Community Garden Census 2010 Report

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT AS A PDF!

 


Introduction

Urban agriculture is growing in Washington DC. From restaurants with raised beds to gardens on apartment rooftops, from the Obama’s organic garden on the White House lawn to families growing their own food at home, this diverse movement has enormous potential.

It’s not just about growing food: “Urban agriculture involves land use decisions, nutritious meals at schools, employment and job training, food processing and delivery, the creation of clean green working spaces in urban areas, citywide systems of composting waste, and much more.”[1]

Here, we focus on one subset of urban agriculture: community gardens. Community gardens are publicly held green spaces dedicated specifically to food production.  The goals of the Neighborhood Farm Initiative’s Community Garden Census are threefold:

  • to provide readily accessible information so that DC residents can find gardens in their neighborhoods;
  • to provide a blueprint of best practices for garden management and structure; and
  • to facilitate resource-sharing and information between gardens.

Prior to our first community garden census (conducted in Fall 2009), there were no existing statistics that definitively assessed the total number of gardening units or area of public land under cultivation in the District of Columbia. The 2009 report established baseline data which can be used to assess annual change in number of community gardens, area cultivated, and active usage over time.

In 2010, we will be expanding the report in order to make the information more useful and accessible to a wide variety of DC residents. This report is a summary of the full report, which will be released in the summer of 2011. In the summary of our report, we’ve included four case studies and a summary of best practices.


As we work on finalizing the full report in the coming months, we’d love to hear your feedback! Please email NeighborhoodFarm@gmail.com with questions, suggestions, and leads on new gardens.


What does DC’s community gardening landscape look like currently?

There are currently 36 community gardens in Washington DC.

Ward 1

Common Good City Farm, Kalorama

Ward 2

Independence, Temple, West End

Ward 3

Fort Reno, Friendship, Glover-Archbald, Melvin Hazen, Newark Street, Whitehaven

Ward 4

Blair Road, Emery, Fort Stevens, Peabody, Rock Creek, Takoma, Twin Oaks

Ward 5

Mamie D. Lee Community Garden, Montana, Washington Youth Garden

Ward 6

Green East, SEED, Hill East, Hilton, Kings Court, Lovejoy, Pomegranate, Virginia Ave., Waterside, Wylie Street

Ward 7

Fort Dupont, Kingman Park-Rosedale, Lederer Youth Garden

Ward 8

Fort Stanton, Shipley

 

2010 Community Garden Data

Total number of plots/gardeners

1816

Total Acreage under cultivation

~26.5 acres

Total Number of Community Gardens

36 (+1 from 2009)*

*In 2010 DC gained 2 new community gardens (SEED and Shipley) and lost 1 (Barry Farm)

 

Methodology

Data was gathered through in-person visits to each garden during the fall harvest season, when it was expected most gardeners would be present. During each garden visit, volunteers and interns conducted interviews with garden managers and a random sample of present community gardeners whenever possible. If unavailable for an in-person interview, follow-up interviews with garden managers were conducted through phone and email contact.

Community garden managers were asked a specific set of questions that included information regarding the management structure of their garden, plot utilization data, and length of waiting list (if applicable). Community gardeners were asked questions to determine how, what, and why people garden in DC, and to learn how the community gardening experience can be affected by the management practices at each garden.

In 2009, volunteers walked the perimeter of each garden while marking waypoints with a GPS device. In 2010, only new gardens were mapped as no existing gardens experienced an increase in cultivated acreage over the 2010 growing season.

 

Management structure


Managers were interviewed for every garden in DC with the intention of gaining insight into the overall management structure of the garden and to determine a blueprint of best practices for community garden management. Most gardens are organized similarly, with an elected manager and executive board.

However, there are several gardens that do not have boards at all, and they often have managers who volunteer for the position. In such cases the manager alone monitors accounts, plot dispersal, and plot inspection. This often occurs in gardens with less involvement from gardeners and the community. In these instances, the determination by one gardener to keep the garden running until there is greater interest in these positions by gardeners is common. In gardens such as these, many of the managers that were interviewed had been in their position for upwards of ten years.

There were a few gardens which, despite having dedicated management teams, experienced a poor sense of community, which in turn seems to impair the cohesiveness and success of the garden as a whole. This indicates that a successful garden is not solely dependent on good management structure, but also on the ability of the managers and gardeners to create and maintain a strong sense of community. To this end, NFI’s Community Garden Census also asked questions to determine how the managers communicated with their gardeners and how they facilitated communication between gardeners. Managers were also asked whether or not their gardens had mandatory garden-wide workdays or community meetings.

There was a positive correlation between the frequency of workdays and meetings and the strength of the sense of community among gardeners. Having visited the gardens during some of these workdays and parties, it is clear that these gatherings facilitate communication and camaraderie. It is important to keep in mind, though, that these types of events require a time commitment from all involved, and in some communities (especially predominantly working class neighborhoods) gardeners may have little outside time to devote to their gardening efforts beyond actually working their garden plots.

 

To obtain a community garden plot

In 2010, a vast majority of community gardens in DC have waiting lists of aspiring gardeners wanting plots. Procedures to obtain a garden plot varies by garden, though gardens often request mail or email so that you may be added to their list. Most gardens operate on first-come, first-serve basis, although some hold a lottery to randomize the selection process. Please contact an individual garden for any distance/residency requirements and its plot acquisition procedure.

Our table listing DC’s community gardens, garden manager contact information, garden fees, and waiting list data is updated annually online at:

www.fieldtoforknetwork.org/community-gardens/chart

 

Resource-sharing


NFI researched resource-sharing across community gardens within the District as well as among gardeners within individual community gardens.

As for sharing resources across gardens, current census results indicate that there is little sharing of resources or coordination between gardens outside of the Capitol Hill community, which is well organized through the Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust. (See case study for more information.)

One purpose of the census is to help establish connections which will facilitate resource-sharing between DC’s community gardens, and has the potential to inform a coordinated land management strategy for urban agriculture in DC. Each community garden has developed with its own distinct culture and values, and it is not assumed that “Best Practices” could (or should) be implemented blindly across the board without closer examination. However, if garden managers were to regularly communicate with each other, their individual efforts could be coordinated, allowing each garden to be inspired by other gardens’ successes.

Currently, within community gardens, communal infrastructure varies dramatically across the District – some gardens have deer fencing, tool sheds with communal tools, communal composting systems, picnic tables, watering systems, fruit tree orchards, shade trees and chairs/benches, and/or dumping areas for coordinated deliveries of woodchips, manure, or “Leafgro” compost. Other gardens simply have individual buckets to collect rainwater and exhibit no signs of communal infrastructure.

Certain garden management structures allow for fundraising committees, grant-writing activities, coordinated donation of gardeners’ surplus harvest, communal tool procurement, garden social events, educational programming for youth or adults, hosting school field trips, or other community-building activities. Other gardens are comprised of individual gardeners who seldom interact with one another.

By allowing gardeners and garden managers to recognize that their garden is one of almost 40 such sites in the District alone, the Community Garden Census has helped to establish the connections that will encourage future resource-sharing between and among DC’s community gardens.

 

Interviews with Gardeners

Gardeners were interviewed to gain insight into:

  • why they choose to garden,
  • why they keep gardening,
  • how they garden, and
  • how they learned the gardening techniques they employ.

These questions and others were designed to understand the motivations of community gardeners. NFI aims to discover which benefits of urban agriculture are the most motivating for gardeners. For example, are many residents turning to community gardening in recent times of economic recession out of necessity, or do the majority of gardeners join community gardens for the physical and mental health benefits? The garden census also collects voluntarily-disclosed demographic information about the participants such as age, race, gender, and profession in order to discover who has the greatest access to and/or the most interest in community gardening. Through this information, DC’s urban agriculture movement can begin to understand who is benefitting from the movement and examine the reasons why.

