History

Downtown Greens was founded by Laura Shepherd after she and her friends, Lisa Biever and Rita Carroll, began gardening behind Shepherd’s home at 202 Charles Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia (now the Downtown Greens office). Initially, Laura planted on unused land during her spare time. Curious neighborhood children began visiting her little garden and helping out. The more responsible and motivated kids received their own plot to tend. Soon it was clear that land was needed to keep the concept of a shared garden space alive in Downtown Fredericksburg.

With the help of Eric Olsen and Mark Jacobson, a nonprofit organization was formed in 1995. Their nonprofit status allowed Downtown Greens to help purchase the land behind Laura’s home. By this time, Downtown Greens had expanded into a community garden, with free plots given to local residents to start their own vegetable gardens.

Four years later, an additional parcel of land was purchased across the street at Princess Anne and Dixon Streets. An eco-friendly “green” garden shed was erected in 2004 on this property to store tools and supplies.

In 2007, Ryan Anderson founded the Marenje Marimba group with a handful of homeschooled students. They were soon joined by children in the Downtown Greens neighborhood. The homemade instruments add an element of organic sound to the gardening projects.  

Today, Downtown Greens promotes environmental care by preserving two urban garden areas, using sustainable gardening methods, teaching children through a weekly Garden Club, and raising bees with the Urban Bees program.