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

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

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

posted Apr 13, 2020, 9:28 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture
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 Urban Agriculture   [ updated Mar 25, 2020, 11:53 AM ]
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:
Northern Virginia Family Services (food, financial assistance): and
Catholic Charities (Alexandria, Front Royal, Leesburg, Manassas):










Take Action By Mar 25 to Save Virginia Farmer Markets

posted Mar 24, 2020, 10:01 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ 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 Urban Agriculture   [ 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.

Urban Ag at Amazon's HQ2

posted Feb 26, 2020, 2:10 PM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ 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: 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 Urban Agriculture   [ 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 Urban Agriculture   [ 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 Urban Agriculture   [ 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.

Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture Board

Accelerating Urban Agriculture in Arlington - Oct. 3rd

posted Jul 15, 2019, 5:26 PM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ 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 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 for a calendar of events. Additional information: 

# # # # #

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.

How We Can Grow the Next Generation of Urban Farmers

posted May 21, 2019, 8:09 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated May 21, 2019, 8:14 AM ]

Arlingtonians young and old gathered at Ashlawn Elementary School on April 11th for Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture’s presentation on “Growing the Next Generation of Urban Farmers.” We had an inspiring discussion on future urban farmers in the area and how children, students, families, teachers, schools, PTAs, and communities can increase outdoor learning and local food production and consumption.

Our host Joan Horwitt from Reevesland Learning Center and Ashlawn’s Lawns 2 Lettuce 4 Lunch led our panelists in a conversation about current school garden and outdoor learning programs in Arlington and Alexandria. Joan described how Reevesland Learning Garden started in 2011 in partnership with the community and Ashlawn Elementary School. The garden provides a space for the students to bring the classroom outside. Another partnership with the community is the Lawns 2 Lettuce 4 Lunch program where homeowners convert part of their lawns into garden to grow greens that are served at spring and fall special school lunches. Joan emphasized that one of the many challenges is the need to institutionalize programs like these that are primarily initiated and implemented by volunteer parents, teachers and school staff. 

Pamela Hess, Executive Director, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, explained that Arcadia’s mission is to build an equitable and sustainable local food system in the DC metro region. Pamela emphasized that our cheap food system is very expensive in terms of public health citing some very disturbing statistics on diabetes. They operate training programs for veterans, a mobile fresh produce market, kids programs, a farm to school program, and a summer farm camp. They also provide outreach and assistance to school garden programs. Arcadia tracks several metrics to show transformation in kids (e.g. 42.5% increase in kids who like beets).

Reggie Morris, Unit Coordinator Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, Virginia Cooperative Extension, after leading us in the 4H Pledge, described the Junior Master Gardening Program. This program, in partnership with the Arlington Public Schools, meets once a week after school for six weeks. There is a similar program at Alexandria Public Schools. Virginia Cooperative Extension volunteers lead the students through the entire process of planning, planting and harvesting a vegetable garden.

Raena Mitchell, Children's Garden Liaison, Alexandria City Public Schools, explained that her position is new in the school system. Her role is to provide the training, curriculum and technology for schools and teachers to implement school garden and outdoor learning programs. Raena said that the program has been received well by teachers. She emphasizes that this is not an additional program, but instead it’s bringing what they already do in the classroom to outside of the classroom. For example, art teachers bring students outside to draw.

Christy Przystawik, Outdoor Classroom Coordinator, Campbell ES-Arlington, described how Campbell has adopted an expeditionary learning model and the outdoor classroom is part of this approach. Two times a year they have 3 month long in-depth units of study (e.g. grow and harvest herbs and cook with them). In addition to their extensive outdoor learning spaces, they have access to Longbranch Park that runs adjacent to the school.

Panelists were asked about the challenges they face:
  • Small staff and heavily reliant on volunteers. It’s a challenge to find people who like gardening and working with students
  • Funding – Arlington Public Schools provides zero funding so programs are reliant on PTAs, which means programs are not equitable across the school system. In DC, programs are well funded through a tax on soda.
  • Communicating the value of the programs and how they are connected to the curriculum. How do you measure exploration?
  • Need to institutionalize programs into school system. These programs provide hands on learning, address the obesity problem, and students thrive outside. Need to understand that it’s worth the money and it does not have to be an extra burden on teachers.
  • Maintaining gardens through the summer months. Creative solutions include summer school, student, parent and neighbor volunteers, partner with community centers, career center students, and job programs.
Suggestions from the audience included:
The panelists provided information and demonstrations at display tables. Additional groups that tabled included: Greg Rusk from Discovery Elementary displaying his hydroponic garden system, Nancy Strinste author of Nature Play at Home, the Healthy Community Action Team, and Fresh Impact Farms.

FOUA Board Member David Sachs concluded the gathering with a challenge to everyone – be the change. Our students are the next consumers as well as farmers and they should see that it’s normal to eat local. We all should demand food that is grow in Arlington, support farmers markets and local farms, and share our passion with others.

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