New rules could put community gardens on Tysons rooftops, but if you have a green thumb and can’t wait that long, there are two community gardens in the area where you can start planting.
One is in the back corner of Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road) in McLean and the other is at Nottoway Park (9537 Courthouse Road) in Vienna.
To rent a garden plot in Fairfax, you must be a resident of the county with a valid mailing address and email address. Residents can sign up for a waitlist for multiple parks, but only one plot is permitted per household.
The annual rental cost of most garden plots is $130, which includes access to a shared water supply.
Dick Black has been gardening at Lewinsville Park for around eight years after retiring.
“It’s a lot of work, but I consider it a workout,” said Black. “I’ll come out [and garden] instead of going for a run.”
Black grows tomatoes, arugula and other vegetables to give to neighbors or for his wife to take to work.
For those planning to get started, Black reiterated that growing a garden is a commitment. Locals should make sure it’s something they’re willing to put the sweat and time into. But if they decide that they are, Black said growing a garden is an extremely fulfilling experience.
“I still get joy after seven or eight years,” Black said. “[It’s about] going in with the right attitude.”
There is currently a waitlist for garden plots, though new regulations could soon open up more spaces throughout the county. The regulations adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 25 allow community gardens in a wider variety of residential, commercial and industrial properties than previously allowed.
According to the Fairfax County website:
Previously, the county’s zoning rules limited community gardens to planned residential communities like Burke or Reston. These gardens now are allowed without restriction in open spaces as long as they are under two acres, and they aren’t the principal use on a property… Now, fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and plants can be grown from the rooftops of office high-rises in Tysons to opens spaces at houses of worship to the common areas of suburban homeowners associations.
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.
We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Wednesday (June 19)
- Kiki’s Delivery Service at Angelika Film Center — 7 p.m. at Angelika Film Center (2911 District Avenue) — As part of their Studio Ghibli summer festival, Angelika Film Center will be screening Kiki’s Delivery Service — the anime classic about a young witch striking out on her own — on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Thursday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $14.50.
Thursday (June 20)
- The Boro Summer Kick Off — 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at The Boro — Boro Tysons is hosting a summer kick off event with food trucks, music, lawn games and “puppy therapy.”
- Summer Reading Party — 7-8 p.m. at Bards Alley (110 Church Street NW) — The Bards Alley bookstore in Vienna is hosting a summer book party with finger foods and lemonade available. Booksellers will be in attendance sharing their favorite summer reads.
- Vienna Stories Book Talk — 7:30 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE) — Marie Kisner, a former public information officer for the Town of Vienna, collected newspaper stories about Vienna into a new book called “Vienna Stories 1950-2000.” Kisner is also planning a book signing at the Freeman Store on Saturday, June 22, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Friday (June 21)
- Echosmith at Tysons Corner Center — 3:30-9:30 p.m. at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — HOT 99.5 and Tysons Corner Center are hosting a free concert with the band Echosmith. The show is scheduled to start for 6:30 p.m. but attendees are encouraged early to grab a seat.
Saturday (June 22)
- Daylily Walking Tour — 10:15-11:15 a.m. at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court) — The Northern Virginia Daylily Society President Janice Kennedy will lead a walking tour through the gardens showing the daylily collection including a few award-winning varieties. The tour is free and those participating in the tour will have free admission.
- Georgia Peach Truck — 12 p.m. at Merrifield Garden Center (8132 Lee Highway) — The Georgia Peach Truck is planning to roll into Merrifield at noon on Saturday with beaches brought up from Georgia available to be purchased by the box. One 23-25 pound box is $45.
Sunday (June 23)
- Providence Democrats Unity and Summer Solstice Celebration — 4-7 p.m. at Nouvelle Apartments (7911 Westpark Drive) — Following a crowded Democratic primary that saw Dalia Palchik voted as the Democratic nominee for the vacant Providence District Board of Supervisors seat, Providence District Democrats are hosting a buffet and silent auction fundraiser with the nominees and the other candidates. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP early.
Photo via Meadowlark Botanical Gardens/Facebook
(Updated 4 p.m.) Fairfax County wants to make it easier for locals to garden and for farmers markets to operate.
