Project HUG showcases how community-driven agriculture can transform and enhance urban spaces, and demonstrates the power of partnerships across public, private, civic and non-profit communities.

Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) is a collaborative project with Livability22202 sponsored by the Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club, the National Landing BID, and the Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation to develop a demonstration urban garden. Volunteers broke ground on the Highlands Urban Garden on September 27, 2020 in Virginia Highlands Park (located at 1600 S Hayes St., Arlington, VA 22202). Project HUG revitalizes underused “marginalized” land near the park’s tennis courts and illustrate how otherwise fallow spaces can be transformed into vibrant ecosystem. The initial installation was in the fall of 2020 to prepare the site for the spring 2021 planting season.  Summer and Fall 2021 were largely successful with many goals reached and lessons learned.  Arlington County extended the agreement for another year, and in 2022 Project HUG aims to increase the amount of food produced and double outreach efforts to engage the community.

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Livability22202, National Landing BID and Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club each contributed 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. Most significantly the garden is managed by volunteer members of the community who are given the autonomy to manage the garden as their own.

The small-scale Highlands Urban Garden demonstrates 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.

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