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Spring Into These Activities This March and April

Have you had enough of these February weather swings?  Ready to get outdoors more often?  Perhaps get rid of some cabin fever?  Fortunately, with Earth Day and spring just around the corner, there are numerous opportunities to visit and participate in some local festivals.  Below is a sampling of some in our region.  Go ahead, get out there and live a little more!

28th Annual Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival

April 21 – 22. Downtown Leesburg, Virginia.  Contact: Ida Lee Park Recreation Center at 703-777-1368 or visit

Historic Leesburg will once again be in full bloom as lush landscapes and gorgeous gardens fill the streets. On April 22 and 23 over 120 vendors will be featuring landscape designs, gardening supplies, outdoor living items, plants, flowers, herbs and so much more! Stroll through the streets and take in the sights and sounds of springtime. Whether it’s gathering ideas for your new outdoor patio, stocking up on gardening supplies, or searching for a perfect gift for the avid gardener in your life, this event will have something for everyone! The event runs from 10:00am-6:00pm on Saturday and 10:00am-5:00pm
on Sunday.

Festival goers can take a break from exploring the treasures vendors have to
offer by stepping inside the Beer and Wine Garden located on the Town Green. Here, they can relax and sample ice cold brews and wines from around Loudoun County and beyond.

The Flower and Garden Festival will also host two entertainment stages. The Main Stage, located on the Loudoun County Courthouse grounds, will feature acoustic performers all day on Saturday and Sunday. The music kicks
off on Saturday with local favorite, Gary Smallwood. This is a great place to sit under a tree, take in the tunes, and
savor a tasty treat from one of the many food vendors onsite.

The second stage is all about our younger festival attendees and is located in the Children’s Area. The Children’s Stage will feature interactive, live entertainment all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon. In addition to the entertainment, children can paint large wooden animal cut-outs, create a garden marker, or participate in one of the other crafts available in
this area.

91st Annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

April 27 – May 6.  135 North Cameron Street, Winchester, VA 22601; Phone: 540-662-3863

The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, a six-day festival held annually in Winchester, Virginia, is known for its many guest celebrities and events. The festival was first held Saturday, May 3, 1924, and was originally celebrated as a one-day event (although not held in 1942-1945 due to World War II). Features include a Grand Feature Parade, Firefighters’ Parade (first held on Thursday, April 18, 1929), a carnival and midway, luncheons, races, walks, dances, and concerts, as well as a field show competition which formerly gave out the Queen’s Cup trophy to the winner, starting with the original Queen, Elizabeth Steck.  Go to to learn more about the scheduled activities.

Springfest Fairfax

April 21. The Sully Historic Site, 3650 Historic Sully Way, Chantilly, VA 20151; Phone 703-324-5471.

This is Fairfax County’s official Earth Day and Arbor Day event. Once again Clean Fairfax welcomes Fairfax County Park Authority’s Healthy Strides Expo–workshops, vendors and activities to help us be healthier and happier. ”Healthy People-Healthy Planet.”  Over 75 vendors, exhibitors and food trucks will be at SpringFest–and admission is still FREE!  Learn about the great work ladybugs do for our gardens; ride a pony; try a fun run; participate in environmental crafts; check out the bees and the trees; consult with Master Gardeners; buy plants for your garden and MORE!

Entertainment includes: Food trucks; The Recycling Pirates puppet show; petting zoo; Touch-a-Truck; and more!


Farm to Table at Your Own Home – Join a CSA!

By Sarah McGowan

As the sun stays with us a little longer and days are warmer, many of us can’t help but think of summer cookouts and the good food that accompanies them.  One way to take full advantage of those perfectly sun-ripened tomatoes, sweet corn and crisp greens is to join a CSA (community supported agriculture).

A CSA provides “city-folk” with direct access to food produced by local farmers.  Basically, CSA shareholders pay for a “share” of vegetables for a set number of months (usually by season).  This cost allows the farmer to plan for the season, repair equipment, purchase seed, etc.  In exchange, each week shareholders receive a box of locally farmed, seasonal vegetables. Many CSAs also offer options to purchase locally produced meat, cheese, eggs, flowers, breads, and other goodies!

