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In Her Own Words: News from Downtown Greens

Landowner: Sarah Perry Location: Fredericksburg, VA Protected Land: 2.78 Acres

By Sarah Perry, Executive Director, Downtown Greens

In this moment of uncertainty one thing is certain: this 2.8 acre urban greenspace will remain a refuge for city dwellers and wildlife in perpetuity thanks to the conservation easement we have with the Land Trust of Virginia. Downtown Greens offers a park-like resource that is open to the public from sunrise to sunset for regeneration, solace and nutrition in an ever-changing, stress-filled climate.

We are aware of the fact that many People of Color don’t always feel comfortable or safe in all outdoor spaces due to the legacy of National Park segregation and the pervasive racism that continues to exist in this country. It is our mission to find solutions for equity in our section of the world.

The goal for our youth programs is to teach kids early in life that nature belongs to us all, no matter the color of your skin. We want them to associate the land with safety and comfort, because they need to know that they have the right to be outside, to love nature, to watch birds in parks, and to go out for a jog without feeling threatened or scared. Time spent in greenspaces has been shown repeatedly to be beneficial to mind and body by: decreasing stress and anxiety levels, decreasing depression and other mood disorders, lowering heart rates, encouraging exercise and decreasing noise and air pollution.

We usually provide garden-based educational programs that teach more than 300 local youth from preschool to highschool where food comes from. The pandemic hit right after we planted rows of snow peas and scattered radish seeds with Head Start and Virginia Preschool Initiative preschoolers in their school garden. While we didn’t finish the school year with them in person, we sent home a newsletter so they could show their parents some activities we completed together earlier that year. We also filmed a tour of the garden so that the kids could catch a glimpse of the red shoulders of their little radishes peeking out of the ground.

Our Youth Farm Program for third through fifth graders, which we normally provide on-site, has been cancelled for this season; however, we are still farming their 3,500-square-foot garden and will be delivering to our participants the food they would have taken home, which some families came to anticipate as a supplemental food supply.

Our new, 254-square-foot “Take What You Need” Community Solidarity Plot is located next to the public bus stop on our property and planted with vegetables suggested by community members. It is our way of providing our most vulnerable community members with a hyper-fresh supplement to emergency food services right in their community.

Downtown Greens is a park-like space with educational garden plots on the edge of downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia and is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. We are a nonprofit that relies solely on contributions from individuals and community grants, rather than federal, state or local government money. As a community greenspace, we are also reliant on volunteers to help maintain the space and the educational gardens.

If you like what we do and would like to contribute financially or otherwise to our mission, please get in touch: Visit our site to learn more: Follow what we’re up to: on Facebook (Downtown Greens, Inc.) and Instagram (downtown_greens).


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