Funky Friday Farming: Pass The Peas

On June 6, 2014, we had our first ever Funky Friday Farming event called “Pass the Peas.” This was our way of celebrating peas, and funk music, through a James Brown classic. As the video above demonstrates, it indeed got a little funky in the garden.

In addition to getting down, we also harvested 6 pounds of sugar snap peas. We then proceeded to follow the godfather of Soul’s instructions to “pass the peas” – we passed them to volunteers, kids, and folks in front of the Waterfront metro station.


Distributing what is grown in the garden to people at the Waterfront metro station seems to be a popular and engaging way to share our produce, interact with neighbors, and promote the garden itself. Those who have helped with this, think we should make this a regular feature of our harvests. We’ll put out a call to harvest, distribute some to volunteers and kids, and then give the rest to people in front of the metro and Safeway. If you’ve got ideas, or would like to participate, just email us at swgardensdc at


Build Raised Beds at Southwest Library

Come out for more gardening in the neighborhood on April 12!

The Southwest Library is building some raised beds for a library garden–and they need your help! SW Gardens is helping out with tools, we just need the man- and womanpower to make it happen.

Here are the details:

Who: Southwest Library and neighboring community–and hopefully you!
What: building 2 raised beds/filling them with dirt and compost/perhaps doing some planting as well?
WhenSaturday, April 12, 2014 2pm4pm (rain date TBD)
Where: Southwest Library, 900 Wesley Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024 (nearest Waterfront metro on Green line; also near Federal Center SW station and V7/8/9 bus lines
What to bring: your energy and enthusiasm and a pair of gloves

*There is off-street parking behind the library if you are driving.

Garden with Kid Power DC in Southwest

Kid Power DC is starting the VeggieTime program at our neighborhood schools this year–Amidon-Bowen Elementary and Jefferson Middle School. They organize school gardens, healthy eating education, after school and summer programs.

Here’s the current volunteer opportunities:


Get down and dirty with students in the garden. Whether you are an expert gardener or want to learn how alongside the kids we would love to have you assist our students with garden tasks like planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. (weekly or monthly commitment)

Weekend Gardening

Sometimes our gardens just need a little TLC. If you have a few extra weekend hours a month and know your way around a garden we would appreciate your help keeping our school gardens healthy. (This opportunity does not involve working with students and can be done on your own schedule.) !

Summer Garden Watering

Assist our program with maintaining all of our garden beds during the hot summer months. When school is out and our staff are on vacation the plants still need someone to tend them. Our gardens are located at 8 different sites in various neighborhoods throughout the city. We are looking for people to help between one and three times a week mornings or evenings. All ages and gardening levels welcome! (1-3 days a week, one week – whole summer)


Are you an expert? Have you had an interesting life experience? Do you have an innovative job? Come out and talk to our students about it in a 3 lesson series. You can introduce yourself and your idea/experience and work with students to build a service learning project around that idea. (once 3-5 visit commitment)

Working at Farmer’s Markets
Help students run their own Farmers’ Market produce stands at various locations around the city. This is a weekend opportunity for you to see the business side of our gardens. Assist groups of 2-5 students in bettering their public speaking abilities as they engage customers and increasing their math skills by getting the opportunity to handle real money in a real world situation. Our markets are run from 10am to 12:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. We provide all the materials and a brief training. (once a month) !

Cooking Nights/Demonstrations
Do you like to cook? Come help Kid Power share nutritious recipes with student families and community members at our Family Cooking Nights and Farmers’ Market cooking demos. We need everything from sous chefs to head chefs to waiters. (once a month) !

Contact Katie Harvey or

Spring Planting


We’re less than a month away from the March equinox (March 21st), the unofficial start of spring, and the SW Community Garden is getting ready!

With the input of voters, who either stopped by the garden and dropped off their suggestions, or voted in our online survey, we came up with a planting plan that we hope will cater to SW stomaches. For the spring, we’ll be planting: kale, lettuce, carrots, spinach, peas, broccoli, beets, cabbage, radishes, strawberries, peanuts, and a variety of onions. Once these crops have had their fun in the sun, we’ll replace them with others with the goal of growing something all year.

