REWILD, a trendy D.C.-based plant shop, has sprouted a second permanent location in Ballston Quarter.
The shop held a “soft opening” yesterday (Wednesday) and has a grand opening set for this Saturday, Oct. 23, with “goodies and special stuff happening,” co-owner Lily Cox tells ARLnow.
The shop first announced its expansion earlier this year, but the opening at 700 N. Randolph Street, Suite #190 has been delayed several months due to supply and material hold-ups.
Cox tells ARLnow the Ballston location was a natural choice, as a big chunk of REWILD’s customer base at its Shaw location came from this side of the Potomac.
“When we started offering delivery service, we found we were doing a lot of deliveries to Virginia,” she says.
The Ballston location will be much like the one in D.C., except a bit larger. It also includes a storefront and delivery service, and will eventually hold workshops.
Like many businesses, REWILD suffered at the start of the pandemic — it shut down for some time and sales dipped by up to 20%.
But this past summer, REWILD sales rose by about 50%, which Cox attributed to the store’s expanded offerings, including more deliveries, consultations and commercial clients.
“Offices have been contacting us because they want plants in their space,” says Cox. “Having plants in the office environment has been proven to boost productivity and [employers] are trying to make the office more enticing.”
Also, in general, people are also investing more into their at-home spaces, she notes.
When Cox opened the first REWILD three years ago, her initial mission was to create “a plant shop that was immersive and interactive.” Now, she says it’s more about education and working with customers to make sure they make the right purchase.
“We have real conversations with our clients about what plants would work best for their space and their lifestyle,” she says “So, they don’t have these horror stories about plants they killed.”
Cox originally got into designing plants as a hobby outside her 9-to-5 job in D.C. She says working with greenery kept her in touch with her West Coast roots. That hobby grew into crafting, workshops and selling plants out of Shop Made in D.C. It was then, three years ago, that she connected with co-owners Joseph Ressler and Kyle Cannon to open REWILD.
To Cox, plants show change and evolution. As REWILD expands, there’s an obvious analogy.
“You see the leaves, you see them add a few more inches of height, or grow in new directions,” she says. “It’s just exciting.”
Arlington officials are asking residents to keep an eye on the Bon Air Rose Garden in Bluemont after a brazen bush burglary.
“Last Thursday, about a dozen rose bushes were removed from Bon Air Rose Garden,” Susan Kalish, the Public Relations Director for the Dept. of Parks and Recreation, told neighborhood leaders in an email yesterday. “It’s sad enough when someone cuts a bloom or two, but this act of vandalism is very disheartening.”
“As you know, Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden is a cherished Arlington institution with more than 120 rose varieties,” Kalish added. “Can you help us by asking everyone to report suspicious activity to the Arlington County Police Department non-emergency number 703-558-2222 or call us at 703-228-6525. This sort of vandalism should not be tolerated in Arlington.”
One civically-involved Arlingtonian who forwarded the email, which was then forwarded to ARLnow, called the caper “more criminal craziness.”
“Probably a good idea to keep an eye out for plants in other Arlington parks,” she wrote. “These looters may not yet be done.”
If your outdoor plants are especially delicate, you might want to cover them or bring them inside today.
A Frost Advisory is in effect for early morning Friday, as temperatures in Arlington are expected to dip into the 30s overnight. Arlington is on the edge of a Freeze Warning, in effect for Fairfax County and other points north and west.
Buckle up for another cold night! Lows will fall into the low to mid 30s. A freeze warning has been issued for the areas in purple with a frost advisory for areas in blue. Regardless, if you have plants you're worried about cover them or bring them indoors! pic.twitter.com/5GqQM5HHks
— Amelia Draper (@amelia_draper) April 22, 2021
More from the National Weather Service:
1203 PM EDT Thu Apr 22 2021
…FROST ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 9 AM EDT FRIDAY…
* WHAT…Temperatures in the middle 30s are expected to result in frost formation.
* WHERE…Portions of central and southern Maryland and northern and central Virginia east of Interstate 95, including Washington DC and Baltimore MD.
