Since 1974, at the corner of S. Glebe and S. Lang St. in Arlington, VA, there has been a community garden standing where houses, stores, and a church used to stand before they were torn down by constant flooding in from Four Mile Run.
After all of the flooding, the county realized this was not a safe place for buildings, so they tore down the houses, converted some of the land into park space, reserved some for future water treatment facilities, and the rest was given to county residents for a community garden.
The members of the neighborhood immediately called for a meeting, elected officials, drew up bylaws, and split the land up into 25 garden plots.
By 1980, the flooding had stopped due to the Army Corps of Engineers widening Four Mile Run. By 2000, there were 30 plots in the garden and the county purchased land adjacent to the garden for more space.
With this growth of land and subsequent reduction in size of other individual plots, the number of plots rose to 60.
In 2008, the garden purchased two large sheds, two large picnic tables, and a charcoal grill on a concrete foundation. The garden has everything they need at the moment, but they are always looking for funding and people to help keep their garden clean.
“We have all the resources we need from gathering them over the years,” Assistant Chief Gardener Joy Bickelhaupt said.
Last year, the garden expanded even more when they purchased a neighboring property. This expansion added about 30 new plots, but with all the property around the garden being claimed now, it looks as if they have expanded enough.
Right now, residents of the neighborhood occupy 103 plots in the garden and they can grow whatever vegetable or plant they want, as long as they follow all the bylaws provided by the officers of the garden.
The only restriction of this garden is no fruit trees, but members are growing every kind of vegetable you can imagine along with blueberries, strawberries, and grape vines.
Bickelhaupt has been a member since 2015 and what she loves most about the garden is its therapeutic value.
“It is very relaxing to sit under the sun,” Bickelhaupt said. “It’s a community. We all share ideas, seeds and produce. We talk and have group beautifying sessions and potlucks. Everyone is so friendly and we all support each other.”