LEAP Dedicates New Building in Roanoke’s West End

On Thursday, June 1, at 10 am, Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) will hold a Dedication of The LEAP Hub, an invitation-only event that includes speakers, tours of LEAP’s new facility, a reception, and a ladybug release. Speakers include Mayor Sherman Lea, LEAP Founder and Board member Brent Cochran, Roanoke urban farmer Cameron Terry, LEAP Executive Director Maureen McNamara Best, and community leader Amazetta Anderson.

The LEAP Hub is located at 1027 Patterson Ave., SW. Tents and chairs will be set up on the front lawn. Speakers will begin at 10:15. Building tours and a reception in LEAP’s Gathering Place, a meeting room available to the community, painted with a stunning mural by local artist Jon Murrill, will follow. LEAP Kitchen members Elote Alebrije, By the Dozen Cookies, and Sycamore Snacks are providing food for the reception.

LEAP History

In 2009, an idea emerged for the Roanoke community to more deeply connect with local food. The Roanoke Co+op supported this idea and in a few years’ time, Grandin Village Farmers Market, West End Farmers Market, the LEAP Mobile Market, and the LEAP Kitchen were born.

Since then, Local Environmental Agriculture Project has built its nonprofit around supporting farmers and providing affordable access to local food. LEAP has been a part of many Roanoke conversations about working toward resilient local food systems and addressing climate change. Staff have been on-the-ground in neighborhoods across the city listening to people striving to feed their families fresh food in spite of real-world challenges. LEAP has, at times, stepped in to continue mission-related projects that needed a new home, such as the Good Food/Good People farm share begun by Tenley Weaver and the community gardens started by Roanoke Community Garden Association.

LEAP is the backbone organization for Virginia Fresh Match, a statewide network of farmers markets and retail stores that allows SNAP customers to double the value of their fresh food purchases, and the Roanoke Foodshed Network, a regional partnership of organizations dedicated to creating more equitable and resilient food and farming systems.

About The LEAP Hub

In 2021, the Star City Strong Recovery and Resiliency Panel, formed by the City of Roanoke, chose LEAP as a recipient of $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to enhance and expand the region’s local food systems. These funds have supported urban agriculture and community gardens throughout the city, allowing them to invest in deer fences, production and storage infrastructure, and community spaces.

With the ARPA investment, LEAP renovated a neglected building in Roanoke’s West End neighborhood, then moved its growing food distribution operation into the space. ARPA funds also enabled LEAP to place 62 photovoltaic panels on its roof, ensuring that its work is as sustainable as possible. In 2022, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provided an additional $50,000 for food processing and storage equipment. 

Additionally, ARPA funds are helping LEAP expand a pilot program that processes fruits and vegetables that would otherwise end up in landfills while also creating affordable, accessible options for mobile market and farmers market customers. LEAP’s Tuesday afternoon West End Farmers Market has recently grown to serve more farmers, food businesses, and neighbors. In 2024, a retail store will open inside The LEAP Hub, offering fresh fruits and vegetables to the public, in a neighborhood where quality, affordable produce is hard to find.

LEAP’s food hub operations, offices, and West End Farmers Market are, for the first time, located in one place – allowing for efficiencies and growth that were not previously possible. Some LEAP-led programs have not moved. The Grandin Village Farmers Market is located at 2080 Westover Ave., behind the Roanoke Co+op on Saturday mornings. The LEAP Kitchen remains at 1210 Patterson Ave., behind the West End branch of Freedom First Credit Union. Three LEAP-led community gardens are located in Hurt Park neighborhood, Mountain View neighborhood, and Morningside neighborhood.

On Saturday, June 3 from 3 to 6 pm, LEAP is also hosting an Open House, free to the public. At this festive event, there will be tours of the building, information-sharing about LEAP’s programs, a DJ, yard games, crafts, and food for sale (made by LEAP Kitchen members). The LEAP Mobile Market will be set up and offering locally grown fruits and vegetables for sale.


About LEAP

Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) is a Roanoke-based 501c3 nonprofit. Founded in 2009, LEAP strives to nurture an equitable food and farming system that prioritizes health and abundance. LEAP programs include two farmers markets, a mobile market, an online marketplace, a farm share, a food hub, a commercial kitchen, three community gardens, and robust nutrition incentive programs. LEAP also works with community partners from across the region on initiatives that promote farm to community and food system development. LEAP is the lead organization for Virginia Fresh Match, a statewide network of markets and retail outlets that make fruits and vegetables more affordable for SNAP participants. Learn more about LEAP at leapforlocalfood.org.

About Virginia Fresh Match

Virginia Fresh Match is a network of farmers’ markets and community food stores across Virginia that offer nutrition incentives. VFM nutrition incentives double the value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
spent at participating outlets. With Virginia Fresh Match, low-income consumers can afford additional fresh fruits and vegetables, local farmers gain new customers and earn more income, and more benefit dollars stay in the local economy. Learn more at VirginiaFreshMatch.org.

About the Roanoke Foodshed Network

The Roanoke Foodshed Network (RFN) was formed in 2020 as a way to build community and capacity between diverse partners working to address food systems change in the Roanoke region. The goals of this network have grown out of a decade of conversations with farmers, planners, and local food advocates. The RFN aspires to develop a comprehensive approach to creating a more equitable and resilient food and farming system that produces health and abundance in the Roanoke region. The Roanoke-based nonprofit Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) is the fiscal agent for a multi-year United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) planning grant. Other leading network partners include Carilion Clinic, Feeding Southwest Virginia, The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the Virginia Tech Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation.

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