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

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.

Arlington's Farmers Markets!

posted Apr 18, 2019, 6:31 PM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Jul 9, 2019, 6:28 PM ]

This season, Arlington has 9 wonderful farmers markets. View a map of all the farmers markets and find one near you! You may contact the individual markets, linked below, to apply to become a vendor. For more info, go to =>

Arlington Farmers Market, N. 14th Street & N. Courthouse Road 
Saturdays, open year-round: April – December 8 am – noon, January – March 9 am – noon

Ballston Farmers Market, Welburn Park across N. Stuart Street from Ballston Metro Station 
Thursdays, April - November, 3 pm – 7 pm

Pike Park Farmers Market, 2820 Columbia Pike at Walter Reed Drive 
Saturdays, May – October, 9 am – 1 pm

Crystal City Farmers Market, 1900 Crystal Drive between 18th & 20th Streets 
Tuesdays, May – October, 3 pm – 7 pm

Fairlington Farmers Market, 3308 S. Stafford St. at Fairlington Community Center 
Sundays, May – October, 9 am – 1 pm

Lubber Run Farmers Market, Barrett Elementary School, 4401 N. Henderson St. & George Mason Dr 
Saturdays, April – November, 8 am – noon

Marymount Farmers Market, N. Glebe Road at Yorktown Boulevard 
Saturdays, May – November, 9 am – 1 pm

Rosslyn Farmers Market, 1800 N. Lynn Street near Rosslyn Metro Station in Central Place Plaza 
Wednesdays, May – October, 3 pm – 7 pm

Westover Farmers Market, 1644 N. McKinley Road & Washington Blvd. 
Sundays, open year round, May – November 8 am –noon, December - April 9 am – 1 pm

Growing the Next Generation of Urban Farmers

posted Mar 19, 2019, 7:32 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Mar 19, 2019, 7:58 AM ]

Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture invites you to our next public meeting at Ashlawn Elementary School (5850 8th Road N, Arlington) on Thursday, April 11th, 6:30-8:30pm.

The theme of the event is “Growing the Next Generation of Urban Farmers”, an in-depth discussion on future urban farmers in the area and how children, students, families, teachers, schools, PTAs, and communities can increase local food production and consumption.

We will have panelists leading a discussion on student involvement, nutrition, and comprehensive curriculum development. We will also have hands-on activities for children and young families.

Our host and MC: Joan Horwitt, Reevesland Learning Center and Lawns 2 Lettuce 4 Lunch

  • Pamela Hess, Executive Director, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
  • Sarah Holway, Education Director and Co-founder, DC Greens
  • Reggie Morris, Unit Coordinator Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • Raena Mitchell, Children's Garden Liaison, Alexandria City Public Schools
  • Christy Przystawik, Outdoor Classroom Coordinator, Campbell ES-Arlington

We hope to you can join us, and if possible, please share this event with your members and colleagues. If your organization would like to setup exhibits or provide brochures/pamphlets, we’d be happy to display them for you. Email

Let's Show the County Board Our Love for Urban Ag!

posted Mar 7, 2019, 8:36 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture

