Rhea Kennedy (@RheaYKennedy) is a Washington, D.C.-based teacher and writer. She has written about sustainable food and local culture for The Washington City Paper and Grist. This piece appears in Civil Eats.
This is a surprising statistic: Washington, D.C., has now surpassed Portland and San Francisco in the number of community garden plots per capita. The number? 2,600. Gardening and urban farming classes abound, not only offered by private organizations, but also through the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). In his role as a community garden specialist for DPR, Josh Singer has spearheaded the development of a robust course offering, “from Urban Garden 101 to classes on vertical gardening and urban fruit trees.”
“We have such a huge array of very relevant and innovative topics,” says Josh Singer, community garden specialist for the city department. Most of these topics are tailored to those putting down roots in containers, window boxes, and community garden plots no bigger than a parking space.
What’s behind the surge of interest? A number of things, including legislation in the form of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act, passed in 2010, which has increased demand for local foods. There’s also an innovative Urban Farming and Food Security Act (2014), which “requires the mayor to set aside vacant lots for urban farming and offers tax incentives to anyone who leases land for agricultural use.”
But there are other reasons. A terrific read.