As the county gets denser, residents are finding new ways to get in touch with their green thumb. A series of zoning changes planned for discussion at tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Planning Commission meeting would loosen restrictions around gardening and farmers markets.
The proposals would create a new “community garden” use in the zoning code. These gardens could be located on either the ground floor or rooftop and could be considered common open space by right, meaning no additional zoning requirements would be required for approval.
According to the staff report on the amendment:
By expanding the definition of open space to include community gardens, homeowners or condominium associations will be able to establish community gardens subject to the proposed use standards… Similarly, the proposed amendment permits non-residential developments, such as places of worship, office, and other commercial and industrial developments, schools, et cetera to establish community gardens by right as accessory uses in open space, subject to the proposed use standards.
Analysis of community gardens by Fairfax County showed that most occupy less than two acres of land, but gardens proposed above two acres could still be approved with a special permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The changes also remove a restriction that only allows gardens on side or rear yards of single-family residential lots. Gardens could be allowed in front yards, provided they are no closer than 15 feet to the front of the lot and limited to 10 feet squared in area.
The zoning changes would also loosen up restrictions on farmers markets. Currently, farmers markets are a temporary special permit with what the report calls “significant restrictions.” They are currently only permitted to sell seasonal or perishable produce between April and November and only on lots that front arterial streets.
But the report recognizes that farmers markets have evolved substantially since those regulations were written and have expanded the to food beyond just produce.
The new regulations would permit farmers markets for two-year periods and allow year-round operation. The markets would also be allowed to operate away from major roads, a rule that the staff report said half of the existing markets ignore anyway.
The only restriction on merchandise at farmers markets would be that items for sale must be farm products or products derived from a farm, like salsa using ingredients from a farm.
The changes are planned to go to the Board of Supervisors on June 25, and if approved, could take effect by 12:01 a.m. the day after adoption.
“Staff believes that this amendment provides a balanced approach to providing easier access to fresh, healthy food to residents in all areas of the County,” staff said in the report, “while ensuring that the uses of community gardens, farmers markets, and residential gardening are established to be good neighbors.”
Photo via @claire_brunette/Instagram
Northern Virginia is home to an astonishing variety of native species of trees and shrubs, and now you have an opportunity to grow your own.
Fairfax County’s annual Native Seedling Sale will be taking place today, Friday April 5, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and tomorrow, Saturday April 6, from 9 a.m.-noon. The event will be held at the Sleepy Hollow Bath and Racquet Club, at 3516 Sleepy Hollow Road in the Falls Church area.
Note that the pre-sale period has ended, so there’s no guarantee that the plant you want will be available — or even that any plants will. However, the county website states that “We often do have extra packages or individual seedlings for sale on the pickup days (April 5 and 6).”
This annual sale helps local residents beautify their gardens with indigenous plant species that “help cleanse water, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat, cool our climate and clean our air.”
This year’s theme is “Incredible Edibles,” so be prepared for plants that delight the tongue as well as the eye.
The plants include seedlings of pawpaw (Asimina triloba), a tree native to a wide swatch of the greater Appalachian region. It bears a delicious fruit which was recently highlighted by National Public Radio’s The Salt as “the hipster banana”.
Other selections include the American wild plum, the American elderberry, the black chokeberry, the American Hazelnut, and the flowering dogwood (Virginia’s state tree).
The packages cost only $12.50 or $17.50, depending on contents, and are easily transportable in a car — though the organizers recommend you bring a small bucket, basket, or doubled-up paper bag.
Map via Google Maps
UrbanStems may be gone from the BrandBox pop-up, but those looking for a little more greenery around Tysons Corner Center can look forward to a new “indoor garden oasis” coming to the mall this weekend.
According to a press release:
Guests can wander the garden featuring a variety of tulips in different shapes and colors, all hydroponically grown in the USA. The flowers can be picked and purchased with 10 percent of proceeds benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the local charity handpicked by Tysons Corner.
The Field of Tulips garden is scheduled to be in place from March 22-24. The garden is free to enter and is open from 10 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. on Sunday, according to the press release.
Photo via Tysons Corner Center