DC UrbanGreens has two urban farms, one in Ward 7 and another in Ward 8, which use underutilized space to grow produce for the surrounding community and help alleviate food insecurity. The organization aims to increase awareness and education to residents.
Take two hypothetical District residents who need groceries. One lives in the Cascade Park Apartments in Southeast and doesn’t have access to a car. To reach the only full-service grocery store in her ward (a Giant in the Shops at Park Village), she walks 4.2 miles round trip.
The other lives in Union Row—a development on 14th Street NW in Ward 1. He can walk to YES! Organic Market, Streets Market and Cafe, Trader Joe’s, Smucker Farms, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Giant without going more than a mile.
WASHINGTON – 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.
Most of Washington east of the Anacostia River is what’s called a food desert, with few outlets that offer fresh produce. But D.C. Urban Greens has built a small oasis: An organic farm that grows collards, kale, okra, lettuce and other edibles. And it’s planning several more.
The nonprofit group was founded in 2012 by Julie Kirkwood and Vincent Forte, veterans of local building and real estate businesses. It had its first growing season last year, using three unheated greenhouses (known as high tunnels or hoop houses) behind the Fort Dupont Ice Arena on Ely Place in Southeast.