By Savannah Steblein (Education Coordinator)
It is definitely fall here in Fredericksburg— the chilly, blustery winds, shorter days, and fallen leaves are making sure we know that. And while it sure can be cold outside, the sun still reminds us of warmer times when she shines down on us. On one of those beautiful, sunny days come explore our garden and wander the paths or get lost among the trees. The trees have nearly lost all their leaves, so now is the time to search for birds’ nests, admire the ghostly branches of Seymour the Sycamore, and crunch on all those fallen leaves. Children and adults alike can play “The Ground is Lava” and try to hop from leaf to leaf without touching the ground— I know I still do ;)
We spent Thanksgiving indulging in delicious food and hearty conversation, but also reflecting upon the fact that we do live on stolen land. A little note about this: thanks to https://native-land.ca/ we were able to learn that Downtown Greens is on both the Manahoac and the Patawomeck peoples’ land. Taking the time to learn (and unlearn colonized or biased information) about the Indigenous people who lived here long before us is one way to acknowledge the losses (diseases, enslavement, loss of culture, geographic displacement, and unmentionably horrific crimes at the hands of settlers) the First Nations went through for colonizers to succeed. If you are looking to do something more, there are many First Nation-run mutual aid funds out there.
We are officially under contract to purchase a 56-acre parcel of land that contains living wetlands and mature trees, as well as the last farmland in Fredericksburg. As an extension of what Downtown Greens has been doing for over 25 years, this project will protect and nurture urban greenspace, teach the community about sustainable and organic growing techniques and provide accessible open space.
To learn more, visit our Expansion Project page.
If you haven't heard, Downtown Greens is working to purchase and conserve a parcel of land that contains living wetlands and mature trees as well as the last farmland in Fredericksburg. It is in the industrial park adjacent to Braehead Farm and would allow us to collaborate with several local groups and expand our reach in the community.
Downtown Greens has brought the community together for more than 25 years. A second campus for the organization would mean conservation of the last agricultural space in the city of Fredericksburg, additional outdoor education and recreation opportunities, and a protected wetlands space that is nurtured and open to the public.
Visit our Braehead Buffer page for more information, including detailed information about our plans for the space, a letter from Board President Brad Smith about the project, community letters of support, and more.
Please support us if you're able, and get in touch if you want to make a larger, tax-deductible investment in this exciting and ambitious community project!
If you're anything like us, that means you have been enjoying this newly warm weather with some much-needed outdoor time. Over the last couple of weeks, tulips of all different colors have been blooming around the city.
The spring flower derived its name from the 'delband,' which is the Persian word for turban. It was given this name because it reflects the shape of the flower. There are over 150 different species of tulips found in the world today! One thing that a lot of people don't know, is that tulips can be utilized in the kitchen! The edible flower can make a great alternative to onions when preparing any dish. Be sure to use the petals only, as the bulbs themselves have the potential of being poisonous.
We are hoping that all of you will get the chance to see these beautiful flowers while they are still in bloom. Luckily, if you miss them, there are an endless amount of other flowers to be appreciated!
To begin with, we are so glad that we have finally welcomed the spring season. After a cold but quick winter, we are happy to get the ball rolling and see what harvest this warmer weather will be bringing us in the coming months.
March seems to have flown by, with April seemingly coming out of nowhere. That being said, we are more than prepared and excited to take this rainy month on! We a handful of exciting events and workshops happening at the gardens this month. Our popular monthly mushroom workshops are seeing a twist this month, as we join Ryan Mooney in learning how to grow and care for bioluminescent mycelium, which gives off a beautiful earthy green glow. Alongside this, we are looking forward to celebrating earth day, hosting a tree workshop with Anne Little, as well as with some other events.
We are looking forward to seeing some of you in the gardens throughout April! If you have not seen the latest newsletter or would like to sign up for one of our upcoming events, you can do so here!
March is finally here, and we have an exciting month ahead of us. To begin with, the Downtown Runaround has officially begun! We are so happy with the turn out and are looking forward to seeing pictures of all the runners, walkers, and skaters too! Alongside this, we have another Reishi Mushroom Workshop coming up on the 13th, so be sure to sign up while you still can. If you are looking to help in the gardens, we are happy to let you know that our Thursday garden hours (3-6) are back in action!
