First Lady Maureen McDonnell visited the West End Community Market on Monday while the governor participated in a panel at a business conference at the Hotel Roanoke.
The market is one of four of the First Lady’s Opportunity Hall of Fame Award Recipients for 2010-2011. The project brings fresh produce to the low-income neighborhoods of Mountain View and Hurt Park.
The First Lady said that after the inauguration of her husband she “wanted to focus on the key areas that I knew I could help support – and health and wellness is one of those.” She has planted a garden at the mansion.
“So many times I talk to children and they don’t know that vegetables come from the farm land – they think it comes from the grocery store.” She believes the market is an important, necessary project in reaching out to children and families.
“We can all do this,” she said. She planned to visit vineyards and has even planted vines at the mansion. She then picked up produce at the perfectly laid out tables and talked with growers like Constance and David Wright whose “Professor’s Garden” is on Mt. Chestnut Road.
The First Lady thanked Virginia State Senator John Edwards for his support. Edwards said, “what a wonderful job all have done” with the market, noting his daughter tutored at the center when she was in high school. “It’s one of our great community opportunities that are being provided here in Roanoke,” said Edwards.
Mayor David Bowers presented the First Lady with a Star City token on a day of cool breezes and beautiful skies that had her admiring the beauty of the region.
The First Lady’s Initiative Team Effort, FLITE, has 100 women that work around the state to promote the four pillars of FLITE. They focus on preventative health care, military families, Virginia tourism, and other women’s initiatives.
In addition to the West End Market, Brent Cochran also manages the Grandin Road Farmers Market. Mary Ellen Goodlatte greeted the First Lady. Goodlatte’s law firm contributed and helped get the West End Community Market started. The market is open on Tuesdays from 3 – 6:00 p.m.
The market was co-founded by the West End Center for Youth and Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP). Prior to its development they did not have access to healthy, locally grown produce. The market also works to teach the children in this neighborhood the importance of eating healthy and combating obesity.