Additionally, NFI hopes to learn whether community gardens that offer educational programming and social activities for youth and/or adults are more attractive to prospective first-time gardeners than gardens without measurable and established community-building activities. Is there a difference in length of plot retention by new gardeners correlated with such activities?

Finally, NFI hopes the waiting list data gathered through the garden census will be used to present a convincing case to relevant government agencies for the creation of more community gardens in the District. Finding suitable land is always the first barrier to starting a new community garden, and by reserving a portion of public land for this use, that barrier could be lifted.

 

Gardener TrendsText Box: What do people grow in DC?    Most commonly grown  Squash  Herbs  Greens like spinach, arugula, lettuce, cabbage, kale, collard greens    DC gardeners also grow  Artichokes	Eggplant  Lima beans	Carrots  Radishes	Melons  Sweet corn	Berries  Lemongrass	Okra  Garlic	Peas  Leeks	Huckleberry  Cotton	Broccoli  Soybeans	Cucumber  Peppers	Peanuts  Beans	Sweet potatoes  Onions 	Oriental vegetables

How do most gardeners learn to grow?

Almost all gardeners reported that they had learned to garden from their parents and other family members during childhood, which indicates the importance of involving children in gardening projects.

How long have people been gardening?
Responses varied considerably, with respondents indicating that they have been gardening in DC anywhere from less than a year to 25 years.

The average DC gardener has been active in their plot for 12 years. In other words, many gardeners are dedicated, long-term community gardeners.

 

Why do people garden?

  • Most respondents replied that they garden purely because they enjoy doing so.
  • Their next most common response was that they gardened in order to eat better, followed by physical exercise.
  • Other responses include beautification of the community, interest in local foods, and community engagement.

 

Case Studies

Four case studies are included in this report in order to highlight a few examples of successful gardening activities throughout DC. The four gardens or gardening organizations highlighted here were chosen to give a sample of various organizing techniques that can be employed when structuring a community garden.

Though determining the success of individual gardening projects will be dependent on each group’s own objectives, here we identify several general indicators of a successful community garden:

  • Strong community interest
  • A dedicated management team
  • Access to resources and networking
  • High rates of participation in garden committees

Newark Street Community Garden

Newark Street Community Garden is one of the biggest and most clearly structured community gardens in DC. It is located in Ward 3 at the intersection of 39th St & Newark St NW on land held by DC Department of Parks and Recreation.


The garden is over 36 years old, with a cultivated area of 2.2 acres, plenty of grassy open space, and a view overlooking the National Cathedral. Newark Street Community Garden is a beautiful place to spend time and has been certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.


The garden plots themselves number around 190-200 and are about 1
5′x15′ in size. Many of them have been fenced in by previous gardeners due to issues with deer. The garden has been entirely organic since 2003.

Newark Street Community Garden has many beneficial partnerships and resources that have aided in its development and expansion. Through a partnership with
Casey Trees, a variety of fruit trees were planted in the community area. A local youth organization has built several large compost units for Newark Street as part of a community service project. Gardeners themselves have planted communal raspberries, blackberries, and other fruit around the borders of the garden.

The garden is organized into committees of volunteer gardeners who oversee aspects of the garden such as community composting, garden potlucks, tool maintenance, water pipe & hose spigot maintenance, partnerships with local food pantries for donation of surplus produce, scheduling deliveries of wood chips, and more.
If gardeners opt out of volunteer work they must pay a higher plot fee, a policy that ensures high participation in committees.

Gardeners are held strictly accountable for the maintenance of their plots. Demand for Newark Street garden plots is high (the waitlist fluctuates around 80 people), so gardens tend to be very well-maintained. The Rules Committee checks garden plots several times during the growing season to be sure that all plots are being utilized. If a plot appears in violation of the rules or appears abandoned, gardeners are notified and given one week to improve. If gardeners do not comply after one week, they are given one more and then evicted from the garden if they fail to comply.[2]


Due to strong community interest in the garden, a dedicated management team, access to resources and networking, and significant participation in committees by gardeners, Newark Street is a model garden for those looking to start a new community garden.

 

Common Good City Farm

Common Good City Farm is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,
operating as an urban farm and education center. Common Good sits on what was once the baseball field at Gage-Eckington Elementary School. When the DC Public School closed in June 2008, the grounds were abandoned. Simultaneously, the 7th Street Garden (which ran from 2007 to 2009 - a joint project of  Liz Falk and Susan Ellsworth, with help from the Shaw Ecovillage’s EcoDesign Corps at Bread for the City’s Shaw site) was looking for a new home.

The LeDroit Park Civic Association and residents of the area invited the 7th Street Garden to operate its programs serving low-income residents on the grounds of the former school. In October 2008, the 7th Street Garden became Common Good City Farm and began growing food and community at their new site.[3]


Currently, the farm serves as a demonstration site where people can get hands on training in food production, nutrition, and sustainability. For example, Green Tomorrows is Common Good’s program that provides fresh food to low-income individuals or families in DC in exchange for educational opportunities. Program participants do hands-on work on the farm in exchange for produce; similar to a “work for food” program, this is a “learn for food” program.


Currently, the farm is in the third year of a three-year agreement, a “license to occupy” from the District of Columbia’s Office of Property Management that must be renewed this year.  On the other part of the site, the Deputy Mayer’s Office of Planning and Economic Development is developing a multi-use recreational green space, which will include a playground, dog park, playing field, and community garden plots.


The Common Good example shows that working with city government requires patience and attention to detail. For instance, in order to build an outdoor wooden structure on the property, the organization and the contractor worked for 7 months to gather the necessary permits and involved at least 4 different government offices. However, staff found that having a responsive ally working in government offices is essential to navigating these protracted processes.[4]

 

City Blossoms


City Blossoms is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Washington DC and Baltimore, committed to utilizing community gardens as outreach mechanisms. Working primarily with children and youth, City Blossoms focuses on activating community spaces through gardening while promoting art education.


Founders of City Blossoms, Lola Bloom and Rebecca Lemos, began working together in CentroNia’s school garden in Columbia Heights more than ten years ago. In 2003 they became City Blossoms, and have now worked with more than a thousand children in eight gardens throughout DC and Baltimore.


In addition to working directly with local children in gardens through both short-term workshops and long-term commitments, City Blossoms also offers consulting services for groups looking to start their own gardens. They are also in the process of developing a bilingual curriculum tailored to the standards and learning goals of area schools.


Partnering with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, City Blossoms has recently put together a guide to starting School Gardens. The guide outlines tips for planning and launching a garden, as well as ideas for learning activities that work well in a garden setting. A pdf version of the document is available on their website.


City Blossoms has had success in acquiring land through direct leases with private landowners and housing developments, in addition to partnerships with schools and community centers.[5] Although land tenure is a common roadblock to forming long-term gardening projects in cities like DC, partnerships with places that already have control of the land is a great way to increase the permanence of a gardening project.


DC Parks and Recreation has initiated demonstration gardens in every recreation center in DC, and would love to work with community members interested in gardening at their local recreation center. Contact your recreation center, or get in touch with Kelly Melsted (Kelly.Melsted@dc.gov) for more information on this opportunity.



Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust


The Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust is a 501(c)3 non-profit that was established to take ownership of the parcel of land where the King’s Court Community Garden is located. Before the creation of the King’s Court garden (founded in 1997), the land was a vacant back-alley lot.


With help from a local City Council member, special legislation was passed to waive back-taxes on the property and allow the landholder to donate the land free of a land-transfer charge. The Land Trust now officially holds title to this land, as well as the land of a second garden, the Hill East Community Garden. Both lots were donated to the Land Trust, and as long as the space is used for community gardening, have been exempt from future property taxes by the DC Council.


