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Garden Grows at Cedar Point

Apartment complex is site of newest community garden plot.

Gardeners show off the newest community garden plot on Reston, at the Cedar Ridge Apartments, Wednesday, July 11.

Gardeners show off the newest community garden plot on Reston, at the Cedar Ridge Apartments, Wednesday, July 11. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Reston’s garden plots have always been one of the community’s most popular features, with one exception. Years ago, Cedar Ridge was the fifth garden plot created, but it never caught on in the community located next to Forest Edge Elementary School.

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Children from Cedar Ridge Apartments in Reston examine the new community garden plot that was officially opened Wednesday, July 11.

"It was plagued with vandalism and a lack of interest, and as the land was till, the tractor was pelted with dirt clods," said Claudia Thompson-Deahl, Reston Association’s environmental resource manager. "We had a waiting list on all the other plots, but couldn’t get people to sign up. So we eventually took down the fence and cut off the water line and closed it down."

On Wednesday, July 11, with the fence put back up, and access to water, the Cedar Ridge garden plot opened up again, this time with the full support of residents, as well as other local organizations. The Friends of Reston, Reston Association, Sustainable Reston, Reston Interfaith and Quantum Property Management all contributed resources to the project.

"It’s turned into a great example of adaptive land management," Thompson-Deahl said. "And it’s been lovely to see the renewed community interest."

There are 10 plots in the Cedar Ridge garden, with regular items such as zucchini, arugula, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and more exotic vegetables such as molokhia, which several of the complex’s Sudanese natives had sent from overseas.

The Friends of Reston helped raise money for the project.

"Every year there are ideas for initiatives that benefit this community but just don’t fit in the RA’s budget, and that’s what we like to help with," said Ellen Douglas, president of Friends of Reston. "We’re grateful for the donors that helped up put this fencing up, it will help keep the deer out."

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Gardeners from Cedar Ridge Apartments in Reston introduce their new community garden plot next to the complex Wednesday, July 11.

The fence encloses the garden, and water comes through a 50-gallon rain barrel, and there is also a hose that can be connected to a water line at the apartment complex if needed.

Katie Shaw, a member of Friends of Reston and manager of the Walker Nature Education Center, said they wanted to take advantage of the renewed interest in the plot.

"We didn’t want this growing season to pass us by," she said. "We saw the spark of interest and thought we didn’t want it to go out, we’d rather the excitement grow."

The Friends of Reston are currently accepting donations to build a tool locker for the donated tools to maintain the garden, to protect them from rusting out in the open. They also hope to add a second 50-gallon rain barrel.

Diane Blust of Sustainable Reston said that projects like this are part of creating a more sustainable food source for the community.

"We used to be lots of farms, now we’re lots of suburbs, so it’s hard to see where our food comes from," Blust said. "If you don’t have a big lawn, it’s hard to grow local food, that’s what this garden plot is for."

Residents of Cedar Ridge have already expressed interest in more plots, or larger ones, so they can grow bigger items such as melons. Ken Knueven, president of the RA board, said he would love to see both the plots expanded and the efforts repeated around the community to create more plots.