Year 10: Our Garden of Gratitude

👏🏾 The 2023 Garden Season Has Begun! 🥳

Thank you to everyone who came out and helped open the garden for its 10th year (we even had a visit from Ward 6 Council member, Charles Allen)! Special thanks to Desiree, John, Barbara, Kelley, both of the Jessicas, Leysha and Sarah for volunteering for special assignments to make the day fun and successful.  

Now that the kick-off is behind us, our regular work day schedule will begin. Starting this Wednesday, May 3rd, every Wednesday between 6-7pm, and Sunday 4-6pm, we’ll be in the garden (unless there’s inclement weather). We’ll need your assistance for upkeep, spreading wood chips, and little projects that pop up along the way, so join us!

🙌🏾 Our Garden of Gratitude 🌱

After reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s, Braiding Sweetgrass, somegarden farmhands have been moved to bring some of the teachings and perspectives from the book into the garden, in particular, promoting an ethos of abundance, gifting, and gratitude. 

For those that were not at the kick-off, SW Community Gardens President, Pamela McKinney, shared a quote from Kimmerer and some of her thoughts on the topic:

[Quoting Kimmerer] “When we speak of these (nature, abundance) not as things or products or commodities, but as gifts, the whole relationship changes.” Gratitude is so much more than a polite “thank you.” It is the thread that connects us in a deep relationship, simultaneously physical and spiritual, as our bodies are fed and spirits nourished by the sense of belonging, which is the most vital of foods. Gratitudes creates a sense of abundance, the knowing that you have what you need.

What will we give this garden in return? Today is a day where we show our thanks through our actions — weeding, planting, painting, sharings tools, soil, water, and later a meal with each other. So we thank you for your gift of time and hope you will think of this space as your own and come back after today to see how your gifts have lead to an abundance for your community, including the pesky squirrels.

Community Supported Agriculture Deliveries & Food Demo

On June 19th, 2022, we began our community supported agriculture program where we pay young farmhands to harvest fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the garden then deliver them to seniors living in public housing. 2 of the youth participating are two sisters that first started coming to the garden in 2015!

On June 25th, 2022, we held our first cooking demonstration of the year for seniors living in Greenleaf public housing. Nutritionist, Stephanie Eyocko, prepared a cucumber salad, a salad with arugula and butter lettuce, two different types of dressing, and a rosemary flavored seltzer water using produce that came from the garden. The theme was Salads Aren’t Boring, and Ms. Jewel, one of the attendees, definitely agreed!

The 2022 Gardening Year Has Begun!

☀️”Many hands make light work”💪🏾

A big thank you to everyone who attended the garden’s 9th annual spring kick-off last Saturday! More than 65 people contributed their time and energy to caring for our little green space in the city! Seeds were planted, weeds were pulled, signs were made, a mural was painted, compost was turned, a turtle was spotted, and a fruit orchard was cared for. All thanks to our collective efforts! 

Of course, we’re only getting started, so we’ll need contributions from our garden community throughout the next 6 months. Starting April 27th, you’ll be able to join in every Wednesday (6-7pm) and Sunday (4-6pm) until the end of October (please note: work days will be canceled when there’s inclement weather). 

Over the next several weeks, some of the activities we’ll be doing will include: watering, weeding, planting, designing, adding compost and spreading woodchips. In early/mid-May, we’ll plant sweet potato slips, and then in mid-June, we’ll start reaping what we’ve been sowing.

We hope you’ll join us!✌🏾

Date for 2022 Spring Gardening Activities Set!

🌳Orchard Update!🍎
Thanks to our resident arborist, Sarah, the appropriate trees in our orchard have been pruned for the upcoming year (this is in direct contrast to how the redevelopment of the Bethel church is proceeding — at least 3 three heritage trees have already been knocked down: more info here and here). There will be opportunities in the future to help with mulching and weeding, so stay tuned!

🌼Mark your calendars: countdown to re-opening of garden!☀️The garden recently received financial support to continue and expand our community supported agriculture (CSA) initiative for public housing residents, and to fund our 9th annual spring kick-off event! All thanks to SW Gardens President, Pam!

A few weeks ago, Pam presented the garden’s CSA idea to attendees of the 2022 Pocket Change event (you can watch the pitch, or browse through the presentation). Out of the 5 presentations, the CSA idea received the most votes, so we will be receiving $1,160 to implement it. The funds will allow us to hire 3 young farmhands to plant, harvest, and deliver fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other garden-based products to 10 families living in public housing throughout the year. The money will also fund 3 cooking demonstrations. Of course, we’ll need your help with the weekly activities in the garden to ensure the success of the project.

