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

FOUA Victory Gardens Mid-Season Report

posted Aug 25, 2020, 6:52 AM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Aug 25, 2020, 9:25 AM ]

The last three months have been a whirlwind of activity as we’ve transformed four classroom instruction gardens at Hoffman-Boston Elementary, Wakefield High School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Tuckahoe Elementary into scalable ‘urban farm’ sites to support our community’s food insecure neighbors. To date, over 600 pounds of fresh produce (as of August 19) from the Victory Garden sites have been distributed to food pantries throughout the County. However, COVID-19’s far-reaching economic impacts will require a continued response over the next 12-18 months. Our Victory Gardens could not have come online quickly enough to support this unprecedented demand. Most importantly, these sites are strategically located adjacent to the prioritized neighborhoods in need, which allows the harvests to stay within the communities who need it most. Over 70 volunteers and several Master Gardeners are working in the gardens alongside the four Garden Coordinators. Arlington Cooperative Extension is providing on-site and virtual technical support for the gardens. We thank the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families’ (APCYF) Healthy Community Action Team (HCAT) for its 
generous financial support, and thank several local businesses, groups and individuals for in kind donations.


In the news...

ArlNow.com (August 12, 2020): “School Victory Gardens Used to Grow Food for Local Pantries”
InsideNova.com (August 13, 2020): “Arlington Embarks on Modern Take on WWII Victory Gardens”

http://home.arlingtonurbanag.org/donate

Press Release: Victory Gardens at Arlington Public Schools Donating to Local Food Pantries

posted Aug 10, 2020, 11:48 AM by Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture - FOUA   [ updated Aug 11, 2020, 6:33 AM ]

Community-led initiative has goal to produce 2,500 pounds of fresh vegetables.

 

(Arlington, VA) In response to the COVID-19 global health crisis, Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) is working to support and expand efforts to grow fresh produce here in Arlington. This global crisis will have long lasting health and economic impacts for our local community, and has pushed thousands into food insecurity. Access to fresh, nutritious produce will become an ever increasing need that can be met, in part, by growing our own food. FOUA is supporting individuals, churches, schools, and other sites who are growing food for our neighbors in need.

http://home.arlingtonurbanag.org/school-victory-gardensFriends of Urban Agriculture and Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension are partnering with Arlington Public Schools (APS) to turn classroom gardens into Victory Gardens to grow fresh vegetables to support the community. We are working in partnership with APS Garden Coordinators at Wakefield High School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Hoffman-Boston Elementary, and Tuckahoe Elementary to maximize their gardens’ capacities. Our goal for this community-led initiative is to produce 2,500 pounds of fresh produce to donate to local food pantries.

“The community response has been amazing. The garden coordinators and school communities wanted to continue growing even though the schools were closed,” said Emily Landsman, FOUA Board Member. “To date, we have recruited over 70 volunteers and several Master Gardeners to assist the APS Garden Coordinators, and have donated over 500 pounds of fresh vegetables.”

“When Friends of Urban Agriculture reached out to me in April, I was very happy to learn that they could help us keep our garden going and even expand it,” said Ilana Rea, School Garden Coordinator for Hoffman-Boston Elementary School. “We’ve been able to donate over 145 pounds of fresh vegetables to food pantries here in our own community. We are looking forward to donating much more in the coming months.”

“Our local Master Gardeners are providing hands-on, direct support in the gardens, helping plan the gardens and provide technical assistance,” said Aisha Salazar, FOUA Board Member and Associate Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Virginia Cooperative Extension. “In addition, we hold regular Zoom calls with the garden coordinators, Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension and volunteers to share experiences and get advice on how to handle pests and issues in the gardens.”

We thank Healthy Communities Action Team (HCAT) for donating funds through the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to support the school gardens. HCAT is part of the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families.

In a related effort, over 2500 pounds of fresh vegetables have been donated to local food pantries by a network of residential, church, school and other gardens in Arlington. Rock Spring Church located at 5010 Little Falls Road, Arlington, Virginia 22207 accepts produce donations on Mondays and Thursdays from noon to 2:00pm. This effort is a partnership between the church, FOUA, Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension, Master Food Volunteers, Master Gardeners, and Marymount University. In addition, FOUA is coordinating with multiple food pantries throughout the County for targeted distribution to communities in need. More information found here.

Media Contact: Emily Landsman, info@arlingtonrubanag.org, 202-258-1287


Link to Photo Folder

 

Link to videos of gardens


Download press statement

 

More info on Victory Garden project HERE.


* Arlington Victory Garden poster designed by Wakefield High School student Renee Whiffen.

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Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture’s mission is to build a resilient, community-driven urban agriculture sector that provides a fair, healthy, sustainable food system for all Arlingtonians. FOUA, an Arlington based nonprofit organization incorporated in 2019, is run by a volunteer board of directors.

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/

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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. 

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