News

Enjoy our latest blogs posted below and read about us in the news!

Urban Agriculture in Arlington, BallstonConnect Podcast, May 15, 2020

Extension official to be honored with urban-agriculture award, Sun Gazette News, December 6, 2019

What You Can Grow on a Rooftop in Arlington, Kalina Newman, ArlNow, October 15, 2019

Urban Agriculture Group Seeking Farm at Amazon's HQ2, Kalina Newman, ArlNow, September 11, 2019

Statement of Solidarity from Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture

posted Jun 10, 2020, 3:01 PM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA

Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture would like to address the latest events surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many other unarmed black people. These events are symptomatic of deep-seeded institutionalized racism that have infested the US for centuries. We stand in solidarity with black, indigenous, and people of color who are routinely and disproportionately impacted every day by social, racial and environmental injustices. To stop racism, we must be anti-racist in not just our words but in our actions. We urge you to have a conversation with friends and loved ones about the realities of systemic racism; make a contribution to an organization working to fight it; and seek out more education about the legacy of race and policing in America.

Friends of Urban Agriculture is working to build a fair, healthy, sustainable food system for all Arlingtonians. To understand and begin to repair the root issues of inequality in our food system requires a deep look at its history and the ways in which it perpetuates racism in our country: from sowing to consumption. The origins of America’s agricultural system is rooted in acts of violence and theft against indigenous communities and the enslavement of black people for labor. Our nation’s current industrial food system continues to exploit non-white migrant laborers through low wages, non-existent benefits, and challenging working conditions. It is not just how our food is grown; it’s also who is able to consume wholesome, healthy foods. The pandemic has shined a light on the shocking number of food insecure in our nation – with the highest rates affecting black, indigenous and people of color. The number of food insecure has only grown exponentially worse and will be with us for a very long time.

Friends of Urban Agriculture, as a newly established nonprofit, will challenge ourselves and our community to actively disrupt the prejudice and racism inculcated in our food system. This is especially true for our local food system which we are committed to making equitable and fair for all participants. We know this work will take time and substantial investment in change and will not be accomplished through one conversation or one workshop. We know that this is an ongoing process that demands challenging unsaid norms and behaviors as we continually address our prejudices - and acknowledge our privileges - in order to fight for the seismic shift we need to see in all areas in our country, including agriculture. We invite you to join us in this challenge, so that we can work together to change inequitable systems, build diverse leadership, push forward conversation, and fight for justice.

Take Action: Virginia's Farmers Markets Should be "Essential" Businesses

posted Apr 13, 2020, 9:28 AM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/va-farmers-markets-should-be-essential-during-covid-19?clear_id=true
In Governor Northam's Executive Order, he did not deem farmers markets as essential businesses like grocery stores. Instead, they were classified the same as restaurants and bars. Subsequent guidance clarified that farmers markets can remain open but under strict restrictions. Farmers markets, farmers and vendors had to quickly adapt to provide online ordering and pre-bagged offerings.


We urge you to send an email to Governor Northam asking him to amend the Executive Order to classify farmers markets as essential businesses during this COVID-19 health crisis. (Taking action will take 2 minutes with this online form.)

Check out the websites for Arlington's three year-round farmers markets for their safety protocols and online pre-ordering options:
 Arlington Farmers Market (Saturday), Westover Farmers Market (Sunday), and Columbia Pike Farmers Market (Sunday). Other seasonal markets will be opening soon; check their websites for updates.

Food & Financial Assistance Resources in NOVA

posted Mar 24, 2020, 10:18 AM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Mar 25, 2020, 11:53 AM ]

https://arlington.ext.vt.edu/programs/master-food-volunteer.html
Thanks to Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension's Master Food Volunteers program for compiling this helpful list of resources for those needing food and financial assistance during this time in Northern Virginia. Also information from Virginia Tech on food safety and disinfection and CDC. This list isn't complete but it's a start (most pantries are listed on city/county pages).

Capital Area Food Bank, who have food distributions in Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, etc: https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/covid19response/
Northern Virginia Family Services (food, financial assistance): https://www.nvfs.org/covid-19-emergency-assistance-program/ and https://www.nvfs.org/our-services/health-well-being/food-assistance/
Catholic Charities (Alexandria, Front Royal, Leesburg, Manassas): https://www.ccda.net/need-help/food/

ALEXANDRIA CITY

ARLINGTON COUNTY

FAIRFAX COUNTY

FAUQUIER COUNTY:

LOUDOUN COUNTY

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

STAFFORD COUNTY

STATE RESOURCES

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Take Action By Mar 25 to Save Virginia Farmer Markets

posted Mar 24, 2020, 10:01 AM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Mar 24, 2020, 3:06 PM ]

As a supporter of Virginia's Urban Agriculture food economy, you understand the singular role Farmers Markets play to both consumers and food producers. Farmers Markets provide a source of fresh, nutritious and sustainable food to the local community, and are the sole revenue stream for many area small businesses. We ask for your help to show Richmond that Farmers Markets are important to you, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.