Designed as part of the L’Enfant Street Plan, this neighborhood has a unique layout that creates the interior lots where the four gardens are housed. Because the alley access roads are less than thirty feet wide, DC Code prohibits the construction of buildings on the lots. Undesired by developers, some of these lots remained vacant and unmanaged.[6] Through the creation of their community gardens, the Land Trust and garden members have transformed blighted land into healthy and productive community spaces.


The inability to develop these lots with buildings has played an important role in the Land Trust’s ability to acquire and maintain ownership of the garden space. While this particular design for interior lots is believed to be specific to this section of the city, it seems likely that there are other lots throughout DC with similar development restrictions. If identified, the Land Trust’s model for land acquisition could be followed, offering a chance for more gardeners to secure land in their own communities.


DC Code 48-402 mandates that the city keep current inventory of all vacant lots and encourage the production of food on vacant land, by enacting policies and programs that encourage landowners to donate land for cultivation. Property tax rates also serve as incentive for property owners to turn blighted land into useful space – blighted land is taxed at 10%, vacant land at 5%, and occupied land between 0.85 and 1.85%.


Best Practices for Community Gardening

  • Confirm a water supply. [7] Though securing land for a community garden may be the biggest hurdle in creating a new garden, a reliable supply of water is just as important.  If there is no existing water source in the garden space, arrangements can often be made with neighbors or nearby businesses to utilize their water supply.
  • Test your soil! Urban environments are home to many potential soil contaminants, notably lead and arsenic.  These substances are heavy metals that accumulate in soils, and can be especially toxic to children and pregnant women. [8] Before you start gardening, make sure the soil is safe.  If soil contaminants are a problem in your garden space, using raised beds is a viable alternative.
  • Have an organizational structure for your community garden. [9] Be sure to identify committed leaders and develop a set of ground rules or garden bylaws.  Deciding who gets priority for plot space, setting plot fees, and deciding the fate of neglected plots is important. Clearly communicating these expectations to all gardeners is essential.
  • Be an active and positive addition to your surrounding community. [10] Becoming allies with other neighborhood organizations (such as churches or housing associations) will be advantageous in the long run.  Working together on projects with community organizations can be mutually beneficial, and becoming known and appreciated in the neighborhood will be helpful in maintaining the use of your land.
  • Coordinate with other local community gardens.  Figure out who else is out there so you can collaborate and share resources.  Coordination among gardeners can help reduce costs and labor.


Visions for Urban Agriculture in DC

Urban agriculture initiatives, such as community gardens, seek to increase local production and consumption of healthy foods. Such projects may focus on different objectives, ranging from environmental education and childhood development to urban renewal and improved food security for low-income communities, or the objective may simply be neighbors finding a common space to each grow a portion of their family’s food. Whatever the ultimate goal of each gardening project, all efforts can be enhanced by working together to transform the DC landscape into a fertile environment for urban agriculture.

What would might collaboration look like? Some visions from people in the field include:

• Active and flourishing community gardening space at every recreation center in DC. [11]

• Initiatives to open up school gardens to the community during summer months, when school is not in session and the growing season is at its peak. [12]

• Building new gardens where playgrounds already exist – playgrounds often have extra land and already have a community of families utilizing the space.[13]

• Seeking partnerships with local churches and religious organizations, many of which already have programs to distribute food in their neighborhoods, as well as space to build new gardens.[14]

• Establishing a government-based organization to streamline the process for creating new urban agriculture projects and protecting land from industrial development.[15]

• Concentrating efforts for new gardening projects in areas considered food deserts, to enhance access to fresh and healthy produce.



Useful Government Resources


Ø DC DPR and National Park Service
- Put together a list of publicly owned land in DC
http://www.capitalspace.gov/

Ø DC Department of Parks and Recreation
- Community Garden & Beehive Program
http://dpr.dc.gov/DC/DPR/Facilities+and+Permits/Recreation+Facilities#4

Ø DC Department of Real Estate Services
- Lists vacant lots
http://dres.dc.gov/DC/DRES/Services/Property+Search

Ø DC Office of Tax and Revenue
- Recorder of Deeds
http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/otr/frames.asp?doc=https://gov.propertyinfo.com/DC-Washington/

Ø DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
- Regulate land use and development
http://dcra.dc.gov/DC/DCRA

Ø DC CODE – Food Production and Urban Gardens Program
Division VIII General Laws
Title 48 Food and Drugs
Subtitle 1 Food
Chapter 4 Food Production and Urban Gardens Program
http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/dcofficialcode


Our table listing DC’s community gardens, garden manager contact information, garden fees, and waiting list data is updated annually online at:

www.fieldtoforknetwork.org/community-gardens/chart





[1] Rinehard, Lee.Urban Farms Cultivate Food and Community.” Start a Farm in the City. 2009:2.

[2] Newark Street Community Garden Manager. Personal Interview. 2 October 2010.

[3] “Our History.” Common Good City Farm. 15 January 2011.

[4] Ellsworth, Spencer. Personal Interview. 17 January 2011.

[5] Bloom, Lola. Personal Interview. 21 January 2011.

[6] Taylor, Pat. Personal Interview. 18 November 2010.

[7] Taylor, Pat. Personal Interview. 18 November 2010.

[8] “Urban Soils and Soil Testing: Avoiding Lead & Other Heavy Metals.” Start a Farm in the City. 2009: 9.

[9] Taylor, Pat. Personal Interview. 18 November 2010.

[10] Rollins, Carl. 14 December 2010.

[11] Melsted, Kelly. Personal Interview. 2 February 2011.

[12] Toscano, Laura. Personal Interview. 27 January 2011.

[13] Toscano, Laura. Personal Interview. 27 January 2011.

[14] Rollins, Carl. Personal Interview. 14 December 2010.

[15] Rollins, Carl. Personal Interview. 14 December 2010.





Introduction

Urban agriculture[p1] is growing in Washington DC[p2] . From restaurants with raised beds to gardens on apartment rooftops, from the Obama’s organic garden on the White House lawn to families growing their own food at home, this diverse movement has enormous potential.

It’s not just about growing food: “Urban agriculture involves land use decisions, nutritious meals at schools, employment and job training, food processing and delivery, the creation of clean green working spaces in urban areas, citywide systems of composting waste, and much more.”[1]

Here, we focus on one subset of urban agriculture: community gardens[CG3] . Community gardens are publicly held green spaces dedicated specifically to food production.  The goals of the Neighborhood Farm Initiative’s Community Garden Census are threefold:

  • to provide readily accessible information so that DC residents can find gardens in their neighborhoods;
  • to provide a blueprint of best practices for garden management and structure; and
  • to facilitate resource-sharing and information between gardens.

Prior to our first community garden census (conducted in Fall 2009), there were no existing statistics that definitively assessed the total number of gardening units or area of public land under cultivation in the District of Columbia. The 2009 report established baseline data which can be used to assess annual change in number of community gardens, area cultivated, and active usage over time.

In 2010, we will be expanding the report in order to make the information more useful and accessible to a wide variety of DC residents. This report is a summary of the full report, which will be released in the summer of 2011. In the summary of our report, we’ve included four case studies and a summary of best practices.


As we work on finalizing the full report in the coming months, we’d love to hear your feedback! Please email NeighborhoodFarm@gmail.com with questions, suggestions, and leads on new gardens.

What does DC’s community gardening landscape look like currently?

There are currently 36 community gardens in Washington DC.

