Strasburg approves community garden spot

STRASBURG — The Town Council voted in a work session on Monday to allow staff at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District to create a community garden on part of the town’s park.

The garden will be initially funded through a $50,000 grant that the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District received earlier. Most of the funds from the grant will go toward paying for the salaries of people working on the community garden project.

But around 10 percent of the funding will go toward paying for fencing and other materials required for creating the garden.

During Monday’s meeting, Alison Sloop, conservation specialist at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, described the community garden project as a largely educational endeavor. As an example, Sloop pointed to the fact that water for the garden will come from water collected off a roof.

In a place like Strasburg that often runs into drought problems, Sloop said she can use this collection method to educate people on how to conserve water.

“It would be a great opportunity to show that, yeah, we have a limited amount of water, but how can we use the water in a way that’s effective,” Sloop said.

But the garden also has a more practical purpose. A large portion of the fruits and vegetables produced in the garden are likely going to be donated to local food pantries or homeless shelters.

Sloop said she wasn’t certain about many of the details of the community garden. The Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District has delayed much of its decision-making until after the Town Council voted to approve the use of town land for the project.

The grant the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation received for the community garden only covers salaries during the first year of the project. Sloop said that after that first year, volunteers would need to maintain the land.

Sloop said that the district has come up with ideas for how they would get enough volunteers to maintain the garden.

“We’ve also talked about doing things like volunteers who come in, if they log a certain number of hours, they get free produce,” Sloop said. “And that’s a big incentive to get people to come into the garden and maintain it.”