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What Can You Grow On A Rooftop in Arlington?

When moving into a small living space, growing crops seems like a faraway possibility.

Local company Love & Carrots wants to prove otherwise.

As a part of Arlington’s “Urban Agriculture Month,” on Friday, October 11, Love & Carrots hosted a public tour of their ordinarily private rooftop garden at the Ten at Clarendon apartment complex, where they taught visitors how to successfully grow vegetables in their own homes or apartment buildings.

During the tour, Carly Mercer, director of garden programming for Love & Carrots, debunked common issues with urban farming, including a perception that it’s difficult to do well.

“A lot of it comes down to frequent watering, pest control, and maintaining a deep enough level of soil,” said Mercer.

Many urban gardeners who grow herbs out of their balcony, she said, plant them in shallow pots that, unbeknownst to most, require watering every one to two hours.

But growing plants on a rooftop also comes with its faults, Mercer added.

“We can’t grow crops on a trellis, so things like grapes are out of the question. And with heavier winds, we had to rule out heavier produce — a butternut squash once went flying off of a rooftop.”

Across the D.C. area, Love & Carrots creates garden spaces for schools, non-profits, residences, restaurants, and residential communities. Every other week, Love & Carrots gardener stops by to help maintain the plants. The company is growing as local interest in urban agriculture blooms.

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Their space at Ten at Clarendon provides apartment residents with a monthly share of the produce, and every other week, a Love & Carrots farmer lays out fresh harvests in the lobby for all residents to enjoy.

Additional urban agriculture activities throughout the month include a screening of the movie “Growing Cities,” and open garden tours through the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

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The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.

Former participants have this to say:

_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._

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