Ward 1

Common Good City Farm[??4] , Kalorama

Ward 2

Independence, Temple, West End

Ward 3

Fort Reno, Friendship, Glover-Archbald, Melvin Hazen, Newark Street, Whitehaven

Ward 4

Blair Road, Emery, Fort Stevens, Peabody, Rock Creek, Takoma, Twin Oaks

Ward 5

Mamie D. Lee Community Garden, Montana, Washington Youth Garden

Ward 6

Green East, SEED, Hill East, Hilton, Kings Court, Lovejoy, Pomegranate, Virginia Ave., Waterside, Wylie Street

Ward 7

Fort Dupont, Kingman Park-Rosedale, Lederer Youth Garden

Ward 8

Fort Stanton, Shipley

2010 Community Garden Data

Total number of plots/gardeners

1816

Total Acreage under cultivation

~26.5 acres

Total Number of Community Gardens

36 (+1 from 2009)*

*In 2010 DC gained 2 new community gardens (SEED and Shipley) and lost 1 (Barry Farm)


Methodology

Data was gathered through in-person visits to each garden during the fall harvest season, when it was expected most gardeners would be present. During each garden visit, volunteers and interns conducted interviews with garden managers and a random sample of present community gardeners whenever possible. If unavailable for an in-person interview, follow-up interviews with garden managers were conducted through phone and email contact.

Community garden managers were asked a specific set of questions that included information regarding the management structure of their garden, plot utilization data, and length of waiting list (if applicable). Community gardeners were asked questions to determine how, what, and why people garden in DC, and to learn how the community gardening experience can be affected by the management practices at each garden.

In 2009, volunteers walked the perimeter of each garden while marking waypoints with a GPS device. In 2010, only new gardens were mapped as no existing gardens experienced an increase in cultivated acreage over the 2010 growing season.

Management structure


Managers were interviewed for every garden in DC with the intention of gaining insight into the overall management structure of the garden and to determine a blueprint of best practices for community garden management. Most gardens [??5] are organized similarly, with an elected manager and executive board.

However, there are several gardens that do not have boards at all, and they often have managers who volunteer for the position. In such cases the manager alone monitors accounts, plot dispersal, and plot inspection. This often occurs in gardens with less involvement from gardeners and the community. In these instances, the determination by one gardener to keep the garden running until there is greater interest in these positions by gardeners is common. In gardens such as these, many of the managers that were interviewed had been in their position for upwards of ten years.

There were a few gardens which, despite having dedicated management teams, experienced a poor sense of community[??6] , which in turn seems to impair the cohesiveness and success of the garden [??7] as a whole. This indicates that a successful garden is not solely dependent on good management structure, but also on the ability of the managers and gardeners to create and maintain a strong sense of community. To this end, NFI’s Community Garden Census also asked questions to determine how the managers communicated with their gardeners and how they facilitated communication between gardeners. Managers were also asked whether or not their gardens had mandatory garden-wide workdays or community meetings. [??8]

There was a positive correlation between the frequency of workdays and meetings and the strength of the sense of community among gardeners. Having visited the gardens during some of these workdays and parties, it is clear that these gatherings facilitate communication and camaraderie. It is important to keep in mind, though, that these types of events require a time commitment from all involved, and in some communities (especially predominantly working class neighborhoods) gardeners may have little outside time to devote to their gardening efforts beyond actually working their garden plots.

To obtain a community garden plot

In 2010, a vast majority of community gardens in DC have waiting lists of aspiring gardeners wanting plots. Procedures to obtain a garden plot varies by garden, though gardens often request mail or email so that you may be added to their list. Most gardens operate on first-come, first-serve basis, although some hold a lottery to randomize the selection process. Please contact an individual garden for any distance/residency requirements and its plot acquisition procedure.

Our table listing DC’s community gardens, garden manager contact information, garden fees, and waiting list data is updated annually online at:

www.fieldtoforknetwork.org/community-gardens/chart


Resource-sharing


NFI researched resource-sharing across community gardens within the District as well as among gardeners within individual community gardens.

As for sharing resources across gardens, current census results indicate that there is little sharing of resources or coordination between gardens outside of the Capitol Hill community, which is well organized through the Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust. (See case study for more information.)

One purpose of the census is to help establish connections which will facilitate resource-sharing between DC’s community gardens, and has the potential to inform a coordinated land management strategy for urban agriculture in DC. Each community garden has developed with its own distinct culture and values, and it is not assumed that “Best Practices” could (or should) be implemented blindly across the board without closer examination. However, if garden managers were to regularly communicate with each other, their individual efforts could be coordinated, allowing each garden to be inspired by other gardens’ successes.

Currently, within community gardens, communal infrastructure varies dramatically across the District – some gardens have deer fencing, tool sheds with communal tools, communal composting systems, picnic tables, watering systems, fruit tree orchards, shade trees and chairs/benches, and/or dumping areas for coordinated deliveries of woodchips, manure, or “Leafgro” compost. Other gardens simply have individual buckets to collect rainwater and exhibit no signs of communal infrastructure.

Certain garden management structures allow for fundraising committees, grant-writing activities, coordinated donation of gardeners’ surplus harvest, communal tool procurement, garden social events, educational programming for youth or adults, hosting school field trips, or other community-building activities. Other gardens are comprised of individual gardeners who seldom interact with one another.

By allowing gardeners and garden managers to recognize that their garden is one of almost 40 such sites in the District alone, the Community Garden Census has helped to establish the connections that will encourage future resource-sharing between and among DC’s community gardens.

Interviews with Gardeners


Gardeners were interviewed to gain insight into:

· why they choose to garden,

· why they keep gardening,

· how they garden, and

· how they learned the gardening techniques they employ.

These questions and others were designed to understand the motivations of community gardeners. NFI aims to discover which benefits of urban agriculture are the most motivating for gardeners. For example, are many residents turning to community gardening in recent times of economic recession out of necessity, or do the majority of gardeners join community gardens for the physical and mental health benefits? The garden census also collects voluntarily-disclosed demographic information about the participants such as age, race, gender, and profession in order to discover who has the greatest access to and/or the most interest in community gardening. Through this information, DC’s urban agriculture movement can begin to understand who is benefitting from the movement and examine the reasons why.

Additionally, NFI hopes to learn whether community gardens that offer educational programming and social activities for youth and/or adults are more attractive to prospective first-time gardeners than gardens without measurable and established community-building activities. Is there a difference in length of plot retention by new gardeners correlated with such activities?

Finally, NFI hopes the waiting list data gathered through the garden census will be used to present a convincing case to relevant government agencies for the creation of more community gardens in the District. Finding suitable land is always the first barrier to starting a new community garden, and by reserving a portion of public land for this use, that barrier could be lifted.

Text Box: What do people grow in DC?  Most commonly grown Squash Herbs Greens like spinach, arugula, lettuce, cabbage, kale, collard greens  DC gardeners also grow Artichokes	Eggplant Lima beans	Carrots Radishes	Melons Sweet corn	Berries Lemongrass	Okra Garlic	Peas Leeks	Huckleberry Cotton	Broccoli Soybeans	Cucumber Peppers	Peanuts Beans	Sweet potatoes Onions 	Oriental vegetablesGardener Trends[CG9] [B10]

How do most gardeners learn to grow?

Almost all gardeners reported that they had learned to garden from their parents and other family members during childhood, which indicates the importance of involving children in gardening projects.

How long have people been gardening[B11] ?
Responses varied considerably, with respondents indicating that they have been gardening in DC anywhere from less than a year to 25 years.

The average [B12] DC gardener has been active in their plot for 12 years. In other words, many gardeners are dedicated, long-term community gardeners.

Why do people garden?

  • Most respondents replied that they garden purely because they enjoy doing so.
  • Their next most common response was that they gardened in order to eat better, followed by physical exercise.
  • Other responses include beautification of the community, interest in local foods, and community engagement.

