Arlington, VA

Garden space at Arlington Public Schools is being used to grow produce for local pantries.

When schools closed for the academic year in March, the seeds were planted for victory gardens to grow in the place of classroom gardens.

Now, fresh produce like lettuce, peppers and tomatoes fill soil at Wakefield High School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Hoffman-Boston Elementary and Tuckahoe Elementary.

APS is partnered with Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA) and Virginia Tech’s Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension to maintain these gardens and organize volunteers.

“The community response has been amazing,” Emily Landsman, an FOUA board member, said in a press release. “The garden coordinators and school communities wanted to continue growing even though the schools were closed. To date, we have recruited over 70 volunteers and several Master Gardeners to assist the APS Garden Coordinators, and have donated over 500 pounds of fresh produce.”

The gardens were created as food pantries face the loss of key volunteers and the D.C. region sees increasing amounts of people in hunger as the area’s economy struggles.

FOUA’s goal is to grow 2,500 pounds of produce to donate to local food pantries. Area pantries where food is being donated include those at Bon Air Baptist Church and Columbia Baptist Church.

Local pantries have also received over 2,500 pounds of fresh produce from growing efforts in residential neighborhoods, churches and schools, according to FOUA.

For those who want to donate, Rock Spring Congregational church accepts produce donations on Mondays and Thursdays from noon-2 p.m. and Clarendon Presbyterian Church is holding a monthly food drive to help Arlington’s homeless population.

FOUA is currently seeking experienced volunteers to help in the gardens for one to four hours a week.

Photos via Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture

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