Washington D.C. Urban Gardens Bring Low-Cost, Fresh Produce To City’s Food Deserts
“I always wanted to work outside,” she said. The former children’s day care worker noted that kids enjoy digging in the earth and learning how plants grow. But if they’re scolded for getting dirty, they tend to lose that curiosity.
By Larisa Epatko
PBS and NPR
November 24, 2016
Lelia Parker grew up on a farm in rural Virginia and moved to the U.S. capital 30 years ago, seeking a more urban environment. But she still gets the gardening itch.
Down the street from her Southeast D.C. home is a community garden, where tidy beds of succulent zucchini, peppers and squash grow.
The garden is operated by the nonprofit group DC UrbanGreens. Not long ago, Parker discovered the site and began telling her neighbors about it and about how to cook with fresh vegetables instead of canned. Now she’s a board member and the group’s outreach coordinator.
Julie Kirkwood, a construction project manager, and Vincent Forte, a lawyer, started DC UrbanGreens three years ago, with a goal to help provide low-cost fresh produce to people living in an area without easy access to grocery stores.
“A place where you take care of the outdoors, I think the air will smell better. People will feel better.”
They studied successful urban gardens in other states and learned about grant writing to fund theirs. They utilized neighborhood ambassadors like Parker and added two more sites. Now, they have three mini-farms in parts of southeastern D.C. labeled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as food deserts — places usually in low-income areas that lack fresh fruits and vegetables.