Case Studies

Four case studies are included in this report in order to highlight a few examples of successful gardening activities throughout DC. The four gardens or gardening organizations highlighted here were chosen to give a sample of various organizing techniques that can be employed when structuring a community garden.

Though determining the success of individual gardening projects will be dependent on each group’s own objectives, here we identify several general indicators of a successful community garden:

  • Strong community interest
  • A dedicated management team
  • Access to resources and networking
  • High rates of participation in garden committees

Newark Street Community Garden

Newark Street Community Garden is one of the biggest and most clearly structured community gardens in DC. It is located in Ward 3 at the intersection of 39th St & Newark St NW on land held by DC Department of Parks and Recreation.


The garden is over 36 years old, with a cultivated area of 2.2 acres, plenty of grassy open space, and a view overlooking the National Cathedral. Newark Street Community Garden is a beautiful place to spend time and has been certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.


The garden plots themselves number around 190-200 and are about 1
5′x15′ in size. Many of them have been fenced in by previous gardeners due to issues with deer. The garden has been entirely organic since 2003.

Newark Street Community Garden has many beneficial partnerships and resources that have aided in its development and expansion. Through a partnership with
Casey Trees, a variety of fruit trees were planted in the community area. A local youth organization [B13] has built several large compost units for Newark Street as part of a community service project. Gardeners themselves have planted communal raspberries, blackberries, and other fruit around the borders of the garden.

The garden is organized into committees of volunteer gardeners who oversee aspects of the garden such as community composting, garden potlucks, tool maintenance, water pipe & hose spigot maintenance, partnerships with local food pantries for donation of surplus produce, scheduling deliveries of wood chips, and more.
If gardeners opt out of volunteer work they must pay a higher plot fee, a policy that ensures high participation in committees.

Gardeners are held strictly accountable for the maintenance of their plots. Demand for Newark Street garden plots is high (the waitlist fluctuates around 80 people), so gardens tend to be very well-maintained. The Rules Committee checks garden plots several times during the growing season to be sure that all plots are being utilized. If a plot appears in violation of the rules or appears abandoned, gardeners are notified and given one week to improve. If gardeners do not comply after one week, they are given one more and then evicted from the garden if they fail to comply.[2]


Due to strong community interest in the garden, a dedicated management team, access to resources and networking, and significant participation in committees by gardeners, Newark Street is a model garden for those looking to start a new community garden[??14] .[B15]

Common Good City Farm

Common Good City Farm is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,
operating as an urban farm and education center. Common Good sits on what was once the baseball field at Gage-Eckington Elementary School. When the DC Public School closed in June 2008, the grounds were abandoned. Simultaneously, the 7th Street Garden (which ran from 2007 to 2009 - a joint project of  Liz Falk and Susan Ellsworth, with help from the Shaw Ecovillage’s EcoDesign Corps at Bread for the City’s Shaw site) was looking for a new home.

The LeDroit Park Civic Association and residents of the area invited the 7th Street Garden to operate its programs serving low-income residents on the grounds of the former school. In October 2008, the 7th Street Garden became Common Good City Farm and began growing food and community at their new site.[3]


Currently, the farm serves as a demonstration site where people can get hands on training in food production, nutrition, and sustainability. For example, Green Tomorrows is Common Good’s program that provides fresh food to low-income individuals or families in DC[??16] in exchange for educational opportunities. Program participants do hands-on work on the farm in exchange for produce; similar to a “work for food” program, this is a “learn for food” program.


Currently, the farm is in the third year of a three-year agreement, a “license to occupy” from the District of Columbia’s Office of Property Management that must be renewed this year.  On the other part of the site, the Deputy Mayer’s Office of Planning and Economic Development is developing a multi-use recreational green space, which will include a playground, dog park, playing field, and community garden plots.


The Common Good example shows that working with city government requires patience and attention to detail. For instance, in order to build an outdoor wooden structure on the property, the organization and the contractor worked for 7 months to gather the necessary permits and involved at least 4 different government offices. However, staff found that having a responsive ally working in government offices is essential to navigating these protracted processes.[4]

City Blossoms


City Blossoms is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Washington DC and Baltimore, committed to utilizing community gardens as outreach mechanisms. Working primarily with children and youth, City Blossoms focuses on activating community spaces through gardening while promoting art education.


Founders of City Blossoms, Lola Bloom and Rebecca Lemos, began working together in CentroNia’s school garden in Columbia Heights more than ten years ago. In 2003 they became City Blossoms, and have now worked with more than a thousand children in eight gardens throughout DC and Baltimore.


In addition to working directly with local children in gardens through both short-term workshops and long-term commitments, City Blossoms also offers consulting services for groups looking to start their own gardens. They are also in the process of developing a bilingual curriculum tailored to the standards and learning goals of area schools.


Partnering with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, City Blossoms has recently put together a guide to starting School Gardens. The guide outlines tips for planning and launching a garden, as well as ideas for learning activities that work well in a garden setting. A pdf version of the document is available on their website.


City Blossoms has had success in acquiring land through direct leases with private landowners and housing developments, in addition to partnerships with schools and community centers.[5] Although land tenure is a common roadblock to forming long-term gardening projects in cities like DC, partnerships with places that already have control of the land is a great way to increase the permanence of a gardening project.


DC Parks and Recreation has initiated demonstration gardens in every recreation center in DC, and would love to work with community members interested in gardening at their local recreation center. Contact your recreation center, or get in touch with Kelly Melsted (Kelly.Melsted@dc.gov) for more information on this opportunity.



Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust[??17]


The Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust is a 501(c)3 non-profit that was established to take ownership of the parcel of land where the King’s Court Community Garden is located. Before the creation of the King’s Court garden (founded in 1997), the land was a vacant back-alley lot.


With help from a local City Council member, special legislation was passed to waive back-taxes on the property and allow the landholder to donate the land free of a land-transfer charge. The Land Trust now officially holds title to this land, as well as the land of a second garden, the Hill East Community Garden. Both lots were donated to the Land Trust, and as long as the space is used for community gardening, have been exempt from future property taxes by the DC Council.


Designed as part of the L’Enfant Street Plan, this neighborhood has a unique layout that creates the interior lots where the four gardens are housed. Because the alley access roads are less than thirty feet wide, DC Code prohibits the construction of buildings on the lots. [B18] Undesired by developers, some of these lots remained vacant and unmanaged.[6] Through the creation of their community gardens, the Land Trust and garden members have transformed blighted land into healthy and productive community spaces.


The inability to develop these lots with buildings has played an important role in the Land Trust’s ability to acquire and maintain ownership of the garden space. While this particular design for interior lots is believed to be specific to this section of the city, it seems likely that there are other lots throughout DC with similar development restrictions. If identified, the Land Trust’s model for land acquisition could be followed, offering a chance for more gardeners to secure land in their own communities.


DC Code 48-402 mandates that the city keep current inventory of all vacant lots and encourage the production of food on vacant land, by enacting policies and programs that encourage landowners to donate land for cultivation. Property tax rates also serve as incentive for property owners to turn blighted land into useful space – blighted land is taxed at 10%, vacant land at 5%, and occupied land between 0.85 and 1.85%.


