PENNINGTON GAP, VA – MARCH 14, 2022 – Smart solutions to agricultural issues are what SoVa Gardens in Pennington Gap, Va., strives to provide for its customers. Organic farming is a primary focus of the business co-owned by Orville Overton and Brandon Moore.
Appa Valley LLC, doing business as SoVa Gardens, is a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital matching grant.
“Agriculture was identified as a target industry by VCEDA several years ago and SoVa Gardens fit the bill with its business plan to support that industry through its offering of products to serve area farmers and hobby gardeners,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The business projects three full-time jobs and one part-time job within three years.”
SoVa Gardens offers industry leading products, services and support to all types of gardeners – from farmers to hobbyists — whether they are growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, or delving into new markets created by changes in Virginia law. Products proven to provide savings in money, time and effort, while also generating greater crop yields and sustainable solutions are stocked in store to meet the demands of its customer base.
“Being interested in organic farming ourselves and seeing a gap in the availability of the products and support we were looking to obtain, is what led us to find that we could bridge that gap ourselves; thus SoVa Gardens was born,” Overton said.
“One of the things we hope to do is help local gardeners realize they can provide a portion of their weekly grocery list from their own home,” Overton added, noting the variety of nutrients, fertilizers and soils available for purchase at the store will help local gardeners – and farmers – increase their yields.
In the future, Overton noted, SoVa has a new project planned which utilizes vertical growing and assisted lighting to grow vegetables in an environmentally controlled space. Vegetables and fruits grown in that environment will be sold at the store.
“This will provide teaching opportunities, familiarity with the practice and self-sufficient sustainable solutions to personal food production year round,” Overton said of the project, adding, “We hope to bring that live by the end of this year.”
Overton noted SoVa has used the VCEDA grant to purchase inventory for the store, as well as toward equipment needs like a pallet jack and shelving.
“I can’t say enough how beneficial the grant has been to our business,” Overton said. “It has been really instrumental in getting us through the start-up months and has given us the opportunity to be successful.”
Looking to the future, Overton said SoVa is working in the community to establish a garden club and to encourage the planting of fruit trees along town streets and the development in town of various green spaces for bee and butterfly gardens to benefit those pollinators.
Overton and Moore worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Lee County Economic Development Authority.
“Orville and Brandon established SoVA Gardens in Pennington Gap to offer the community and Lee County area products and solutions for indoor and outdoor gardening that were not conveniently available,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC. “SoVa Gardens continues to look for ways to bring the community the opportunity to grow their own fresh fruits, vegetables and other products. Mountain Empire’s SBDC looks forward to continuing to work with SoVa as they grow and evolve.”
SoVa Gardens is located at 42454 East Morgan Avenue in Pennington Gap, Va. Interested persons may also find them on Facebook or reach them by calling (865) 585-3201.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.