Garden Dirt

It’s Spring! Get Ready for GardenFest!

Two sisters, Corey and Caitlin, run a custom container gardening business. In addition to being a vendor at GardenFest, they are donating an arrangement to the Charles Hill Raffle. (Photos courtesy Rachel Lazarus)

Alexandria, VA – Del Ray has a new spring festival! GardenFest is coming to Mt. Vernon Ave on April 24. This event will be hosted by the Del Ray Citizens Association at Being Creative Field (2207 Mt. Vernon Ave), run from 12 pm-5 pm, and will surely ring in spring the right way.

With lots of local vendors—the Power of Produce Kids Club (PoP), the Beverley Hills Garden Club, and Greenstreet Gardens, to name a few—GardenFest will allow anyone the opportunity to buy plants or learn more about them, discover new ways to care for them (yes, even if you live in an apartment without a yard), and even find some new things to love, like beekeeping, composting, master gardening, and more!

Rachel Lazarus, Activities Director for Del Ray Citizens Association, said about the festival, “I had the idea because I love gardening. It feels like all my neighbors love gardening. I went to the committee and the rest of the board and asked, ‘Am I crazy? Does this work?’ Everyone said that this makes a lot of sense.”

The wildlife sanctuary at Audubon at Home, another vendor slated to be present at GardenFest.

As you may know, Del Ray’s hugely popular Art on the Avenue is a fall festival, but nothing was scheduled for spring. Lazarus saw this as the perfect place to put GardenFest.

The Fest is also a fundraiser for the local Charles Hill Scholarship Fund. “A lot of the work that the Del Ray Citizens Association does has to do with fundraising for local events and charities, like the Women’s Shelter last Christmas,” Lazarus says. “We have been contributing to the Charles Hill Scholarship Fund of Alexandria for a while. We donate through the home and garden tour most of the time, but it became clear that [the tour] wasn’t going to happen. So we wanted to keep the funds flowing, so we needed to think creatively about how to do that. We came up with a couple of ideas, and one of them was GardenFest.”

They raise the money through a raffle. Upon entering the Fest, each attendee is welcomed with a chance to win the raffle. Raffle tickets are $5 each; the goal is to raise $2,000 for the Scholarship Fund. Area businesses will donate prizes.

It’s not just flowers at GardenFest! The Northern Virginia Beekeepers Association will also be a vendor at GardenFest, teaching all things beekeeping.

GardenFest itself is free of charge, so anyone enjoying the love spring day can swing through the vendor’s booths and enjoy the wonders of gardening. Space was arranged for the Fest by the Del Ray Citizen’s Association, generously lent by the owner of the lot, the former site of Being Creative.

On a serendipitous afternoon, Lazarus spoke with Del Ray Citizens Association President Tim Laderach at St. Elmo’s. They envisioned the event happening at Being Creative Field and strolled over to take a closer look. “We noticed the lights were on, so we knocked on the door. The owner came out, and we talked for a while and explained garden fest. He immediately said, ‘I’m in. It’s all yours.’”

So at noon on April 24 (the rain date is May 1), the gates of Being Creative Field will open to all. At the welcome table just inside the entrance, attendees will find materials introducing all the activities, which will be kid-friendly and educational. The full schedule will be posted in advance.

Sixteen vendors will be spaced out along the field’s perimeter for people to peruse at their leisure. River Farm will host a Plant Sale & Garden Market on April 8 & 9, leading up to their GardenFest appearance. Visit ahsgardening.org for more information on that event.

GardenFest will be at 2207 Mt. Vernon Ave, April 24, 12 pm-5 pm.

This year GardenFest will run from noon to 5 pm. Rachel Lazarus hopes it will become an annual event for all to look forward to. “We will design GardenFest as a fun activity to get people excited about being outside and gardening again. It will be a community-building effort after a rough winter. Everyone is pumped about this. We are all hoping this will be a fun and fulfilling activity for the neighborhood and a way for people to learn how to make their gardens whatever they want them to be.”

Everyone is welcome at GardenFest on April 24. If you can donate directly to the scholarship fund or need more information regarding GardenFest, message the DRCA Instagram at @delraycitizens, or visit delraycitizens.org.

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