If you are anything like me and spend most of your time looking at the ground (that’s where the cool stuff is), you’ll probably have noticed these tiny flowers popping up all over town. So diminutive in size, these little blooms go mostly unnoticed and even if they are noticed, they take up so little space that most people’s minds quickly move on and think about bigger things. But let’s take a moment to appreciate these tiny harbingers of spring, the Bird’s-eye Speedwell.
Bird’s-eye Speedwell, or Veronica Persica, is an introduction native to Asia and parts of Europe. Of all the Speedwells the Bird’s-eye is considered the one of the largest with it’s blooms coming in at a whopping 1cm wide. The thick and sprawling growth pattern makes this an aggressive ground cover with most of its vegetative growth occurring during the cool weather of late winter and early spring.
Despite its unassuming nature, Bird’s-eye Speedwell is playing a big role in some scientific studies of its medicinal properties. Extracts of this plant have demonstrated anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral activities and have shown to accelerate the healing process when given to test subjects. Modern scientists aren’t the only ones that have noticed this little plant’s healing properties. In the mid-20th century Afghan herbalist, Mahomet Allum, used the plant to treat patients with heart trouble.
Even without its reported healing properties, this lilliputian bloom decorates the ground around town, attracting small bees and telling the world that spring is near!
By: Janet Douberly, Program Coordinator
“Endorphins, y’all! We need them!” Downtown Greens board member, Kimberly Cartier is producing her very first 5k to benefit the beloved Fredericksburg greenspace. An avid runner and race participant, she knows this activity will be a much-needed panacea for the quarantine blues! Walk, run, skip, hop, or bike a path of your choice or take the suggested route. The recommended race route will wind you through downtown and past as many sponsoring businesses as possible!
The virtual race can be completed at any time between March 1-14. You can practice social distance and still support from anywhere! Sign up for the virtual race (here: http://bit.ly/dtg5k). Once you've completed the 5K you can either register your time or simply that you finished it then plan to pick up your swag bag from Downtown Greens!
Three cheers for the amazing businesses that are sponsoring this! The inaugural annual 5K is being sponsored by Juan More Taco, Italian Station, PONSHOP, Yellow Bike Massage, River Rock Outfitters, Re_Incorporated, Spencer Devon Brewing, B101.5, Print Jazz, OddBox Studios, Fredericksburg Food Co-op, Community Bank of the Chesapeake, Ace Concierge, LLC, Mo's City Soup, and River Rock Outfitters! We're also happy to have Rene and Jarett Rodriguez along as sponsors for the 5K! One of the best parts about Fredericksburg is the community.
I believe we mentioned the SWAG? Swag is arguably the best part of a 5k! What you can expect to find in your (reusable cloth!) swag bag is a race t-shirt, a pollinator bandana, and a temporary tattoo provided by Downtown Greens. Sponsors are also adding fun things such as CBD muscle salve, beeswax lip balm, stickers, FXBG buttons and coupons to their local businesses! All the treats are sourced as sustainably as possible.
If this wasn’t already enticing enough, here is how those funds are being allocated. The Downtown Greens building is impossible to miss with it’s enormous pink coneflowers illuminating the facade. What you might miss, however, is the small basement with a tiny kitchen in the back that needs a pretty big facelift. The dream has been to turn that area into a fully-equipped teaching kitchen and multi-purpose space!
Before the pandemic hit Downtown Greens had several garden-based youth programs which used the small kitchen to prepare meals from food they grew. The renovation involves creating a larger, more functional and welcoming space for kids and teens of the programs. When we're able to safely gather again (in addition to the youth programs) adult workshops will be hosted along with other fun, inclusive events for all. Think of Downtown Greens as the best place to host an outdoor function in the ‘Burg!
Also, with food insecurity on the rise, Downtown Greens is using resources to help increase food availability in the community. They are hard at work preparing for the upcoming spring and summer growing season. May through October they’ll host a weekly FREE Farmers’ Market Stand where produce harvested from their Youth Farm Program Garden and food donated from other pantries will be distributed to anyone who shows up. This greenspace also makes the world’s best neighbor! Staff took requests from the surrounding community on what vegetables and herbs they’d like to see in the “Take What You Need” Community Solidarity Plot. This Pick-Your-Own veggie garden is located by the bus stop at Downtown Greens. During the harvest season, produce overflow is kept in a cooler nearby. A more permanent solution is being considered so no donation or race registration fee will go to waste!
If you want to know more go to http://www.downtowngreens.org/. You can volunteer, donate, and find out more about what’s happening in your neighborhood. Or, we’ll catch you on the route for the Downtown Runaround. Be safe and we'll see you out there!