The Arlington County Board must reduce costs for it’s FY2020 budget. The county’s Urban Agriculture program could be cut. Last December we had a celebration of our accomplishments over the past 5 years. Let’s raise our voices now to show there is robust support for prioritizing a coordinated food sustainability program and our exciting, emerging urban agriculture industry. Climate change challenges bring urgency to our government addressing these priorities.
The Urban Agriculture Program’s mission is the advancement of the County-wide goal to improve access to healthy, fresh and sustainably produced foods in Arlington. Created from the 2013 Urban Agriculture Citizen Task Force recommendation, the Urban Agriculture Program synchronizes management of Arlington’s community gardens and farmers markets, conducts outreach and education, and coordinates activities with Virginia Cooperative Extension agents. Additionally, the program provides liaison between Arlington’s burgeoning agriculture start-up businesses and County officials.
Friends of Urban Agriculture believes that the time is right for the County to become a national leader in this emerging economic sector and to address climate change realities. Instead of shrinking, the County should seize this opportunity to support and expand this vital program that enhances Arlingtonians’ health and quality of life and advances environmentally-sustainable food access and food production throughout the County.  
  1. CLICK HERE to send an email to your County Board members and the DPR.
  2. Or cut and paste and customize the letter template below and send to the County Board.
  3. Watch the County Board's Work Session on March 12 on the Department of Parks and Recreation's proposed budget.
  4. Attend the Public Hearing on the Budget April 2 at 7:00pm.
  5. Forward this email to 5 of your friends!
Friends of Urban Agriculture
SUBJECT: Urban Agriculture Program Proposed FY2020 Budget Cut
Dear County Board and Department of Parks & Recreation,
I recently learned of the proposed FY2020 budget review and am concerned the Urban Agriculture Program is at risk of elimination. As a patron of Arlington’s vibrant local food ecosystem, I am worried that budget cuts to the Urban Agriculture program will mean ongoing programs will become decentralized and reduced to minimum maintenance levels. In addition, staff and policy support for expansion and innovation in the urban agriculture business sector will be stopped.
I request you reconsider proposed budget cuts to the Urban Agriculture Program. I am a proud supporter of Urban Agriculture and believe in its ability to simultaneously advance Arlington’s progressive vision, promote public health, improve our local food system, expand food access, increase environmental stewardship, and promote economic development in the County.
Instead of shrinking, the County should seize this opportunity to support and expand this vital program and recognize the time is right for the County to become a national leader in this emerging economic sector and to address climate change realities.

Our Vision for the Future of Urban Agriculture in Arlington

posted Jan 8, 2019, 11:13 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Jan 11, 2019, 11:54 AM ]

At our December 12, 2018, meeting, we explored the progress made in the past five years since the County issued its Urban Agriculture Task Force Report (we’ve made a lot progress – read our blog). We then looked toward the future. Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture’s Board of Directors spent time this year defining our vision, mission and strategic goals. We also identified our work for 2019. We envision our work in three phases: Seed, Nurture and Grow. This year is our Seed year as we further refine our areas of work and build our organizational capacity so we can undertake our ambitious mission and agenda. As you read through this blog, ask yourself – how can I help – and then contact us!

Strategic Goals 2019 – 2021

Champion “grow local” programs to improve access to fresh food for all Arlington residents, such as:

Ø  Community and school gardens

Ø  Grow food not lawns

Ø  Creative solutions to access land (e.g. yard sharing, green spaces at multi-residential and commercial sites

Advocate for a secure and sustainable food system, such as:

Ø  Local and regional food systems

Ø  Food recovery

Ø  Climate change impact

Lead efforts to establish Arlington as a principal business and economic center for Urban Agriculture in the region, such as:

Ø  Farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) businesses

Ø  Farm to Table

Ø  Indoor, roof top and emerging growing technologies

Ø  Policy and business incentives 

Seed: 2019 Goals

Assess the 2019 status of public, community and for-profit Urban Agriculture initiatives.

Ø  Identify opportunities for further development and make recommendations.

Ø  Research best practice regulatory and structural requirements for establishing urban agriculture enterprises.

Ø  Participate in the County’s updating process for the Forestry and Natural Resources Master Plans.

 Build membership and outreach.

Ø  Host at least four meetings each year. Our target is two educational and two interactive meetings.

Ø  Increase membership and outreach, focusing on key issues for residents, businesses and other stakeholders.

Ø  Expand and improve communication.

 Develop organizational capacity.

Ø  Expand Board membership.

Ø  Create an organizational model to support initiatives, including establishing FOUA as a non-profit organization.

Ø  Explore funding sources. 

Nurture: 2020 Goals

Ø  Build community interest in expanding Arlington’s urban agriculture sector and transforming our food system by engaging members and consumers to think about what we eat and the way food is produced.