Each CSA is a little different, but there is usually a “host site” (this can be an individual’s home, a school, farmer’s market, etc.).  This is where the vegetable boxes are dropped off by a CSA representative and picked up by CSA participants. Your CSA will work with you to find a host site that is closest to your home to facilitate pick-up.  Alternatively, many farms offer CSA share pick-up at the farm itself.

Most CSAs also have different sized “shares” – full, half and even quarter shares – depending on how many individuals you are feeding and your budget.  Another option is to split the share with another individual or family if smaller shares are not an option.

Why would I participate in a CSA when I can just go to the grocery store?

The produce is fresh. The typical American meal travels 1,500 miles before it is consumed. That lettuce you just purchased was picked and stored up to 4 weeks ago. And how about that tomato? In the U.S., tomatoes can be picked and stored for up to 6 weeks. In order to transport our produce long distances, it is often picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport. Am I making you hungry? Conversely, the vegetables you are getting through your CSA have been picked the week you receive your box. Yum!

CSAs are more sustainable.
Remember that 1,500-mile road trip your veggies took to get to your plate? That trip contributes to your food’s carbon footprint.  Vegetables from your CSA box generally come from farms within 100 miles of its drop-off point.  Additionally, CSA vegetables are seasonal, meaning that you are not going to get a tomato in January.  Vegetable production accounts for a large percentage of a vegetable’s carbon footprint – think of the energy needed to heat and light a tomato hothouse.  By eating local and seasonal, you are cutting down on both transport and production emissions. Bonus: Your support also helps to keep the farmer’s small business sustainable!

It expands your palette. Garlicky scapes, Jerusalem artichokes, and stinging nettles – oh my!  While CSA boxes include common seasonal vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, etc., if you are lucky, you will get a few surprises. Initially, it may feel a little bit like playing Iron Chef each week, but most CSAs give you a list of what to expect in your box a few days before pick-up, which helps with planning – some CSAs even provide recipe ideas! As five-year CSA veteran (with kids), I have found that it has really pushed my family to incorporate vegetables into our meals that I would never have considered – with (mostly) very
positive results. 

It’s an opportunity to meet new people. Since most CSAs have a central pick-up point, it is not uncommon to meet participating neighbors at these pick-up points.  The question, “What do you usually do with all of these turnips?” is an easy conversation starter and you may find that you have a lot more in common than a turnip problem! Our gracious CSA host has also held potlucks for our CSA group and put those who are interested on a listserv where we can exchange emails regarding vegetable storage, recipes and food swaps.

Are you sold?

Interested in trying a CSA this summer?  Here are a few that cater to those living in Northern Virginia:

Fair Oaks Farm 

Aldie, Va.

Mollie Madison


$495 full share, 16 weeks; or flexible CSABucks program in which members choose produce, meat, eggs, flowers and more for pickup at farm shop

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Arlington, Chantilly, the District

Pickup at the farm: Yes

Great Country Farms

Bluemont, Va.

Mark Dewey


$499-$649 (depending on pickup
or delivery site), 20 weeks; delivery to homes or businesses in
Northern Virginia.

Pickup locations: Aldie, Arlington, Ashburn, Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Lansdowne, Leesburg, Sterling, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: Yes


Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative

Leola, Pa.

CSA department

717-656-3533, ext. 2

$599-$855 vegetable share, 26-week summer season; fall and winter seasons available; chicken, meat, fruit, flower, herb, bread, cheese and egg shares available. Cooperative of about 100 farmers.

Pickup locations: Arlington, Baltimore, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Columbia, Damascus, the District, Fairfax, Falls Church, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Great Falls, Herndon, Kensington, Leesburg, Montgomery County, Olney,
Potomac, Reisterstown, Rockville, Silver Spring, Springfield, Takoma Park, University Park, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: No

Polyface Farm

Swoope, Va.

Sheri Salatin


Pay-as-you-go buying club for meat (beef, chicken, turkey and pork) and eggs; monthly March through November. Delivery.

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Annapolis, Arlington, Ashburn, Centreville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Kensington, Laurel, Leesburg, Manassas, Occoquan, Potomac, Reston, Silver Spring, Springfield, Takoma Park

Pickup at the farm: Yes


Potomac Vegetable Farm

Vienna, Va., and Purcellville, Va.