Today, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 53, which lists those retail businesses deemed "essential". Unfortunately, Farmers Markets did not make the list. While Farmers Markets were mentioned in ExOrd 53, they are conflated with the restaurant industry whose operations are limited to delivery and take-out services only.

Like many other States and municipalities across the Nation, 
FOUA believes Farmers Markets should be deemed "essential" and carry the same status as grocery stores. Please sign our petition to show your agreement.


We are concerned that ExOrd 53's vague description of Farmers Market will create further confusion within municipal governments. As we witnessed this past weekend, Arlington County Government stopped ALL Farmers Market operations based on its legal interpretation of Richmond's guidance.

We are working with the Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA), an advocacy organization for all Virginia's Farmers Market vendors and operators. VAFMA will collect our responses and make a formal plea this week to Governor Northam, Virginia's Secretary of Agriculture, and Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (VDACS). VAFMA will implore Richmond to include Farmers Markets as "essential businesses" on all future executive orders, public health notices, proclamations, and/or legislation regarding the COVID-19 crisis. 

Farmers Markets provide affordable, healthy food options for those unable to visit crowded, indoor grocery stores. Many Markets accommodate the diverse needs of our community, to include SNAP, WIC, and Senior Citizen benefits.

Farmers Markets are the life blood for many small businesses throughout Virginia who need revenue to survive this crisis. By buying local, your money will stay within the local community, exactly where it belongs during this crisis.

FOUA, VAFMA and Virginia's Farmers Markets vendors and operators are committed to maintaining proper public health and safety protocols according to CDC, State, and Local guidelines. 

Please read our letter and sign our petition by 5pm on Wednesday, March 25

Our Community Responds to the COVID-19 Health Crisis

posted Mar 18, 2020, 6:26 PM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Apr 5, 2020, 9:33 AM ]

As our community responds to the COVID-19 global health crisis, we hope that you and your family stay safe and healthy. Now more than ever, it is evident that a resilient and sustainable local community is important to our health, economy and well-being. Friends of Urban Agriculture is committed to helping build a thriving local and regional food system that is key to our being able to weather global threats such as this one.


There are several things you can do now to support local food and farmers and our most vulnerable neighbors who are feeling the impact of the measures that have been put into place to protect us:


  1. Support local farmers. Our local farms are the key to a resilient local food system. Right now is the time to sign up for a CSA share from a local farm. Several local farms are now offering online ordering and direct delivery. Ask your favorite farm if this is an option.


  1. Shop at farmers markets. Open air farmers markets are safe and you know where the food comes from. Farmers market operators care deeply about the communities they serve, and have taken proactive steps to protect market customers, farmers, and staff. You should practice social distancing and safe practices like only touch what you buy and use a bag over your hand to pick up items. Find our Arlington farmers markets here.


  1. Support local nonprofits serving our most vulnerable neighbors. Please consider making a generous donation to Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Donations from grocery stores are down, and the demand for their services is going up. Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) is committed to providing shelter and food for our homeless neighbors. Arlington Thrive provides same-day, emergency financial assistance to County residents who experience sudden financial crisis. Read how local nonprofits are collaborating during this crisis.


  1. Support efforts to feed our kids. Arlington County Public Schools is offering grab-and-go meals at Kenmore Middle School and Drew Elementary School. Local nonprofit Real Food for Real Kids is partnering with local restaurants like Bayou Bakery to offer grab-and-go meals. One Pantry at a Time is a fundraiser by teachers to get a $100 grocery gift card into the hands of every APS student that qualifies for free or reduced lunch. At Jaleo in Crystal City, a community kitchen will operate from the side door.


  1. Support local food. Support local restaurants that serve locally sourced food by ordering take out and buying gift cards to use later. Read about restaurants offering free meals to kids and seniors.

  1. Grow your own food. Go out and get your hands dirty in your own yard! Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia and the Arlington Cooperative Extension have canceled their workshops, but they offer great online resources to support your veggie garden efforts. They hope to move some of their workshops to webinar format.

