In the neighborhood known as the Iron Triangle, comfort and serenity can be found at the corner of 6th and MacDonald, where a once-barren lot is now host to chickens, rabbits, beehives, and dozens of blossoming garden beds. In and amongst this thriving hub of life, a burgeoning community has taken root and found peace.
“I definitely feel like it’s a privilege to grow your own food,” shares Lena Henderson, founder and director of The Garden of Comfort and Serenity and daughter of lifelong Richmond activist Lillie Mae Jones. “It keeps you grounded,” says Henderson. “It’s a nurturing environment.”
But it hasn’t always been this way. Two years ago, the roughly 2-acre plot of land was nothing but an abandoned parking lot, where the only things growing were useless weeds and Richmond’s crime rate. But in the heart of the Iron Triangle, long reputed as one of Richmond’s poorest and most violent neighborhoods, Henderson’s vision has proven itself resilient, transforming the vacant land into a powerful resource for community growth.
Like most things in life, The Garden of Comfort and Serenity started as a seed.
“First she had the mulch, and then she had the beds built,” explains Annette Howard, who lives adjacent to the garden with three of her daughters and serves as the garden’s co-director.
With input from Richmond’s Youth Build and Self-Sustaining Communities, a non-profit organization, the hard work and commitment of Henderson and Howard has resulted in not only fresh produce, but changed lives.
“People just show up,” Annette explains. “We get all kinds of people that come through and ...