Hana Newcomb


Full Share:  Three share sizes: mini ($25/week), regular ($34.50/week), robust ($46/week) 16 week summer share, 8 week autumn share Delivered shares cost $3/week more. 1/2 Share:  mini share is $25 per week, 16 weeks in summer, 8 weeks in fall. Either or both.

Pickup locations: Alexandria, Arlington, Burke, Falls Church, Fairfax, Herndon, Reston, Springfield

Pickup at the farm: Yes


Spring House Farm

Lovettsvile, Va.


$220-$672 for three-month, meat-only shares (bi-weekly delivery).

Pickup locations: Arlington, Ashburn, Centreville, the District, Hamilton, Leesburg, Vienna

Pickup at the farm: Yes


Willowsford Farm

Ashburn, Va.

Michael Snow


$729 large share, $513 small share, 27 weeks; vegetable, egg, prepared food items, flower, chicken, milk and other shares available, as well as weekly pre-orders for all farm stand items. Additional delivery sites may be available.

Pickup locations: Aldie, Ashburn

Pickup at the farm: Yes


Slug Lines Come to I-66 Corridor

Slug lines, or informal carpool rider pick ups, have been used in the DC area for decades.  Most of the slug line activity revolved around use of the I-95/I-395 corridor, whereby “drivers” would pick up “riders” to enable them to use of the HOV lanes.  The riders would typically be dropped at the Pentagon or along the route that the driver would take to his/her place of employment.  Most riders would be picked up at park & ride lots or at bus stops.  Riders get a free ride and the driver gets use of HOV lanes and has a faster commute.

Now that I-66 HOT lanes are operational, a whole new slug line culture is emerging within this corridor.  In fact, a website has been developed with information on where and how to take advantage of I-66 slug lines.  This information is reproduced below.  Slug on commuters and take advantage of this win-win situation for drivers and riders alike!

Reproduced from I-66 Slug Lines.

Slugging is a unique form of commuting, different from carpooling; driver and rider(s) are dynamically matched at the slug pickup location based on their destination. Slug lines assist drivers by reaching the two person HOV requirement to avoid tolls, and rider(s) get a free ride. We have about 10,000 commuters along I-95 corridor using this unique form of commuting. With the conversion of I-66 HOV lanes to toll lanes, about 14,000 clean fuel vehicles lost their exemption to travel on I-66 during peak hours. After a month of coordination and communication with I-66 commuters, we came up with few accessible pickup locations. We still have to run it through the local government and other organizations. Most of the afternoon slug lines are co-located with the existing slug lines in DC. Slug lines grow organically and depending on the demand and convenience, locations may be added or modified by the commuters.

How do they work?

The driver pulls into one of the many known locations for slug lines, where riders line up.

The driver holds up a SIGN or rolls down the window to CALL OUT his/her destination.

Riders first in line head to the driver’s location get into the car and off they go!

East bound morning slug lines:

1. Vienna Metro South KnR 9550 Saintsbury Dr, VA 22031

2. Fairfax Govt. Center PnR 12000 Govt Center Pkwy VA 22035

3. Stringfellow PnR 4734 Cochran Pl. VA 20120

4. Cushing PnR 7312 Cushing Rd. VA 20109

5. Herndon-Monroe PnR 12530 Sunrise Valley Dr. VA 20191


West bound afternoon slug lines: Virginia:

1. The Pentagon 179 S Rotary Rd. VA 22202

2. Rosslyn 1901 N Moore St, VA 22209

Washington DC :

1.Foggy Bottom 23rd St NW & I St NW bus stop

2. 15th & NY Ave 1445 New York Ave NW,
DC 20005

3. 19th & F St 554 19th St NW DC 20431

4. L’Enfant Plaza 679 D St SW, DC 20024

5. Navy Yard 300, M street SE, DC 20003

Looking to coordinate rides?


Have questions?

Post them at:


  • Confirm destination
  • Say hello and thank you
  • First come, first served
  • Feel free to pass a rider or a ride
  • Buckle up and drive safely
  • Roll up the windows,
    maintain room temp
  • Keep it clean for the ride:
    body and car
  • Play acceptable news or music
  • Drop off at the pickup location
  • Keep your phone conversation short  (less than 2 minutes)
  • Do not force conversation
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke
  • Riders do not operate the car
  • No personal grooming in the car

The Quest for the Perfect Summer Camp

Lake Drummod. Photo credit: John Henley. Virginia Tourism Corporation.

