Heartwood Gardens

On May 11, Mr. Ben Casteel, Horticulture Instructor and Program Coordinator at Virginia Highlands Community College, approached me and asked “Would you be interested in us (Virginia Highlands Community College) putting in a garden here at Heartwood?”

My response? An eager and enthusiastic “YES!”  Imagine the stunning architecture and design of Heartwood complimented by beautiful gardens surrounding the premises.  To beat it all, Mr. Casteel has even offered to do all of this for FREE!  Who could possibly say no?!  For the next few weeks, Ben and I met several times, going over what we wanted planted and where the best plots of land at Heartwood would be most effective.  From these meetings and discussions, we decided to build these gardens in phases.

Phase 1, which is currently underway, will feature six varieties of delicious and local heirloom tomatoes, a plentitude of fresh herbs (including 3 varieties of basil, summer savory, lavender, sage, and chives), and even beautiful edible flowers such as marigolds, cosmos, bachelor’s buttons and zinnias.  With phase 2, we will be adding fall crops like kale/greens, carrots, and cabbage (plus much more).  We hope to have all phases complete by Spring 2019.

Imagine, pulling into Heartwood’s parking area, seeing the breathtaking facility surrounded by gorgeous vegetation, plants, and fruit-bearing vines circling the property…what a sight that will be!  Not to mention the fact that this only helps to serve our “farm to fork” initiatives:  every day, customers will be able to see myself and other culinary staff going out into the gardens to pick herbs and harvest crops.  This is an ongoing project, but please come by and see the daily progress being made.  Also while you’re here, ask for a garden tour, and either myself or another culinary team member will show you around the property and explain the progress and the future plans!  Can’t wait to see you here!


By Charles Parker
SWVA Culinary Ambassador