The Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® (NVAR) has partnered with Fairfax County, Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture and the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District to bring an innovative community garden project to Southern Fairfax County on the west side of Richmond Highway in Alexandria. The community garden will be used to teach small-scale sustainable gardening skills to families throughout the neighborhoods in the Buckman Road and Audubon Avenue area at the new Lee District Community Center.
“Food insecurity is one of the most persistent problems in our community—a problem that is compounded by the fact that the food that is most readily available is rarely fresh or nutritious,” said Supervisor Lusk. “This is precisely why I have partnered with NVAR, Arcadia and the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District to bring a community garden to the residents who live on the Richmond Highway Corridor.”
On Friday, April 15, Realtors® joined Supervisor Lusk, community members, and project partners to kick-off the project with initial construction and soil preparation. Features including additional raised beds, fencing and seating will be added in the coming weeks as planting continues throughout the spring and summer. See all of the photos from the build-day here!
NVAR was able to leverage resources from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) through a Placemaking Grant Program to help transform the unused space next to the community center into a vibrant, accessible public destination for community education, use and enjoyment. NVAR is funding the construction and preparation of the garden site, including aluminum raised garden beds, fencing, benches, topsoil, compost, tools, and more.
“Realtors® live, work and volunteer in their communities and take immense pride in our work to make Northern Virginia the best place to raise a family,” said NVAR President-Elect Heather Embrey, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Premier speaking at the project build-day. “The community garden project is one tangible, immediate opportunity to address an area in Fairfax County in need of enhancement and revitalization. Placemaking projects like this foster healthier, more social and economically viable communities, and create places where people feel a strong stake in their neighborhoods and are committed to making things better. The new community center will be a valuable resource for the whole community, and we hope this garden project will be add to the overall effectiveness of the space. NVAR is honored to be a small part of this effort.”
Supervisor Lusk added, “Thanks to NVAR’s generous financial support, as well as the programmatic support of our other partners, residents who live along the Richmond Highway Corridor, will gain the confidence to both utilize healthy ingredients in their diets, but also be empowered to eventually grow them at their own homes. My hope is that this project will eventually evolve into a mobile market, with a community growers’ program, that will create jobs and increase access to healthy food along the Richmond Highway Corridor.”
NAR offers Placemaking Grants to state and local Realtor® Associations around the country to create new public spaces and destinations in a community, such as turning a parking spot into a people spot (parklet) or a vacant lot into a pocket park or garden. The grant was designed by NAR to help associations partner with communities and neighboring organizations to plan, organize, implement and maintain Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper placemaking projects. To find out more about National Association of Realtors® placemaking program visit RealtorParty.realtor/community-outreach/placemaking.