History of the Newport News Green Foundation

The Newport News Green Foundation was established by resolution of the Newport News City Council in June 1998, and became a separately chartered nonprofit, charitable organization five months later.  The organization of the Green Foundation was prompted by Council’s awareness that urban development had changed the appearance of the city to the extent that landscaping needed to be reintroduced along the urban corridors and green spaces needed to be preserved in order to maintain and enhance the quality of life in the city.  In April 2001, the Foundation acquired its first property located at 10184 Jefferson Ave (on the southeast corner of Jefferson Ave and McLawhorne Dr, across from the Midtown Community Center).  Since then it has preserved over 50 acres of land in the city and made its most recent acquisition in late 2021 with the donation of 1100 Kiln Creek Parkway.

Currently, while staying true to its mission to preserve green spaces, the Foundation is also exploring how it might provide the public access to touch and enjoy the natural spaces it maintains.  Its premier property, Chatham Trail (located at 401 Chatham Dr), is the Foundation’s first opportunity to not only preserve a green space, but also turn it into a useable space for citizens and visitors to enjoy.  With the assistance of the Chamber of Commerce of the Virginia Peninsula’s LEAD Class of 2013, who provided a site plan and community vision, the Foundation has installed a walking trail, benches, and a fountain on the property.  Making it the perfect place to exercise, walk your dog, have a picnic, or rent for a small event. In 2021, in partnership with the Newport News Public Art Foundation, the sculpture La Luna, by Lars Widenfalk, was installed in the Pond at Chatham Trail bringing a museum quality art experience to the space.

In 2017, the Foundation began the restoration and assumed the long term maintenance of the Hilton Ravine.  Located adjacent to Hilton Elementary School in the Historic Neighborhood of Hilton Village, the ravine is a 2 acre pocket park characterized by a large storm water outfall that runs through the center of the Ravine and empties to the James River 100 feet away.  Since 2017, the Foundation, in partnership with the Virginia Dept of Forestry and several community groups and businesses, has transformed the space by planting over 100 native trees and shrubs, restoring the outdoor classroom, and installing a stone dust pathway.

In 2020, the Foundation acquired 1901 Chestnut Ave.  Donated by the Sarfan Family, it is a 5-acre vacant parcel located across from the Discovery STEM Academy.  In order to address food scarcity in the area and to promote the benefits of active green space, the Foundation seeks to transform this lot into the Peninsula’s first food forest.

Conceptionally, food forests model the structure of a young ecosystem by producing food in small green spaces and providing host environments for a variety of beneficial organisms. However, as the spaces mature, they also become dynamic areas to promote community connection and pride by offering opportunities to interact and connect with neighbors.

As of January 2022, the Foundation has planted 40 fruit-bearing trees (a combination of apple, pear, fig, persimmon and plum) in the space.   The Foundation is currently working with Virginia Tech’s Community Design Assistance Center to create an overall site plan for the space, to include additional plantings.  To participate in the design process, please email us at info@nngreen.com.