The garden also received a little over $3,000 from the SW Community Foundation to purchase soil, tools, food, and fund the construction and painting of a new mural for our 9th annual spring kick-off. Now, we’re all set, and you can mark your calendars!

April 9th, at 11am. We will be turning over all the cover crops in the garden. We do this two weeks before the kick-off to allow the crops to fully decompose, adding more nitrogen to the soil, before we do our spring planting.

April 23rd, 11am-3pm. The spring kick-off! We will be planting the communal beds, painting a new mural, and doing various other garden tasks as the garden officially opens for the year.

Gearing up for year 9!

Our 9th Garden Year🤗

Photo credit: Matt Koehler

This year will be the garden’s 9th year in operation. We have some exciting events and opportunities planned, and would like your help creating even more. The garden won’t open until mid/late-April, so we’ve got some time to put our heads together and come up with some ideas. But first, here’s what we already have planned:

New garden mural: The current mural sitting outside the garden was created in 2018 by artist, Eric Ricks, and was painted by a variety of community members through a paint-by-the-numbers method. The mural has formed some large cracks and will need to be replaced. SW Gardens President, Pamela, applied for a grant to pay local artist, Shani Shih, to lead another paint-by-number mural creation during our April kick-off. If there are particular themes or images you think the mural should feature, you can share your ideas via this Jamboard.

Learning how to grow mushrooms: The Department of Parks and Recreation, in conjunction with the University of the District of Columbia and Sharondale Farm, are launching a series of workshops on how to grow gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. They have chosen a site in each ward in DC to host a workshop, and our garden was the selected site for Ward 6. The workshops will teach the cultivation of several different types of mushrooms using low-tech, low-cost methods with the goal of training more people to provide this training, and help the DMV area market locally grown mushrooms. Each workshop will be limited to 25 people and is free of charge to the participants. Each participant will receive two logs and will inoculate them during the workshop. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here.

There are a few other things planned but you’ll have to wait until the next newsletter to learn more 😉. If you’d like to help plan activities for the kick-off or throughout the garden year, reach out in the next week, so we can begin planning!

Thanks, 2021; See you in 2022!

✌🏾That’s a wrap for 2021😢

Yesterday was the last garden work day of 2021, completing the garden’s 8th year of operation! 

To help wrap everything up yesterday, we had some familiar farmhands and some new ones (a group of students from Howard University). We removed the remaining pepper, spinach, and tomato plants, all the marigolds and Cramer’s roses, and planted cover crops.

As our last day coincided with Halloween, the garden also participated in the trick-or-treat event happening in Lansburgh Park. Christina, who made garden bouquets for volunteers throughout the year, led our magic wand making table, using sticks, stems, and flowers from the garden. The wands were popular with kids and parents alike, so there’s bound to be spells casted and magic happening this week! We were also able to display our first ever garden-grown pumpkin.

This year the garden had many firsts: including our community supported agriculture (CSA) pilot to Greenleaf public housing residents. Our two farmhands, Tiffany and Ty’Quan, made 19 deliveries of fresh garden produce, floral arrangements by Christina, and balms and jams by Kelley. We couldn’t have made this possible without our many SW neighbors who supported the effort by helping us grow the food, donating to our farmhands fund, and helping harvest produce. Last week, Tiffany and Ty’Quan surveyed the CSA recipients and all asked to be part of the CSA next year. Rosemary, blackberries, and green peppers were a hit, and their favorite part was seeing the deliverers and getting the food delivered to their doors. We’re excited to add more residents to our CSA route next year!

The garden is prepped and primed for another successful year in 2022, and for that, we thank you! Every single one of you who helped plant, water, harvest, weed, compost, mulch, transplant, prune, organize, create, and share made the year successful and made our garden an actual community garden rather than just a garden in a community.

We are always looking for feedback on how best to keep the garden relevant and helpful to our neighborhood. If you have feedback for us, you can use this Google Form to share your thoughts.

The garden is closed for now, but we’ll be in touch about its re-opening in mid to late April. Thanks again and we’ll see you all soon!

June 2021 – garden update

🍇Berry season is upon us!🍓 

Berry season has begun! For the past week, volunteers have been able to harvest strawberries and mulberries. In the next couple of weeks, blackberry season will begin as well. Remember, the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice! 

