SW Earth, Arts, and Music Day 2018

Whoa! What a day!

Southwest DC showed up, and showed out for our 5th annual spring kick-off, and first ever SW Earth, Arts, and Music Day!

The day started with volunteers coming into the garden to help weed, plant, and paint. Weeding needed to be done along our food fence area, a space we designed for passersby to enjoy blackberries, rosemary, and lavender, and amongst the garden beds. While some volunteers weeded, others planted a variety of crops: lettuce, arugula, spinach, radishes, carrots, peas, peanuts, and beets. For those that weren’t ready to get their hands dirty with soil, they could choose to get them dirty with paint! Volunteers painted garden related signs, and helped with our new garden mural, designed by artist, Eric B. Ricks (Instagram: versatilevice).

The mural is a must-see. The artist naturally includes geometric shapes and nature in his artwork, and the garden mural is no different. There’s a subtle homage to SW as well, but you’ll have to visit it and find it for yourself. Ricks implemented a paint-by-the-numbers approach which invited collaboration, and was accessible to participants of all ages and skill levels. The mural serves as a welcome to not only the garden, but to Lansburgh Park in general.

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As 1pm approached, weeds had been pulled, seeds had been planted, and paint had been used to artistic ends. It was time for a little reprieve. Violent King, an herbalist, who works with the non-profit, food justice oriented organization, and fellow garden-neighbor, Dreaming Out Loud, lead a mini-workshop on herbs, how to use them, and their many medicinal benefits.

It was then time for lunch. Sweetgreen donated half-salads, and Cava donated pita chips, breads, and dips. Additionally, fellow SW neighbors, Kate and Debbie, contributed a variety of healthy food options, and spoke with people about their simple recipes.

As 3pm rolled around, an untold amount of weeds had been pulled, several hundred seeds had been planted, and the mural was nearing completion. It was now time for the music! The music was delivered via the soulful, bluesy vocals of Carly Harvey, with ample support from her band, Kiss & Ride, and fiancee, Sol Roots. The band played an hour long show of original songs and covers, ranging from a bluesy version of, “Crazy,” to Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” all the while keeping a steady groove, and listeners deep in the pocket. 

All in all, it was a great beginning to the gardening year. It’s a beautiful thing when the community comes together, and this event was a testament to that. We had nearly 100 volunteers. This event would not have been possible without the work of our initial crew of 14 volunteers, as well as the lead volunteers, the generous donations from restaurants and businesses, the Southwest Business Improvement District for funding, equipment, organizing, and staffing, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly for co-sponsoring the event, Mercy Hill Church for always being supportive, and the brilliance of artists, Eric Ricks, Carly Harvey, Sol Roots, and the whole Kiss & Ride band.

Now, that we’ve kicked things off, our regular work days will commence. You can join us in the garden every Wednesday 6-7pm, and Sunday 4-6pm until late October. Feel free to reach out to us via email, swgardensdc@gmail.com, or any of our social media profiles. Hope to see you in the garden!

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SW Earth, Arts, and Music Day – April 14th!

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Due to inclement weather, the event is being re-scheduled for Saturday, April 14th, 11am-4pm

Artist, Eric B. Ricks, will hosting a paint-by-number mural project. The design will include nature, geometric shapes, and an homage to SW. You can check out more of Mr. Ricks’ artwork via his Instagram page: Versatilevice.

Velo Cafe and Sweetgreen will be donating coffee and half-salads for volunteers as well.

You can RSVP and stay in touch with all the details here: SW Earth, Arts, and Music Day.

SW Earth, Arts, And Music Day

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SW friends and neighbors, we’ve been invited to present our proposal for a SW Earth, Art & Music Day at this event for a chance to win $1000 to make it happen!

Attendees are asked to make a $5 donation, listen to proposals, then vote for their favorite over a meal. Save the date and make it if you can!

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To get a head start, you can read our proposal here.

That’s A Wrap For 2017!

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Friends, the garden is now officially closed for the year. Thank you for following along, and joining in on our journey!

What a year it’s been! To put it in some perspective, here’s some data we’ve collected:

  • This year, we had a total of 813 visits — an increase of 158 from last year.
  • Of the total visits, 155 were folks visiting the garden for the first time — an increase of 75 from 2016.
  • We harvested a little over 150 pounds of produce — an increase of 13 pounds from the previous year.

More isn’t always better, but it’s exciting to see that the garden is still growing. We’re always looking for ways to deepen the impact and relationships we create through the garden, so please let us know any suggestions you have for the future.

As spring emerges in 2018, we’ll reach out to you all again to start planning for 2018. We hope you’ll join us!