If you haven't already taken a look at this month's newsletter, you can take a look here!
If you are anything like me and spend most of your time looking at the ground (that’s where the cool stuff is), you’ll probably have noticed these tiny flowers popping up all over town. So diminutive in size, these little blooms go mostly unnoticed and even if they are noticed, they take up so little space that most people’s minds quickly move on and think about bigger things. But let’s take a moment to appreciate these tiny harbingers of spring, the Bird’s-eye Speedwell.
Bird’s-eye Speedwell, or Veronica Persica, is an introduction native to Asia and parts of Europe. Of all the Speedwells the Bird’s-eye is considered the one of the largest with it’s blooms coming in at a whopping 1cm wide. The thick and sprawling growth pattern makes this an aggressive ground cover with most of its vegetative growth occurring during the cool weather of late winter and early spring.
Despite its unassuming nature, Bird’s-eye Speedwell is playing a big role in some scientific studies of its medicinal properties. Extracts of this plant have demonstrated anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral activities and have shown to accelerate the healing process when given to test subjects. Modern scientists aren’t the only ones that have noticed this little plant’s healing properties. In the mid-20th century Afghan herbalist, Mahomet Allum, used the plant to treat patients with heart trouble.
Even without its reported healing properties, this lilliputian bloom decorates the ground around town, attracting small bees and telling the world that spring is near!
By: Janet Douberly, Program Coordinator
“Endorphins, y’all! We need them!” Downtown Greens board member, Kimberly Cartier is producing her very first 5k to benefit the beloved Fredericksburg greenspace. An avid runner and race participant, she knows this activity will be a much-needed panacea for the quarantine blues! Walk, run, skip, hop, or bike a path of your choice or take the suggested route. The recommended race route will wind you through downtown and past as many sponsoring businesses as possible!
The virtual race can be completed at any time between March 1-14. You can practice social distance and still support from anywhere! Sign up for the virtual race (here: http://bit.ly/dtg5k). Once you've completed the 5K you can either register your time or simply that you finished it then plan to pick up your swag bag from Downtown Greens!
Three cheers for the amazing businesses that are sponsoring this! The inaugural annual 5K is being sponsored by Juan More Taco, Italian Station, PONSHOP, Yellow Bike Massage, River Rock Outfitters, Re_Incorporated, Spencer Devon Brewing, B101.5, Print Jazz, OddBox Studios, Fredericksburg Food Co-op, Community Bank of the Chesapeake, Ace Concierge, LLC, Mo's City Soup, and River Rock Outfitters! We're also happy to have Rene and Jarett Rodriguez along as sponsors for the 5K! One of the best parts about Fredericksburg is the community.
I believe we mentioned the SWAG? Swag is arguably the best part of a 5k! What you can expect to find in your (reusable cloth!) swag bag is a race t-shirt, a pollinator bandana, and a temporary tattoo provided by Downtown Greens. Sponsors are also adding fun things such as CBD muscle salve, beeswax lip balm, stickers, FXBG buttons and coupons to their local businesses! All the treats are sourced as sustainably as possible.
If this wasn’t already enticing enough, here is how those funds are being allocated. The Downtown Greens building is impossible to miss with it’s enormous pink coneflowers illuminating the facade. What you might miss, however, is the small basement with a tiny kitchen in the back that needs a pretty big facelift. The dream has been to turn that area into a fully-equipped teaching kitchen and multi-purpose space!
Before the pandemic hit Downtown Greens had several garden-based youth programs which used the small kitchen to prepare meals from food they grew. The renovation involves creating a larger, more functional and welcoming space for kids and teens of the programs. When we're able to safely gather again (in addition to the youth programs) adult workshops will be hosted along with other fun, inclusive events for all. Think of Downtown Greens as the best place to host an outdoor function in the ‘Burg!
Also, with food insecurity on the rise, Downtown Greens is using resources to help increase food availability in the community. They are hard at work preparing for the upcoming spring and summer growing season. May through October they’ll host a weekly FREE Farmers’ Market Stand where produce harvested from their Youth Farm Program Garden and food donated from other pantries will be distributed to anyone who shows up. This greenspace also makes the world’s best neighbor! Staff took requests from the surrounding community on what vegetables and herbs they’d like to see in the “Take What You Need” Community Solidarity Plot. This Pick-Your-Own veggie garden is located by the bus stop at Downtown Greens. During the harvest season, produce overflow is kept in a cooler nearby. A more permanent solution is being considered so no donation or race registration fee will go to waste!
