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
As we come to the end of an extraordinary year, I reflect on how so many of us have been forced to become more aware of the world around us. We are reminded, daily, of challenges facing our environment, our society, our neighbors, ourselves. We have seen the very best and worst of humanity shown as we wrestle to find our place in our world.
I am beyond thankful to have had the opportunity to learn, grow, and serve in such an incredible community beside our dedicated staff and interns; our ever growing board--with six new members over the past twelve months; and our beautiful armies of supporters and volunteers.
The genuine concern they show one another overflows to the community.
I have spent this summer reflecting on our nation and world. I would be lying if I said I did not worry for future generations, but I would also be remiss if I did not say I draw inspiration from both past and present: I consider the legacy of the Powhatan and Patawomeck tribes that once grew, hunted, argued, played, laughed, and cried on this ground around the Rappahannock. I consider those that fled persecution and insecurity in the Old World, hoping to find a better home here. Those who hoped and fought for justice, established; domestic Tranquility, insured; common defense, provided for; general Welfare, promoted; and the Blessing of Liberty, secured.
Our garden has become not just a place where we strive to meet the physical needs of our community, but a place of reconciliation. It has been a place for healing as partner organizations have hosted events for survivors of domestic and sexual violence to find solidarity. It has been a place of comfort, with many of our housing transient and homeless community finding peace amongst the flowers and shade of the garden during our hottest days.
This has been an incredibly challenging year for the whole world, but also for the Downtown Greens family specifically--rocked with personal health issues, deaths in families and communities, economic precarity, raising children in the age of COVID, and a whole host of other large and small concerns. Our two main fundraisers, the Fork It Over Festival and Down Home Ball, were cancelled. We were unable to host our Youth Farm Program, Youth Garden Club, or Garden Sprouts--hundreds of our kiddos that we were only able to see in passing, if at all.
As I think about these challenges, I think about the words we used to describe this land--a Common Wealth in a More Perfect Union--and I think about Downtown Greens’ role in making this community a more perfect place to live in imperfect conditions. I think about how we can honor the forgotten words and legacy of the first inhabitants and caretakers of this land.
This all may seem lofty for a community garden on a few acres of land, but I think now is the time to imagine ourselves greatly. To learn the lessons of single seeds, that contain whole forests. To learn from so many of our kids that are the first in their family to go to college or trade schools or have become volunteers and givers in their communities. To look to the best parts of our past and present to build a better future.
Be well, be healthy, and thank you for a wonderful year!
By Brad Smith, President of the Board of Directors at Downtown Greens
You can find this and more in the latest Front Porch Article!
This past Saturday the University of Mary Washington Ecology Club made a stop by our gardens to help us with a couple of projects! The morning started off with a tour of the lower and upper gardens where they could try edible flowers, take a bite of some ripe figs, and be introduced to a handful of new projects we have our eyes set on.
It didn't take long for these awesome students to get involved! Raking and transporting fallen leaves to one of the compost locations in the upper gardens was taken on by majority of the group. The rest of the members worked to build a new wall for behind our bee hives!
It's not everyday that we get a volunteer turn out like we did on Saturday morning. We appreciate all the assistance and help that the UMW Ecology Club and other volunteers offered us on a chilly morning!
Please start by telling us about yourself!
My name is Kimberly Cartier, I grew up in Northern Virginia and moved here a couple years ago. So I live in Downtown Fredericksburg, actually right down the street from here!
What did you do in Northern Virginia?
I grew up there with my family and decided to check down south. Every time that I was visiting Fredericksburg, I loved it. I love the community and love walking around. Everyone is so friendly, you just walk down the street and see five of your friends. It’s just such a nice place.
What other things do you do around town here?
I discovered Downtown Greens on my runs. So I usually run downtown and that’s how I came upon it. I saw the beautiful flower on the building and wanted to know what it was all about! Thankfully my friend Kaitlyn introduced me to the board and Downtown Greens.
Why were you so attracted to the flower?
