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What does LEAP do?
Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) is a Roanoke-based 501c3 nonprofit. Founded in 2009, LEAP strives to nurture an equitable food and farming system that prioritizes health and abundance. LEAP programs include two farmers markets, a mobile market, an online marketplace, a farm share, a food hub, a commercial kitchen, three community gardens, and robust nutrition incentive programs. LEAP also works with community partners from across the region on initiatives that promote farm to community and food system development. LEAP is the lead organization for Virginia Fresh Match, a statewide network of markets and retail outlets that make fruits and vegetables more affordable for SNAP participants.
What’s another way to understand LEAP’s work?
The LEAP Mobile Market is a good program to look at in order to understand the wide range of ways LEAP works in our community. The mobile market is a farmers market on wheels that has (during its busiest season) 18 stops, in 16 Roanoke neighborhoods that have limited access to fresh produce and in two rural communities that are a 30-minute drive from the nearest grocery store. LEAP purchases all food we sell on the mobile market from local farmers and food businesses so that they have viable markets for their products. LEAP (though grants and donations) provides 50 percent discounts on fruits and vegetables to people who participate in SNAP, WIC, and Medicaid. By connecting local food to people who struggle to access it, and fundraising to make it affordable, LEAP increases demand for local food and improves our community’s health.
Where is LEAP located?
LEAP's work is spread across the Roanoke region. We have recently moved our offices and food hub into a renovated building at 1027 Patterson Ave. SW that we call The LEAP Hub. Here, we have a community room available to the public for small group meetings. In 2024, we plan to open a retail store, as well. On Tuesdays, the West End Farmers Market sets up in the field beside The LEAP Hub, from 3-6 pm.
Down the street, at 1210 Patterson Ave. SW, LEAP manages a shared commercial kitchen. Our mobile market travels throughout the city and beyond; the Grandin Village Farmers Market is held Saturdays in the parking lot behind the Roanoke Co+op. Find out more about LEAP's Community Gardens here.
How should I send mail or a check to LEAP?
LEAP's mailing address is:
PO Box 3249, Roanoke, VA 24015.
You can also make a donation through our website here.
How can I support LEAP's work?
You can make a donation (see above) or volunteer your time (see below). Businesses and organizations can also sponsor LEAP. Here's more information on our sponsorship program. If you're a small business, you can donate gift cards or merchandise for LEAP to use as fundraiser prizes. Everyone is invited to sign up for our monthly email newsletter to hear about all the good work LEAP is doing. Follow along, too, on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
How can I volunteer for LEAP?
Right now, our greatest needs for volunteers are in the LEAP Kitchen and in our community gardens. In the kitchen, volunteers work with LEAP's kitchen manager to lightly process local food, giving it a longer shelf life and making it more accessible for market customers. In the gardens, volunteers will be put to work improving garden infrastructure (think building fences and removing weeds). When you're ready to volunteer, fill out this form. LEAP's volunteer contact will reach out with more information.
Can I eat local food even in winter?
Yes! The offerings are not as abundant in February as they are in July, but LEAP's West End Farmers Market is held year round; the Grandin Village Farmers Market continues to meet in the winter on the first and third Saturdays of each month; and you can order on LEAP's Online Marketplace all year.
What is it like to eat seasonally?
Eating seasonally can be an eye-opening experience. Most of us are accustomed to having access to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables year round. Often, commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables are bred to withstand long travel, rather than for taste or quality. When eating seasonally, you'll experience lack, then the joy of getting your fill of one fruit or veggie, then a windfall of more fruits and vegetables as the season shifts. Eating seasonally means enjoying certain foods to the fullest while you can! As the season progresses you will feel the ebb and flow of scarcity and abundance associated with farming. Signing up for the LEAP Farm Share is a great way to give seasonal eating a try!
Is the produce at your markets USDA-certified organic?
Much of it is not. LEAP prioritizes buying from farmers who grow sustainably and regeneratively. Few farmers in our region are certified organic by the USDA, but almost all of our vegetable farmers grow according to organic standards. Our hot, humid climate creates challenges for our fruit farmers to grow organically, but most spray minimally, and LEAP prioritizes no-spray or low-spray fruit when it's available.
I bought a new vegetable, but I don’t know how to prepare it!
LEAP is working to create a bank of recipes for produce you're likely to bring home from the markets or in your farm share. While we're building our recipe collection, try searching for inspiration at Virginia Cooperative Extension, Smitten Kitchen, or Dishing Up The Dirt. A seasonal recipe is always included in our monthly email newsletter (Sign up here.) Have a favorite farmers market-inspired recipe? Email it to us at email@example.com. We'd love to give it a try!
I am a farmer who would like to sell at a LEAP market. What do I do?
Check out the information about LEAP Market Vendors and also about our Grandin Village and West End markets. Questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What discounts do I get with my SNAP/Medicaid/WIC cards?
Every $1 spent = $1 free on fresh fruits and vegetables with SNAP, Medicaid, and WIC. Learn more about how to use your cards at our farmers markets here and here. Learn more about LEAP's new Market Bucks program here.
I heard the Mobile Market stops in my neighborhood. Can I use my SNAP card there?
LEAP's Mobile Market is open to everyone. We accept SNAP and you will receive an extra dollar for free fruits and vegetables for every dollar spent on your EBT card. You may also be available for further discounts. Ask your mobile market manager. For the mobile market schedule check here.
I’m thinking of starting a community garden. Can you help?
Congratulations! Community gardens can be amazing spaces that encourage a connection with the land and help participants gain new skills and awareness of what it takes to grow your own food. That said, LEAP does not currently have capacity to oversee more community gardens than the three it manages. (Find out more about LEAP’s community gardens here.)
But there is a thriving gardening community in Roanoke. Here are a few ways to connect with other gardeners and resources who may be able to help.
1) Join the Roanoke Foodshed Network’s Roanoke Gardeners Feed. This is a new online community filled with resources and gardeners. You can ask your questions to this gardening community, as well as connect with other local community garden leaders.
2) Sign up for the Roanoke Community Garden Network listserv. This is an email-based way to share resources and news with Roanoke’s community gardeners. Email email@example.com to be added to the list.
3) Check out these resources:
- Roanoke Master Gardeners
- A listing of community garden tool kits
- A listing of community-garden focused webinars from Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Community Garden Network
- Roanoke Victory Gardeners, an active Facebook Group
Can I recycle my egg cartons at LEAP’s markets?
Yes! Simply give your egg cartons (all kinds: paper, plastic, or styrofoam) to the market manager. We can take 18 count and 12 count. They don’t need to have come from a LEAP vendor. We ask that the cartons be clean and dry. If you have collected a large quantity, please open and stack them.
What else can I recycle at LEAP?
Farm Share members can return any packaging materials from their share back to their pickup site. Kitchen members can recycle and compost inside the kitchen. Inside The LEAP Hub, City of Roanoke recycling, plastic film, and compost is collected only for waste created inside the building. LEAP encourages everyone to recycle with Roanoke City, bring specific items to Sustainable Roanoke events, and compost with Star City Compost.
What happens to the mobile market or farmers market if it rains or snows?
LEAP markets open and run, rain or shine. If snow or ice makes it dangerous to drive, LEAP may cancel or postpone a market. A LEAP employee will contact vendors about any cancelations. Customers should check LEAP's Facebook and/or Instagram pages for announcements.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 540.632.1360.
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