It’s hard to believe, but those long, lazy days of summer are just around the corner!  While the summer months can conjure up nostalgic memories of relaxed, school-free days, they can also be a challenge for parents who work, or who are looking for ways to keep their kids engaged and active as the summer wears on.

Luckily, in the DC-metro area, there are a variety of camps available that range in price and cater to different interests. With so many available options, keeping a few things in mind can help you find the perfect camp for your child:

What interests your child?

This is probably the most important question to answer. With so many themed camps to choose from, it helps to think about the types of topics and activities that interest your child.  Some camps are very focused. Would your child be happy playing soccer or basketball every day? Is your child happier playing indoors or outdoors? As a camp instructor, I witnessed more than one unfortunate mismatch between camp and child. Picture a kid who is fearful of worms and finds fishing boring at a camp where that was the activity all day,
everyday – this actually happened.  The camp, aptly named “Fishing Camp,” was a dream come true for most of the kids, but perhaps the parents of this young man didn’t realize to what extent the kids would be fishing, or thought he would “warm-up” to the sport.

Do your homework. If you can, talk to someone who has a child who has previously attended the camp. If you have any questions or uncertainties, call the camp director.  And, by all means make sure your child is part of the camp decision process.  By the way, STEM camps are all the rage right now, so if that is something that interests your child, be sure to sign
up early!

Sleep-Away Camp?

Most overnight camps are offered to children starting at about seven years old. Camps range from high-adventure (think ziplines, white water rafting and horseback riding) to performing arts-focused to traditional camps that touch on a little bit of everything. Once again, think about what interests your child.  You might also want to consider accommodations – is the camp single sex or co-ed? How many kids attend the camp? Do campers spend the night in tents or cabins? These types of details can make or break a camper’s experience.

Day Camp?

When we hear “camp,” many of us think of the traditional “sleep-away” camp, but there are many exciting day camps to look at too. Day camps are typically offered to children beginning at four years old. Similar to overnight camps, think about the theme and camp size.  While many day camps offer a variety of activities, there are a number of specialty camps focusing on sports, the arts, nature, etc. Additionally, you want to think about transportation – is busing an option, or will you need to drive your child each day?  Do camp hours coincide with work hours, or do they have an aftercare program?  You may also want to inquire about lunch options for your child.


The following are more resources to help you and your child make some decisions about how to spend a week (or eight weeks!) of their next summer.

Week-long day camps are offered through the Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William County Parks and
Recreation Departments.

With zoology, soccer, fishing, gymnastics and chess camps (to name a few), there truly is something to fit every child’s interests.

Fairfax County:

Loudoun County:

Prince William County:

For a comprehensive listing of private day and overnight camps, check out Washington Parent’s 2018 summer camp guide:

The American Camp Association has guides on how to choose and prepare for camp, as well as comprehensive information on topics like camp accreditation, the value of camps and camps as an industry:


Dulles Matters: New International Routes from Dulles in 2018

By Rob Yingling

Good news for travelers looking for a long-distance getaway: Cathay Pacific will offer nonstop flights four times per week from Dulles International Airport to Hong Kong beginning September 16. The airline’s new Airbus A350-1000 will enable the 7,085-nautical-mile route to become the longest flight serving either Dulles or Hong Kong. The service was announced in December, and reservations are available at

Globetrotting also just got easier to Dulles’s most popular foreign destination: London. Primera Air, a low-fare European carrier, announced new service from Dulles beginning in August. Five weekly flights will whisk passengers to London Stansted Airport, located just northeast of the city and connected by express train service. A new Airbus A321neo will operate on the route, fitted with a total of 198 seats – 16 in premium economy and 182 in the main cabin. Introductory fares are as low as $199 each way at

A new seasonal route previously announced from Dulles to Edinburgh, Scotland, on United Airlines will begin daily service on May 23 using Boeing 757 aircraft.

Dulles is the region’s premier international airport – serving 57 nonstop destinations outside the U.S. on 33 different airlines. In 2017, the airport handled more than 7.8 million passengers – a new record.