By Pamela McKinney 

Community gardeners, Jessica and Brad, planting yams; Courtesy of SW Gardens

Southwest Community Gardens (SW Gardens) was founded in 2013 to create a space where neighbors can connect with one another in a hands-on, peaceful, and respectful environment around the activity of growing produce. Since the beginning, we have maintained 10 communal plots that allow anyone in the community to participate in growing and enjoying organic food.

Just like everyone, SW Gardens has had to adjust to life in a pandemic. Last year, we continued our communal operations, providing opportunities for our neighbors to care for and grow fruits and vegetables. All of our communal harvests were given out for free to Southwest residents from our main location in Lansburgh Park. We limited communal work days to four people per hour, offering work days on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

Thanks to support from Friends of Southwest, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), and The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, we were able to expand our fruit orchard last fall to include apples, pears, and plums. Once these trees mature, anyone who comes by the garden during the fruit trees’ harvest will be able to enjoy nature’s bounty.

Garlic anyone? Courtesy of SW Gardens

We have a few new initiatives planned for this year. First, in partnership with the SWBID, our resident herbalist, Kelley Gallagher, and garden secretary, Barbara Gilbert, we are planning to install three herb gardens outside of the garden fence. This herb garden will include common and uncommon herbs and information for how you can use the herbs in your daily life. Second, we are planning to launch our first community supported agriculture (CSA) program! For our initial launch, we will be providing weekly harvest to six public housing residents with support from our younger farmhands, who we plan to pay for their time and work. Finally, we will be opening back up the communal section on Saturday, April 24. 

For anyone interested in helping with any of the initiatives mentioned above, please email swgardensdc@gmail.com. No experience needed! 

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