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. 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.
Our team and partners are eager to take on the exciting opportunity to purchase and conserve this unique parcel of land in our community. It will not only expand our programming capabilities, but increase the number of people in our community who can enjoy accessible green space.
Please donate below or get in touch if you want to make a tax-deductible investment in this exciting and ambitious community project!
About the land and our plans:
The unparalleled 56-acre parcel of land is the last of its kind here in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It contains living wetlands, mature trees, and nearly 20 acres of the last working agricultural space in the city. This entire space is what makes it unique and worth saving. Downtown Greens intends to purchase and use this special property to further its mission in the following three areas: Accessible Greenspace, creation of an Agricultural Training Center, and new opportunities for Nature Based Learning.
A host of studies have proven the health benefits of access to nature for all ages. As the pace of development in the City of Fredericksburg is hastening, open space is becoming more critical and the need to preserve it increasingly essential to the health of our community.
We want to conserve this parcel of land so that future generations can continue to discover unique components of nature. This is one of the last remaining parcels of open greenspace in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and also includes biologically diverse wetlands and active farmland. The second campus will provide a continuation of Downtown Greens' successful open-access garden and green spaces for all to enjoy, with education and community mindedness at its core.
As the premier river conservation organization in the City of Fredericksburg for over 35 years, Friends of the Rappahannock is keenly aware of the intimate link between open space preservation and water quality. In fact our 2018 river report card awarded the Middle Rappahannock a D+ grade for Land Use, due in part to a scarcity of open space conservation in the Fredericksburg area. Preserving this property would raise that grade and provide a rare opportunity for land conservation in a mostly built-out city.
River Steward, Friends of the Rappahannock
Agricultural Training Center
Our goal is to inspire, educate, and equip the next generation to enter the farming industry. Getting young people interested and excited to enter the agricultural field is not only essential for a healthy and equitable food system, it is essential for the health of our planet. New farmers need to be our front line environmentalists, using regenerative and sustainable practices to grow the nation’s food supply.
Among minorities, the urgency of the need to train young farmers is even stronger, with the current average age of a white farmer in the United States being 59 years old, and the average age of a Black farmer being 63 (USDA’s 2017 Agriculture Census). We want to be part of a growing national movement to provide resources to beginning farmers, including those of color, who are integral to the future of our nation’s food security.
With the support of our partners and collaborators, we want to develop an Agricultural Training Center to teach and inspire the next generation of farmers. The establishment of this center is in collaboration with Michael Carter, Jr., 11th generation Black farmer and owner of Carter Family Farms, a century farm in Orange, Virginia. The center will include demonstration gardens that will provide food to our community in need in addition to generating income through sales of “FXBG Grown” food to select farm-to-table restaurants and the new Fredericksburg Food Co-op.
The Training Center will focus on teaching youth the mechanics of ‘hands in the dirt’ farming as well as the critical components of managing a successful farm, including everything from marketing to small engine repair, writing to food safety training, irrigation and hydroponics to digital technologies. We want to bring the next generation into the agriculture field in ways that they might not have known were possible or profitable.
We hope the city school system will use this technical training center to provide additional options to high schoolers considering their future prospects. The Gladys H. Oberle School -- an alternative, special education day school in the area -- has already expressed interest in offering agricultural instruction through our Training Center to their students as a part of the school’s career and technical education offerings.
Nature Based Learning
Many schools and universities in the area lack easy access to outdoor classroom space. “Nature-Deficit disorder” is a term coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods and refers to the fact that youth are spending less time in nature, leading to higher rates of ADHD and obesity, higher stress levels, and more. Many studies prove that children not only learn better while taught outside, but tend to learn better once they return to the classroom after outdoor education sessions.
The biodiversity of the land that we plan to purchase is a unique asset to the city of Fredericksburg. This parcel contains an ideal mix of mature trees, wetlands and agricultural space that are local and easily accessible space for these schools to participate in outdoor learning.
The University of Mary Washington has expressed interest in a partnership that would give students access to the land for study. Dr. Keith E. Mellinger, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, describes the land as “well situated to serve the educational and research needs of the University.” He continues: “Our faculty often seek out local areas of representative biodiversity.” With nearly 20 acres of wetlands, the site can become a part of the curriculum for students, helping them connect global environmental concerns with the preservation of natural resources in their immediate community.
The Brompton Community School is located on land adjacent to the parcel and offers its students the benefits of spending much of their days outdoors. Offering their students access to the land would give them additional open space for experiential learning and increase the effectiveness and impact of the school’s programs.
Partners and supporters of the project include:
Learn more about our Expansion Project, including maps and our proposed timeline, by viewing our printable Project Prospectus.
A letter from our President
Brad Smith, President of the Board of Directors, discusses the space and how it fits into Downtown Greens' mission and vision.
Free Lance-star Article
The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported on Downtown Greens' contract to purchase the 56-acre land parcel.
Letters of Support
Braehead Buffer Group
City of Fredericksburg Clean & Green Commission
Friends of the Rappahannock
Fossil Free FXBG
FXBG Food Co-op
Gladys H. Oberle School
Rappahannock Sierra Club
The Table at St. George's
Univ. Mary Washington
national PRESS RELEASE
The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a press release about the latest efforts to encourage and support locally-led initiatives to conserve land.