Whole Foods is taking a few links out of the supply chain at its Short Pump store in Glen Allen, Va., by growing some of its own produce.

Whole Foods develops store garden

The Austin, Texas-based chain acquired about an acre in the community to start its garden, the Whole Foods Market Village Garden. The venture is a first for Whole Foods, according to media reports.

The land was donated by the area’s retail and residential development management company, Markel-Eagle Partners LLC, and is near the store in the same development.

At first, the items grown won’t be available for direct sale to consumers, but they will be used as ingredients for prepared foods and on the salad bar, according to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The company is awaiting approval from the county to move forward with direct sales.

Items already planted in and planned for the garden include grapes, squash, tomatoes, peppers, melons, kiwifruit, figs, persimmon, pears, plums, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, according to media reports. Grapes should be ready by mid-July this year. Development of the garden has been ongoing for six months, according to media reports.

The company also has plans to donate product to the Central Virginia Food Bank.

The purpose is not just to provide items for sale in Whole Foods stores, though. The retailer plans to host educational sessions and even rent some of the space to individuals. Joey Herndon, store manager, said student and community groups will have access to the garden for classes and demonstrations, according to the Times-Dispatch.

The garden has potential to expand to 6 acres. Backyard Farmer, an organic garden designer and educator is designing, building and maintaining the garden.

The garden’s public grand opening is scheduled for June 26, and includes a five-hour open house, tours, live music and kids’ activities, according to Whole Foods’ website.  Here are pictures of a ground-breaking ceremony for the garden.