Best Practices for Community Gardening[??19]

  • Confirm a water supply. [7] Though securing land for a community garden may be the biggest hurdle in creating a new garden, a reliable supply of water is just as important.  If there is no existing water source in the garden space, arrangements can often be made with neighbors or nearby businesses to utilize their water supply.
  • Test your soil! Urban environments are home to many potential soil contaminants, notably lead and arsenic.  These substances are heavy metals that accumulate in soils, and can be especially toxic to children and pregnant women. [8] Before you start gardening, make sure the soil is safe.  If soil contaminants are a problem in your garden space, using raised beds is a viable alternative.
  • Have an organizational structure for your community garden. [9] Be sure to identify committed leaders and develop a set of ground rules or garden bylaws.  Deciding who gets priority for plot space, setting plot fees, and deciding the fate of neglected plots is important. Clearly communicating these expectations to all gardeners is essential.
  • Be an active and positive addition to your surrounding community. [10] Becoming allies with other neighborhood organizations (such as churches or housing associations) will be advantageous in the long run.  Working together on projects with community organizations can be mutually beneficial, and becoming known and appreciated in the neighborhood will be helpful in maintaining the use of your land.
  • Coordinate with other local community gardens.  Figure out who else is out there so you can collaborate and share resources.  Coordination among gardeners can help reduce costs and labor.


Visions for Urban Agriculture in DC

Urban agriculture initiatives, such as community gardens, seek to increase local production and consumption of healthy foods. Such projects may focus on different objectives, ranging from environmental education and childhood development to urban renewal and improved food security for low-income communities, or the objective may simply be neighbors finding a common space to each grow a portion of their family’s food. Whatever the ultimate goal of each gardening project, all efforts can be enhanced by working together to transform the DC landscape into a fertile environment for urban agriculture.

What would might collaboration look like? Some visions from people in the field include:[??20]

• Active and flourishing community gardening space at every recreation center in DC. [11]

• Initiatives to open up school gardens to the community during summer months, when school is not in session and the growing season is at its peak. [12]

• Building new gardens where playgrounds already exist – playgrounds often have extra land and already have a community of families utilizing the space.[13]

• Seeking partnerships with local churches and religious organizations, many of which already have programs to distribute food in their neighborhoods, as well as space to build new gardens.[14]

• Establishing a government-based organization to streamline the process for creating new urban agriculture projects and protecting land from industrial development.[15]

• Concentrating efforts for new gardening projects in areas considered food deserts, to enhance access to fresh and healthy produce.


Useful Government Resources


Ø DC DPR and National Park Service
- Put together a list of publicly owned land in DC
http://www.capitalspace.gov/

Ø DC Department of Parks and Recreation
- Community Garden & Beehive Program
http://dpr.dc.gov/DC/DPR/Facilities+and+Permits/Recreation+Facilities#4

Ø DC Department of Real Estate Services
- Lists vacant lots
http://dres.dc.gov/DC/DRES/Services/Property+Search

Ø DC Office of Tax and Revenue
- Recorder of Deeds
http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/otr/frames.asp?doc=https://gov.propertyinfo.com/DC-Washington/

Ø DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
- Regulate land use and development
http://dcra.dc.gov/DC/DCRA

Ø DC CODE – Food Production and Urban Gardens Program
Division VIII General Laws
Title 48 Food and Drugs
Subtitle 1 Food
Chapter 4 Food Production and Urban Gardens Program
http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/dcofficialcode



Garden

Ward

Location

Plot Size

# of Plots

Fee

Wait List?

Contact

Contact Info

Acreage

 

Common Good City Farm

1

Oakdale Pl NW and V Street NW

An urban farm and education center growing food for low-income residents in Washington, DC. Volunteers welcome: see CommonGoodCityFarm.orgfor details.

Spencer Ellsworth

spencer@commongoodcityfarm.org

0.538

Kalorama Garden (DPR)

1

Kalorama Rd. & Columbia Rd., NW

19

$25 annual fee for tools, etc.

Yes, 10-20 people

Carole Grunberg & Chris Otten

KaloramaCommunityGarden@gmail.com

0.097

Independence Garden

2

6th St. & Independence Ave., SW (across from the Air and Space Museum)

Various sizes

38

No cost

Waiting list 2-3 years.

Kendall LePoer, coordinator

kendall.lepoer@verizon.net

0.181

Temple Garden

2

15th St. & S St., NW

15x15 or 15x7.5

72

$40 initial fee, $20 annual fee

Yes, 40 people

Vikki Frank, list keeper

vikki@lanierplace.com

0.275

West End Garden (DPR)

2

25th St. & N St., NW

10x25 or 5x25

20

$20/year

Yes, 30 people

Kevin Platte

kevinplattewdc@yahoo.com

0.163

Fort Reno Garden (NPS)

3

Belt Rd. & Chesapeake St., NW

20x35 and 25x25

12

No cost

Waitlist of 20-30. To be added to the waitlist, mail a card or note to address at right. They will be kept in order of postmark.

Martha Hamilton

3615 Albemarle St. NW, WDC 20008

0.187

Friendship Garden (DPR)

3

45th St. & Van Ness St., NW

15x15, 10x15, and 15x30

50

$10

25 people, call or email Penni St. Hilaire

Penni St. Hilaire & Tommy Tomlinson

tommyt@erols.com

0.551

Glover-Archbald Garden (NPS)

3

42nd St. & New Mexico Ave., NW

25x25

150

70 names

Dino Kraniotis

GPCGA, 4122 Edmunds St. NW, WDC 20007

2.701

Melvin Hazen Garden (NPS)

3

Sedgewick Ave. NW, just west of Connecticut Ave.

200 sq. ft.

102

$15 initiation fee + $25 annual dues

Yes, approx. 125 people, 1-2 year waiting.

Karin Adams, President

Loretta Castaldi, Secretary/membership

Melvin.Hazen.Garden@verizon.net

0.723

Newark Street Community Garden (DPR)

3

39th St. & Newark St., NW

15x15

190-200

$15 a year + extra $20 if no community service

Yes, 80 people. Wait is usually 1-2 seasons

Linda & Lew Berry

Nyacklb2@aol.com

2.207

Whitehaven Garden (NPS)

3

40th St. & W St., NW

Average size 20x25

50

$50 initial deposit,$25 annual dues

Yes, 25 people (average wait: two years)

Matthew Riley, Manager

whitehaven.garden@gmail.com

0.912

Rock Creek Garden (NPS)

4

Rock Creek Park Police stables near Northampton St. and Oregon Ave., NW

10x20

120

$10 deposit, $10 annual fee

Yes, wait list of 70 names. Typically it is a wait of 2-4 years.

Nancy Oswald

nmoswald@yahoo.com

0.736

Blair Road Garden (NPS)

4

Oglethorpe St. & Blair Rd., NW

1/2 plot: 15x15, full plot: 30x30, though all plots are not square.

~150

$25 deposit + $20 (half plot), $35 (regular), $70 (double)

No, 15 vacancies a year

Howard Williams (garden coordinator) or Mark Perry (section leader)

mtp616@gmail.com

5.283

Emery Garden(DPR)

4

9th St. NW & Missouri Ave, NW

about 20x20

~40

Kelly Melsted

Kelly.Melsted@dc.gov

0.354

Fort Stevens Garden (NPS)

4

13th Pl. NW & Ft. Stevens Dr., NW

Approx. 20x20

Roughly 50 plots

$40 initial fee, $15 annual fee.

About 5 people

Ms. Corinia E. Prince, President of the Ft. Stevens Gardening Association

202-829-8457

0.901

Peabody Garden (NPS)

4

9th St. & Peabody St., NW

25x25

84 plots

Yes

William Vest

Go to the garden

1.379

Takoma Recreation Center Garden (DPR)

4

300 Van Buren St., NW

average 20x15

8 plots

no fees

10 people

Stacy Mills

202-291-2055

0.073

Twin Oaks Garden/Youth Garden (DPR)

4

14th St. & Taylor St., NW

10x10

45

$25/year

Yes, 10 people

Kelly Melsted

kelly.melsted@dc.gov

0.642

Mamie D. Lee Garden (NPS)

5

100 Gallatin St., NE

Half plots: 12.5x25, full plots: 25x25

68 full plots, 12 half plots

$15 per year for half plots, $25 per year for full plots + a $10 deposit for all plots

Yes, about 20 people

MDL Garden Manager

MamieDLeeGarden@gmail.com

1.376

Montana Gardens

5

17th St. & Montana Ave., NE

20x30

25-30

$20 annual fee

No waiting list.

