As we near the end of Downtown Greens’ 25th year, I wanted to share a story from the beginning of the organization. This story is about the nail-biting acquisition, through absolute auction in 1999, of the Upper Garden, which is the property located on the corner of Princess Anne and Dixon Streets.
I spoke to Lisa Biever (cofounder of Downtown Greens with Laura Shepherd) about the purchase of the land. To set the stage: Downtown Greens had been around for four years, two of those years as an official nonprofit.
Lisa Biever: “It was the early days and the Lower Garden was thriving. We were definitely getting momentum and we had started conversations about how to acquire the property at the Lower Garden because Downtown Greens didn’t own any of that either. We were a whole organization built on the people that own the land just being agreeable to us using it.”
THE UPPER GARDEN
“One day there was just a huge real estate sign in the ground,” Lisa recalls. The land, now known as the Upper Garden, had been approved for 18 townhouses.
“We were already testing water quality at Hazel Run which is right there. So we were thinking that development would not be the best thing for an already challenged water ecosystem. We decided to do something and Laura Shepherd is so good at momentum and drive. We decided we’d just do this fundraising campaign. So we made this prospectus and we would just go out and ring doorbells like we were selling Girl Scout cookies or something.”
The day of the auction arrived. Lisa and Laura (with the expert auction presence of Bill Beck) and several other hopeful buyers were there. I spoke briefly to one of those auction-goers who stuck out in Lisa’s head as a key reason that Downtown Greens ended up with the property. “I tell you what my heart, it was a heart-pounding event”
That aforementioned auction-goer approached Lisa and asked her what their top bid was. She told him and he assured her that he wouldn’t outbid them if nobody else did. He believed in the project and wanted to help. The bidding started and Downtown Greens got up to their upper limit and there was silence. NOBODY outbid them. Lisa continues: “Joe Wilson could have bought it and he chose to let it go to the Garden.”
And that is how they won the property: with the pledges and trust of many people in the community. Today you will find 1.74 acres of park-like open space instead of 18 townhouses.
“The first thing we did was we painted that big auction sign. We painted a big Thank You on it, and that’s Laura Shepherd, that was the first thing in her mind.”
As I look at all of the things that Downtown Greens’ open space provides, I am so grateful for the early supporters and the early organizers for seeing the wealth of opportunity and benefit that the upper garden space could bring to the entire community. Today it is helping to control runoff into Hazel Run--a tributary to the Rappahannock River, creating habitat for wildlife, providing a space for the community to enjoy for their mental health, wellness, and connection to nature.
Now the entire Downtown Greens property is under a conservation easement with the Land Trust of Virginia that protects it from development in perpetuity. If you want to learn more about Downtown Greens visit our revamped website www.downtowngreens.org
Written by Sarah Perry, Executive Director of Downtown Greens
If you haven't checked out the latest issue of Front Porch, here's a link!
For many thousands of years garlic has been used and revered by humans. It has been a staple in our food, used as a medicine for a slew of ailments, and also believed to be an aphrodisiac. This delicious little allium bulb was understandably worshiped by ancient Egyptians and fed to the hardest workers in their society as it was believed to increase strength and endurance.
While it is up for debate still, it is believed garlic is native to Asia and is one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops. While it was brought to America with our early settlers, it wasn’t fully embraced by the average American household until the 1940’s.
The common name garlic was derived from the Old English word garlec, which when literally interpreted, it means “spear leek,”. It is believed this is in reference to the lanceolate shape of the plant’s cloves.
Best of all, now is the perfect time to plant garlic here! If you decide to pick up a bulb from the farmers market or store just make sure it still has its roots attached! Simply separate the cloves and plant, root side down, about 3 inches deep and at least 6 inches apart! Harvest the garlic when leaves and stem start to turn brown, usually in the late summer.
Written by Janet Douberly, Program Coordinator at Downtown Greens.
You can find the latest Front Porch Article here!
We recently had the pleasure of hosting Virginia's First Lady, Pamela Northam, here in our gardens! Delegate Joshua Cole also joined us as they got to see what we have been up to over the last several months. Thank you Adele Uphaus and The Free Lance-Star for a great article about their visit here at Downtown Greens. It was a beautiful day to walk around the garden and speak with the very knowledgeable First Lady of Virginia.
Hello and happy October! This fall weather has had all of us outside enjoying nature as much as we can! Take a look at our most recent newsletter where we talk about our brand new site and some recent events we've been a part of!
If you aren't signed up for our monthly newsletter, feel free to do so here!
We are pleased to announce that Downtown Greens now participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), a workplace giving program of the federal government of the United States. Watch our 2020 CFC trailer and contribute to Downtown Greens by using CFC code 73255.
From the CFC website, here are six great reasons to give through the CFC:
1. Thousands of charities are already vetted and approved for you to choose from.
2. It's convenient. You can pledge via payroll deduction and spread your gift out over the course of the year.
3. You choose your favorites. You can even support multiple charities in one pledge.
4. It's easy to renew. The secure online giving platform makes it easy to renew your gift each year.
5. You can even volunteer. Don't limit your giving! Extend your impact by pledging volunteer hours.
6. We can have a BIG impact. Together we have a collective impact, supporting thousands of charities that depend on our generosity.
Thank you for your continued support, and we hope you'll consider making your CFC contribution to Downtown Greens.
Tell us a little about yourself!
I just celebrated my 40th birthday! I am a mom of four and they were all raised here in Fredericksburg. I have been in Fredericksburg since 1991, when I first came here with my family. My community has been Fredericksburg since 1991. They have raised me, educated me, fed me, and now they employ me. I’m still here! So I am a huge supporter of anything community, such as Downtown Greens, which is why I am here. Growing up here in the downtown area, I remember always walking by and admiring it. The more I learned about it the more I wanted to get involved.
So can you tell us a about what you do here?
I work on behalf at Micah Ministry, Empower House, and Hope House, servicing our homeless community, and I am the community housing locator, where we work to house the homeless. We are so blessed that through Covid we have had additional funding to house our homeless. We now have a 100% funding to house the homeless, we just need landlords. So that is my community job and my passion. I was raised by my community and now, I am living my truth.
What is your favorite thing about Fredericksburg?
Community! I could walk from Mayfield down to Route 1 and I guarantee you that I will run across five people that I know. That is such a blessing. I am never amongst strangers in 22401. You see a lot of people on bicycles, running, jogging.
Why did you take a job on board?
Well the staff is amazing! Hearing throughout the community about Downtown Greens is what brought me closer to it. It was all positive and having conversations with you and other staff and volunteers, I felt that I could give something. I felt that the people that I knew wanted to know and it was my job to tell them about Downtown Greens.
What is your favorite plant?
A flower. I love knockout roses. Knockout roses helped me begin to understand what a perennial and annual plant is. It was because of a conversation I had with my neighbor about her knockout roses, and it became my favorite flower. I now have four dozen roses tattooed across my body.