My name is Eric Lefevers and I am beyond excited to be in Hillsboro, West Virginia working with Grow Appalachia at High Rocks this summer. Since I have arrived, I continue to be amazed by the kindness, generosity, and welcome the people of the town have provided to me. I have only been here a few days and already feel at home.
I’m a 2013 graduate of Roanoke College located in Salem, Virginia. I was an Environmental Science major and minored in sociology and concentrated in anthropology. My main interests in my studies were sustainable community development and environmental justice. Away from my garden at home, where I love to grow hot peppers, I was able to participate in a number of horticulture and garden projects at Roanoke College. I helped to establish a garden on our campus that would ultimately be used to provide fresh produce to local food pantries. In addition, we planted a small apple orchard on campus with heritage apples from across the world grafted to the scion wood. I was also a part of a class which was also able to establish a large heritage orchard on the ground of a local summer camp to help provide a sustainable food and income source for the camp.
Last summer I was able to intern for the Roanoke Community Garden Association (RCGA). The primary goal of this organization is to eliminate the food desserts of inner city Roanoke and to provide a healthy food alternative to people who may not be able to afford to do so otherwise. While working with the RCGA, In addition to the 3 previously established gardens, we designed and implemented a community garden at an elementary school in order to educate the children on the importance of food security, the importance of a healthy diet and the practical skills to grow their own food. In addition, I was involved in the early planning and design of an additional community garden that is now being implemented.
While finishing my degree at Roanoke, I also did greenhouse research on the role of Garlic Mustard, a common invasive species (which I have since learned is apparently a big deal around West Virginia ), on the native species dynamics and richness. I was lucky enough to be able to present my research at the Ecological Society of America conference in Dover, Delaware.
I look forward to putting all of my past experience to work here in Pocahontas County, West Virginia!