It’s just so beautiful. I’m very much into plants. I am a crazy plant lady so I started a little side gig. Due to Covid it’s a little hard, so I haven’t been able to have my plant parties, but Planty of Happiness we try to hook up with breweries downtown and make these cute little terrariums for everyone to take home.
How can we find out more about that?
I have an Instagram page and facebook so if you want to check it out it’s Planty of Happiness!
Are you with other organizations in town?
I love being a part of the community and giving back in any way that I can. I am a part of the Chamber of Commerce, was the social chair of a young professional group, and am also on the Rappahannock Rotary Club the Satellite Edition. For the younger folk, every third Thursday we meet. It’s been a little different with Covid because we have been doing everything digitally. It’s a little weird but we have all gotten used to it.
What’s your favorite thing about Downtown Greens?
So I love everything Downtown Greens does. I didn’t realize that the organization is so involved with kids development and having the youth gardening programs. It’s just really beautiful. For anyone who hasn’t been here, I know there are so many of my friends and family that have never seen the garden. So you guys should come and do the Sip n See this Saturday. Come check out the lower garden and upper garden, it’s just really beautiful.
Why did you accept a board position with us?
So I just really wanted the best way to give back to the community and be more involved. I wanted more people to know about Downtown Greens, so you have to be here and be a part of it to let other people know about all of the great things that you guys do here.
Can you tell us about your favorite plant?
My favorite plant is my monstera. I really love that plant. I think it’s funny that it has the nickname Swiss cheese plant. I’m sure you’ve seen the really big leaves with the cool cut-outs. I’m also a sucko’ for succulents! So those are really great as well.
Check out the full video interview over on our Facebook!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born and raised in New Jersey and then moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia about 18 years ago. I moved here with my daughter and mother and we have enjoyed the Fredericksburg community quite immensely since we got here and now I have been affiliated with Downtown Greens for some time and have been chosen for this interview for Meet the Board!
Tell us more about your family and the work they’ve done!
Finding Fredericksburg wasn’t so hard for my family because my mother actually grew up in King George and went to Montfort Academy. Her father, Robert Eugene Harvey, was a Principal, and her mother, Ester Harvey, was one of the first African American teachers. My grandfather fought long and hard for desegregation of the schools which ended up making them not the most popular people in the community, so they eventually relocated to New Jersey and it all happened from there.
What was it that made you come back?
We were originally looking at houses in King George, which is lovely and great, but just a little far away from some of the things I enjoy, like the artsy community, and community in general. For me and my family personally we wanted to be a bit closer to the city, but not right in the middle.
You have a passion for helping individuals with struggling with addiction and fostering safe spaces for people in the margins. Can you tell us a little more about that?
I do have a passion for helping people who are struggling with addiction. Addiction was a large part of my family background and I am surrounded by a lot of people that struggle with it. So providing a safe space or just learning more about it and teaching people about it is something that I enjoy being a part of. Going towards the future, it is something that I would seek employment in.
What made you want to be on the board here?
What made me want to be a part of the board was why not if I could bring something positive to the table and help things grow. This is a space that I really enjoy being in. My daughter and I have come here on and off for four years or maybe more. It was always a safe space for us and promoted family and unity and was a great atmosphere to work together. So that was something I came to enjoy and admire about Downtown Greens. So when I took a spot on the board I thought if I could be a part of that and help it grow and reach more people outside of my family, how great could that be?
You have some amazing projects that you have been working on!
Needles to say, I don’t like being still. So anything I can do to occupy my time, like learning and creating. I like getting my hands dirty so anything where I can take something apart and put it back together, I will sign up for. I like taking things that most people would consider a lost cause and turning it into something that is beautiful. I was in my backyard and one project turned into two, then three. I realized my hands were just creating, and at the end all the emotion and healing had morphed itself into a really healing space that continues to grow. Another thing that I love about it is that everything I have done back there, I have the potential to see it grow in the future.
What is your favorite plant?
My favorite plant is a flower, and I know this is basic, but I love daylilies! They are so versatile and beautiful! They’re wild and come as they please and show up anywhere.
You can find the full video interview here!
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!