If you want to know more go to http://www.downtowngreens.org/. You can volunteer, donate, and find out more about what’s happening in your neighborhood. Or, we’ll catch you on the route for the Downtown Runaround. Be safe and we'll see you out there!
By: Brandi Parrish, Digital Marketing Director for Metro Nova Creative
We cannot stop talking about one of our upcoming events. The first annual Downtown Runaround! Join us for our first ever virtual 5k! Anytime March 1 through March 14 run, walk, bike, skip, crawl, ... a 5k at the gym, home gym or around your own neighborhood. Or, if you're local, stay tuned for a suggested route here in downtown Fredericksburg. Just be sure whatever way you participate it's done in a safe and socially distant manner!
Registration is $25 before February 22, and $30 through March 14. All registered participants will receive a swag bag with a race t-shirt and other garden goodies!
Your registration and sponsorships for our virtual 5k provides essential funding to help us grow food for and with our most vulnerable neighbors.
We began our 2021 with the hopes of a fresh start and an overall smoother year. For some, this was more than just a want but a need. Unfortunately, covid-19 is still impacting our everyday life, and it is hard to say when things will make their way back to being "normal" again. With that said, we can still find a way to do the things we enjoy while also keeping our health in mind. Thankfully being outdoors is the best place to be right now in terms of the virus. Below is a list of Frederickburg's natural displays that can get you out of that quarantine funk.
1. River Road
Let's go ahead and start with the one that most of you may know already; River Road. Located just outside of the center-city, this outlook from River Road offers stunning views of the skyline that we know as Fredericksburg. It is a quick drive that showcases several different views like the Rappahannock river and colorful sunsets if you hit the time just right. Whether you have been to River Road yet or not, go ahead and stop by on your way home from work. We promise it's worth it.
2. Lee Drive
Our next location on the list is a must. Lee Drive is found just off of Lafayette Boulevard and is very generous in what it offers. It can be enjoyed from the comfort of your vehicle or by walking through the many trails it has. The 4.5-mile loop is quiet enough to enjoy time alone but has just the right amount of people to feel a sense of comfort. As the road makes its way down its winding path, nature surrounds it on all sides. The endless layers of trees provide you with a place to escape everyday life and take some time to breath. Lee Drive is a family-friendly location that can get you and the family outside on an early weekend morning before heading into the week.
3. Downtown Greens
I think we all saw this one coming. There was no way we could make a list like this and not include ourselves in it! Downtown Greens offers so many different things for you to do while enjoying the outdoors. Here in the lower gardens, you can find a quiet space to study or take a closer look at some honey bees. Meanwhile, our upper garden provides a look at our youth gardening plots and has a place for the young ones to play. Whether you are a student looking for a quiet place to study, or a family looking to do something together, you can't help but feel a sense of community here.
4. Rappahannock River Heritage Trail
Up next is the most frequented site on this list. To start, the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail is a 2-mile track that circles part of Fredericksburg itself. If you are looking for a place to get out and exercise, this is the place to do it. As you make your way down the trail, you instantly feel encouraged by others who are doing the same and offering a smile. Although it's a great place to work out, it also boasts several areas to sit and lookout. Just off of the road is series of wooden steps that lead down to a beautiful view of the river. Large boulders double as a place to sit and lookout. As you open up a book to read or start writing in your journal, time will begin to pass without you even knowing. This river trail is a place that offers many things that keep people coming back. After a few trips, you'll begin to understand why this is the most popular site on this list.
5. Just Outside Your Back Door
We cannot stress this fifth and final one enough. Nature is everywhere around us we just have to look for it. Even in a city, there are still so many things that you can take advantage of. Next time you are walking to your favorite coffee shop or taking your dog for a walk, look up. Even if there is no tree in sight, you can still appreciate the sky for what it is and the birds that inhabit it. We sometimes get in a routine of doing and seeing the same thing every day that we do not notice what all is around us. Breaking our everyday cycle and choosing a different path to work can help reintroduce us to our environment and community that we have all grown to love.