As for the rest of the crops currently growing in the garden, here is when you can expect them to be ready to be harvested:

  • Lettuce – June 12th
  • Garlic – mid-June
  • Kale – June 18th
  • Peas – June 19th
  • Beets – June 23rd
  • Carrots – July 7th
  • Collard Greens – July 8th
  • Peanuts – August 22nd

As some of these crops finish their growing cycles, we will replace them with season appropriate plants, like corn, cucumbers, peppers, and sweet and regular potatoes. If all goes to plan, we’ll be harvesting until we close in October!

Special visit from Jemma from the Jemmanade Stand

The garden had a special visitor on her first work day in June — Jemma of the Jemmanade Stand! Jemma picked mint, lavender, and took home a small batch of strawberries. The garden hopes to supply Jemma with more fruits from the garden for future lemonade flavors as they become available. You can read more about Jemma’s visit here. You can check out her tasty lemonades this Saturday, June 5th, 11:30am-4pm at the corner of I (eye) and Delaware.

🤒Gardening during the pandemic😷

We will be following the guidelines released by the DC Mayor regarding public activities for those who are vaccinated, unvaccinated or immunocompromised.

  • Fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
  • Unvaccinated people should wear a cloth face covering or mask at any indoor or outdoor public setting. People who have not yet received the vaccine may do the following activities without face masks:
    • casual outdoor activities with members of your household (e.g., biking, running, walking);
    • attending a small outdoor gathering with friends and/or family who are fully vaccinated;
    • visiting indoors with fully vaccinated people from one household.

Should anyone need a mask, we will have some in our shed.✌🏾

2021 Garden Season Has Begun!

🤗Regular Work-Days Have Begun! 🛠

Thanks to a crew of farmhands who have volunteered over the past couple of weeks, the garden is looking in fantastic shape, and is primed for a great growing year. Thank you to all who have already contributed to this effort! 

We’ve only just begun, so there will be plenty of opportunities in the future to contribute to the stewardship of the garden. Starting April 28th you will be able to join us every Wednesday 6-7pm, and every Sunday 3-5pm (work days will be canceled when there’s inclement weather) to water, weed, and maintain everything.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be watering, weeding, and monitoring the emergence of our seedlings. We’re still waiting on a delivery of woodchips, so once they arrive, we will be spreading them around the trees and the garden to suppress weeds. There may also be an opportunity to paint the newly built and planted herb beds, so stay tuned! 

The city’s current guidelines regarding public gatherings allows for up to 50 individuals at a time. In pre-pandemic times, the garden averaged 13 visitors per work day, so we will not be asking volunteers to sign up for work days ahead of time, just to wear a mask and stay home if you feel sick. 😷✌🏾

Garden Kick-off 2021 – 4/24, 11am-3pm

🚀The kick-off is this Saturday, 11am-3pm 🎉

This Saturday, April 24th, the garden will re-open for the 2021 growing year! We’ll be preparing and planting 7 garden beds, building and filling three new herb beds, and weeding and spreading woodchips all around. DC’s guidelines regarding public gatherings limits attendance to 50 people, so to keep track of our guest list, please add your name and email to this spreadsheet, if you plan on attending.

🛠The Beginning of Regular Work Days💪🏾
After the kick-off, we will begin having regular work days: every Wednesday, 6-7pm, and every Sunday, 3-5pm. Work days will be canceled when there’s inclement weather.

🤗New Year, New Initiatives👇
It’s a new gardening year and we’re launching some new initiatives. Here’s a brief overview of what we’ve got planned:

  • A pilot youth-run community supported agriculture program that will pay young farmhands $10/hour to harvest and deliver fresh produce to families living at Greenleaf and James Creek. To raise funds, we’re selling garden t-shirts. If you’d like to donate, or purchase a t-shirt, contact us.
  • Three new herb gardens: Thanks to our resident herbalist, Kelley, and farmhand, Barbara, there will be three new herb gardens in Lansburgh park for people to learn about herbs and add to their pantry. More info on the project can be found here.
  • Mini flower arrangements in upcycled jars by Christina. Once our flowers and herbs are in bloom, Christine will be preparing flower arrangements in upcycled jars for people after work days. If you have jars or containers that you’d like to donate, or want to learn more, feel free to reach out to us.

Responsible Gardening Through the Pandemic


What a time to be alive . . . navigating each day responsibly has become more important than ever. Three states have ordered stay-at-home orders, and six others have implemented a “shelter-in-place” initiative, which is not a legal term, but nevertheless attempts to curb residents from leaving their homes.