Ø  Promote urban agriculture business development and a hyperlocal food chain.

Ø  Advocate on urban agriculture and food policy issues.

Ø  Identify and help fulfill gaps in the urban agriculture sector.

Grow: 2021 and Beyond

Ø  Partner with Arlington County to implement best practices for urban agriculture such as regulations, incentives, incubating startups in the county.

Ø  Build on our foundations of activities, collaborations and research to establish a secure and equitable local food system.

Ø  Leverage existing county work to implement climate and carbon mitigating plans.

Arlington Urban Agriculture – Look How Far We’ve Come!

posted Dec 21, 2018, 7:49 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Dec 21, 2018, 8:06 AM ]

At our December 12, 2018, winter meeting, we asked County Board Member John Vihstadt who chaired the County’s Urban Agriculture Task Force 5 years ago, and Kim Haun, Urban Agriculture Coordinator, to give us an update on how far we’ve come since the Urban Agriculture Task Force report issued in 2013.

The County recognizes that we are part of a regional food system, and while they focus on what we can do here in the County, they also coordinate and collaborate with regional partners. A robust and sustainable local food system builds a strong economy and community. A responsible food system supports other values like environmental sustainability, social equity and improved health of the participants.

Community Gardens

There were 276 community garden plots in 2013, and with dividing some larger plots and adding an additional 70, we now have 380, with at least that many still on the wait list. The County splits large plots when the original holder vacates and then assigns to two new plotholders to help address the lengthy waitlists. The County is in the process of automating the waitlist.

There are still 7 community gardens, the County expanded two. Each plot represents at least 3 – 4 people and they feed not only their own families but contribute thousands of pounds of fresh produce to AFAC.

The County built the first ADA compliant community garden plot in the region at the Lang Street Community Garden. This plot features a vertical garden structure, a concrete pad and driveway access, on-street handicapped parking and an in-ground planting border. DPR staff identified and secured a letter of intent with Service Source, Inc., a local non-profit providing services to disabled adults, to maintain the plot. The community gardeners have welcomed them and are including them in communal activities and responsibilities.

Farmers Markets

We have 11 neighborhood supported farmers markets, six of them have robust SNAP matching programs. On a single Saturday in one market during the prime season we may get as many as 3000 people attending.

The County Board approved a special use permit for two new farmers markets in 2018. The market at Arlington Mill Community Center, run by CPRO, serves the west end of Columbia Pike. The community around Lubber Run supported the addition of the County’s eleventh market located in the parking lot of Barrett Elementary School. This market is run by the nonprofit Field to Table.

Arlington Farmers Market at Courthouse, managed by Community Foodworks, Inc., led the efforts through Virginia Fresh Match to collaborate with 4 other Arlington markets and others in the region to win a USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant fund SNAP matching for the next three years. The other markets participating include the Rosslyn, Crystal City, Ballston and Arlington Mill farmers markets. Columbia Pike has other matching funds. For every $1 in SNAP benefits a shopper spends, they receive an additional $1 to spend on fruits and vegetables.

Food Access

AFAC’s Plot Against Hunger Program, a project that seeks to bring fresh produce to AFAC clients from local farmers, gardeners, farmers markets, gleaning organizations and other sources. Since it started in 2007, it has grown to 29 schools, 20 churches, fifteen community-based gardens, eight farmers markets, three CSA (community supported agriculture) groups, three gleaning organizations, as well as numerous individual gardeners. Since its first season in 2007, over 600,000 pounds of fresh produce have been donated to AFAC’s Plot Against Hunger project. In 2018 alone, AFAC volunteers picked up 55,282 pounds of farm fresh produce for needy families in Arlington.

