Friends of the Occoquan is a non-profit organization of local citizens who preserve and maintain the natural integrity of the Occoquan River and other Virginia and nation wide watersheds by promoting community awareness through public and private partnerships.
Vision of the Friends
To energize individuals, community and business groups to take on the challenges of keeping Virginia’s and the nations reservoirs and rivers clean, by controlling excessive sedimentation and pollution. This message will be brought to schools, civic groups and community organizations, as well as local and federal government agencies.
Coordinate watershed management efforts and programs.
Open communications and develop cooperation among intergovernmental jurisdictions regarding the rivers and watersheds.
Provide decision makers, policy makers, and citizens with accurate information.
Develop public and private partnerships focused on maintaining the natural integrity of drinking water sources.
Engage the community, including the Spanish speaking population, to become stakeholders of our rivers and streams.
Education and Coordination FOTO is working with community groups, schools, federal, state and local governments to promote watershed preservation.
FOTO continues to expand contacts with other groups to enlarge watershed stakeholders. Installation of international signs along the watersheds is one of our projects.
FOTO is proceeding to engage the Spanish speaking community to become stakeholders of our watersheds and become active in maintaining clean and safe our rivers. In addition to the bilingual signs described below, we will be installing other bilingual signs in DC, Fairfax and PrinceWilliamCounties. Also we are preparing videos, literature and some TV programs.
October 14, 2017. Comfortable fall weather brought out 212 loyal FOTO volunteers in full force to relief the scenic Occoquan River/Reservoir of 2 tons of trash from both the water and the shoreline. JROTC of Woodbridge High School, Boy Scouts , Penn Elementary School's Stem Class, Air Force Recruits, SEV1Tech, Manassas Rotary Club, Osbourn Eagles Interact Club, Optimist Club, Marymount University students and many families cleaned up at all sites in Fairfax & Prince William County & the Town of Occoquan. Among the 158 bags of trash, 40 bags of recyclables, there were also 6 tires, hubcaps, car radiator, 2 radios, 1 play station, 3 chairs, pipes, boards, foam pieces, buckets, oil cans, nest and fishing supplies and other materials collected. Special thanks go out to all the above mentioned volunteers and Park Manager Mike Tiller who disposed of the trash that the 146 Lake Ridge Park volunteers had collected, as well as Kirstyn Barr Jovanovich, Linda Murray, Renate Vanegas & Estrella Vasilescu who manned the signup stations. Thanks to Comcast TV's Liz Lockhart for the video and photos! More pictures coming soon.
FOTO sponsors an Eagle Scout garden project at Hunters Woods Elementary School in Herndon, VA.
October 15, 2017
Friends of the Occoquan sponsored an Eagle Scout community garden project at Hunters Woods Elementary School in Herndon, VA. This was added to the school’s already existing garden project. Science Teacher Rachel Negri cooperated with Boy Scout Brad Mitchell of Troop 1983 to complete his Eagle Scout requirements. The project consisted of two raised garden boxes, including all labor and materials, which will help students learn of how to plant, maintain and harvest their own vegetables. FOTO thanks Hunters Woods Elementary School’s Administration, Mrs. Negri and Troop 1983 and Brad Mitchell for allowing FOTO to continue with our water conservation program.
FOTO Donates Rain Barrels to the Benedictine Sisters in Bristow, VA.
On Saturday, September 23, 2017 FOTO visited the St. Benedict Monastery, located in Bristow, Virginia. Two rain barrels and other supplies were donated to their gardens.
The property is a haven of gardens with winding pathways to meditative silos, a grotto, and a labyrinth. It offers a respite from the busy pace of everyday life. Visitors and staff are welcome to take self-guided walking tours of the grounds, with maps and brochures available at the Portress’ desk.
The Place of Peace Columbarium, on the grounds of Saint Benedict Monastery, provides an environment of natural beauty and spiritual living.
Renate Vanegas, Sister Pat, German Vanegas
Fall Garden Prepping for Park Place Peace Garden
On Monday, September 4, 2017 FOTO members and volunteers from the Park Place Peace Garden worked on prepping the garden for fall planting and the return of the children and staff of James Monroe Elementary School in Norfolk, VA. FOTO was able to provide the PPPG with 4 straw bales, 13 potted flowering plants and items to build Bucket Head the garden scarecrow. The garden will be using the bales to experiment with straw bale gardening. First round-flowers. As the afternoon unfolded several neighborhood children dropped by the garden to meet Bucket Head and took a garden tour with PPPG volunteer Kim Williams.
Soil is Everything
On Thursday August, 2, 2017 Park Place Peace Garden and FOTO members prepared soil samples to be sent to the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory which is a part of Virginia’s Cooperative Extension .
A routine soil test package includes analysis for soil pH, P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, Mn, Cu, Fe, and B, along with fertilizer and lime recommendations for the specified crop. Soluble salts and organic matter tests are also available. Local Cooperative Extension offices in counties and cities throughout the state can provide soil sample boxes and information sheets.
Soil samples are analyzed and computer recommendations generated usually within three working days of receipt. The completed soil test reports, along with one or more soil test notes containing additional information on fertilization and liming, are either mailed or emailed directly to the client. A copy of the report is also made available to the local Cooperative Extension office.
Washington Post article on FOTO's cleanup efforts.click here
FOTO Helps Sponsor "Food For Others" Community Garden
On July 7, 2017 FOTO met with “Food for Others”, a Fairfax non-profit organization serving a growing number of families. They provide food for 700 families and will be delivering fresh vegetables with the establishment of their new community garden which FOTO helped sponsor. FOTO will cooperate with these types of community gardens as part of our program. To date we support community gardens in Prince William County, Fairfax and the city of Norfolk.
Luncheon with Dominion Energy Representatives and Grant Presentation
FOTO gave a luncheon at the McCoart Building for Dominion Energy representatives Deborah Johnson and Haley Snowdon and FOTO helpers to discuss details of expanding community gardens in Springfield, Norfolk and Herndon as well as in Prince William County, and supporting Eagle Scout projects related to gardening and water conservation.
Friends of the Occoquan would like to thank the Krieg Family from Norfolk, Virginia for opening their home and garden to us. A big thank you to Isabelle Krieg for teaching FOTO all about raising Swallowtail butterflies. So much to learn from our Eco Kids! Note from Isabelle's Mom: Isabelle was interviewed by Friends of the Occoquan for her work with Butterflies 🦋 This was such an amazing experience for Isabelle.....she has worked very hard and gained so much knowledge about Black swallowtail butterflies.How to raise and care for them🦋🦋..it's so cool for her to be able to share what she does to help Mother Earth🦋
Photo credits- Kelly Krieg
Rain Barrel Workshop at Granby Elementary in Norfolk, Virginia
Saturday, April 29, 2017
While northern FOTO friends were cleaning up the Occoquan River, rain barrels were being built down south. Ashley Barnett with the Norfolk School Garden Collective organized a garden building day at Granby Elementary and FOTO member Sonia Monson was there to show youngsters how to turn two pickling barrels into rain harvesters. The Norfolk School Garden Collective is an organization that connects schools to local communities around the city to build gardens and outdoor classrooms for pre k-12. These little ones were eager builders, and by the time we got to the second barrel they already knew what to do before being told. Great Job Granby Elementary!
Make a Contribution or Donation:
Please send a check or money order payable to FOTO to the address below:
or pay with credit card using paypal by clicking the link below:
Friends of the Occoquan P.O. Box 1452 Woodbridge, VA 22195-1452 Tel. (703)624-7124