To preserve the health and balance of the soil, and to deter pests and diseases from getting too comfortable in the garden, we will be rotating the crops on a semi-seasonal basis. We chose to do this because plants have a variety of appetites, some feed on nutrients in the soil more than others, and others (legumes) add nutrients (nitrogen) to the soil, so it is important to cycle through the different crop varieties for sustainability purposes.

An example cycle to follow is: fruits->roots->legumes->leaves. (Fruit examples: cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, crops with seeds inside them; Root examples: beets, radishes, turnips, carrots; Legume examples: peanuts, beans, peas; Leaves examples: lettuce, mustards, arugula.) An important note to consider within this cycle is that fruits do best when grown during the summer months.

We hope to make the garden as sustainable as possible, and are working with the urban composting company, Compost Cab, on being a local drop-point for food scraps so we can start producing our own compost. To stay in the loop with this project, and other activities we have planned, check out our Facebook page, Twitter, or website.

And don’t forget about the spring kick-off in the garden on March 22nd, from 1-5pm! (address: 1098 Delaware Ave)

Spring Kickoff Day is Coming!

We at SW Gardens are exciting to be hosting a Spring Kickoff Day on Saturday, March 22, from 2:00pm until 5:00pm. Even though several of our gardeners kept their plots active throughout much of the colder months, we still can’t wait to get started with our plots once again in 2014!

We’ll have updates coming soon on the fun activities we plan to have, but suffice it to say, we hope you’ll join us for some leisurely merriment and fun gardening. We are so happy to serve as a place where Southwesters can come to relax, connect with friends and neighbors, and maybe learn a thing or two at the same time. That’s what we were created for, first and foremost – and we hope that’s what we are becoming, more and more each day!

2014, here we come!

Getting Ready For Our First Spring

6 months in, and the SW Community Garden in Lansburgh Park has already experienced nearly all the elements of a DC fall and winter (even including a “polar vortex” [!]). And through it all, the plants have continued to grow.

Since the garden’s opening on July 31st, 2013, a variety of herbs and vegetables have been grown, such as basil, swiss chard, and tomatoes. The growing continued throughout the end of 2013, as arugula, collard greens, kale, lettuce, and perennial herbs, like rosemary and thyme, were also able to grow.

Thanks to our gardening efforts, we’ve been able to harvest a little over 10 pounds of produce, which has been distributed to volunteers and members of the community. We hope to continue this trend, and to grow and share even more this year.

In preparation for the upcoming growing season, we want to know what you want to see growing in the garden. For us, being a true community garden means appealing to the taste-buds of the neighborhood. You can let us know your suggestions by filling out a survey, or voting at the collection box we have set up at the garden (located at 1098 Delaware Ave SW). We’ll be taking suggestions until March 1st.

We will then give you the chance to plant some of the chosen vegetables during the garden’s spring kick-off event on, Saturday, March 22nd. There, we will have workshops, gardening activities, some snacks, music, and will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about the garden.

We hope to see you there!

A Cherry Tree to honor Ron McBee, “The Mayor of Southwest”

ImageOn Saturday November 9th at 2pm, the Southwest Gardens Community gathered with Southwest community leaders and friends to plant a cherry tree to honor the passing of a “The Mayor of Southwest,” Ron McBee. Ron served as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Southwest from 2007 until the time of his death in Autumn 2013.

Ron was instrumental in managing the July 31, 2013 realization of SW Community Gardens. Once Fiskars Co. awarded the Project Orange Thumb grant in early 2013, Ron advanced the process of lining up arduous land-preparation tasks and wrangling permits from relevant city government agencies.

Ron is also fondly remembered as an advocate for our neighboring Amidon-Bowen Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School. Education was a cause close to Ron’s heart and Ron understood the educational and community-building role of public resource like the Southwest Community Gardens.

Ron McBee, 1945-2013

Ron McBee, 1945-2013

Photos courtesy of Saadia Athias