Of the current 11 farmers markets, 6 have matching SNAP benefits. These are dollar for dollar additional funds for SNAP shoppers. These funds are supplied by a collaborative USDA grant and their own fundraising efforts. You can donate to these funds by checking the markets’ websites or stopping by their manager’s tables at the market. This program helps make our wonderful markets affordable and accessible to everyone in Arlington.

Education & School Programs

The many public education classes offered by the Virginia Cooperative Extension and taught by trained volunteers are always well attended. They have 250 Master Gardeners and 143 Master Food Volunteers who teach you how to grow, cook and preserve your food.

Our public schools and libraries have gardens maintained by students and volunteers. Each of these has extensive education programs. For example, Central Library holds free Garden Talks throughout the season at the AFAC demonstration garden. You can also find the Garden Tool Lending Shed at Central Library where you can borrow garden tools with a library card.

Our local universities – Marymount, George Mason, Virginia Tech – have urban agriculture programs and/or extra-curricular activities.

Developing Urban Agricultural Enterprises

Moving forward, there are many opportunities to look beyond the basic community garden/home garden model. Areas for development include rooftop, indoor, and edge gardening. Further encouragement of farm to institutions such as hospitals, universities and schools will help build a commercial demand for locally produced food. Examination of potential barriers to agriculture in our urban community such as availability of capital, regulatory issues and transportation infrastructure may warrant further effort.

Highlights of urban agriculture enterprises in the past year include the following:

  • The pilot rooftop garden at the Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) Trades building located at 2700 S. Taylor Street had a successful second season. All the hardware required was recycled from previous park projects. A team of DPR Staff managed this garden and learned how the high wind and heat impacts a successful garden. DPR is working to open the rooftop for public visits.

  • Arlington Department of Human Services examined regulations related to inspections for small food producers, such as those found at our farmers markets, and modified county policy to comply with the less restrictive State code.

  • DPR staff supported Zoning and AED to make a determination on a Certificate of Occupancy for an indoor urban farm, Fresh Impact Farms, located on Lee Highway. DPR staff is working with another new business, Urban Farm Greens, that is setting up in Rosslyn.

  • For years, the County has supported the addition of green roofs on buildings. You can see examples at Walter Reed Community Center, DPR’s Trades building, and the Bozeman Government Center at Courthouse Plaza. These installations, that can include vegetable gardens, qualify for LEEDS credits. County staff visited several rooftop gardens and farms this past summer to learn more about them. They saw different design concepts and management models. The staff is going to reach out to local property owners and developers to share what they have learned and to talk about what is possible here in Arlington.

  • The multi-family residential building at 3110 Tenth St N, called Ten at Clarendon is a luxury building offering a rooftop garden and lobby market as amenities. The rooftop design has raised bed vegetable gardens as well as social and entertaining space. The garden is managed by Love and Carrots.

  • A 40 cubic-yard container was installed at the Department of Environmental Service’s Solid Waste Bureau to convert food waste into compost. Food waste is collected from Abingdon Elementary School, AFAC, the Fairlington Farmers Market and Columbia Pike as well as private citizens and County special events. This is mixed with leaf waste and is converted from 16 tons of raw material to 5 tons of compost.

Community Engagement & Outreach

The Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) established its inaugural Board of Directors in 2017. FOUA hosts quarterly public educational events, and in 2018, its first social hour at Trade Roots in Westover. A 30 people attended on a very rainy night. FOUA Board members led informal conversations about what people want to see happen in Arlington to further urban agriculture. FOUA also maintained a website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram, and an email list of over 340 names to share information about resources, news and upcoming programs.

For the second year DPR staff and FOUA partnered with Marymount University student club, Food for Thought, to grow basil seedlings, and conduct a giveaway event for metro commuters at the Ballston and Courthouse Metro stations.

DPR staff with FOUA hosted a table at the County Fair, including a demonstration on growing microgreens. DPR and FOUA encourage community gardeners to enter their produce and homemade products in the County Fair’s competitions. This is a fun way to draw attention to all the wonderful vegetables Arlingtonians are growing.

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