Community Groups Launch Urban Garden Project in Arlington’s Virginia Highlands Park

Model project will demonstrate how edge spaces in parks can be transformed into productive urban gardens

(Arlington, VA) Today, Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture announced a new collaborative project to develop a demonstration urban garden with the National Landing BID, Livability22202, and Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation. Volunteers broke ground on the Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) on September 27 in Virginia Highlands Park (located at 1600 S Hayes St., Arlington, VA 22202). Project HUG will revitalize underused land near the park’s tennis courts and illustrate how otherwise fallow spaces can be transformed into productive land that builds a vibrant ecosystem. This fall is the initial installation and preparation of the site for the spring planting season.

“Friends of Urban Agriculture is excited for this opportunity to showcase how community-driven agriculture can transform and enhance urban spaces,” said David Sachs, Friends of Urban Agriculture Board Member and HUG project manager. “This project will also demonstrate the power of partnerships across public, private, civic and non-profit communities.”

Livability22202 and National Landing BID are contributing to the design, implementation, and funding for the new urban garden. Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture is managing the project and providing design and technical expertise. The small-scale Highlands Urban Garden will demonstrate modern sustainable agricultural practices such as modular, low-impact design principles, sustainable water management practices, and incorporate smart technology to collect agriculture metrics. A team of neighborhood volunteers will help install, maintain and manage the garden. With on-site signage, the Highlands Urban Garden will inform passers-by on the plants, techniques, and principles used to grow a mix of edible vegetative crops, pollinators, and local natives. As a pilot site, the Highlands Urban Garden will serve as a model for future community-driven agriculture features throughout Arlington’s urban neighborhoods.

“Livability22202 is committed to strengthening our community and enhancing the physical and social health and well-being of all our residents,” said Carol Fuller of Livability22202. “This new urban garden will accomplish all of those goals by building community, educating residents and students, and providing nutritious fresh produce to our local food pantries. It’s a win-win-win.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with our partners in the community to expand natural elements throughout National Landing’s built environment by transforming land on the margins and in unexpected places,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, Executive Director of National Landing BID. “The Highlands Urban Garden will invoke curiosity and joy in passersby, residents and park visitors alike.”

“Project HUG will activate land adjacent to the Virginia Highlands Park tennis court practice wall, showcasing how edge spaces can be transformed into all-season, productive land,” said Kim Haun, Urban Agriculture Coordinator, Arlington County, Department of Parks & Recreation. “We are especially excited to announce this collaborative project during October Urban Agriculture Month.”

More Information about Project HUG HERE. More information about October Urban Agriculture events HERE.

Photos of September 27, 2020 volunteer day for Project HUG (Photo credit: David Sachs)

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Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture is a local nonprofit dedicated to building a resilient, community-driven urban agriculture sector that provides a fair, healthy, sustainable food system for all Arlingtonians.

Livability22202 represents the three civic associations the 22202 zip code — Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City. The diverse residents of 22202 are committed to developing holistic strategies to create a better, more livable city.

The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) is a non-profit organization that thrives on its strong private-public partnership with Arlington County and local property owners. Formerly known as the Crystal City BID from 2006 to 2020, this membership coalition promotes and activates the local business, retail, restaurant, and residential community. The organization unifies the interconnected and thriving neighborhoods of Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard-Arlington.