BLM revitalizes community garden at Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area

LORTON, Va. -- BLM Eastern States Lower Potomac Field Station staff recently began rejuvenating the community garden at Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area located in Lorton, Virginia. The garden has had diminished use for the past several years. Staff cleared weeds, tilled soil, and planted more than 24 varieties of vegetables and pollinator-friendly flowers.

Meadowood SRMA staff are seen planting items in a community garden.
Lower Potomac Field Station staff plant vegetables in the community garden.

Originally established in 2017, the Meadowood community garden flourished with regular attendance. However, visits declined during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lower Potomac staff noticed that the garden was in need of revitalization. In April 2024, Park Ranger and Virginia Master Naturalist Casey Cate, alongside expert home gardener enthusiast and BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Ryan Jackson, coordinated efforts to revive the community garden.

The newly revitalized garden serves as an initial gateway to the array of offerings at Meadowood. Visitors can learn about environmental education programs and volunteer opportunities. Starting at the community garden, visitors can access a diverse trail system, traversing gently sloping open meadows, mature hardwood forests, and reaching freshwater ponds and streams. Meadowood is also home to two national trail segments: the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail.

3 BLM Rangers are seen in a community garden, smiling as they plant vegetables.
Lower Potomac Field Station staff plant flowers and vegetables in the community garden at Meadowood.

Numerous recreation opportunities are available at Meadowood including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife observation, and geocaching.

Lower Potomac staff use the garden to host hands-on outdoor classroom environmental education programs. Staff guide visitors and Junior Rangers through the entire plant life cycle, from seed germination to seedlings to enjoying the harvest at the dinner table. Connecting people with public lands through hands-on gardening is not only educational, but it is also deeply fulfilling.

“We want this garden to be a welcoming space for everyone,” said Cate. “By giving the garden a little boost, we believe it can thrive once again.”

4 shovels are seen resting against the side wall of a community garden, as a BLM ranger waters the garden in the background.
Park Ranger Casey Cate waters new plantings at the Meadowood SRMA community garden.

Not only did staff re-open the garden for visits, but it is now fully open to the public for tending and harvesting existing crops, as well as claiming a space of their own to cultivate plants. With ample sunlight and daily watering by Lower Potomac staff, the garden is ideal for growing pollinator-friendly flowers, vegetables, and herbs. The BLM team has dedicated themselves to their work, ensuring that a diverse array of plants await visitors at the Meadowood community garden, including:

  • Six different varieties of tomatoes
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Cayenne, banana, and jalapeno peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Pollinator-friendly flowers and marigolds
  • Various herbs including basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and lavender

Staff plan to introduce more pollinator-friendly flowers, along with cultivating watermelons and pumpkins.

Newly planted flowers and vegetables are seen in the community garden.
The community garden at Meadowood

For anyone interested in helping the garden grow, seeds and starter trays are available. The community garden is located directly behind the main office. We hope to see you there!

For more information on Meadowood, click HERE

Sam Cox, Park Ranger, Lower Potomac Field Station

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