Build a garden. Uplift a community. Protect a river. It’s a noble mission – one Pastor Ralph Steven Hodge of South Richmond’s Second Baptist Church and his group of dedicated church volunteers took on with pride. With a village of support behind them, Eden’s Community Garden was born. On March 24, 2016, a large group celebrated the completion of the project and its goal of supplying produce to a community located both within a food desert and alongside several Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

“This garden is about education,” Pastor Hodge told us. “It gives us the opportunity to educate our community about how food is grown and what healthy foods look like. It also gives us the opportunity to talk about what shouldn’t go into the river.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) spearheaded the project. “This community rain garden project is part of an even greater initiative to help restore waterways within the Broad Rock community,” said Rebecca LePrell, CBF Virginia Executive Director, during the installation celebration. “We have several creeks in this community, including Grindall Creek, Goodes Creek and Broad Rock Creek, all of which flow to our treasured James River and then eventually to the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay. This is truly a holistic project that demonstrates how a community can come together to not only save the Bay, but meet the goals of the Clean Water Blueprint, as well.”

Ann Jurczyk, CBF Virginia Outreach and Advocacy Manager, added, “This project would not have happened without this wonderful team coming together and agreeing on a long-term goal to improve the health of the rivers and streams of the Chesapeake Bay.”

Those involved in the project include: the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Pastor Ralph Steven Hodge and Second Baptist Church members and volunteers, Chis Sonne of Civil & Environmental Services, Backyard Farmers, Luck Stone, Shoosmith Construction, Virginia State University College of Agriculture, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Community Foundation and REI.

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   First Lady of VA Dorothy McAuliffe participates in planting at Eden’s Garden.

First Lady of VA Dorothy McAuliffe participates in planting at Eden’s Garden.

Among those attending the installation ceremony was First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, who said. "Projects like this truly uplift us all."


Eden’s Community Garden and stormwater capture project include a tiered rain garden, a 10,000-gallon cistern with heavy-duty piping and a trench system. The rain garden will reduce the amount of stormwater runoff from the church’s parking lot, and an innovative trench system will irrigate the community garden.

Chris Sonne, of Civil & Environmental Services, was the engineering lead for the project.

Chris Sonne, of Civil & Environmental Services, was the engineering lead for the project.

“The rainwater runs off the roof, goes through a screen and then into the large cistern,” explained Chris Sonne, P.E., Civil & Environmental Services, and engineering lead for the project. “The cistern is connected to a piping system to supply water to the garden, with a trench system beneath the garden to handle overflows. This means we get a second chance to catch and filter the water before it travels to nearby creeks.”

Sonne said the project involved the use of 310 tons of double-washed drainage stone, 185 tons of compost blend, 150 tons of topsoil and 60 tons of bio-retention mix. All told, the project will reduce the church’s stormwater utility fee and help improve downstream water quality by reducing stormwater runoff by 30 percent.

Estimated annual reductions associated with the project include:

•       14,000 gallons of runoff

•       1.4 pounds of phosphorus

•       9.6 pounds of nitrogen

•       Peak flows reduced by 30%


Read more about the garden here.