  1. Get involved with planning Met Park at Amazon’s HQ2. We call on companies like Amazon to be leaders in supporting urban agriculture efforts and making local food production a priority. The next two Met Park planning sessions are scheduled for April 2 and April 29. We will keep you posted if these sessions are postponed. Read about our vision for Met Park.


  1. Support FOUA. Please consider a donation to support our work to build a resilient, community-driven urban agriculture sector that provides a fair, healthy, sustainable food system for all Arlingtonians. And if you shop on Amazon, we invite you to use Amazon Smile and designate FOUA.


We will continue to update our blog with news, resources and information as we all navigate through this global health crisis that has hit our home. We urge you to keep informed of what Arlington County Government is doing to help mitigate and reduce any unnecessary exposure and spread of COVID-19.


Be safe. Be healthy. Grow your own food!


Robin Broder, Audrey Morris, Matt McKinstry, Aisha Salazar, David Sachs, Emily Landsman


p.s. Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Networks project is hosting a webinar this Friday, March 20 about how food policy councils can play a key role addressing food system resilience concerns in their cities.

http://home.arlingtonurbanag.org/donate

Urban Ag at Amazon's HQ2

posted Feb 26, 2020, 2:10 PM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Feb 27, 2020, 5:34 PM ]

Friends of Urban Ag is participating in Arlington County's Park Master Plan 6 month process for Amazon's HQ2 at Metropolitan Park in National Landing (beginning February 20, 2020) with the goal of integrating our urban ag concepts into the final selected design. The site is expected to be completed in 2023. (See the County's website: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/metropolitan-park-public-space-project/). The Metropolitan Park site will offer approximately two acres of publicly available space for neighborhood residents, visitors, and Amazon employees to enjoy. We see this as a unique opportunity to cultivate urban agriculture features at what will assuredly be a transformative space for Arlington. Additionally, this is a chance to influence Arlington and Amazon's commitment to biophilic, urban landscape design.

We propose the following 5 functional design concepts:
  • Beautiful Biophilia: ​We champion the confluence of aesthetics and functional design. Urban agriculture features should seamlessly complement the surrounding built and greenway environs, creating a focal point of art, culture, nature in public gathering spaces.
  • Sustainable Production​: We envision sustainable growing practices that include, but are not limited to, ecologically-friendly materials, locally-sourced growing media, regionally appropriate plants, non-invasive pest mitigation strategies, and stormwater catchment to supplement active irrigation.
  • Maximize the Margins​: In addition to a centralized growing site, Metropolitan Park offers novel opportunities to leverage both the common and peripheral spaces: tree canopies brimming with apples, peaches, pears, and figs offer food and shade to the linear parks and sidewalks; uniquely curated vining crops augment the shapes and textures of installed public art works.
  • Common Ground​: Agricultural installations will incorporate the rich history and culture of Arlington and Washington, D.C. These sites will offer visitors, residents, and employees a unique perspective of how urban agriculture enhances Arlington’s sense of place and community.
  • Learning Laboratory​: With an education-forward approach, the growing sites will invoke curiosity to experience agriculture and offer students - of all ages - the opportunity to expand their knowledge, and experiment with novel growing techniques in a changing climate.
Check out our vision (download here).

Arlington County Department of Park's & Recreation would also like your feedback. Please take their survey by March 5.

Met Park At-A-Glance


Golden Radish Award: Kirsten Conrad

posted Dec 4, 2019, 5:17 PM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Dec 15, 2019, 8:56 AM ]

Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture on December 12th will present Kirsten Conrad with our 2019 Golden Radish Award to recognize her significant contributions to growing urban agriculture in Arlington. RSVP today!

Kirsten Conrad joined the
Arlington Office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension in September of 2007. As the Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Kirsten leads these programs in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. She trains and supervises the efforts of two volunteer organizations: Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia and Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and supports Tree Stewards of Arlington/Alexandria with technical and training opportunities. She has lectured and developed workshops on many horticultural topics including, xeriscaping, IPM, invasive species management, basic garden design, pesticide safety, poisonous plants, tree and herbaceous plant selection, pruning, and plant propagation. Her professional interests include ethnobotony, school gardening, forensic botany, and sustainable landscape design.

Before coming to Virginia, Kirsten spent four years in southern Delaware advising homeowners on sustainable design and horticultural best management practices. Before moving East, Kirsten spent 12 years in Bloomington, Indiana where she owned and operated a landscape services business, revamped Indiana University’s Tree Donation program, and served on the Board of Directors of Hilltop Garden and Nature Education Center. She held a Visiting Lecturer position in the School of Recreation and Park Administration at Indiana University and received Advanced Master Gardener status while serving as President and Vice-President of the Monroe County Master Gardener Association.

