My eighty-seven-year-old mother is an incredible gardener. Until she gave up her own home in rural Maryland and moved in with my husband and me in McLean (just on the edge of Tysons), she had an exceptionally large vegetable and flower garden that my siblings and I loved to raid each summer and the grandkids loved to explore. Once Mom moved to McLean, we just had to continue the tradition. Brothers were enlisted to help build several raised garden beds in our back yard. Since then, Mom and I have been successfully raising lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, arugula, beets, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, jalapenos, apple mint, basil, parsley, and other herbs. Not only does it help with grocery bills, but the food is delicious. We both enjoy being out of doors and working in the yard. It can be a workout, and watching God’s amazing variety of vegetation grow is a real joy.
Not everyone lives in a situation where there is room for backyard beds, but there are other ways to garden for those who might be interested. You can start small – just a few pots. Also, the Fairfax County Park Authority rents more than 650 garden plots in nine county parks on an annual basis to Fairfax County residents. Information about this program can be found by visiting https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/green-spring/plots
If you think you, your family, friends, work colleagues or spiritual community are interested in starting your own community garden, Fairfax County also provides these resources: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/topics/community-gardening and https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/food-council/urban-agriculture/edible-gardens-resources.
Local non-profits, such as SHARE and Food for Others, are happy to receive donations from community gardens. Information about Food for Others’ Farm to Family program can be found at: https://www.foodforothers.org/farm-to-family-program. The link to SHARE’s produce donation program can be found at shareofmclean.org/community-garden (The SHARE program is on hiatus during the pandemic.)
For home gardeners who may be interested in sprucing up their landscape and learning about native plants, a great place to visit is Green Spring Gardens, a national historic site, museum, and outdoor classroom. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/green-spring. Also, there is the nearby Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. https://www.novaparks.com/parks/meadowlark-botanical-gardens.
Finally, if you are looking for an opportunity to be out-of-doors and experience beautiful gardens, check out Virginia Historic Gardens Week. This is an annual event sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia. This year it runs April 17 – 24. Tours of private landscapes, public gardens, and historic sites are offered by local member clubs throughout the Commonwealth. Tickets are required and available for purchase at https://www.vagardenweek.org/.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members