Be sure to reserve Wednesday, July 31st on your calendar and come to Lansburgh Park to give a hand in building Southwest’s newest community garden.

To be constructed on an undeveloped 4,958 square foot swath of Lansburgh Park, the new Southwest Community Gardens was selected from over 400 qualified applicants as the Fiskars 2013 Project Orange Thumb recipient. On the July 31st Gardens Build Day, check-in and breakfast will start at 7:00 a.m. and the first 50 volunteers will be provided with t-shirts.

If you have not yet done so, all volunteers must register at www.swgardens.org. Volunteers are asked to stay all day if possible, from first dig at 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Fiskars will provide breakfast and lunch, and at 4:00 p.m. there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration of the newly built garden.

“We are so excited to build a new garden in Southwest DC. As development continues to change our neighborhood, we want this garden to be a place where diversity is protected and everyone is welcome. The garden will be a positive, therapeutic, relaxing space where anyone in the community can come to connect with others, feel respected, and learn about gardening,” says Kamilla Kovacs, Southwest Community Gardens President.

“The new garden will give Southwest Community Gardens a space for educational opportunities to help people understand how to grow their own food and promote a healthy and active lifestyle,” says Ally Spaight, a Fiskars Representative.

Adds Kael Anderson, SWNA president, “We’re eagerly looking forward to July 31st. For decades, Lansburgh Park has been an underutilized liability for those living nearby or passing through. The establishment of Southwest Community Gardens represents another major step toward the revitalization of Lansburgh Park.”

Garden Manager Coy McKinney offers the following: “Once neighbors are connected, discussions, mutual understandings, and action can follow. We conduct outreach to the residents in public housing, since their voices are often excluded and development comes at their expense, about how they would like to use the space, and what kind of projects or activities they think would be beneficial.”

McKinney is particularly excited about the garden’s communal section, a hands-on educational space where neighbors can labor together. “The communal section of the garden can host projects, workshops, and activities for the community, and will have the purpose of collectively growing free vegetables for the neighborhood.”

Be on the lookout for another weekend metro stop bake sale from the Southwest Community Gardens planning team in the weeks before Garden Build Day.

By Sam Marrero

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