Fighting inflation with creative ways to keep food costs down

The Campbell Ave. community garden gets some work from local students to get ready for spring. (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va. – We have all seen rising prices because of inflation. We are paying more for everything including gas and food. Our Solutionaries team is finding unique ways to tackle the issue — from transportation, and beef prices, to affordable housing and the shipping crisis.

Here in Virginia at a local cattle farm, they are actually saving money on raising cattle which means you save money on the meat you buy.

The Parziale family runs New London Farm in Forest. Ben Parziale saw the need to combat rising costs and found a unique way to save on fuel, fertilizer and feed costs using hay rings that are moved around a field every few days. Parziale estimates the farm will save about $10,000 while raising the cattle, which means when you pay for meat, costs won’t increase for you.

“We’re regularly looking for ways to make it more efficient,” said Parziale. “We kind of saw some of the inflationary stuff going like alright, there’s going to be some changes into the ag community that the ag business or farming team is not gonna be able to avoid.”

He says a pound of New London Farm ground beef has only gone up about $0.50 in the last two years, but you’re seeing much higher increases elsewhere.

In Roanoke, the LEAP community gardens are more popular than ever. Growing your own food well can mean saving money on produce and not having to depend on the unpredictable supply chain.

“I do think it’s a lot more people are interested in this because they want to secure that for their family with, with uncertain economic times,” said Davey Rogner Stewards, the community gardens manager. “I don’t have to worry about how the national economy is doing to make sure that I’m putting food on my plate.”

Stewards said Roanoke invested $180,000 to add more space. He says are a number of ways community gardens can work.

  • At one, you can rent a small plot for $30 a year. The organization running the garden can help provide the compost, tools, donated seeds and more. You plant what you want and then get to harvest what you grow. But the space is small, so you’re limited to how much you can grow.
  • Another model is growing as a community together in a larger space where you can grow a larger amount of food. You could have fruit and nut trees and traditional garden rows.

Stewards says there are a variety of people who come to community gardens retired people, young people who want to learn about nature, immigrants and refugees who grew a lot of food where they used to live, and people who live in apartments.

This story is part of a new program at WSLS 10, Solutionaries. Solutions offer hope and that’s the belief of Solutionaries, a show from our parent company, Graham Media Group, focusing on those who are taking on some of our biggest challenges. Each episode focuses on effective responses to problems and offers viewers ways they can join the effort for positive change.

We tackle one topic at a time, highlighting problems many of us are dealing with and the solutions that are out there. The solution could be in our backyard, or something else that’s working across the country.

You can check out our story on urban heat islands in Virginia and their deadly effects from February here.

You’ll see new Solutionaries episodes each month here on WSLS.com, and on your go-to streaming device using the 10 News Now app. And, we’d love you to subscribe on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/solutionaries!


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You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m.