A Small Patch of Dirt Can Yield Big Growth

A Small Patch of Dirt Can Yield Big Growth

Growing fresh vegetables can boost community health.

I was incredibly pleased to open our new Laurel Hill Community Gardens in Lorton last week. Not only do community gardens give residents without much yard space the opportunity to grow their own fresh food, but they often help us address health and food insecurity. “Give a man a vegetable, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to grow vegetables, and you feed him for a lifetime.” OK, the saying is fish, but you get the idea. Small garden plots in urban areas can provide volumes of fresh food, including in areas considered food deserts. 

The Laurel Hill Community Gardens has two dedicated plots to provide food for the Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC). Food pantries most often request non-perishable food items, as fresh foods are much harder to manage, but we all know that fresh fruits and vegetables are vital to our health and well-being. Managing their own gardens will allow LCAC to grow their own fresh produce, as well as teach their recipients about growing their own food and cooking fresh veggies! To see where Fairfax County Park Authority Community Gardens are and to sign up for a plot today, visit: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/green-spring/plots

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture (www.arcadiafood.org), which we featured in as a Community Champion in my April Updates e-newsletter a few months ago, takes all of these needs into consideration in our community. Through environmentally and economically sustainable farming practices, Arcadia is dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC area, and is located right  in Mount Vernon. Through school field trips and volunteer days, Arcadia is educating students and adults about healthy eating and growing practices. Arcadia is also training new farmers through their Veteran Farmer Program. This multilayered, hands-on educational program capitalizes on the growing market in local, sustainably grown foods; and encourages entrepreneurship and job creation.

Arcadia is also committed to increasing access to healthy, farm-fresh food in underserved neighborhoods.  A majority of the vegetables grown at the Farm are for Arcadia’s Mobile Market, which provides affordable food to low income, low food access communities by taking it directly to them.

My office continues to work to bring more opportunities like this to our neighborhoods through additional community gardens in schools, community centers and parks.