* WHEN…From 2 AM to 9 AM EDT Friday.
* IMPACTS…Frost could kill sensitive outdoor vegetation if left uncovered.
Take steps now to protect tender plants from the cold.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.
When Arlington resident Michael Morgan suffered an anxiety attack, he had no idea that the source of his recovery would one day become a business.
The attack was a slow burn. Morgan started feeling unsteady on his feet and a few months later, he could not get out of bed.
After seeking therapy, he realized his physical state stemmed from business and personal troubles: smarting from two startups that sank, due to legal and financial missteps, and reeling from his father’s recent cancer diagnosis.
He said the attack “was 100% related to the entrepreneur life” while the diagnosis “hit me like a ton of bricks.”
Morgan, a biochemist, has a green thumb, and his first steps outside his house were to his backyard, where he healed through gardening. He did not intend to turn his hobby into a company but his friends saw his gift and spotted the business opportunity. This year, Morgan launched Shimo, an organic gardening kit for novices with a little space.
Sustainability runs like a vein through his three ventures. Morgan’s last two ventures included a sustainable phone and Everblume, a hydroponic appliance that nearly made it to the business-launching TV show Shark Tank.
But unlike these two, Shimo grew more organically, he said.
“Entrepreneurs will often start by creating a product and finding customers,” he said. “This time, it was the customer saying, ‘I think you have a good product.”
Shimo takes Morgan back to the root of gardening, too.
“When you think about growing food, it’s really that simple: soil, seed, water, sun,” the biochemist and entrepreneur said. “Why over-complicate it?”
The kit ($50-$60) ships to customers’ doors and includes 100% organic soil, seeds, plant food and a grow bag made from recycled material. Morgan said Shimo makes growing food less intimidating for newbies.
“People ask me, ‘Why is this unique?'” he said. “I tell them, ‘Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot one weekend, go to the Lawn and Garden Center, and then tell me where you’re going to start. There are thousands of seeds and fertilizers to choose from. Then, they get it.”
Families can grow delicious lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and more for as little as two dollars per harvest, which he said could be a boon to people who live in food deserts.
The bags and the soil will last several years and the recurring costs are just new seeds, fertilizer and an annual soil amendment, Morgan said.
“Shimo uses the concepts we’ve used for several thousands of years and puts a spin on it for an urban or suburban environment, where people don’t have space or access to land, but still are interested in growing their own fresh food,” he said.
With his bounty, Morgan said he has pickled unripe cherry tomatoes to use in martinis instead of olives, made sage sticks and lavender oil, and is working with a D.C.-based mixologist to craft a cocktail using the flowers from mustard greens. He is compiling these ideas and other tips and tricks for his website’s blog.
Ultimately, Morgan aims to cultivate a community of micro-homesteaders around Shimo. He envisions people swapping knowledge, experiences, stories, as well as their own recipes and DIY ideas.
“I know it’s cliché, but when you think about agriculture, society, and history has been, it has always been community-driven,” he said.
Photos courtesy Shimo
An urban farming movement growing across the country already is “booming” here in Arlington, supporters say.
“There is absolutely a boom,” said Rebecca Carpenter, founder of Arlington startup Sprout which installs backyard gardens and trains people in how to grow their own produce. “I feel like it is everywhere across the country but I feel it more so in Arlington because folks here are pretty health conscious, progressive.”
Crops can be grown in urban environments in several ways, including rooftop gardens, vertical farms, and green walls. In Arlington, officials say community gardens are one of the most popular methods.
There are 379 Arlington residents who grow fruits, vegetables, or flowers in community gardens, and another 628 on waiting lists, according to Urban Agriculture Coordinator Kim Haun of the county’s parks department. That’s after the county added space for 150 more gardeners over the last three years.
“More and more people are realizing the benefits of urban farming,” said Haun. “It creates a sense of belonging, just check out a community garden on a weekend, the gardeners are family.”
