After a week of dumpster diving for cardboard and "stealing" leaves off of the roads of Alexandria...We have started work on the gardens at Arcadia!

I never knew how excited I could be to see worms! We have broken ground on the gardens and I was ecstatic (and surprised!) to see the dirt teeming with life. While the soil is clay, it's a good sign to see dozens of worms squirming their way through and aerating the soil.

The grass sod in the area that will become the gardens in the spring has proved a challenge-- even my gas-powered tiller didn't stand a chance against the grass and clay soil (note: grass is evil. grass lawns are over-rated). After battling with my digging fork for two afternoons, my sore shoulders were telling me it was time to bring in some bigger machines. Thanks to some farm friends with a heavy-duty tractor, the ground will be tilled next week and we'll leave it to the winter snow to permanently get rid of that grass!

Not all the plots will be tilled, however, and I chose to "lasagna" mulch one of the plots to stifle the grass. With the help of badass volunteers from Neighborhood Restaurant Group (a special thanks to the kitchen from Birch and Barley!) we got a huge piece of land under cardboard, shredded leaves and woodchips (hence the dumpster diving and leaf-stealing). While this area will be wet come spring, it will be the perfect spot to plant late summer crops!

Thanks to an amazing donation of compost from Vale Inc. in Alexandria, VA, we also have rich black compost to add to the soil and start building up the plant-friendly nutrients for the spring!

Late fall is a beautiful time at Woodlawn and while I know the winter cold and snow is on its way, I am already excited for all the possibilities of spring! I can't wait to see the first seedlings in the ground...


Vices That Made Arcadia!

Whew... what a party! Vices That Made Virginia was by all accounts a wild success and helluva good time. The bourbon was flowing, the band was rocking, and the food was delicious. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group chefs really outdid themselves and put out a feast of local food fit for kings. And with over 500 people in attendance, a feast it certainly was!

The live auction was a hit and raised over $13,000 for Arcadia, which will go a long way to getting our farm up and sprouting by springtime. The lucky auction winners bagged a farm supper at Arcadia, a 4-star dinner with Post food critic Tom Seitsema, dinner for 12 by Chef Tony Chittum in Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey House, cooking classes with Chef Will Artley... and even a live heritage breed pig!

Here are some of our favorite pictures from the night (courtesy of the marvelous Sarah Bernardi). To see all the rest, check out our Flickr page.