Last spring, when the pandemic caused food insecurity in Fairfax County to increase drastically, Erica Meadows and her husband Scott Walters knew they wanted to do something to help.
They decided to use their small garden to grow fresh produce for families without enough food. When a neighbor heard about their plans, he offered to let them use his garden plot at Nottoway Park so they’d have more space.
“My husband and I felt it was important for families to have fresh produce and we knew that was something we could contribute,” Erica said. “But, we started the garden so late, it was June, and I had trouble finding seeds.”
Erica and Scott turned to the community for help. They reached out to the Vienna VA Plant Swap Group on Facebook asking for donations, and the gardeners delivered.
“Everyone responded so generously—almost everything we grew last year was donated by the community,” Erica said.
At the end of the season, Scott and Erica’s garden had produced more than 300 pounds of produce for families in need.
To maintain the garden, they had help from the Young Men’s Service League, a service organization that gives young men and their moms opportunities to volunteer together.
“One of my favorite parts of running the garden was that a lot of the boys developed a real love for gardening,” Erica said. ‘I’d hear kids say “when I grow up I want to have a garden like this” or “I want to be a farmer.’”
In the winter, Scott received the news that he was terminally ill and passed away shortly after. He asked Erica to continue the garden and their mission to provide healthy foods to food insecure families in our community. Erica named their garden the Scott Walters Memorial Garden.
This year, Erica and the Young Men’s Service league volunteers hope to produce 500 pounds of produce to donate to Food for Others.
“I’ve been thinking about the concept of gratitude, which my husband was so big on,” Erica said. “When people wanted to send meals to us, he was like “well we already have everything we need, we’d rather give a meal to a family that doesn’t have food.”
“I’d just let people know that there’s something you can do to contribute,” Erica said. “Even if your farm is one pot on one balcony, you can contribute.”
If you have excess produce from your garden, you can donate it to families in need at the Food for Others warehouse, 2938 Prosperity Ave, M-F between 9:30 and 5. No donation is too small; produce is one of our most requested items. Herbs are welcome, too.