Fertile Soil in Arlington
Officials told ARLnow that a combination of demographics and development opportunity make the county fertile soil — so to speak — for community gardens, and green roofs. And beekeeper Brad Garmon said these same resources made the county an ideal home for bee businesses. Either way, everyone who spoke with ARLnow reported increases in the number of people seeking agricultural training and resources.
“I would say it’s definitely been an increased interest. We’ve witnessed our membership levels increase substantially over the past year,” said Matt McKinstry, a board member of the Arlington-based Friends of Urban Agriculture (FOUA.) He said 100 new people joined the organization last year, bringing membership totals to around 500.
“Millennials, the 20 and 30 somethings, are becoming aware of food production and the effects of industrialized agriculture,” said McKinstry. “And they’re curious to understand where their food comes from and how they can both support their local economy and as well as find healthier food options.”
According to program leader Kirsten Conrad, there are 230 people in Arlington certified with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program — up from the usual cohort of about 200 people.
“I think there’s a much better understanding of the value of the native plants and supporting our birds and insects,” said Conrad of the changes in recent years.
Community gardens in Arlington have blossomed over the past decade: from the Glebe Community Garden, which is assessable for gardeners with disabilities, to the Walter Reed Garden, which is tended by senior citizens and teenagers, to the Reevesland Learning Garden, which teaches Ashlawn Elementary students about growing lettuce.
Haun with DPR said there is no data on the number of private homeowners or businesses who have their own plots, but the county is aware of 57 private plots throughout Arlington that people use to farm crops for the Arlington Food Assistance Center, which collected almost 100,000 pounds worth of locally grown fresh produce for its food bank.
Carpenter says people are also growing produce in their backyard — and increasingly, in their front yard too.
“If you do want to grow edibles you do have to get strategic about where you want to plant them,” she said. “And the front lawn is usually the best place to do that.”
This is because front lawns typically have more sun, are flat, and have easy access to a hose. Still some challenges remain: mature trees can make some yards too shady to grow crops, and hungry deer can cause conflicts.
While growing plants in one’s yard is perfectly permissible, a movement earlier this decade to spur the growth of another form of urban agriculture in Arlington came up short: proposals to allow backyard hen raising in more Arlington yards were largely shot down.
The backyard hen issue was taken up by an Urban Agriculture Task Force, led by John Vihstadt before he was elected to the County Board, and which later formed FOUA. Despite the hen proposal stalling, some of the task force’s short-term recommendations, presented to the Board in 2013, have since been implemented, including:
- Opening a garden tool lending library
- Expanding community gardens
- Year-round yard waste collection
One company looking to take advantage of all the buzz around native plants and insects is Charlottesville-based Commonwealth Bee Co.
Arlington is asking residents to submit nature photos in a contest for which locality can log the most nature sightings in urban environments.
The City Nature Challenge aims to create a database of animal and plates species using photos uploaded to the iNaturalist app by users in different cities worldwide each year.
This year, challenge runs from Friday to Sunday and Arlington is hosting hourly spotting events at local parks where participants can learn to use the app and log their nature observations.
“The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists are sponsoring a series of events and need your help to get better data about our environment,” said Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreations on its website, adding that participants can “help biologists understand the biodiversity of Northern Virginia by documenting the organisms” they find during the events.
Thirteen events are planned in Arlington throughout the weekend. The events planned for tomorrow (Friday) are:
- Barcoft Park from 10 a.m.-1 p.m, with a focus on looking for insects, fish, and more species.
- Benjamin Banneker Park from 2-4 p.m.
- Fort C.F. Smith from 8-9:30 a.m. spotting birds with naturalist David Farner
- Woodlawn Park from 2-4 p.m.
After the observation period closes, the challenge is inviting participants to help out between April 30 and May 5 to identify the species spotted, per the event’s D.C. area website.
Last year, the Greater Washington area entered as one region in the challenge and placed fifth among 68 competing cities, according to the parks department. However, the D.C. area was awarded fourth place for participation with 876 people in the region logging nature sightings in the app.
