Catawba Sustainability Center & VT EarthWorks

Catawba Sustainability Center | VT EarthWorks

Catawba Sustainability Center

On the site of the old Catawba Hospital dairy farm, the Catawba Sustainability Center is a showcase for researchers and students from Virginia Tech to engage with the local community – a place to practice, demonstrate, learn, and teach about sustainability issues (from green building and construction to low-input agricultural production to water quality to onsite energy production to community-based business development) that affect our world today and into the future.

On the Ground at the CSC

As part of an agroforestry planting day, a wind break of white pines was planted at the CSC.

  • Soil Sensors – a grant from the VT Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science has allowed researchers to develop soil sensors that will transmit information directly to hand-held devices like an iPhone.  It will allow land managers to know what is going on with the soil right below their feet!  The sensors have been installed in the fields at the CSC and will be used by Roanoke County Public Schools to teach about science and soils.
  • Medicinal and Edible Plants in Riparian Areas – A partnership between the CSC and the USDA National Agroforestry Center has allowed several really exciting projects to take place on site.  Several riparian areas, or the vegetated areas around streams that help prevent erosion, have been planted with plants that have merchantable value.  Read more about the projects here.
  • Ropes Challenge Course - Virginia Tech’s University Unions & Student Activities is building a ropes challenge course to offer leadership training for students at Virginia Tech. The course will also be made available to businesses and organizations in the community.
  • Appalachian Trail Connection -  The Catawba Sustainability Center has partnered with Roanoke County, the Appalachian Trial Conservancy, and the U.S. National Park Service to establish a blue-blazed (marked in blue) connector trail to the adjacent Appalachian Trail. This trail will be available for recreational use by the community.

    VT EarthWorks member and owner of Greens to Go Kathy O'Hara has leased land and constructed a beautiful hoop house at the Catawba Sustainability Center, where she is now growing gourmet greens for a variety of customers

  • Tree plantings - The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, alongwith Goodman & Company, planted more than 300 trees along a tributary feeding Catawba Creek in celebration of Earth Day 2009. Catawba Creek runs for 2.5 miles through the property. This project reminds people that even in southwest Virginia, changes to the land impact water quality in the Chesapeake.
  • Hoop House – VT EarthWorks member and owner of and Greens to Go, has built a hoop house on site, and is growing gourmet salad greens for restaurants and other customers around the Roanoke area.


  • To learn about what’s new at the Catawba Sustainability Center, click here


VT EarthWorks

VT EarthWorks is a business-acceleration program for land-based businesses (e.g., producers of local food, biomass for energy, and sustainable wood products). Developed with support from the Blue Moon Fund, VT EarthWorks offers programming focused on support services for local food providers. Among the services provided by EarthWorks to its members is space at the Catawba Farmers Market, access to land for low rent at the Catawba Sustainability Center, opportunities to meet with customers and other growers through various networking events, and the opportunity to participate in the Growers Academy, specifically designed to help new and transitioning
vegetable and cut-flower businesses succeed.

VT EarthWorks Members

Check back to see who are members of VT EarthWorks for the 2011 growing season!


  • To learn about what is going on with VT EarthWorks, click here