Third Largest U.S. Food Forest Seeking Site Plan Approval in Newport News

Providing access to fresh food in the city’s Southeast community.

March 21, 2024

The third largest food forest in the United States is underway in the City of Newport News, Virginia’s Southeast neighborhood. What was once a vacant five-acre site was gifted by donors to the Newport News Green Foundation, a local non-profit organization that preserves and manages green spaces throughout the city to enhance quality of life. When complete, the food forest will be accessible to the community and provide a low-maintenance, diverse selection of edible fruits, nuts, and vegetables in an area identified as a food desert. VHB is partnering with the Newport News Green Foundation to refine and advance the conceptual site plan, originally developed by students from Virginia Tech’s Community Design Assistance Center.

Newly planted fruit trees in the Newport News Food Forest. A growing apple last summer on the fruit trees at the Newport News Food Forest.


Each element of the site plan was created in collaboration with the residents and surrounding community, reflecting their aspirations and priorities. Through numerous public meetings on site hosted by the Newport News Green Foundation, attendees were invited to share their insights and forge connections. While the foundation will oversee the site’s maintenance, there’s a fervent desire to garner community support in nurturing and preserving the space. With strong support from Mayor Phillip Jones of Newport News, the project received a $125,000 grant from the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America (ABFHA) and the African American Mayors Association (AAMA).

The envisioned food forest will be a multifaceted space, featuring fruit laden trees, vegetable gardens, pollinator meadows, and an inviting outdoor classroom. Additional amenities will include a berry patch, storytelling area underneath a large shade tree, and ADA-compliant pathways to provide inclusivity and accessibility for all.

“As a member of the Newport News Green Foundation Board of Directors, I am able to bridge my personal passion with the impactful work we do at VHB to help meet a dire need for access to healthy food and education,” said Holly Kidd, PE, ENV SP, VHB’s Land Development Team Leader in Williamsburg. “It’s a remarkable convergence of missions, and I am honored to be a part of not just the food forest, but the numerous other projects taking shape in the Southeast neighborhood.”   

VHB is providing civil engineering and landscape architecture services for additional revitalization projects in the Southeast neighborhood, including the new 600-student Huntington Middle School, Early Childhood Center for children ages six weeks to five years, and River Port S23, a ship repair and fabrication warehouse and training campus bringing more than 322 jobs to the community.

To learn more about the food forest, connect with Holly Kidd via email or LinkedIn.