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Morningside Urban Farm Showcases Student Artwork in Unique Partnership
Posted on 05/26/2022
Photo of Morningside Urban Farm shed and view of the mountains.

Walk down the well-worn path into the Morningside Urban Farm and you can’t miss the crisp orange carrots, shiny tomatoes, and leafy lettuce sitting out.

One look, though, and you’ll notice these vegetables are for admiring, not eating. They are tiles of artwork, created by Garden City Elementary 4th graders to decorate the farm’s shed. The students have spent months creating, drawing, and painting tiles under the tutelage of art teacher Wendy McCauley.

On a recent warm May evening, the farm held an open house for students and their families to see their art on full display.

"Anytime I get the chance to do something in the community, I snap it up," McCauley said, explaining how the partnership started.

Families visit Morningside Urban Farm on a recent warm spring evening to see tiles created by Garden City 4th graders. The tiles are hung on a shed in the farm.

Carilion Clinic runs Morningside Urban Farm as an "educational space to benefit the community and inspire healthy lifestyles," according to its website. Local farmer Cam Terry maintains the farm, and Carilion holds regular events and programs.

Students finished the tiles in February, but the project has been a long time in the making, put on hold in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the tiles look as if they’ve always been part of the farm.

Nestled in Southeast Roanoke on Morgan Avenue, the farm sits within Morningside Park. Below towering mountains and across the street from homes, the farm is the perfect oasis. Now complete with artwork, the farm also includes a bench, mountain views, and an unofficial farm cat — affectionately dubbed "yellow cat" — who frequently visits from elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Known as "Yellow Cat," this feline friend keeps visitors company. Photo of orangey-yellow cat looking at camera while lying on table bench.

The project allowed students to explore many aspects of art, such as contrast and colors. But it also allowed them to learn about vegetables, farming, and gardens. Looking over a list of vegetable the urban farm grows, students each picked out one that "spoke to them," McCauley said.

The project showed students how "art can be everywhere," McCauley said.

After students drew their vegetable, McCauley put the drawings on the tiles using a rubbing transfer, and students finished by painting.

Angela Charlton, a registered dietitian nutritionist and health educator with Carilion’s Community Health and Outreach team, called the artwork "astounding."

Both Charlton and McCauley said the project presented a terrific partnership opportunity.

Garden City's art will be on display until fall, according to Charlton. After that, the farm hopes to partner with another school to provide a new round of art for the "Bluebird Gallery" wall.

Photo of the mountains looking south from Morningside Park.


40 Douglass Avenue NW, Roanoke, VA 24012 Phone 540-853-2502