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:

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Thank You Volunteers



This past Saturday FUN, in partnership with Food for Others, constructed a vegetable garden consisting of 10 raised beds and started our first annual vegetable garden at Peace Lutheran Church. FUN will grow vegetables this season but will surrender the gardens next year and serve as an overseer for gardening families from Parklawn Elementary School.

Heartfelt thanks and a collective hug to all of those who showed up on this beautiful, hot, spring day and worked so diligently to get everything accomplished. We had over 25 volunteers, including many students from Justice High School, who  were driving screws, assembling beds, installing  beds, shoveling 10 cubic yards of soil, pounding fence posts, and installing fencing.

FUN is so grateful for all of our volunteers! Believe us as we let you know how much we appreciate your enthusiasm and genuine dedication. Thank you for your incredible performance, your time and talents are priceless.

Wholehearted thanks to Food for Others for providing the lumber, screws, soil, and fencing. Your acts of kindness may be small but your impact on the community is huge. FUN cannot overstate how proud and grateful we are to work with you.

To all of those who showed up and all of those behind the scenes, we thank you for a successful event. Every drop of your sweat will go towards providing food for those in need, right here in our own community. All of the food produced in these beds will be donated to Food for Others, who will distribute it through their food bank / food pantry systems.

Watch the status of the garden as we post updated pictures on our website!



Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Strawberry Fields Forever


At the end of April, FUN transplanted the beginnings of a strawberry patch on the side of a hill at First Christian Church. These 60 plants are the start of FUN’s First Food Forest.

Strawberry Patch at FCC
From design to inception, the planning phase of a food forest takes time. It is important to observe the native ecosystem, to determine which plants thrive and how they interact throughout the growing season. To best understand the site you must scrutinize the soil, the climate, the water movement, the wildlife, the topography. Site surveys have been completed every 2 weeks from the start of spring and will continue to the end of fall.

As FUN introduces food producing plants into the ecosystem we will have done our research, giving the plants the opportunity to flourish year after year and become a vital part of the vegetation. Food Forests are sustainable, regenerative sources of food. 

Here’s to strawberry fields forever!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Field Trip or should I say Forest Trip


On Sunday April 7th, FUN had the pleasure of touring Forested (http://www.forested.us/ ) under the guidance of our food forest experts, Ronnie (a founder and director of FUN) and Christine. Forested is a ten-acre research forest garden, located in the middle of suburbia. Its practices will serve as the foundation for the food forests we plan to install on each FUN site.
The Entrance to Forested
Food Forests are ecologically savy food producers, giving us fruit, nuts, berries, herbs, and mushrooms in a sustainable way. Forested is a thriving, growing agroforest, proving that food production can be successful with limited impact on the environment. It is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with food cultivation when working with the native ecosystem instead of against it…the diversity and abundance of edibles was amazing.

FUN is excited about establishing food forests at each of its sites and putting into practice the concepts of permaculture. Thank you Forested for the very educational tour!

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, tur...