Duron Chavis is an advocate for the African community and coordinator of innovative and dynamic initiatives on the topics of poverty, urban agriculture, and food security.
Duron Chavis started his career in community advocacy as first a volunteer, then an employee of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virgina. He worked as a museum coordinator developing programs and conducting guided tours for groups of all ages and backgrounds. In 2003, he founded the highly acclaimed Happily Natural Day Festival as a grassroots effort to supplement the summer jazz concert that was held annually at the institution. The festival is a weekend long experience held annually in both Richmond, VA and Atlanta, GA that focuses on cultural awareness, health, wellness and social change. Chavis has worked with Dr. Llaila Afrika, Dr. Phil Valentine, Hakim Bey, Dr. Neely Fuller, Queen Afua, Runoko Rashidi, Ashra Kwesi, Ashanti Alston, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, dead prez, Popmaster Fabel and several other community activists, scholars, and organizations from all over the country.
Currently, Chavis is engaged in coordinating innovative and dynamic initiatives around the topics of urban agriculture and food security in a culturally relevant way. In 2009, Chavis launched the Richmond Noir Market, a Saturday Farmer’s Market targeting low income communities located in what the USDA has designated as food deserts in Richmond, Virginia. 2012 marked the development of the McDonough Community Garden, an urban agriculture project that promotes sustainable food growing, horticultural therapy and environmental stewardship.
Chavis has received numerable accolades for his work. In 2011 he served as a Clean Air Ambassador on behalf of Earth Justice and the Hip Hop Caucus. He is an alumni of Leadership Metro Richmond’s class of 2011. He also received Style Weekly’s Top 40 under 40 award in 2010 and the Style Weekly Power List in 2014 and 2015. Chavis served as the inaugural director of the Harding Street Urban Ag Center; a recreation center repurposed into an indoor farm by VSU. Currently, Chavis serves as Community Engagement Coordinator for Lewis Botanical Garden.
I recently had the opportunity of interviewing Duron about his endeavors and community efforts. Check out the interview below:
Earlier this year in October Mr. Chavis you helped the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden win a $10,000 prize awarded to projects aimed towards increasing community health & wealthiness in which you are the community engagement coordinator. How was this experience for you?
The experience of winning the 10k United Healthcare funding for Lewis Ginter was great. In the larger scheme of addressing food insecurity in marginizalized communities, it is definitely a step forward in a great direction. The idea will require collaboration with municipal and corporate partners and therein lies the challenge. Collaboration takes work, time and compromise.