The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 16

Continued from page 14.

As of this spring, the Roanoke
Community Garden Association
has a new executive director
overseeing them all.
Anna Copplestone, 34, is
making sure the raised beds are
sturdy, the hoses are turned on
and the gravel paths are smooth.
She's pairing master gardeners
with first-time growers and
organizing events so each garden's
neighbors feel welcomed.
Copplestone believes her job is
to grow, not only blueberries and
cucumbers and oregano, but also a
connection between people, place
and food.
"I see this position as building
community and fostering
relationships," says Copplestone
in her soft-spoken, friendly
manner. "It takes trust. I first need
to listen and learn. I need to know
what each gardener is looking
for and what each community is
looking for."
Copplestone has two degrees
from Hollins University-one,
an interdisciplinary major in
psycholog y and social work,
and the other in environmental
studies. For 10 years, she lived
in an old farmhouse on the edge
of campus, with her husband,
director of the Hollins Outdoor
Program, and eventually her son,
now 9. By day, she worked as a

help desk coordinator and audio/
visual technician. As a volunteer,
Copplestone created a campus
tree guide and ran the Hollins
community garden.
"Everything we grew, we sold
to the dining hall," she says-
herbs and vegetables, flowers and
decorative gourds. The students
who worked in the garden felt a
deep sense of pride, Copplestone
says. " That sense of taking
ownership of the land that's in
your community, that's what I
hope to replicate."
Copplestone is the third
executive director since Mark
Powell founded the organization
in 2008.
Community gardener
and RCGA board member
Celia McCormick says it
was Copplestone's "passion
for sustainable living and her
interpersonal skills necessary
for building and growing
relationships" that made her a
good fit to lead the organization.
The RCGA headquarters
moved to the Grandin CoLab in
2019. Copplestone's command
center is a tiny, out-of-the-way
desk. But "I don't anticipate being
here very much," she laughs. "I
anticipate working in the gardens
a lot!"
Since taking the reins in
February, Copplestone has focused
on meeting community leaders
and training garden volunteers.
She brought in college students for
spring break work weeks and has
scheduled planting days for each
garden. She's excited to reach folks
from all walks of life to contribute
in whatever way they can.
"Volunteers don't need to be
master gardeners," she says. "If
someone wants to volunteer who
has never gardened before, come
on in. That's what a community
garden is!"
To l e a r n m o r e , c h e c k
o u t t h e RCG A we b s i t e a t
roanokecommunitygarden.org.
-CHRISTINA NIFONG

16 MAY/JUNE 2019

The Coming
Hemp Wave
The owner of LilyHemp,
a new Vinton store, is on
a mission to help create a
hemp economy.

I

F DEBBIE CUSTER IS feeling
a bit of déjà vu these days, you'll
understand. She's been here
before, resting at the front edge of
a significant movement, though
in times past, the profile was a
smidge higher. Today, she sits on an
overstuffed sofa in front of a picture
window of her business-Coeus
Research-at the corner of Pollard
Street in Vinton, far, far from the
madding crowd.
But the mission-helping to
create a hemp economy-may well
be her biggest. She is, at the very
least, an enthusiastic, knowledgeable
spokesperson for the eyebrowraising qualities of one of the most
versatile plants on earth, one that
until recently was illegal, mostly
because of its close relationship with
marijuana.
Without hesitation Custer predicts
hemp/cannabis "in five years will
exceed [sales of ] beer and wine and
will become a $22 billion industry.
About 85 percent of everything
in a home-including the home
itself-will be made of hemp," she
predicts. Imports of hemp last year
(it was legal to import, but not to
grow) for insulating cars topped out
TheRoanoker.com

DAN SMITH

COPPLESTONE


http://www.roanokecommunitygarden.org http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2019

The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Intro
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover1
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover2
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 3
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 4
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - 5
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The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover3
The Roanoker - May/June 2019 - Cover4
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