We’ll Be At The DC State Fair


We’ll Be At The DC State Fair!

The DC State Fair is a free showcase of the District’s agricultural and creative talents and a daylong (11am-8pm) celebration of all things homegrown. This year, the Fair will be in our backyard, at 375 and 425 M Street SW. For the first time, we’ll have a table there to show off our garden goods. We’ll be tabling from 11am-5pm, and will have our final hour in the garden, from 5-6pm.

The Fair comes right around the time we’ll be harvesting our peanuts, so we’ll showcasing, Farmer Coy’s favorite comfort food snack, boiled peanuts! Do you have additional suggestions for items we can display? Food, flowers, art? We’re all eyes and ears and can get the necessary materials, just let us know. If you’d also like to volunteer to sit at the table for a little bit, that’d be great as well.

Continuing Carrot Harvests

Although we planned on harvesting all our carrots yesterday, we chose instead, to harvest them as volunteers want them. Carrots of the orange and purple variety will be available all this week, so come and get them!

Instagram Takeover

Last Thursday, we took over the Instagram page of the Southwest Business Improvement District (@SW BID). Thank you to everyone who let us photograph or interview them — I think we gave the Instagram world a good glimpse into our garden activities. if you haven’t already, head over to their Instagram page and check out the posts. You can also check out all the interviews in one YouTube video here.

Available for harvest:

  • Pineapple sage
  • Mint
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary

Cucumbercopia & Compost Cooperative

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Cucumbercopia Continues! 🥒

Did you know that cucumbers are 95% water, are a kidney cleanser, and are great for staying hydrated? If you’re interested in learning more cucumber health benefits, listen to reggae artist, Macka B, rap about about them in this video.

Last week, we harvested another 14 pounds of cucumbers! And now, thanks to Farmer Sarah, we’ve got a new, simple recipe to use at the garden. For as long as we can harvest cucumbers, there will be apple cider vinegar + kosher salt to put on them. Stop by the garden some time to try it for yourself. If you’ve got other recipes we can use for garden produce, let us know!

Garden Get-Together

This Sunday, the garden will host a gathering of volunteers and gardeners for a summer potluck. This will start during the second hour of our regular Sunday work day (5pm). Attendees are encouraged to bring a dish, or a recipe that can be made from produce in the garden. This will be an opportunity for gardeners and volunteers to meet each other, share garden tips, tour garden plots, and celebrate our special space under the sun.

SW Compost Cooperative

DPR has requested that we tinker our system a little to align with their suggested best practices. The requested change won’t be too different from how our system operates now, and will ensure that the bin stays critter-proof, smell-proof, and can be maintained sustainably. Each DPR compost bin is organized as a volunteer cooperative with co-managers and members. In order to use the bin, compost contributors will have to attend a training, and are requested to help process the food scraps on occasion as well.

The DPR garden specialist will conduct the first training, then the co-managers will do future trainings. Each site can have multiple co-managers, and Farmer Coy has volunteered to be one for our garden. If you’re interested in being a co-manager, or you already use the system, please fill out this form. For more general information about the compost cooperative program, you can check out the DPR website here.

Available for harvest:

  • Pineapple sage
  • Mint
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary

Our Neighborhood Is NeighborGOOD

Our Neighborhood Is NeighborGOOD!

From last weekend’s fun Duck Drop, to our awesome volunteers, who have steadily removed sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), faithfully watered all our plant babies, built a home for future mammoth sunflowers, and have pulled up more weeds than you can imagine, we’re convinced that our neighborhood is neighborGOOD!

More evidence was presented last week that our kick-off efforts were not in vain. Seedlings have been spotted in nearly all our beds. We’re patiently awaiting the following vegetables: peas, spinach, carrots, onions, peanuts, artichoke, and lettuce. The strawberries should become ripe around Memorial Day, and the garlic should follow behind it in early-mid June. Of course, we’ll let you know when it’s all ready! Until then, we’ll need to continue to do what we’ve been doing.

Amidon Bowen Greenhouse Project

Earlier this year, SW garden representatives, Farmers Coy and Pam, met with James Ewing, the lead STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teacher at the local public elementary school, Amidon-Bowen. We spoke about ways the garden could support the gardening activities going on at the school, especially since some of our best young farmhands are students there. 

