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.
Although we get to indulge in snowman building and treating ourselves to midday hot chocolates, we aren't the only ones who enjoy the colder weather. Our hellebores were spotted blooming just before the snowstorm made it's way into Fredericksburg. These beautiful pink flowers are a variety commonly known as Lenten Rose. It derives it's name from its bloom time which is normally during the season of Lent. Hellebores are one of the four classic poisons, together with nightshade, hemlock, and aconite. In fact, the name hellebore comes from the Greek "elein" meaning to injure, and "bore" meaning food.
Like most members of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, hellebores are notoriously difficult to start from seed. Luckily these bashful and beautiful flowers are very easy to propagate and will spread to fill a space. Hellebores are native to southern and central Europe, and from Slovenia to Macedonia.
Keep an eye out for these pink flowers and any other blooms that you might find over the next couple months of cold weather.
We think it's safe to say that we have all been impatiently waiting for this to happen. Sunday morning welcomed us with around 4 inches of snow to get our week started. Our gardens are now covered with a blanket of white snow that is in no hurry to melt away. Although the snow itself is pretty cold, it works as a natural insulation that keeps everything under it from freezing during the cold nights! We've asked our followers to send in any pictures that they have taken while playing out in the snow for us to share on our social medias. We hope that these will encourage people to go out and enjoy it before it is gone!
If winter wasn't here before, it is now! Our February newsletter has been sent to our subscriber's inboxes, and we are sure they will be happy to see what we have in store for this chilly month. We introduced the Run Around 5k, a virtual benefit event that supports us here at Downtown Greens! We also introduced our newest intern, Eve, and even shared some interesting reads to help carry you through the month!
If you are interested in signing up for our Run Around 5k, want to check out some important upcoming dates, or need a quick read to get the day started, check out the February issue here!
Giving back is a big passion of ours, and one of the ways we do this is through our Take What You Need Community Solidarity Plot! With help from volunteers from the community, we have built sturdier plots that will be home to several vegetables and herbs for our surrounding neighbors to take and enjoy!
Did you know that Future harvest has compiled an excellent list of Black-owned and operated farms in the Chesapeake area? They are working towards a much more just and equitable farm and food system. Supporting local food sources is so important to our farmers and communities! We can all help each other grow!
Click here to take a peek and support one of the many farms featured on this growing list.
We here at Downtown Greens cannot believe we have already made our way into the new year! 2020 was a long year, but this has only made us more excited heading into 2021. We have an exciting month ahead of us and talked all about it in our January Newsletter. We are officially ready to begin construction on our basement to transform it into a fully equipped educational kitchen and multipurpose space! We also discussed our new community outreach internship opportunity and share a few dates like our next Mushroom Workshop and continued volunteer hours.
Check it out here!
The Fredericksburg area is fortunate to have a huge amount of civil servants, military personnel, postal workers, and other federal employees not only serving at a national level, but integrated in our communities. The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) provides an easy but powerful way for federal employees to donate to and volunteer with nonprofits registered in the area that support health and human services.
As we face new and persistent environmental challenges, many Fredericksburg residents are able to bring a unique, local, regional, national and international perspective to meeting them. Locally, the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, Downtown Greens, and Friends of the Rappahanock directly try to address and reverse the causes of environmental degradation; other organizations such as Loisann’s Hope House, Micah Ecumenical Ministries, the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic, Thurman Brisben Center, and others address many of the second and tertiary effects of environmental degradation including climate refugees, housing transiency, and a host of public health concerns.
The CFC provides a simple way to finance these organizations' efforts and, hopefully, provide a bridge for federal employees to lend their skills, experience, and perspective to empower and strengthen local organizations and communities.
If you are a federal employee or retiree the CFC official solicitation period ends January 15. It’s easy to pledge your support. Go to cfcgiving.opm.gov and enter the number of the charity you wish to support.
The directory of CFC participating nonprofits has more than 5,000 entries, all of which have passionate missions, but only 13 of them are local to 22401. By supporting a local nonprofit, you can rest assured that your dollars are making a direct impact on your community. Thank you to those who have already, and who are planning to choose a local charity to support through a donation or pledged volunteer hours. Your support for our local nonprofits is essential to the health and wellness of the community that we all love. #givelocal
Fredericksburg Charities and their CFC numbers
Brad Smith is the president of the Board of Directors of Downtown Greens.
As winter enters full swing, a lot of our plants, even the weeds, have called it quits for the season, but not henbit!
Henbit, or ‘Lamium amplexicaule’, is a nutritious wild edible that thrives in the cooler temps. A member of the lamiaceae family, henbit shows up in the fall and sticks around through the spring until summer's hotter temperatures kill it off. Because it is in the mint family it can be a hardy spreader.
As weeds go, this one is easy to pull, but stop before tossing it into the compost! Native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, henbit was brought to the colonies as a popular fodder for, you guessed it, chickens, and despite its popularity with hens, it is actually a tasty and very nutritional addition to the human diet as well!
Henbit is chock full of iron, minerals, and antioxidants. The leaves, stems, and flowers can be enjoyed raw or added to soups and stir frys. Despite being in the mint family, henbit does not taste minty but instead has a mild herbaceous flavor that pairs well with chickweed, wintercress, and wild garlic (which conveniently grows the same time of year).
With weeds like henbit, we (and the chickens) will be able to enjoy fresh greenery from our yards all winter long!
Janet Douberly is Program Coordinator at Downtown Greens. She writes a monthly feature called "Growing and Crawling Downtown" in Front Porch Fredericksburg. If you’d like to learn more about things growing and crawling in Fredericksburg, check out Downtown Greens on Facebook and Instagram.
If you’ve ever grown anything in the cabbage family (Brassicaceae) you may have
struggled with the dreaded cabbage worm!
Cabbage worms are the larval stage of Cabbage Whites or ‘Pieris rapae’, the mostly
white butterfly looks charming when fluttering around your garden but beware, they
are actually laying eggs that can decimate your cole crops!
These wriggly green gluttons can take your kale leaves down to just the skeletal
veins and hinder heading and flowering of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
To fight these pests you can remove the tiny, individual white eggs by hand. You
can also hand pick the worms when you find them! (This gardener also recommends
crowing in triumph every time you squish one.) Using a row cover to keep the
butterflies from laying eggs is also a huge help. If you are already infested, it is said
that if you wet the leaves of the vegetables and sprinkle them with cornmeal, the
caterpillars will eat the meal, swell, and die.
Cabbage worms also love mustard greens, so planting mustard as a trap crop can
help keep them off your prized cabbages!
So, if you ever see our gardeners shaking their fists at picturesque little butterflies or
muttering angrily over their kale, you’ll know these pesky little pests are the cause of
By Janet Douberly, Program Coordinator at Downtown Greens