Kirsten has provided significant leadership in advancing urban agriculture issues, programs and enterprises in Arlington.


Beginning in 2009, the Arlington Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension developed a Sustainable Urban Agriculture Lecture series that offers educational “how to” workshops on topics like urban aquaculture, chicken keeping, mushroom production, organic labeling, vegetable gardening and demonstrations on how vegetable gardening can be a viable means to obtaining better nutrition and to stretching a food budget.

In 2010, Arlington VCE brought the Growing Communities workshop here from the American Community Garden Association to promote understanding and awareness of community garden development. In 2012, in collaboration with the Arlington Healthy Community Action Team and Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network, VCE organized and led 2 workshops on community garden leadership. In 2014, a pilot Garden Coaches program began to provide direct support to community garden grant recipients and the Big Book of Gardening Knowledge was created as a resource for community gardeners in both paper and electronic versions. Today, informal support is provided to 5 community gardens and 8 school gardens throughout Arlington and Alexandria via Master Gardener volunteers and VCE agent site visits.

Master Gardener volunteers are highly trained and motivated participants and educators in support of Urban Agriculture promotion efforts. Master Gardener volunteers maintain a public garden at the Organic Vegetable Garden at Potomac Overlook Regional Park in North Arlington. It is open daily and hosts monthly events that are advertised to the public. In its 40th year in Arlington, the Master Gardener program also helps provide 4 public programs per month on some aspect of urban agriculture, vegetable/herb culture, plant disease, and soil fertility management at Arlington and Alexandria libraries and community centers, and have been a partner with Wednesday Garden Talks program since their inception.

Master Gardener volunteers staff 2 Arlington plant clinic locations (5 total in the region), weekly from April through October and staff a daily horticulture help desk at the Fairlington Community Center. In addition, during the growing season, Master Gardener volunteers conduct weekly Plant Clinics at Arlington Central Library and Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market (plus two weekly plant clinics in Alexandria). In collaboration with the Arlington Extension 4H program, 6 schools host 6 week Junior Master Gardener education programs.

In 2012, Kirsten Conrad provided support and advice to Arlington County’s Urban Agriculture Task Force and provided information and recommendations for its Food Action Plan report submitted to the County Board in 2013.

In 2015, Arlington VCE created and implemented the first urban agriculture symposia. Repeated in 2017 and 2018, these day-long workshop style public education offerings brought regional urban agriculture experts to Arlington and showcased the County’s steady growth in urban agriculture infrastructure as well as the Extension Master Gardeners education skills and the work of Virginia State University and Virginia Tech.

In 2017, Arlington was the site of the state-wide Virginia Urban Agriculture Summit at George Mason University. Arlington VCE played a significant leadership role in planning and implementing this Summit.

In 2018, and 2019 as part of an urban agriculture exchange program, Professor Celso Albuquerque of UNISUL in Tubarao, and Professor Leo Rufato of UDESC in Lages, Santa Catarina, Brazil visited Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria urban agriculture programs and sites. These visits followed Kirsten Conrad’s visit to Brazil in 2017.

In 2019, in partnership with Friends of Urban Agriculture, Arlington Food Assistance Center and Marymount University, Arlington VCE helped plan and supported several events during October Urban Agriculture Month.

FOUA Winter Meeting: What Our Region Grows

posted Nov 5, 2019, 7:54 AM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Dec 5, 2019, 8:26 AM ]

Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture’s winter meeting on Thursday, December 12 6:30pm - 8:30pm at the Central Library will highlight our regional food system and recognize local leadership in the urban agriculture movement.

  • "What Our Region Grows" - Lindsay Smith and Brian LeCouteur of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments will present their "What Our Region Grows" report -- a ‘snapshot’ of our region’s agriculture, including food production, demand and economic contributions. FOUA believes maintaining regional food-producing farms is key to having access to fresh, local food for all Arlingtonians.
  • Golden Radish Award - Our 2nd annual Golden Radish award will be presented to Kirsten Conrad, Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources for Arlington and the City of Alexandria, for her significant contributions to advancing urban agriculture issues, programs and enterprises in Arlington.
  • FOUA 2020 - Our Board of Directors will present plans for 2020 and how Arlington residents can get involved, plus election of new board members.

Event is free and open to the public. 

