REALTORS® Plant Community Garden in Virginia Food Desert

The Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® brings fresh fruits and vegetables to a neighborhood dealing with food insecurity.
NVAR members build a community garden

© Courtesy of NVAR

Members of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® help build a community garden in the Southern Fairfax County area.

Access to fresh food isn’t exactly given out equitably, which leaves some neighborhoods without the ability to feed their families nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables. Such is the case in the Southern Fairfax County area in Virginia, where some neighborhoods—primarily those on the west side of the Richmond Highway in Alexandria­–face food insecurity. The Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® took notice and decided to make a difference. Harnessing the power of community, NVAR teamed up with local organizations—the Arcadia for Sustainable Food and Agriculture and the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District—as well as Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk to build a community garden.

The garden is located on what was an abandoned stretch of land near the Lee District Community Center and will be accessible to the residents of the Richmond Highway Corridor, an area deeply affected by food insecurity, Lusk said in a statement. More than a place to secure fresh produce, the garden will also host educational opportunities to teach residents about small-scale gardening.

Transforming an abandoned plot of land into a thriving garden takes resources, and NVAR used a placemaking grant from the National Association of REALTORS® to ensure the garden had everything needed to start out strong. Thanks to the grant, NVAR was able to fund both the construction and the preparation of the site for the garden, providing necessities like topsoil, tools, fencing, and raised garden beds. Wanting to have an active role in the creation of the garden as well, several members of NVAR participated in the April 15 kickoff event. Flanked by Lusk and other community members, they worked in tandem to get the project off the ground.

“The community garden project is one tangible, immediate opportunity to address an area in Fairfax County in need of enhancement and revitalization,” NVAR President-elect Heather Embrey said in a statement. “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.”

To see photos of the community gardens kickoff event and other REALTOR®-inspired volunteering efforts, check out the REALTORS® Are Good Neighbors Facebook page.