Photo: Arlington County
An individual whose love for gardening inspired her to plant vegetables on school grounds, and a dedicated group of gardeners that care for Rock Spring Park are the 2011 Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteers Award winners.
Joan Horwitt and the Rock Spring Garden Club accepted the county’s most prestigious environmental award from the Arlington County Board Tuesday night for their contributions to Arlington natural resources or public open spaces.
The judging looked at contributions of personal time or expertise, or giving a tangible gift or a financial donation, according to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources.
Horwitt, a former teacher and food writer, created the Lawns 2 Lettuce 4 Lunch initiative at Ashlawn Elementary school. Students at the school obtain hands on experience growing vegetables and learn about urban sustainability.
Since winter 2010, the program has grown to include the Thomas Jefferson Middle school, privately owned properties and the Reevesland farmhouse in the Bluemont neighborhood, according to county documents.
Horwitt is currently continuing her volunteerism rehabilitating the Reevesland farmhouse into a center for urban sustainability education.
The Rock Spring Garden Club was presented the award for decades of continual service and dedication to Rock Spring Park. The group has planted and cared for thousands of flowers, trees and other plant life in the park since 1953, according to county documents.
The group also works with George Mason University, Arlington Public Schools and local civic associations on clean up and educational projects.
The two winners came from a list of 12 nominees this year, including Boy Scout Troop 111 and another gardening club in Arlington Heights.
Nominees not chosen to win the award this year will be automatically nominated for another two years alongside new nominations.
The award was established to pay tribute to William “Bill” Thomas and to honor and encourage similar dedication among other residents and organizations, the county website says.