FOUA Proposed an Urban Farm on Amazon's HQ2 Campus

posted Sep 11, 2019, 10:24 AM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Sep 26, 2019, 8:16 AM ]

FOUA sent a letter (below and attached) to a variety of stakeholders in the development process for Amazon’s HQ2 in Crystal City proposing an Integrate Urban Farm concept be considered in the design. FOUA wrote the proposal in light of the upcoming Site Plan Review Committee meeting for HQ2 on Monday, September 23. Click here for more info on the planning process for Amazon's HQ2 development.

* * * * * * * 
September 4, 2019

Dear HQ2 Development Civic Stakeholder:

Amazon’s HQ2 offers an incredibly rare opportunity to partner with one of the world’s largest companies and the local community to create a vibrant public space in and around the HQ2 campus. Metropolitan Park will offer over 60,000 square feet of park space to be used by the surrounding neighborhoods, employees, and visitors. 

As a non-profit civic organization focused on building a vibrant, local food ecosystem within Arlington, Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) believes urban food production is integral to creating an environmentally sustainable community and economy. We believe Arlington is poised to become a national leader for urban agriculture, and the Metropolitan Park project offers an opportunity to showcase Amazon’s and Arlington’s commitment to sustainable, biophilic (integrating the natural world into the built environment) development.

We envision less than 2% of the Park (1,000 square feet) be allotted for an Integrated City Farm. Thanks to ZGF Architects progressive design and environmental modeling, Metropolitan Park will have optimal solar coverage for a wide range of edible fruits and vegetables year round. FOUA proposes the Integrated City Farm be positioned in the southeast corner to take advantage of sunlight.

Much like the successful urban farms found in NYC, St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, and other comparable cities, the Integrated City Farm will provide a cross-generational public amenity that will offer:
  • Aesthetically appealing, biophilic focal point event space

  • Movie nights, public or private receptions, exercise classes, etc.

  • STEM plant lab for K-12 research

  • Public demonstrations of growing sustainable techniques & methods

  • At-scale food production for distribution to local food banks

  • Incubator for urban agriculture-focused start-ups

  • Encourage public interaction with local food systems
We would love to discuss our vision further and find ways to collaborate on Metropolitan Park’s public site design and usage objectives.

Sincerely,
Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture Board

Accelerating Urban Agriculture in Arlington - Oct. 3rd

posted Jul 15, 2019, 5:26 PM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Sep 4, 2019, 1:35 PM ]

October Urban Agriculture Month Kickoff Event & Social Hour on Oct. 3rd

Join Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture at Barley Mac in Rosslyn on Thursday, October 3 from 5:30pm – 8:00pm for food and refreshments, and to learn how we can accelerate urban agriculture initiatives in Arlington.

Special guest speaker Wythe Marschall
, a national expert in vertical and indoor farming, will lead a discussion on how we can transplant best practices from New York City and European cities to grow a sustainable, just and secure food system in Arlington. Many people believe that cities, not nations, must lead the way in greening the built world. Wythe will talk about how different public and private institutions can intervene to build a resilient future that includes producing food in an urban setting. This is a timely discussion for Arlingtonians given Amazon’s imminent social and physical transformation of Crystal City, the region’s commercial and mixed-residential building boom, and the County’s renewed commitment to environmental stewardship.

County Board Member Erik Gutshall will present the annual Arlington proclamation on urban agriculture while guests enjoy a locally-sourced, bespoke drink and food menu (for purchase) curated by Barley Mac's Executive Chefs Mike Cordero and Jeremy Magnanelli.


The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted. Special thank you to Barley Mac for donation of event space. Questions and inquiries can be sent to info@arlingtonurbanag.org. PRESS RELEASE

October Urban Agriculture Month in Virginia
will shine a spotlight on the significant role urban agriculture plays in our regional and local food systems. In Arlington, there will be a series of events throughout the month sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Arlington County, Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture, Arlington Food Assistance Center and Marymount University. Go to http://urbanag.social/oct19 for a calendar of events. Additional information: arlingtonurbanag.org/events. 

# # # # #

Wythe Marschall is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard, a research associate in controlled environment agriculture (CEA, or “vertical farming”) at Cornell University, and a board member of the FarmTech Society. He researches future visions of farming, biological design, architecture and urban planning, and plant–human interactions. Wythe’s dissertation, an ethnography of agricultural technology startups in greater New York City, examines the production of different economic, social, and environmental values through vertical farming. He documents how a cohort of urban millennials are attempting to use high technologies to redesign the U.S. food system and even achieve food justice. Previously, Wythe co-founded the Biodesign Challenge; lectured in the English Department of Brooklyn College, CUNY; curated art-and-science exhibitions; wrote an Internet show about the history of science; and worked in health and wellness advertising.

1-10 of 39