Go to the garden

0.443

Washington Youth Garden

5

US National Arboretum

3501 New York Ave., NE

No individual plots are available – participate through programs or volunteer. Contact WYG for applications. Volunteers are always welcome.

Kaifa Anderson-Hall, Program Director

washingtonyouthgarden@gmail.com

0.560

Green East Community Garden

6

Alley lot between 17th, 18th, D, and E St., SE.

12x 4

32

$100 initial fee and $50 yearly donations are encouraged.

Yes, 22 people

Tom Kavanagh (President)

tkav007@yahoo.com

0.154

Hill East Community Garden

6

In an alley between C and D St. and 17th and 18th St., SE

4x12

36

$100 initial fee, $50 annual fee thereafter

Yes, 8-12 filled every season (seeHillEastGarden.orgfor details of getting on the list)

Hill East Community Garden board members

board@hilleastgarden.org

0.154

SEED

6

Alley lot between 17th, 18th, D, and E St., SE.

12’x4’

44

Yes

Dan Fitzgerald, membership coordinator

membership@seedgardendc.com

0.239

Hilton Garden

6

210 6th St., NE

70 sq. ft.

44

One-time $20 initiation fee, annual dues are $12.50/year.

Yes, it’s long

Kendall LePoer, Chairman

kendall.lepoer@verizon.net

0.283

King’s Court Community Garden

6

King’s Ct. alley – between 200 block of 14th and 15th St., SE

20x4 to 40x4 (longtime gardeners have larger plots)

32

$35 for single plot, $70 for double plot

Yes, about 10 people

Pat Taylor

dc.greenthumb@verizon.net

0.128

Lovejoy Community Garden

6

12th St. and E St., NE

4x8

18

$25/year plus a small key fee

Yes, 12 people

Wendy Gerlich

wendygerlich@hotmail.com

0.027

Pomegranate Alley Community Garden

6

11th St. & I (Eye) St., SE (in alley behind Ginkgo Gardens)

Average plot is 10x10

15

$1.00/sq. ft.

Yes

Mark Holler (Gingko Gardens)

mark@ginkgogardens.com

0.128

Virginia Ave Community Garden

6

In Virginia Ave. Park, 9th & L St SE

12x3.5, 20x3.5 or 10x10

70

$0.50/sq. ft.

Yes, 50. 2 years wait on average

Jennifer Lancaster, Membership Coordinator

Commgarden@yahoo.com

0.485

Waterside

6

600 M Street SW

varying sizes

14

$20 for common needs, $40 to Church for water and trash removal.

Yes, we have very little turnover.

Camille Cook

ccooka611@aol.com

0.038

Wylie St Community Garden

6

At the corner of 13th St. and Wylie St., NE (one block north of H St.)

5x8

8 raised beds

NA – We are a group of neighbors gardening a vacant lot.

NA

Diane Hoover, gardener

roadbikedc@gmail.com

0.074

Fort Dupont Park Gardens(NPS)

7

Ft. Dupont Dr & Ft. Davis Drive SE

25x25

220

Proposed fees for 2010: $50

No waiting list

Kevin F. Barry

202-426-7723

3.572

Kingman Park/ Rosedale Community Garden

7

Rear of 400 block of 20th St., NE

16x4

16

$80 initial fee, $40 annual fee

Yes, about 1 year

Mandie Yanasak

myanasak@gmail.com

0.106

Lederer Youth Gardens (DPR)

7

4801 Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave., NE

40 children’s plots (5x15) and 20 adult plots (10x15)

60 all together

Adult plots are $30 per season. Children must register for each or all camp sessions

No waiting list, sign up is in January

Kelly Melsted

Kelly.Melsted@dc.gov

0.590

Barry Farm Rec Center(DPR)

8

1230 Sumner Rd., SE

Due to displacement by Dept of Housing, garden is not currently operating. Email Kelly for more info.

Kelly Melsted

Kelly.Melsted@dc.gov

0.028

Fort Stanton

8

1700 Gainesville St., SE

No cost

No waiting list

Addie Cooke, Fort Stanton Civic Association President

202-889-6729

0.232

Shipley

8

23rd and Savannah St. SE

Various

Go to garden

0.025

Total Public Acreage Designated for Food Cultivation in DC:

26.52

 

 



[1] Rinehard, Lee.Urban Farms Cultivate Food and Community.” Start a Farm in the City. 2009:2.

[2] Newark Street Community Garden Manager. Personal Interview. 2 October 2010.

[3] “Our History.” Common Good City Farm. 15 January 2011.

[4] Ellsworth, Spencer. Personal Interview. 17 January 2011.

[5] Bloom, Lola. Personal Interview. 21 January 2011.

[6] Taylor, Pat. Personal Interview. 18 November 2010.

[7] Taylor, Pat. Personal Interview. 18 November 2010.

[8] “Urban Soils and Soil Testing: Avoiding Lead & Other Heavy Metals.” Start a Farm in the City. 2009: 9.

[9] Taylor, Pat. Personal Interview. 18 November 2010.

[10] Rollins, Carl. 14 December 2010.

[11] Melsted, Kelly. Personal Interview. 2 February 2011.

[12] Toscano, Laura. Personal Interview. 27 January 2011.

[13] Toscano, Laura. Personal Interview. 27 January 2011.

[14] Rollins, Carl. Personal Interview. 14 December 2010.

[15] Rollins, Carl. Personal Interview. 14 December 2010.






[p1]Need to differentiate between urban agriculture and community gardening. The way I understand it is that community gardening is one subset of urban agriculture (maybe I’m wrong?), not necessarily that urban agriculture must be commercial-scale farming ventures. I’ll try to add some stuff to clarify this throughout the introduction.





[p2]I’m going to standardize “DC” from DC and other variations throughout the document.





[CG3]I think this does a good job of addressing Bea’s concerns (see 1st comment above).





[??4]It’s probably a good idea to use the full/official name of organizations here, right? If not, just delete my edits to the table. (Kat here – don’t mind the asian language at the top of this bubble… I may or may not have a piroted version of Word.)





[??5]Do you want to include the numbers for this in this summary, or just save them for the finished document?





[??6]As defined by what? What does a “sense of community” entail at a community garden?





[??7]Also here, what is your measurement for the “success” of a garden? Amount of people who use it frequently? Amount of plots in use?