At the meeting, Mr. Ewing mentioned that they are trying to raise funds to build a new greenhouse. To help make this dream a reality, they are competing for a chance to win a grant for either $50,000 or $100,000. In order to win, they need our votes! You can vote as many times as you like until May 12th. Here’s a description of the project:

The Amidon-Bowen Elementary Greenhouse Project will bring STEM learning to life. This grant will help us bring a large working greenhouse to our starter garden, help us build on our existing garden, develop a working hydroponics grow garden for year-round learning and cultivation, and help us build our working, living terrariums. Our partnership with SW Community Gardens will help students understand the importance of sustainable gardening while also supporting healthy eating. Students will learn alongside family and community volunteers to explore environmental sciences and expand on the experience of building an urban community garden program. Our students will not only learn about the growth and production of plants but will use the harvest to support families and food banks in our community. This grant will help develop our next generation of community activists, scholars, and STEM leaders.

To vote, and view their 3-minute video, click here.

Garden Build Day With Dreaming Out Loud

This Wednesday, May 3rd, from 1-4pm, Dreaming Out Loud will be having a garden work day at their space behind Blind Whino. Volunteers will contribute to the revitalization of the garden by building raised beds and planting vegetables for the upcoming harvest season. Participants will receive a t-shirt, lunch and certificate of completion for service credit. To RSVP for the event, click here

Plants Are Growing, Flowers Are Blooming

First Garden Blooms

As the picture above illustrates, the garden is experiencing its first blooms of the year! The white flowers belong to our blackberry bushes. Over the next 4-6 weeks, the flowers will fall off, allowing a green berry to emerge, which over time, will darken in color. The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice, so keep that in mind when they start appearing!

Below, is a picture of one of our ornamental onions, Allium Schubertii, starting its cosmic-looking bloom. Keep an eye out for the others along the food fence as they also reach peak bloom.

SW Duck Drop

This Saturday, from 1-4pm, at the Southwest Duck Pond (located in the park at the corner of 6th and i Street SW), the Southwest Business Improvement District and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly will be hosting a “Duck Drop”, where the pond will be getting refilled. There were be live music and food from King Ribs. The garden will have a table at the event and will be handing out free rosemary and lavender.

Available for harvest:

  • Pineapple sage
  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) 

Our Gardening Year Has Begun!

What A Kick-off!

Shout out to SW (and its honorary visitors), way to represent! 👏🏾 🙌 If the kick-off is a sign of things to come, we’re about to have the greatest garden year in garden history … 😛🤞🏾 but seriously, that was an amazing kick-off: more than 50 people stopped by to contribute their talents, time, energy, green thumbs, sweat, and coolness 😎. Even Ward 6 council member, Charles Allen, made an appearance with his daughter, in which they contributed some garden artwork. All in all, it was great to see so many people work with one another and nature. A valuable reminder of how transformative community work is!

[To check out more photos from the event, click here]

⚒ Next steps ⚒

Now that the kick-off is behind us, our regular work days will begin, starting this Wednesday, April 12th, 6-7pm, and Sunday, April 16th, 4-6pm. Work days will continue every Wednesday and Sunday at those same times. You can consult our garden calendar for the schedule, if you ever forget. As a heads up, work days will be cancelled when there’s inclement weather.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be putting the finishing touches on our S❤️W garden, as well as weeding, watering, creating artwork, and composting!

Speaking of composting, our new 365/24/7 compost system is officially operational. You’re welcome to drop off your food scraps during work days, but if those times are inconvenient, you can leave them in our new compost bin that is located outside of the garden. To learn the proper protocol, please email me for instructions. We’re going to start by prohibiting meat and “compostable” utensils. The meat may attract some unwanted visitors, and the limited size of our compost pile will prevent us from generating enough heat to break down the compostable materials. If you’re interested in learning how the magic of composting happens, just just during any of our work days.

Thanks again for a great kick-off! Looking forward to a great year in the garden!

 

We’re Ready For The Spring Kick-off!

Ready For The Spring Kick-off!

Last Wednesday, despite the chilly weather, a group of SW neighbors worked with a volunteer group from Georgia, organized by Mercy Hill Church, to get the garden ready for the spring kick-off. We successfully fixed a couple of the wheelbarrows and the entrance to the garden, pulled up weeds, and turned over all our cover crops. We are now ready to start the gardening season!

Companion planting plan

At the kick-off, we’ll be trying our hand at companion planting for the first time. Companion planting is the intentional planting of mutually beneficial crops next to each other. This method maximizes space, deters pests, and encourages a healthy growing cycle. If you’ve attended one of our previous kick-offs, you’ll already know we follow a PIY tactic — plant-it-yourself! The combinations we’ll be planting this spring will be the following: onions/carrots, peas/spinach, and carrots/lettuce. If you’re interested in learning more, and trying out this strategy, come to the kick-off!