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!

 

Pre-kick-off Work day — Mar. 22nd

Pre-kick-off Work Day, March 22nd @ 5:30pm

In order to prepare for the spring kick-off, we’ve organized a pre-kick-off work day for Wednesday, March 22nd, starting at 5:30pm. During this time, we’ll be turning over our cover crops, pulling up weeds, fixing the wheelbarrows and the fence, organizing the tool shed, and preparing to build our new SW-inspired flower garden. We’ll be helped by a group of volunteers organized by Mercy Hill Church, which is a new church in the neighborhood that will have teams of people coming to town regularly between March and August with the sole goal of serving the community.

Garden update

We visited the garden last weekend to see how it was doing, and, as you can see from the photos above, it’s looking great! The cover crops, garlic, kale, and collard greens are all doing well. A note about cover crops: cover crops are great for growing over the winter, as they prevent soil erosion, and help provide valuable nitrogen to the soil for future plants to consume.

It was especially exciting to see the success of the collard green experiment we tried last fall. To summarize, here’s what we tried: we noticed that the collard greens we planted last spring were becoming a popular hang-out spot for the aggravating harlequin beetles during the summer months. There are no natural predators for the beetles, so the only way to thwart their growth is to manually remove them. We decided that our approach would be to decrease their habitat — thus, we cut the collard greens down to about 2 inches above the soil. The hope was that the greens would grow back, but by the time they had, it would be too cold for the beetles. And now, we see the result — the collards are almost as bushy as before!

The SW Community Garden Beet 📝

If you’re new to the SW neighborhood, and even if you’re not, I recommend following, or picking up our local newspaper, The Southwester — it’ll keep you updated with all things SW. Including, of course, the garden. Our goal for this year is to submit an entry every month. The above photo is from our March entry regarding the spring kick-off. Speaking of which…

*Reminder* 4th Annual Spring Kick-off: April 8th

Just a reminder that our spring kick-off will be on Saturday, April 8th, from 11am to 3pm. You can RSVP via Facebook, if you like.

  • We’ll be planting the communal beds; 
  • creating garden signs;
  • amateur face-painting will be available (emphasis on amateur 👩‍🎨👨🏽‍🎨);
  • there will be a workshop on companion planting;
  • and we’ll be creating a new SW-inspired flower garden. The new garden will be in the shape of the letters S and W, with a heart in between — S ❤️ W.

If you’d like to help with any of the planning, or have suggestions for additional activities, feel free to get in touch!

4th Annual Spring Kick-off, Sat. April 8th

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Date set for our 4th Annual Spring Kick-off: April 8th

Thanks to everyone who came to our get together last Saturday! We had a great discussion, and it was refreshing to see both new, and familiar faces.

The kick off will be on Saturday, April 8th, from 11am to 3pm. You can RSVP via Facebook, if you like. We’ll be planting the communal beds, creating garden signs, amateur face-painting will be offered (emphasis on amateur 👩‍🎨👨🏽‍🎨), and we’ll be creating a new SW-inspired flower garden: the garden will be in the shape of the letters S and W, with a heart in between — S ❤️ W

If you’d like to help with any of the planning, or have suggestions for additional activities, feel free to get in touch!

Time to start planning for Spring 2017


Celebrating Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, consider reading this piece written in 2005 by Juan Williams and published by National Public Radio on the history, and current status of Black Farmers in America.

Getting Ready For Our 4th Annual Spring Kick-off!

Are you ready to get your hands in some dirt again? Well, spring is getting closer and closer each day, which also means it’s time to start planning for our annual, spring kick-off. The kick-off marks the beginning of the communal section’s growing season, and the resumption of regular workdays.

In previous years, we’ve held cooking demos, compost workshops, planted potatoes in buckets, painted garden signs, and of course, planted seeds in the communal section (photos from previous years can be found here: 2014, 2015, 2016).

So… what have we got planned for this year? We don’t know yet, but if you’d like to help us figure that out, please fill out this Doodle poll by Sunday night, February 12th. The next day, the 13th, via this newsletter, the most convenient day and time will be shared for anyone to attend.

Building On Last Year

Our goal for 2017 is to continue the momentum we’ve created over the past couple of years. In 2015, we grew 65 pounds of produce and averaged about 10 people per workday; in 2016, we grew 140 pounds and averaged almost 14 people per workday. Please feel free to share with us your talents, ideas, energy, and any other unique attributes!

Composting 24/7/365

Oh, and hey, the brothers at Urban Farm Plans built us a new compost bin that will be accessible all day, every day!

That’s A Wrap For 2016!

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Thank you!

Well, friends, yesterday, was the garden’s last workday of 2016. The cover crops are in, and the gates are closed. It’s been a fantastic year in the garden — we grew, and distributed more fruits and vegetables than we had our previous 2 years, and had a record number of visitors to the garden.

The Stats

Last year, we grew 65 pounds of produce, and this year, we stepped up our production and reached 140 pounds! We also took another step forward in our pursuit of creating a true “community garden” rather than a “garden in a community” by connecting with more of our SW neighbors (and honorary SW residents).

In 2015, we had 364 total visits to the garden, with 58 new visits, and an average of 10 people per workday.
This year, we had a total of 655 visits, 80 new visitors, and an average of 13.5 people per workday!
Overall, from 2014-2016, we’ve had a 180% increase in visits during our workdays!
More isn’t always better, but whoa!

The future

While the garden is closed, we will recharge, take time to reflect, and start thinking about what we can do to continue becoming a valuable component of the community. If you have ideas, suggestions, feed back, or want to get involved, feel free to get in touch with us. If there are items that you think we should purchase, let us know!

We’ll start preparing for our spring kick-off in February, so you can expect to hear from us then!

Enjoy the rest of the year, and see you in the spring!