NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – As sea level rise leads to persistent problems with flooding in the Hampton Roads area, cities are working to be proactive in ways big and small.
In Norfolk, a grant from the city can help organizations repurpose rainwater, cut back on water usage and head off flooding before it happens.
10 On Your Side’s Kara Dixon first shared the story of Eggleston Urban Farm in 2018, as volunteers, staff and trainees cleared a plot of land at the intersection of Church and 26th streets.
Since then, they’ve harvested a bounty of crops, sold at Eggleston Garden Center as well as farmers markets, according to Peter Bergstrom, a manager in the horticultural services department.
The goal of the project, Bergstrom said, goes far beyond growing produce.
“Eggleston’s main mission is to provide training and job opportunities for adults with disabilities,” he said.
Working as landscape trainees, adults with disabilities get valuable work experience tending to the garden, which also fulfills another mission: fighting flooding in Norfolk.
A rain catchment system is comprised of four tanks, which can hold a total of 1,110 gallons of rainwater.
“They catch all the rain that is coming off the building roof and storing it so that throughout the spring and summer we can irrigate the crops using the rainwater,” Bergstrom said. “The water used to just flood this when it was an empty field or go directly into the rain gutters and overload the system.”
Critical to the project’s success, according to Bergstrom, was a $2,000 “Retain Your Rain” grant from Resilience Norfolk that paid for part of the rain catchment system.
“It was kind of the keystone for making this project happen,” he said. “There’s another [grant] coming up, which is going to be an awesome opportunity for someone else in Norfolk.”
Civic leagues, neighborhood associations, nonprofit and other organizations can apply to be awarded up to $2,500 for the Retain Your Rain Mini-Grant until March 1. For more information or to apply, visit Norfolk’s Office of Resilience.