Friends of the National Arboretum puts on second annual Fall Festival
Event brought DC together to learn and buy from local, sustainable businesses
Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) displayed how residents come together to celebrate nature and promote sustainability during its second annual Fall Festival and Bulb Sale.
FONA is affiliated with the U.S. National Arboretum and works to promote environmental research and education. Its board of directors, partners and local volunteers work hard to preserve the allocated land, educate the public about the environment and hold events like the festival year-round.
The U.S. National Arboretum serves as a research institution, public garden and museum exhibit, featuring greenery from all over the world. Admission to the garden is free to the public, providing an accessible green space for D.C. residents. This is possible due to FONA’s many partners, including The National Bonsai Foundation, DC Beekeepers Alliance, FoodCorps and more.
FONA seeks to expand on this accessibility by hosting events that promote their values of learning, collaboration, solidarity and joy. They have collaborated with 52 local organizations to bring fresher food to their community and to help keep their land and resources healthy.
Walking into the event, visitors were met with a long table featuring various plants and flowers for sale. Signs explained what type of plants were good for different types of environments.
The environment of the event was family-oriented and engaging. Each booth had complimentary dog treats for visitors with pets and amiable workers who were happy to explain more about their craft and their products. There were multiple booths set up with different environmentally friendly products, including local businesses such as Mushroom Gardening, The Rounds and DC Bee Honey.
The Rounds is a delivery service focused on eliminating single-use plastics by providing a “delivery service with reusable and sustainable containers that deliver right to your door,” according to The Rounds Brand Ambassador Whitney Johnson.
Although purchasing items that were for sale was a large part of the event, vendors also encouraged a community-building space. There were stations promoting early environmental education where children could make colorful paintings and learn about sustainability.
The festival also promoted local environmental organizations. Multiple booths highlighted the Washington Youth Garden, an organization created by FONA and supported by the U.S. National Arboretum to educate children in under-resourced neighborhoods about growing their own food.
Last year was the Washington Youth Garden’s 50th anniversary. FONA released an annual report of their progress for the public. As of 2021, almost six thousand pounds of produce was harvested and donated. More than two thousand grow-at-home kits were shared with D.C. students.
The Fall Festival and FONA served as a chance for the D.C. community to learn about and advocate for nature preservation. Though this is only the second year the Fall Festival has taken place, it is clear that this is an event that the community values.