N° 151 — May 24, 2023

Enjoy regular updates and insights from FONA, the U.S. National Arboretum, and our award-winning Washington Youth Garden.

Rejuvinating the Arboretum's Infrastructure

If you’ve been to the National Arboretum in the last few months, you may have noticed some major construction projects underway. A new, taller ornamental perimeter fence is replacing the existing one that encompasses the majority of the Arboretum. In addition to improving security, the new fence will also keep out deer, therefore reducing damage to valuable plant germplasm and collections. The project costs about $4.45 million, and was made possible by Congressional funding increases to the Arboretum’s base funds in 2018. Although the project has been in process for many years, construction began this spring and is expected to finish in June 2024.

The Arboretum’s Visitor Center roof is also currently being replaced. Protection is installed along the roof edges and above the building’s entrances to protect people and the koi pond from debris. The project costs about $2.3 million, with USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) headquarters funding the bulk of the project.

Finally, in accordance with the Arboretum's Core Framework Plan and prior master plans, the Arboretum is in the design phase for the long awaited new main entrance off of Bladensburg Road. The road cutout and intersection necessary for this new entrance were built by the DC Department of Transportation (DC DDOT) in 2005 with funding from Congress. However, current conversations with DC DDOT and the National Capital Planning Commission require additional studies and design parameters. Timing for this project has not been determined, but when it is complete, the Bladensburg Road entrance will serve as the primary vehicular entrance for visitors. It will ultimately decrease vehicular traffic to the R Street gate, making it safer for people living in the Arboretum neighborhood.

All of these projects represent major investment in the National Arboretum from both federal and local government. FONA has served as an advocate for the Arboretum at every step along the way with each of these projects. We will continue to bring our influence and knowledge to the table to ensure these projects cross the finish line and strengthen the Arboretum’s infrastructure as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2027.

Summer 5K

Our Summer 5K is just two weeks away! Sign up to run or walk the course on Saturday, June 3rd and enjoy the Arboretum in full summer swing.

Registration costs $55 (FONA members, use your discount code). The race features:

  • A secure course closed to all cars.
  • A DJ at the start/finish line to pump you up and cheer you on as you finish the race.
  • A professional photographer taking photos along the course. These photos will be shared with all participants after the race for free!
  • A yoga class for runners with Bluebird Sky Yoga at 9 AM after the 5K. The class costs $5 and is geared towards post-running recovery. Sign up when you register for the 5K.

Register for the Race >

Call for Event Volunteers

We're looking for volunteers to help with our upcoming summer events! We need volunteers for the Summer 5K on June 3rd to help hand out race materials, distribute water, and check in yoga participants. We also need volunteers to help with the Music in the Meadow concert on June 11th. Fill out our FONA volunteer interest form and we will reach out soon to learn about your availability.

Volunteer Interest Form >

Environmental Youth Summit

Last week, FONA's program team hosted a table at the Anacostia Environmental Youth Summit. This event brought together environmental educators from across the District, and hosted over 300 students from 10 different DC schools.

Students who visited FONA's table learned about cooking and nutrition through a cooking demonstration and taste test. They made fresh garden pesto using kale and garlic scapes harvested from Washington Youth Garden. Students even powered the blender with a smoothie bike to mix the ingredients! Since this event hosted many schools FONA does not usually work with, our team was excited to show teachers how easy it is to cook with students in the classroom.

Digging In: 'Ironing' Out Phosphorus

We recently sat down with Dr. Jake Shreckhise, Research Horticulturist at the National Arboretum’s nursery research center in McMinnville, TN, for our Digging In lecture series. Watch the recorded presentation to learn about his research and how container nurseries can keep phosphorus in pots and improve fertilizer efficiency.

Watch the Video >

Did you know FONA members get to participate live in Digging In events as part of their member benefits? We're lining up great speakers this year for this quarterly series — become a member today so you can dig in with the experts.

Become a FONA Member >

Upcoming Events

Summer 5K

June 3, 8 AM

Run or walk through collections in bloom, members use discount code

Register for the Race >

Music in the Meadow:

U.S. Navy Band

June 11, 2 PM - 3:30 PM

Afternoon concert in the meadow

Details & Registration >

Forest Bathing Walks

Various dates and times

Meditation and mindfulness

Upcoming Dates & Registration >

Yoga in the Grove

Saturdays at 10 AM

Find your flow with Bluebird Sky Yoga

Registration >

The Arboretum is open every day from 8 AM to 5 PM except December 25th.

Check Our Website for Full Details >

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Friends of the National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
FONA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization with the mission to preserve and enhance a vibrant public space and support experiential programming that instills a love of plants, nature and the outdoors in all who visit, while promoting the overarching research and education mission of the U.S. National Arboretum.

Since its inception, FONA has helped support the Washington Youth Garden, Capitol Columns, Flowering Tree Walk, horticultural and research internships, restoration of Springhouse Run, and much more.

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