Tuesday, September 29, 2020

BEE HAPPY GARDEN...at last!

Mark, Eagle Candidate
The past Saturday, thanks to Mark, fellow Scouts from Troop 875, friends and family, the first 10 beds of FUN’s vegetable garden were installed on the front lawn of First Christian Church. In 3 hours, this amazing group of people constructed 10 beds, put them in place, filled them with umpteen wheelbarrow loads of soil, and covered the paths with mulch.  We are beholden to Mark who chose this as his Eagle Project and grateful for all those who participated.

Officially named the Bee Happy Garden, FUN has already planted spinach, kale, collard greens, lettuce and carrots. Although it is too late in the year to harvest these this fall, they will survive the winter and thrive in the spring.

Volunteer Crew
There are plans for expansion at this location. The finished garden will contain 22 raised beds, paved pathways and high-sided beds for access by those who use wheelchairs. You know all about our beehives (hence the name of the garden) which have been very productive at this site. There are also plans for a small food forest on the hillside near the garden.

Thanks to all of you who helped our dream become a reality. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Bailey’s Crossroads for their financial support. Thanks to First Christian Church for the land, donations, and dedication to feeding the hungry. Thanks to Mark, Troop 875, friends and family for your sweat equity. All of your contributions will help provide food for those in need, right here in our local community.



Friday, September 4, 2020

Don't worry, BEE happy!

Sarah with a portion of the honey harvest.
Sarah with a portion of the honey harvest!


Last September FUN told you about the installation of their first beehive at First Christian Church and the importance of bees in food production. This past July, FUN’s beekeeper Barbara harvested our first batch of honey! FUN was thrilled to donate the honey to the Dar Al Hijrah Mosque food pantry. We are very excited to have expert pollinators on site with our next adventure – a soon-to-be-built 22 bed garden. And we have the added benefit of our own honey factory which can spread sweetness to others. The bees were so busy (pun intended) that it was necessary to expand into a third hive. Thanks Barbara!

At Peace Garden, we had a very successful summer growing food. From April to August, over 500 pounds of food have been harvested, with donations going to the Crossroads@Columbia Spend Yourself Food Pantry and Annandale Christian Community for Action Food Pantry.


The most FUN we had this summer was in our corn patch. We tried 2 of the 3 sisters method of planting, growing corn and green beans together. Pole beans use the corn stalks as supports and functioning as nitrogen fixers, convert this mineral into a form that plants can extract from the soil. 
The corn has been harvested, the beans are just starting to fruit.


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

FUN in the Sun

Zucchini, cucumbers, and crookneck squash.

 Our summer harvest is looking beautiful, a bountiful production of crookneck squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and of course tomatoes. But, we are most excited about the one bed of corn and looking forward to August when the ears are mature.


Zucchini
The first of the tomatoes have turned red. The zucchini is hiding among its leaves, one squash was discovered yesterday that weighed 8+ pounds. The cucumber vines are out of control. All good signs for a garden in July.

Corn








To add to the production at Peace, FUN is growing food at Columbia @Crossroads Food Pantry, the site of our produce donations. We have planted green beans, both bush and pole varieties, along with the last of the tomato and eggplant seedlings that were rescued from the compost pile. The FUN never stops!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Springtime FUN


FUN planted a fall harvest in September, a bit too late to enjoy the crops that season. But thanks to the mild winter - lettuce, kale, turnips, carrots, peas, and cilantro survived and thrived in our warm, rainy spring. We harvested 45 pounds of food in April! We look forward to another growing season at Peace, and donating the beautiful bounty the gardens produce.

Kale

Leaf Lettuce

Snow Peas
Cilantro

Turnips
Due to COVID-19, our plans for a large garden on the grounds at First Christian Church this summer were put on hold. Construction on the beds will begin in late summer, early fall. We are eager to get started at FCC and look forward to planting crops on this site in the fall.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

FUN Summer Crops


FUN had a very successful summer season at Peace Lutheran gardens, despite the fact that nothing was planted until June. We managed to grow 355 pounds 12 ounces worth of produce which included: tomatoes – zebra, roma, green stripe, grape, cherry and beefsteak - cucumbers; green beans; zucchini; tromboncino; jalapenos; green peppers and radishes. If Mother Nature cooperates, we will have a fall harvest of lettuce, kale, peas, turnips and carrots. 


All of the vegetables harvested by FUN were donated to a local food pantry.

Next year, FUN will serve as overseers for this garden, working with families from a nearby elementary school to teach them how to grow their own food. We have already begun planning for 2020 and are extremely excited to help bring fresh, healthy, “home-grown” produce to people in our neighborhood.



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

FUN with Bees

Beehives at First Christian Church

Bees are one of the most beneficial animals in the world. As pollinators, they play an essential role in food production. According to the FDA, over 90 crops depend upon pollination by bees. In the US, over 35% of our food crops rely on bees to grow and thrive. Their benefit as pollinators help to improve crop production and increase yields, which in turn promotes food security and healthy diets. The pollination action of bees help to sustain native habitats, promote plant diversity, and provide sources of food for both wild and domestic animals. For all of these reasons, FUN is thrilled to maintain beehives at our food production sites.

FUN is very fortunate to have its very own apiarist. Barbara, a co-founder of FUN, is a beekeeper and maintains hives in her own back yard. FUN was a recipient of beehive equipment through the Beehive Distribution Program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Some of those hives now reside at First Christian Church (FCC), FUN’s future site of a food forest and annual vegetable garden.

In May, Barbara installed the hives at FCC and secured the donation of a “nuc” - a nucleus hive that included a mated queen, nurse bees, eggs (or future bees) and plenty of food. By the end of the first month, the queen laid enough eggs and the forage bees had collected enough pollen and nectar to add another box with 5 more frames. In June, FUN added a second hive to FCC’s backyard. This hive also expanded enough to add a second box. Over the summer, the forage bees collected nectar and pollen from plants to convert into honey and stores for the winter. Barbara checks on the hive’s progress every few weeks and will prepare the hives for the colder weather to ensure the hives’ survival into the Spring. The honey stays in the hive for the first year. If too much of the hives’ stores are removed, the bees will starve over the winter. It will be harvested next July and donated to a local food pantry.

The recipients of honey are sure to enjoy the nutritious, natural and sweet addition to their diets. Eating a spoonful of local honey is known to reduce the negative effects of allergens on sufferers. Recent studies have found that the highly processed sugar and artificial sweeteners in many of our foods is detrimental to our health.  Honey is a natural sweetener. People love to spoon honey into their tea, oatmeal and baked goods!

If you would like to support the hives at FCC, please consider a donation through the Donate page on our website. 

If you have questions about the hives at FCC, please contact us through the Connect page on our website or email us at FUNgardenFC@gmail.com.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

FUN Co-founder Featured in NorthernVirginia Magazine

Ronnie @ WEeFarm (photo by Christin Boggs Peyper, NorthernVirginia Magazine)

Ronnie, a co-founder of FUN, was featured in the July NorthernVirignia Magazine

Our expert permaculturist is also the founder of WEeFarm34, an employee supported garden focused on wild, local, and naturalized plants that encourage a healthy ecosystem and an outdoor life. FUN is very proud of Ronnie and all of her accomplishments. She is an invaluable asset to the success of FUN.

Read all about Ronnie’s amazing endeavors at this link:

BEE HAPPY GARDEN...at last!

Mark, Eagle Candidate The past Saturday, thanks to Mark, fellow Scouts from Troop 875, friends and family, the first 10 beds of FUN’s vegeta...