[??8]As with my comments above, maybe there’s not enough space to define it now, but you should probably indicate what measurements NFI/you are using to determine the success of a garden. If you’re going to mention best practices, it’s a good idea to define your terms. Again, maybe the summary is not where you’ll be defining them, but at least hinting to the existence of a measurement system would probably just add legitimacy, Introduction
Urban agriculture is growing in Washington DC. From restaurants with raised beds to gardens on apartment rooftops, from the Obama’s organic garden on the White House lawn to families growing their own food at home, this diverse movement has enormous potential. It’s not just about growing food: “Urban agriculture involves land use decisions, nutritious meals at schools, employment and job training, food processing and delivery, the creation of clean green working spaces in urban areas, citywide systems of composting waste, and much more.”1
Here, we focus on one subset of urban agriculture: community gardens. Community gardens are publicly held green spaces dedicated specifically to food production. The goals of the Neighborhood Farm Initiative’s Community Garden Census are threefold:
 to provide readily accessible information so that DC residents can find gardens in their neighborhoods;
 to provide a blueprint of best practices for garden management and structure; and
 to facilitate resource-sharing and information between gardens.
Prior to our first community garden census (conducted in Fall 2009), there were no existing statistics that definitively assessed the total number of gardening units or area of public land under cultivation in the District of Columbia. The 2009 report established baseline data which can be used to assess annual change in number of community gardens, area cultivated, and active usage over time. In 2010, we will be expanding the report in order to make the information more useful and accessible to a wide variety of DC residents. This report is a summary of the full report, which will be released in the summer of 2011. In the summary of our report, we’ve included four case studies and a summary of best practices.
As we work on finalizing the full report in the coming months, we’d love to hear your feedback! Please email NeighborhoodFarm@gmail.com with questions, suggestions, and leads on new gardens.
1 Rinehard, Lee. “Urban Farms Cultivate Food and Community.” Start a Farm in the City. 2009:2.
2
What does DC’s community gardening landscape look like currently? There are currently 36 community gardens in Washington DC.
Ward 1
Common Good City Farm, Kalorama
Ward 2
Independence, Temple, West End
Ward 3
Fort Reno, Friendship, Glover-Archbald, Melvin Hazen, Newark Street, Whitehaven
Ward 4
Blair Road, Emery, Fort Stevens, Peabody, Rock Creek, Takoma, Twin Oaks
Ward 5
Mamie D. Lee Community Garden, Montana, Washington Youth Garden
Ward 6
Green East, SEED, Hill East, Hilton, Kings Court, Lovejoy, Pomegranate, Virginia Ave., Waterside, Wylie Street
Ward 7
Fort Dupont, Kingman Park-Rosedale, Lederer Youth Garden
Ward 8
Fort Stanton, Shipley
2010 Community Garden Data
Total number of plots/gardeners
1816
Total Acreage under cultivation
~26.5 acres
Total Number of Community Gardens
36 (+1 from 2009)*
*In 2010 DC gained 2 new community gardens (SEED and Shipley) and lost 1 (Barry Farm)
Methodology
Data was gathered through in-person visits to each garden during the fall harvest season, when it was expected most gardeners would be present. During each garden visit, volunteers and interns conducted interviews with garden managers and a random sample of present community gardeners whenever possible. If unavailable for an in-person interview, follow-up interviews with garden managers were conducted through phone and email contact.
Community garden managers were asked a specific set of questions that included information regarding the management structure of their garden, plot utilization data, and length of waiting list (if applicable). Community gardeners were asked questions to determine how, what, and why people garden in DC, and to learn how the community gardening experience can be affected by the management practices at each garden.
In 2009, volunteers walked the perimeter of each garden while marking waypoints with a GPS device. In 2010, only new gardens were mapped as no existing gardens experienced an increase in cultivated acreage over the 2010 growing season.
3
Management structure
Managers were interviewed for every garden in DC with the intention of gaining insight into the overall management structure of the garden and to determine a blueprint of best practices for community garden management. Most gardens are organized similarly, with an elected manager and executive board. However, there are several gardens that do not have boards at all, and they often have managers who volunteer for the position. In such cases the manager alone monitors accounts, plot dispersal, and plot inspection. This often occurs in gardens with less involvement from gardeners and the community. In these instances, the determination by one gardener to keep the garden running until there is greater interest in these positions by gardeners is common. In gardens such as these, many of the managers that were interviewed had been in their position for upwards of ten years. There were a few gardens which, despite having dedicated management teams, experienced a poor sense of community, which in turn seems to impair the cohesiveness and success of the garden as a whole. This indicates that a successful garden is not solely dependent on good management structure, but also on the ability of the managers and gardeners to create and maintain a strong sense of community. To this end, NFI’s Community Garden Census also asked questions to determine how the managers communicated with their gardeners and how they facilitated communication between gardeners. Managers were also asked whether or not their gardens had mandatory garden-wide workdays or community meetings. There was a positive correlation between the frequency of workdays and meetings and the strength of the sense of community among gardeners. Having visited the gardens during some of these workdays and parties, it is clear that these gatherings facilitate communication and camaraderie. It is important to keep in mind, though, that these types of events require a time commitment from all involved, and in some communities (especially predominantly working class neighborhoods) gardeners may have little outside time to devote to their gardening efforts beyond actually working their garden plots.
4
To obtain a community garden plot
In 2010, a vast majority of community gardens in DC have waiting lists of aspiring gardeners wanting plots. Procedures to obtain a garden plot varies by garden, though gardens often request mail or email so that you may be added to their list. Most gardens operate on first-come, first-serve basis, although some hold a lottery to randomize the selection process. Please contact an individual garden for any distance/residency requirements and its plot acquisition procedure.
Our table listing DC’s community gardens, garden manager contact information, garden fees, and waiting list data is updated annually online at:
www.fieldtoforknetwork.org/community-gardens/chart
Resource-sharing
NFI researched resource-sharing across community gardens within the District as well as among gardeners within individual community gardens.
As for sharing resources across gardens, current census results indicate that there is little sharing of resources or coordination between gardens outside of the Capitol Hill community, which is well organized through the Capitol Hill Community Garden Land Trust. (See case study for more information.)
One purpose of the census is to help establish connections which will facilitate resource-sharing between DC’s community gardens, and has the potential to inform a coordinated land management strategy for urban agriculture in DC. Each community garden has developed with its own distinct culture and values, and it is not assumed that “Best Practices” could (or should) be implemented blindly across the board without closer examination. However, if garden managers were to regularly communicate with each other, their individual efforts could be coordinated, allowing each garden to be inspired by other gardens’ successes.
Currently, within community gardens, communal infrastructure varies dramatically across the District – some gardens have deer fencing, tool sheds with communal tools, communal composting systems, picnic tables, watering systems, fruit tree orchards, shade trees and chairs/benches, and/or dumping areas for coordinated deliveries of woodchips, manure, or “Leafgro” compost. Other gardens simply have individual buckets to collect rainwater and exhibit no signs of communal infrastructure.
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Certain garden management structures allow for fundraising committees, grant-writing activities, coordinated donation of gardeners’ surplus harvest, communal tool procurement, garden social events, educational programming for youth or adults, hosting school field trips, or other community-building activities. Other gardens are comprised of individual gardeners who seldom interact with one another.
By allowing gardeners and garden managers to recognize that their garden is one of almost 40 such sites in the District alone, the Community Garden Census has helped to establish the connections that will encourage future resource-sharing between and among DC’s community gardens.
Interviews with Gardeners
Gardeners were interviewed to gain insight into:
 why they choose to garden,
 why they keep gardening,
 how they garden, and
 how they learned the gardening techniques they employ.
These questions and others were designed to understand the motivations of community gardeners. NFI aims to discover which benefits of urban agriculture are the most motivating for gardeners. For example, are many residents turning to community gardeningyou know?





[CG9]I decided not to include percentages, but I can if ya’ll think it’s important. What do you think? Interesting or not?





[B10]Yes! But for the final report not the draft.





[B11]Foster, can you make a frequency plot for this?

Is there any geographic trend, i.e. gardeners in a certain area have been gardening longer?





[B12]This seems less useful a statistic to me than median length of time gardening.





[B13]They didn’t want to name them?





[??14]So here are your standards of success! Maybe you can put these earlier in the paper, or at least at the beginning of the case studies section?





[B15]Colleen, when formatting, can you combine some of the above paragraphs so each of the case studies sits on its own page like it used to? Thanks!!!





[??16]Where specifically?





[??17]This is a really great section!





[B18]I’m curious if you got a code # for this? For personal reasons not for the report.





[??19]Maybe say how you came up with these? Something like, these were identified by gardeners and managers as the most important things to consider when establishing a new garden.





[??20]Great!!