ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — Local stakeholders in the Arlington community came together to harvest produce for donation at a small garden in Virginia Highlands Park.
What used to be an empty plot of land next to a tennis court is now a vibrant, produce-filled garden. The plot was a community effort, planted by neighbors in the county, and has yielded 100 pounds of produce since it was planted in September 2020.
Project HUG (Highlands Urban Garden) is an effort to revitalize underused land at the park and turn the fallow space into a sustainable, food-producing ecosystem.
“It’s ideas like this that are going to be a critical component of building a livable, sustainable Arlington into this century. We’re growing more than just vegetables,” said David Sachs, board member at Friends of Urban Agriculture.
They are also growing a community. The project focuses on the theme of “neighbors helping neighbors” to fight food insecurity in the county.
“Our donors have been providing over 433 hours of volunteer service, almost $12,000 worth of labor hours,” said Carol Fuller, coordinator for Livability 22202.
The project is a collaboration between civic associations organization Livability22202 and Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture, sponsored by the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and the National Landing BID.
The Arlington County Board approved the project. Chair Libby Garvey says the pilot is an effort to make the county more self-reliant.
“We need to be able to grow our own food as much as possible, we need to be able to get outside, we need to be able to come together, and build a community,” said Garvey.
Vegetables harvested are donated to Arlington charities as part of the Plot Against Hunger, a project that collects fresh produce to supplement groceries for families in need.
“It shows what we can do when we focus on community building and activating an underutilized space to achieve a goal, which is really impacting food insecurity,” said Tracy Gabriel, President and Executive Director of the National Landing BID.
The next step if getting more students involved in the program, and expanding the gardens to other parts of the community is on the table.