Over 100 enthusiastic gardeners turned out for Plot against Hunger’s Spring Garden Kickoff on Saturday March 2 at Central Library. After welcomes from Becky Halbe, Puwen Lee, and Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall, the opening plenary featured Samantha Kuhn and Mike Smith from the JK Community Farm in Loudon County. A charitable outreach program sponsored by JK Moving Company, the farm used volunteer labor to harvest over 30,000 pounds of sustainably-grown fresh produce in their first year, all donated to local hunger relief programs.
One set of breakout sessions focused on techniques of special interest to Arlington’s urban and suburban residents. “Growing in the City” covered permaculture and rooftop, balcony, and indoor gardening. The second set, “How and Why We Grow for AFAC,” featured presentations from AFAC gardens at Reevesland Learning Center, Walter Reed Annex, First Clarendon United Methodist Church, and Lang Street Community Garden. Sue Howell, a backyard gardener, shared her secrets for raising more than 1000 pounds of produce a year for AFAC.
Other AFAC gardeners offered mini-lessons in planting techniques: seed starting, lasagna gardening, winter sowing, and growing microgreens and potatoes. There were also hands-on opportunities to paint rain barrels and learn how to transplant basil, kale, collard, and cabbage seedlings (all grown by local volunteers). The Virginia Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia ran a help desk to field gardening queries.
Attendees were also able to browse information tables hosted by Arlington County Recycling, Marymount University’s Food for Thought Club, Arlington’s Friends of Urban Agriculture, Fresh Impact Farms, Edible Landscapes, and Plant NOVA Natives. Plot against Hunger gardens signed up many new recruits. Many people left with donated vegetable seeds to kick off their own AFAC gardens this spring. Overall, this was the Plot against Hunger program’s most successful garden kickoff ever, and AFAC looks forward to benefiting from the bounty of volunteers’ harvests later this season.