Dozens celebrate Apple Ridge Farm founder at retirement roast

Local News

Dozens gathered at the Jefferson Center Thursday night to celebrate a man who has dedicated much of his life to helping young people.

A retirement roast was held to honor Peter Lewis, who founded the Apple Ridge Farm.

Lewis is originally from Washington, D.C. but came to the Roanoke Valley about 40 years ago to start the Apple Ridge Farm.

Since then, his programs have touched the lives of thousands of underserved children throughout the valley.

Lewis said he was inspired to start the Apple Ridge Farm when he taught in Washington, D.C. and volunteered at an area prison.

“A light bulb came on – almost an epiphany of sorts – for me to want to provide wonderful opportunities for kids from the city outdoors,” he said. 

The Apple Ridge Farm has touched more than 80,000 children, Lewis said. The farm’s programs emphasize outdoor recreation and educational opportunities, he added. 

“The playing field for poor people, black or white, is uphill,” Lewis said. “But the more education you have, and the better you present yourself, you tilt the playing field in your favor.”

“Apple Ridge Farm plays a very important part in all our families’ lives,” said John Lewis, Peter Lewis’s son. 

John Lewis has taken over the Apple Ridge Farm as the new executive director.

“I had inadvertently trained for this my entire life – all the things that I’ve done and all the work that I’ve done in the communities and with kids has prepared me for this moment,” John Lewis said.

“Hopefully, the wonderful support that I’ve gotten will continue in the future,” Peter Lewis said. “That’s my hope.”

Peter Lewis said he will continue to help with fundraising for the Apple Ridge Farm.

As the new executive director, John Lewis said he wants people to visit the farm and also hopes to educate others about the farm’s programs in the city of Roanoke during the school year.

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