Image via City Nature Challenge
L.A. Bar and Grill Reopening — After closing for renovations (and because it was late in renewing its state alcohol license) Columbia Pike watering hole L.A. Bar and Grill is planning to reopen this weekend, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. [Facebook, Facebook]
The D.C. Case for the Rosslyn Gondola — “The Gondola will provide anyone within the Metro catchment area a faster trip to Georgetown. With the Gondola, the total travel time to Georgetown drops to less than 30 minutes for a much larger part of the region, including areas of the District with the greatest need for employment opportunities, giving them a faster way to connect with jobs in Georgetown.” [D.C. Policy Center]
Petition Against iPads in Middle School Cafeterias — An online petition, signed by nearly 100 people, seeks to have Arlington Public Schools strengthen its rules regarding iPad use in middle schools. Specifically, the signers want iPads to be used in classrooms and not during lunchtime or recess. Such a policy, the petition creators wrote, would “ensure that APS electronic resources enhance, and do not detract from, the learning process of middle school students.” [Change.org]
More ART Arrival Info Issues — Once again, Arlington Transit is having problems with its real-time bus arrival system. Officials told ARLnow.com that a technical issue with the contractor that provides the system was to blame. [Twitter]
Native Plant Sale This Weekend — The Long Branch Nature Center will host a sale of “plants that are accustomed to local climate and wildlife” on Saturday afternoon. [Arlington County]
Scott McGeary Lauded — “Decades ago, Scott McGeary’s parents would take him to occasional celebratory dinners at the Key Bridge Marriott, where they would enjoy both the food and the vistas of the nation’s capital… On May 2, McGeary was again at the hotel, this time in the 14th-floor ballroom as he was inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Dye Testing — Arlington County is conducting dye testing along S. Four Mile Run Drive today. Traces of green and red dye may be seen in Four Mile Run as a result. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington County is encouraging residents to get outside this weekend and help spot plant and animal species as part of the global City Nature Challenge.
The contest pits communities around the world against each other to identify as many plant and animal species as possible within their borders from April 27-30. Those participating are encouraged to use the iNaturalist app, which allows users to upload photos of plants and animals for the rest of the community to help identify.
For this contest, Arlington is classified within the greater D.C. area, and any species identification made within the county will count toward that group. Last year, the region placed seventh out of more than 75 global cities in the City Nature Challenge.
As a part of the challenge, county naturalists held a free guided walk this morning, and they’ll hold another one this afternoon from 2-2:30 at Gulf Branch Nature Center. Tomorrow (April 21) participants can learn how to use the iNaturalist app from 10-11:30 a.m. at Gulf Branch Nature Center. The free training is recommended for any nature enthusiasts at least eight years of age.
Fairlington Named ‘Top Value Neighborhood’ — Fairlington and Shirlington are together the No. 3 “top value neighborhood” in the D.C. area, according to real estate website Trulia. No. 1 is University Park in Maryland and No. 2. is Kingman Park in D.C. [Curbed]
Market-Rate Affordable Housing Disappearing — In 2000 there were 19,740 homes in Arlington affordable to those making 60 percent of Area Median Income. That dropped by 86 percent, to 2,780 units, by the end of 2016. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Focused on Opioid Abuse — Yesterday the Arlington County Police Department “participated in a discussion on regional law enforcement efforts aimed at reducing the growing heroin/opiate epidemic.” There are at least three addiction treatment facilities in Arlington and ACPD “strongly encourages substances users and their family members to seek assistance.” [Arlington County]
Native Plants Return Thanks to Management of Invasives — “Native plants are on the comeback trail in Arlington – particularly along the W&OD Trail in Bluemont and Glencarlyn parks. Last month Dominion Energy mowed green space beneath powerlines along the trail, helping the County manage invasive plants like Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose.” [Arlington County]
Amazon Buying Whole Foods — Arlington’s two Whole Foods stores, in Clarendon and Pentagon City, will soon be owned by Amazon.com. [CNBC, Wall Street Journal]