By: Brandi Parrish, Digital Marketing Director for Metro Nova Creative
We cannot stop talking about one of our upcoming events. The first annual Downtown Runaround! Join us for our first ever virtual 5k! Anytime March 1 through March 14 run, walk, bike, skip, crawl, ... a 5k at the gym, home gym or around your own neighborhood. Or, if you're local, stay tuned for a suggested route here in downtown Fredericksburg. Just be sure whatever way you participate it's done in a safe and socially distant manner!
Registration is $25 before February 22, and $30 through March 14. All registered participants will receive a swag bag with a race t-shirt and other garden goodies!
Your registration and sponsorships for our virtual 5k provides essential funding to help us grow food for and with our most vulnerable neighbors.
We began our 2021 with the hopes of a fresh start and an overall smoother year. For some, this was more than just a want but a need. Unfortunately, covid-19 is still impacting our everyday life, and it is hard to say when things will make their way back to being "normal" again. With that said, we can still find a way to do the things we enjoy while also keeping our health in mind. Thankfully being outdoors is the best place to be right now in terms of the virus. Below is a list of Frederickburg's natural displays that can get you out of that quarantine funk.
1. River Road
Let's go ahead and start with the one that most of you may know already; River Road. Located just outside of the center-city, this outlook from River Road offers stunning views of the skyline that we know as Fredericksburg. It is a quick drive that showcases several different views like the Rappahannock river and colorful sunsets if you hit the time just right. Whether you have been to River Road yet or not, go ahead and stop by on your way home from work. We promise it's worth it.
2. Lee Drive
Our next location on the list is a must. Lee Drive is found just off of Lafayette Boulevard and is very generous in what it offers. It can be enjoyed from the comfort of your vehicle or by walking through the many trails it has. The 4.5-mile loop is quiet enough to enjoy time alone but has just the right amount of people to feel a sense of comfort. As the road makes its way down its winding path, nature surrounds it on all sides. The endless layers of trees provide you with a place to escape everyday life and take some time to breath. Lee Drive is a family-friendly location that can get you and the family outside on an early weekend morning before heading into the week.
3. Downtown Greens
I think we all saw this one coming. There was no way we could make a list like this and not include ourselves in it! Downtown Greens offers so many different things for you to do while enjoying the outdoors. Here in the lower gardens, you can find a quiet space to study or take a closer look at some honey bees. Meanwhile, our upper garden provides a look at our youth gardening plots and has a place for the young ones to play. Whether you are a student looking for a quiet place to study, or a family looking to do something together, you can't help but feel a sense of community here.
4. Rappahannock River Heritage Trail
Up next is the most frequented site on this list. To start, the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail is a 2-mile track that circles part of Fredericksburg itself. If you are looking for a place to get out and exercise, this is the place to do it. As you make your way down the trail, you instantly feel encouraged by others who are doing the same and offering a smile. Although it's a great place to work out, it also boasts several areas to sit and lookout. Just off of the road is series of wooden steps that lead down to a beautiful view of the river. Large boulders double as a place to sit and lookout. As you open up a book to read or start writing in your journal, time will begin to pass without you even knowing. This river trail is a place that offers many things that keep people coming back. After a few trips, you'll begin to understand why this is the most popular site on this list.
5. Just Outside Your Back Door
We cannot stress this fifth and final one enough. Nature is everywhere around us we just have to look for it. Even in a city, there are still so many things that you can take advantage of. Next time you are walking to your favorite coffee shop or taking your dog for a walk, look up. Even if there is no tree in sight, you can still appreciate the sky for what it is and the birds that inhabit it. We sometimes get in a routine of doing and seeing the same thing every day that we do not notice what all is around us. Breaking our everyday cycle and choosing a different path to work can help reintroduce us to our environment and community that we have all grown to love.
Although we get to indulge in snowman building and treating ourselves to midday hot chocolates, we aren't the only ones who enjoy the colder weather. Our hellebores were spotted blooming just before the snowstorm made it's way into Fredericksburg. These beautiful pink flowers are a variety commonly known as Lenten Rose. It derives it's name from its bloom time which is normally during the season of Lent. Hellebores are one of the four classic poisons, together with nightshade, hemlock, and aconite. In fact, the name hellebore comes from the Greek "elein" meaning to injure, and "bore" meaning food.
Like most members of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, hellebores are notoriously difficult to start from seed. Luckily these bashful and beautiful flowers are very easy to propagate and will spread to fill a space. Hellebores are native to southern and central Europe, and from Slovenia to Macedonia.
Keep an eye out for these pink flowers and any other blooms that you might find over the next couple months of cold weather.
We think it's safe to say that we have all been impatiently waiting for this to happen. Sunday morning welcomed us with around 4 inches of snow to get our week started. Our gardens are now covered with a blanket of white snow that is in no hurry to melt away. Although the snow itself is pretty cold, it works as a natural insulation that keeps everything under it from freezing during the cold nights! We've asked our followers to send in any pictures that they have taken while playing out in the snow for us to share on our social medias. We hope that these will encourage people to go out and enjoy it before it is gone!
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!