Sustainable & Urban agriculture

VSU's Sustainable and Urban Agriculture Program provides a comprehensive educational program for Virginians to adopt sustainable and urban agriculture practices.

The program holistically addresses production, harvesting, marketing and the distribution of vegetables and small fruits within the conceptual framework of sustainability and within an urban or suburban environment.

The program provides educational programming in community and institutional gardening, urban farming, container gardening, and backyard gardening and livestock rearing. Participants receive training on high tunnel (hoophouse) production, low tunnel production, container gardening, raised bed and rooftop gardening, indoor gardening, and the use of hydroponics and aquaponics systems.

Outreach efforts include workshops, field days, on-farm demonstrations and hands-on training. The long-term outcome of the program is to increase the adoption of sustainable urban agriculture practices in the Commonwealth of Virginia leading to enhanced environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Harding St. Urban Ag Center

453 Harding Street, Petersburg, VA 23803

Indoor Farm in Petersburg, VA dedicated to increasing access to healthy food and poverty mitigation. Harding St. Urban Ag Center is funded by USDA-NIFA at Virginia State University. 

Project Summary

To address the existing food deserts in the City of Petersburg, Virginia communities, Virginia State University in collaboration with the City of Petersburg and the Depart of Social Services propose to build a sustainable food production system and distribution hub. Other goals include researching the effectiveness of innovative methods of indoor production, sustainable environmental, and energy practices. In addition to production research an educational program will be developed centered around training citizens, in operations, marketing, and entrepreneurship.


The specific objectives of the project are as follows:

  1. Convert an abandoned/underutilized structure into a year round indoor production system within the historic downtown Petersburg, VA.
  2. Develop a system of mobile farmer’s market units to deliver fresh produce to underserved communities.
  3. Develop and conduct educational programming in urban agriculture, marketing, nutrition and entrepreneurship.


The long-ranch goals of this project are to make the center a self-sustainable business for the city of Petersburg. Once established the center will have the potential to market produce in a greater capacity than the existing farmer’s market. The educational programs will establish a centralized community help center for both citizens and researchers. Impacts include the following:

  1. Revitalization of a Historic Downtown Petersburg property.
  2. Lower the number of Petersburg Citizens that do not have access to a food hub by 50%.
  3. Increase the number of Petersburg Citizens exposure to nutritional education [1000 each year]
  4. Change eating habits of Petersburg Citizens by 50%
  5. Train 200 Youth to be Entrepreneurs.
  6. Create 5 full-time employment positions.
  7. Contribute to the economic base of Petersburg.

Dr. Leonard Githinji

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Sustainable and Urban Agriculture

Phone: (804) 524-5962




Extension Specialist, Natural Resources

Phone: (804) 524-5467



Director of Harding St. Urban Agriculture Center

Phone: (301) 661-2061