From weeding borage patches to transplanting “dinosaur” kale to tasting the freshest local produce, Councilmember Grosso’s Farm Tour this month was a success.
The Farm Tour was initiated after Grosso introduced the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014. This legislation would establish an urban farming land leasing initiative, a nonrefundable tax credit for food commodity donations made to a District food bank or shelter, and real property tax abatement for unimproved real property.
As part of putting his sweat where his legislation is, David toured the UDC CAUSES Muirkirk Research Farm, the Millennial Farms at J.O. Wilson Elementary School site, and the Washington Youth Garden at the U.S. Arboretum. He and staff also volunteered at the Farm at Walker Jones.
At the Muirkirk Research Farm, run by the UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Science, Councilmember Grosso met with Dean Sabine O’Hara to tour the farming facility located in Beltsville, MD. Vegetables grown hydroponically in mobile greenhouses and intricate aquaponics systems that contribute to raising both tilapia and produce are just two examples of how the site is promoting urban farming, sustainable living and environmental education in the District. It was also exciting to learn about their ethnic and specialty crops that cater to our city’s many immigrant communities.
Millennial Farms uses simple, cost effective, vertical farming methods to promote new jobs based around local farming economies. Claire Newbegin and Niraj Ray met with David to show him their work to de-industrialize the food system and contribute to local urban farming initiatives.
At the Washington Youth Garden, Grosso discussed not only the garden, but food education for D.C. youth as well. The garden teaches students and community members about soil, pollination, food systems and more through hands-on garden visits and installing gardens at local schools.
Mid-week Team Grosso spent all morning volunteering at the Farm at Walker Jones, located at the corner of New Jersey and K NW. The farm, run by local non-profit D.C. Greens, not only serves as a school garden for the Walker Jones Education Campus, but cultivates and sells fresh produce at a reduced price for neighborhood residents, and is as a base of operations for D.C. Greens’ work with school gardens and educational programs throughout the city. Team Grosso helped transplant seedlings, stake tomatoes, weed plant beds, and harvest produce.
As the summer winds down and we enjoy the bounty of locally grown foods, it is a perfect time to consider how we can promote urban farming and sustainable living. To that end, Grosso will keep pushing his legislative agenda, including the Urban Agriculture and Food Security Act of 2014, once the Council reconvenes in September.
To learn about some urban farming efforts taking place across the District, visit the websites below: