WASHINGTON YOUTH GARDEN

OVERVIEW

Washington Youth Garden (WYG) is a one-acre education garden at the National Arboretum and is a destination for garden-based education and nature play. It was originally established in 1971 to teach local elementary students horticulture and life skills. Today, Washington Youth Garden is a welcoming and inviting place for the DC community to learn and grow together. 

Our goal is to share innovative and environmentally-friendly growing techniques, encourage nature play, and grow fresh produce for the community. WYG’s pollinator garden, sensory garden, food production area, and Nature Explore classroom encourage visitors of all ages to engage with agriculture, farming, and environmental education. Thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in WYG each year, all of which are distributed to students and families in the DC community to fight food insecurity.

GROW THE GARDEN: FENCE RENOVATION

Washington Youth Garden’s new perimeter fence is complete! We are very close to reaching our matching goal to complete fundraising for Phase II of our Grow the Garden campaign. We have about $9,000 left to raise to meet the $60,000 dollar-for-dollar matching challenge.

Donate today and together we can grow the garden. Whether it’s $15, $50, or $500, every donation makes a difference. Your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by two anonymous supporters.

The new perimeter fence:

  • Makes the garden more inviting to youth and families
  • Creates a visible, central entry point to the garden by adding a front entrance
  • Incorporates honeycomb elements to make the fence more visually interesting and engaging than the existing chain link fence
  • Continues to keep out deer, raccoons, and groundhogs
  • Expands the growing space by 1/3 acre

We are hosting a Grow the Garden Party on Saturday, June 8th from 11 AM to 1 PM in the Washington Youth Garden. Join us to celebrate all the donors and work that made this project possible! This is a free event that is open to the entire community.

*Donations are for the entire Grow the Garden campaign and do not count towards annual membership.

wyg garden redesign map

Click the map to view in full screen, or click here for a downloadable version.

Campaign Phases

FONA is committed to providing excellent youth education at the National Arboretum. Each phase of the Grow the Garden campaign helps us make the Washington Youth Garden more engaging, accessible, and productive for future generations.

Anonymous

May 23, 2024

Amount Donated
$11

Anne McGarvey

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Rachel Unkovic

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$100
in memory of Ruthie Mae U.

Claire Alrich

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Allison Taylor

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$52

Anonymous

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$16

Elizabeth Rossman

May 22, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Viona Zhang

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Bryan Chippeaux

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$258

Joseph Compofelice

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Samantha Alvis

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Nzinga Tull

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$258

Paula Zimmerman

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Kaifa Anderson-Hall

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$25

Grace Denman

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$50

Samantha Trumbull

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$52
in honor of Emmett and Nalo T.

Anthony Treubrodt

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Katie Maloney

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$25

John & Genevieve Sandoval

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Janani Perera

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$15

Lauren Sharrock

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$16

Joan Melville-Kohls

May 21, 2024

Amount Donated
$100

Catherine Kerkam

May 20, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Beatrice Dermer

May 20, 2024

Amount Donated
$129

Leandra Nichola & Adam Dorius

May 13, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Pamela Raymont-Simpson

May 11, 2024

Amount Donated
$155

Ann Yuan

March 27, 2024

Amount Donated
$200

JEAN LANGE

March 4, 2024

Amount Donated
$500

Progress Toward $60K Matching Gift

March 3, 2024

Amount Donated
$49,977

Anonymous

March 1, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Thomas Kapfer

March 1, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Leslie Sharp

March 1, 2024

Amount Donated
$52

Alexis Hazen

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Charles Dhysr

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Anonymous

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$52

Kate LaTour

February 29, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Susan P Thompson

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Katherine Benjamin

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

John Albert

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$52
in honor of Virginia A.

Leanna Fenske

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Nancy Luria

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$103

Anonymous

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$5

Candy Kessel

February 14, 2024

Amount Donated
$26

Sofia Gardenswartz

February 5, 2024

Amount Donated
$11

Eric Hansen

December 31, 2023

Amount Donated
$250

Jan McCarthy

December 31, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Susan Chapin and Joel Cohen

December 29, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,878

Linda and John Derrick

December 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$5,000

Maura Nakahata

December 24, 2023

Amount Donated
$52
in honor of Eleanor S.

Jonathan Coopersmith

December 21, 2023

Amount Donated
$200

Niraj Ray

December 14, 2023

Amount Donated
$200

Elizabeth Dugan

December 8, 2023

Amount Donated
$325

Capitol Hill Community Foundation

December 7, 2023

Amount Donated
$3,000

John Sanford Kemper

December 7, 2023

Amount Donated
$250

Michael Bujold

December 7, 2023

Amount Donated
$15

Marcel LaFollette

December 6, 2023

Amount Donated
$258

Eric Michael

November 30, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,000

DAVID MOLLITOR

November 30, 2023

Amount Donated
$180

Luke Dickinson

November 30, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

John Healey

November 29, 2023

Amount Donated
$50

Carolyn Peery

November 29, 2023

Amount Donated
$155

Nadia Shebaro

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Craven Rand

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$5,150

Janet Nuzum

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Melissa Stahl

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Maura Allen

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Bernard Foster

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Catherine Robbins

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Inas Anderson

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$50
in honor of Brody Nathan M.

Marcel C. LaFollette

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Lee Coykendall

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Laurel Cullen

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$16

Hans Wien

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Dorothy Woodcock

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,030

Anonymous

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Michael Stevens

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$258

Ursula Kondo

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

withers horner

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Elissa Feldman

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

John Strand

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$309

Linda Lee

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$26

Kay Glenday

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$250

Cecilia Carroll

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$26

Angela Domanico

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$103
in honor of FONA S.

Austin Pedersen

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$21

Mary Frase

November 28, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Diann McGarvey

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$258

GAIL CHARNLEY ELLIOTT

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,236

Bill and Donna Roberts

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$1,030

Jeanne Connelly

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$100

Matthew McClellan

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$50

Lesley Conroy

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Nadia Mercer

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Maryam Trowell-McCloud

November 27, 2023

Amount Donated
$16

Kari Rowe

November 25, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

Mark & Cindy Clark

November 16, 2023

Amount Donated
$500

Maura Allen

November 16, 2023

Amount Donated
$103

ellen mack

November 15, 2023

Amount Donated
$26

Annetta Kushner

November 14, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

Avis Black

November 14, 2023

Amount Donated
$52

WYG’S STORY

In 1971, the Washington Youth Garden Council and the DC Department of Recreation broke ground at the U.S. National Arboretum. This established the fourth Youth Garden site in DC to teach elementary school students horticultural and life skills.

In 1973, WYG partnered with neighboring elementary schools to create the Garden Club for 3rd-5th graders. It operated as part of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation as an established community garden for children from local schools and DPR camps until 1996.

historic photo of students tilling soil in the washington youth garden
historic photo of students taking notes as they walk through the washington youth garden

In 1996, due to DC budget cuts, Friends of the National Arboretum adopted Washington Youth Garden. It became our youth education and outreach program.

Adding a second full-time staff member in 1999 allowed WYG to significantly expand its programs.

In 2000, WYG started working directly with school gardens by establishing the Garden Science program, an 8 week plant science unit offered in classrooms at Title 1 schools. This program offered more formal horticulture science curricula than its predecessor, the Garden Club.

The Science Programming Reaching OUT (SPROUT) program was introduced in 2002 to bring Garden Science students on field trips to WYG.

Growing Food Growing Together started for families to learn gardening and cooking skills in their own plots at WYG.

In 2007, WYG instituted its summer internship program for college students.

We greatly appreciate the National Capital Area Garden Club’s crucial support during this time in our history which allowed WYG to flourish.

historic photo of students holding bunches of kale in the washington youth garden
historic photo of students on a field trip in the washington youth garden

In 2010, our garden staff grew to 3 full-time members. We began installing school gardens in conjunction with Garden Science, and led the development of the DC Healthy Schools Act that dedicated state resources to horticulture education for the first time. WYG served 1,000 youth this year.

The Green Ambassador Program was established in 2013 for DC teenagers to gain experience in green careers through a paid summer internship.

In 2017 WYG hosted 4,200 students from 130 schools and camps on SPROUT field trips, marking the first year we served 6,000 youth.

The Summer Institute for Garden-based Teaching began in 2018 and the Green Ambassadors Program solidified its multi-tiered model.  

While the COVID-19 pandemic halted all in-person programs in 2020, we adapted to make our program supports more flexible and tied to our partner school’s needs. In 2020, we introduced the Educator Coaching Program to provide hands-on assistance and instruction to teachers throughout the school year. This program now serves 8 to 12 Title 1 DC schools annually. 

Washington Youth Garden now grows over 7,500 lbs of food annually for distribution through our partner schools and community partners. It remains a hub for young people, teachers, and families to learn about how they can grow food in their schools and homes. Through all our youth programs, FONA serves over 7,000 students across the District.

Washington Youth Garden green ambassadors with the day's harvest

VISIT THE GARDEN

The garden is open to all Arboretum visitors and has parking nearby. There are also picnic tables between the Grove and the garden on a first come first served basis. Please follow our three garden agreements during your visit:

  1. Stay on the path
  2. Pick with permission
  3. Respect all living things

If you plan to bring a large group to the garden, please let us know ahead of time so we can plan accordingly. While WYG is a public garden, the school field trips we host from April through October receive priority. Please email education@fona.org or call 202-544-8733 so we can find a time that works for everyone.

Use the map to the right to navigate to the garden within the Arboretum. Click on “View larger map” to open in Google Maps.

VOLUNTEER

Looking for a fun way to give back to your community? Want to spend time outside getting your hands dirty and connecting to nature?  Interested in a unique team activity for your company or organization?

Volunteering at FONA’s Washington Youth Garden might be the perfect fit for you! Volunteers provide crucial help with gardening tasks such as weeding, planting, mulching, and pest control. You don’t need prior experience, but you must be willing to make friends with the soil and the bugs!

washington youth garden corporate volunteer group in front of the capitol columns

OTHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS

FONA hosts many other education programs at the Washington Youth Garden and in partner schools across Washington, DC.

The School Garden Support Program works with educators across DC to build strong, sustainable school garden programs. Our program empowers teachers to connect students to garden-based education through field trips in Washington Youth Garden, virtual classroom support, and professional development opportunities for DC educators.

The Green Ambassador Program provides year-round employment and development opportunities for DC high school students. Youth enter the program in the Farm Crew and progress to become Crew Leaders, staff, and alumni.

Kids attending a SPROUT field trip in the Washington Youth Garden
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