Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a reception for the Fort Barnard Community Garden in Arlington Virginia. The garden works to contribute fresh produce to the Arlington Food Assistance Center, which helps needy families in the county. They have dedicate a plot to growing produce specifically for the center. Gardeners are also participating in the Plant a Row program, where they set aside a portion of there plot and grow seeds provided by the center. In total, the Fort Barnard garden donated over 700 pounds of fresh produce. This is a very important contribution because the Assistance Center mostly receives canned and packaged food and the fresh vegetables help provide a more balanced diet. Even cooler still, they have 3 beehives in their garden. I am jealous!
The Fort Barnard Garden was being recognized through the Giving Through Growing program from Woodbridge wines by Robert Mondavi. The program is run in partnership with the American Community Gardening Association and looks raise awareness and interest in gardening. As part of the program they are highlighting Community Garden Hereos and Allison Kindler, the chief gardener at Fort Barnard, was chosen as one of four being recognized across the country. As part of the recognition, Woodbridge is providing funding to improve the garden. It is being used to create raised beds, which make it easier to practice “square foot” gardening, and also purchase compost tumblers, making it a little easier to compost gardening waste. While Allison was identified as the spokesperson, it was clear that there was a real community around their garden and many people had contributed to make it the amazing place it was.
The reception featured vegetables from served up as crudite along with a nice selection cheese and delicious cured meats. It was held at the Zola Wine Kitchen, which if you haven’t been is a great place to grab lunch. They have a rotating lunch special and a variety of sandwiches. For the reception they also have a “Build Your Own Crepe” station where you got to choose various savory items to add to your crepe. I had flashbacks to the make your own omelet bar they had in college… ahh the memories! This was all accompanied by wine of course.
Candice Kumai is the “Ambassador” for the Giving Through Growing program. She was on the first season of Top Chef and currently has own show and just released her own cookbook. In addition to learning more about the Fort Barnard garden and the Program, I also learned that I probably don’t have what it takes to be on TV. Candice was amazing personable, relatable and fun, and made it seem like she had known everyone forever. She was also amazingly good at remembering names, something I am incapable of. I think I will stick with the blogging since it requires little social interaction. There are a number of her recipes up on the Giving Through Growing website, along with write-ups of the other Garden Heroes.