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
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!