The seriousness of the virus and halting its spread, while not overwhelming our health care infrastructure is no simple task. Thus, it’s important to not act selfishly or recklessly. As gardeners, we know the peacefulness, harmony, and perspective Mother Nature can provide to our minds. Something that is invaluable at a time like this. This is why we are attempting to strike a responsible balance between the two.

But first, the ground rules. The widespread adoption of “extensive social distancing” (physical, not social!) appears to be the best way forward. In short, that means:

  • staying home when sick;
  • maintaining 6 feet of distance between other people;
  • covering your sneeze/cough with a tissue or your arm or elbow; and more . . .
  • Wearing a mask over your face while in public;
  • For the complete list of recommendations, read here.
  • Please review and apply these principles in the garden and at home.

The DC government has prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people. The well-known community garden, Wangari Gardens, is allowing “a small crew of volunteers” to come out during their work days. We will be adopting a similar approach. We will be hosting garden work days on Wednesdays 6-7pm, and Saturdays 12-2pm, between March 28th and April 25th. For each hour, there will be 4 available slots to sign up for using the garden work day spreadsheet.

We will be providing soap, clean gardening gloves, and will wash tools after use. If you have your own gloves and tools, you are welcome to bring them, otherwise, we will ask that you wash the tools after you’re done using them.

2019 – Year in review


At 6pm on October 27th, the garden closed for the remainder of the 2019 year. The closing of the gates represented the 6th year of crop cultivation in the SW neighborhood. Like every year we’ve had so far, 2019 was unique and full of lessons learned, new and familiar faces, and plenty of fresh produce to share.

The garden year started with our annual spring kick-off. This year’s kick-off consisted of planting the communal beds, processing our 24-7-365 compost system, and gathering ideas and designs for our new garden flag.

The new garden flag made its debut a few months later in June. The flag was the culmination of ideas and preferences of volunteer farmhands and the careful curation of SW resident and artist, Sergio Jimenez. The end product represents popular crops that are grown in the garden (tomatoes, carrots, figs, and peanuts), and acts as a beacon for visitors to locate the garden from afar.


The success of our spring planting came to full fruition right before the official start of summer. In mid-June, we were able to set up a little garden stand in front of Safeway and Waterfront metro station to distribute 30 pounds of produce to our SW neighbors for free. Farmhand volunteers, along with members of the DC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, harvested collard greens, kale, beans, and swiss chard to supply the stand.

  • The garden had over 700 visitors this year, averaging about 15 people per work day. 120 of those visitors were newcomers.
  • 13 different crops were grown, producing over 150 pounds of produce.
  • 30 different neighbors volunteered to sift and process other neighbors’ food scraps, which resulted in us producing the best compost in the city (according to the DC State Fair).

A few more highlights from inside the garden, included our annual peanut, sweet potato, blackberry and corn harvests. These crops are a staple at the garden and are grown every year. Volunteers were also able to experience a native treat: to try a ripe pawpaw from one of the trees growing around the garden. Sunflower Alley, a patch of dirt along the sidewalk outside the garden full of sunflowers, was more exuberant than ever. The garden was also featured in an extensive piece on community gardens in the Washington City Paper (you can read about it here).

The final two highlights of 2019 came from outside the garden. In September, at the DC State Fair, the garden obtained first place in the compost competition for best compost in the city! The second highlight came from a partnership with the band, the California Honeydrops, through their Spreading Honey project. In each city the Honeydrops tour in, they partner with a non-profit to help the organization raise money and share their story. The McKinney Farmhands have been fans of their music for years, so when this opportunity presented itself, they made sure it would happen!

In conclusion, 2019 has been another great year of growing produce, connecting with neighbors, and trying to make our community better. We recognize that fresh produce is just one part of making our community better. We strive to be more than just a garden, but a network of neighbors who organize and advocate for other forms of justice and a higher quality of living for all our neighbors. If you’re passionate about these same issues, then join us! Check out our website to get connected!

Spreading Honey & Raising Money w/The California Honeydrops


On October 15, 2019, the SW Community Gardens had the pleasure of partnering with the five-piece, Oakland band, the California Honeydrops, through their Spreading Honey project. The project, spearheaded by drummer, Ben Malament, features a non-profit in each of the cities the Honeydrops tour in. This allows the organization to raise some funds, share their story, and enjoy the good vibes Honeydrop live shows are known to bring.

Now, if you’ve been to enough of our garden work days, you know we like it funky — whether it’s the funky smell of decomposing food scraps, or the funky soul sounds we play and promote — we are one with the funk. And true to nature, the Honeydrops provide a show you can’t miss. If you get a chance, check them out, and you’ll likely find a few familiar faces!