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Arlington To Consider Transforming Dairy Farm Into Learning Center

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The farmhouse on the Reevesland property, which is the site of the last working dairy farm in Arlington County. The dairy farm closed in 1955.
WAMU/Michael Pope
The farmhouse on the Reevesland property, which is the site of the last working dairy farm in Arlington County. The dairy farm closed in 1955.

Nelson Reeves was the last dairy farmer in Arlington County. His estate, known as Reevesland, is now owned by the county government, which purchased this property more than a decade ago. Since that time, very little has happened.

"Well I feel like the county has forgotten us," says Judy Norton, who lives in the Bluemont neighborhood near Reeveland. "If they were really interested in taking care of the house, they would have taken some action by now."

Now, finally, county leaders are ready to move on a proposal to do something with Reevesland. Last week, members of an urban agriculture task force presented a recommendation to transform the house into a learning center. Neighborhood resident Joan Horwitt has already created a nonprofit organization to lead the charge.

"Michelle Obama is not doing this. Alice Waters, who is famous for her edible schoolyard, is not doing this, because it is about civic engagement, about involving our neighbors," she said.

On a recent day, third graders from Ashlawn Elementary School harvested lettuce from a garden were Nelson Reeves once grew vegetables. "It was fun to, like, come out here and not have to go to the store to get them because one it's a waste of time and two it's boring to sit in the car a while," said Grace Gent, one of the students.

The kids even had a song, which they sang while harvesting lettuce for charity. "Nelson Reeves. Nelson Reeves. Growing tomatoes beets and peas. Mile-high corn. Take what you please. Hi, I'm your neighbor Nelson Reeves."

Later this year, members of the Arlington County Board will consider a proposal to spend $1 million to transform this old dairy farm into a place for students, teachers and members of the community.

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