Protected in Perpetuity
Many of you have been following our journey to protect 56 acres of land located on Belman Road in the Fredericksburg Industrial Park. We are happy to report that we have successfully recorded an easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation that protects our 56 acres of green open space land for current and future generations! With our Upper and Lower Gardens, that brings the total of protected greenspace in the city to 58.8 acres!
We are grateful for all the support that has brought us to this juncture. It has taken thousands of hours of staff, Board and volunteer work to get us here. It took City Council amending their Comprehensive Plan to incorporate the change of the land status for us to be able to get an easement. And it literally took a village, a village of 520 supporters during a four month campaign in 2021 to provide the necessary funds for us to be able to purchase the property.
The Belman Road property–wetlands, woodlands, and agricultural land, holds the promise of a diverse open space for all to enjoy. And it holds the promise of educational opportunities for all age groups as well. We are looking forward to working with schools in the area and the University of Mary Washington so that they can use the property as an outdoor classroom for nature based learning.
If you have not had a chance to see what this property entails, we urge you to take one of our New Land Walkarounds. Get your group together and join us for a tour! You can find upcoming dates for the walkarounds at downtowngreens.org and on our social media.
What’s next for the property? We are already at work! We have planted a fruit tree forest of 810 trees on several acres. We recently held a mulching party to help them continue their growth, and will be putting in fencing to keep the deer from munching on them. The fruit tree forest is a continuation of the successful open-access garden and green space for all to enjoy with education and community mindedness at its core.
Another opportunity for the land is an agricultural training center that will inspire, educate and equip the next generation of farmers. This would include the mechanics of ‘hands in the dirt’ farming as well as the critical components of managing a successful farm including marketing, small engine repair, food safety training, irrigation and hydroponics, digital technologies and more.
Bringing all these components together in a thoughtful way for the new property will take careful planning, collaboration with community partners, land cultivation and resources. There is much work ahead for us to turn this opportunity into reality, something the entire city can be proud of. With your support, we look forward to the challenge.
Speaking of opportunities, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer with us both at the Belman Road property and the upper and lower gardens downtown, the monthly food distribution in cooperation with the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, or volunteering to help with our Free Fridge program. If you are interested in helping out, please go to downtowngreens.org or follow us on social media to see upcoming projects.
Jim Schepmoes is Executive Director of Downtown Greens.
This article was originally published in the May 2023 edition of Front Porch Magazine. Read the full publication by using the link below.