kept looking at the space back when it was just grass I was like man, this space is going to be something.”

He and his partner NyTasha Stevenson had to be strategic at the onset because the land sits on a hill. After a month of weekends, tilling the land from sun-up to sundown, they established mounded rows to stop water from pooling at the bottom of the hill.

“These mounds actually stop the water and by stopping the water they absorb it,” Minor explains, “By absorbing it, the root system of the plant is always getting water which helps me to not have to come out here everyday and water.”

NyTasha describes it as a kind of marination — instead of the water sitting on top of the plant and being dried up by the sun, the roots always have water at their disposal.

To further automate and irrigate the farms, they called Ajane Sekou to create an internal drip irrigation system.

“The drip irrigation is not going to be on top like most,” Minor explained to me in early Spring, before the system was built, “It’s going to be instead of the bed, so it’s just pushing all of the water straight to the root system. A big reason why I figured to go inside of it is because in the summer time you, deal with evaporation so you have to either water early in the morning or dusk. But if you have a system that goes right into the root, you don’t have to worry about it.”

Sekou placed the two thousand gallon water tanks on the highest point of the farm. The water goes from the water tanks into the thin drip irrigation systems overarching each row of the garden. “In one roof in the same footprint,” he explains, “I have four gutters to cover the same area.”

With record high temperatures already this summer, the internal irrigation is a game changer.

“That’s what it’s all about,” NyTasha says, “seeing things from beginning to end.”

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